A new beginning

June 7th, 2009 by emhest09


v.   grad·u·at·ed, grad·u·at·ing, grad·u·ate

  1. To be granted an academic degree or diploma
    1. To change gradually or by degrees.
    2. To advance to a new level of skill, achievement, or activity: After a summer of diving instruction, they had all graduated to back flips.

I honestly have no idea how the past four years went by that fast. It seems like only yesterday I was taking my first tour of the campus, interviewing after the long walk through the “hall of presidents” in Fenwick, then finally arriving at Holy Cross, only to have the car be swarmed by fellow Crusaders, professors and even my class dean. It seems mere weeks ago I was standing on Hart lawn while my parents put their hands on my shoulders and blessed me before returning home after the Mass of the Holy Spirit. Two nights later was my only bout of homesickness, lasting all of three  minutes before my new friends invited me to watch a movie in their room. It can’t have been more than a month since I boarded a plane for Luxembourg or gave my last hugs to friends traveling abroad. Senior Ball, trips to Dunkin Donuts Friday mornings, Cranium nights and Baccalaureate Mass…weren’t those all last week?

If you haven’t been able to tell, I have been walkingaround in a perpetual state of disbelief for the past few weeks since my graduation. I don’t think it will really hit me until next September when I am not unpacking in Worcester, maybe then the tears will come. Until then I have the very fond memories of graduation to look back on as well as a very exciting future ahead of me. Graduation day started at 5AM when 100 or so teary eyed Seniors sat out on Hart lawn watching the sunrise over Worcester. After one last trip to Dunkin Donuts with Amy I packed up a few things before changing into my robes, fumbling over tassels, pins and capes as I went. I could not believe the organizational skills involved in planning our line up for graduation; Row 8 Seat 2, stay in your assigned seat don’t shift if the person in front of you isn’t there, stay standing until after the blessing and SMILE! The long march down was a time of reflection for me; I looked around and saw dear friends, casual acquaintences and (at this so called “small school”) plenty of people I swear I had never seen before. I thought of my family, who I knew were sweltering in the bleachers after arriving nearly an hour early, I thought of the professors I saw lining the way, shaking our hands and cheering us on, and I thought most of all about my friends, people who I had no idea existed four years ago yet who had had such a strong impact on my life I couldn’t imagine being without them. As I rounded the corner on to the field, I could finally hear the music and saw the huge crowd of families as well as about a third of my class already seated. That was the moment I almost lost it (I didn’t though, much to the dismay of my sister who promised me I would be bawling at some point that day-sorry to let you down Katherine, you know it takes A LOT to make me cry). Receiving my diploma, proof of four years hard work and listening to speeches from distinguished guests, administrators and my good friend and name twin Elizabeth Mary Anne Morse, all helped me realize what an experience my past four years at Holy Cross have been.

Afterwards there were many hugs, some packing and one of the most meaningful “Hi’s” I have ever had. Obviously many pictures were taken throughout the ceremony which I have posted for all to see. Driving home was surreal as was the rest of the evening, though that may have had to do with the fact that I slept for less than two hours the previous night. Slowly I have been getting back into the swing of things but like I said before, I will probably have some sort of melt down later, when I realize I am no longer a Holy Cross student.

Luckily I have quite an adventure ahead of me, one which seems very good so far! I am currently sitting at my desk at Providence college after completing my first homework assignment as a Grad student. I moved in and began the PACT program last Wednesday and so far it has been wonderful. The sense of community and acceptance I feel here is at the same level as Holy Cross with the added bonus of the fact that everyone here wants to be a teacher. That shared passion has been inspiring, plus it helps me feel at ease when other people spout Shakespeare in the middle of a wiffleball game, discuss math lesson plans over dinner or have “reading nights” while baking chocolate chip cookies, all activities that have gotten me strange looks in the past. We have been on retreat the past few days and classes start tomorrow; I also have a trip to Cape Cod to look forward to on Wednesday, meeting with the principal of Pope John Paul II high school where I will be teaching next fall.

So here I am, ready for a new beginning but not quiet over the past. It is an odd place to be but one that is strangely comforting at the same time. I am so excited for the future and the past is still with me as clear as it will ever be. Holy Cross has been the journey, blessing and joy of a lifetime and my four years there made me a better person. I will bring that thought with me into my classroom; I want every student who walks into my classroom to be a  better person when they leave it…I have Holy Cross to thank for that.


Thanks for reading and God bless,



5AM graduation morning

Getting my diploma!
Getting my diploma!

The end is near…

May 18th, 2009 by emhest09

The end is 4 days away to be precise! Four days is all the separates me from my amazing undergrad career and the “real world” everyone has told me about. I am hoping this “real world” is even half as good as my time spent here, these four years will be hard to top!

The past week was the perfect mixture of relaxation and work, vacation and home, friends and family, a great way to lead up to Senior week! Last Sunday to Tuesday I went to Cape Cod and stayed with some of my friends there. We shopped at the Wellfleet flea market, frolicked in the FREEZING ocean (for about 3 seconds, we just stuck our toes in), journeyed to Provincetown and explored the multiple Yarmouths (we stayed in South Yarmouth, but saw Yarmouth, West Yarmouth and Yarmouth Port). The trip was a lot of fun, especially because I will be living in Yarmouth Port and teaching in Hyannis for the next two years! I got to show the high school I will be teaching at to a lot of my friends and even tried to find the house I will be living in! I can’t wait to start that new chapter in my life and though my mom warns me that first year teachers have no time for fun, it will still be nice to live in another part of the state for a while at least.

After my time at the Cape, I went home for the remainder of the week. It was so nice to be home, relaxing and spending time with the family. I also got to work at the library which was a lot of fun, very enjoyable and certainly profitable. I was glad I got to relax and do work that I love for those few days because this week will be a bit crazy! Senior Week started yesterday and my friends and I have created a fun schedule so we can squeeze every last second out of the time we have together. Fun events include a Senior reflection lunch, where I will be able to hear speeches from some of my friends, a trip to Culpeppers for brunch, going to hike around Purgatory Chasm, and maybe even filming a horror movie (don’t ask). Mixed in with those fun activities will certainly be some bitterweet goodbyes. I already aid goodbye to my underclassmen friends and today my boss Cathi from Religious Studies took me out for an amazing lunch. Graduation day will certainly be emotional, I honestly don’t know how I will handle it. You’ll find out soon though, don’t worry!

A bit too cold for a swim

A bit too cold for a swim

Future teachers!

Future teachers!

Flying a kite in P-town!

Flying a kite in P-town!

Spring Weekend and the End of Classes

May 10th, 2009 by emhest09

Spring has been in full swing the past few weeks, it is really amazing to see the flowers and beautiful trees blossom in so little time and I can’t remember a warmer end of April and tart of May! We definitely lucked out with the weather for Spring Weekend and it has been a great way to end my last year here. This was my first year not being directly involved with Spring Weekend; last year I was overseeing the committee who ran it, the year before I was running it myself and my freshman year I was shadowing the people who were running it in order to run it the next year. Needless to say I sat back and relaxed and was able to go to almost all of the events without running around trying to keep everything in order. Alexandra, Mary Beth and Emma, the girls in charge of Spring Weekend, did a fantastic job with “Springelodeon” and they brought together all of CAB to bring some great events and fun times to the campus. The Spring Weekend Kick-off began the weekend with a great food, a balloon man, trivia and tattoo artists (temporary of course) in Kimball. On Friday we had the big Spring Weekend Comedian (Judah Friedlander from the TV show 30 Rock this year) and after that was the Figure it Out Game Show where I had the pleasure of “slime-ing” a fellow student.

Saturday was by far my favorite day. First of all, it was actually HOT and the sun was shining all day long (resulting in my sunburn and about a million more freckles). My friends and I sat out by Easy Street on a blanket and watched the Easy Street Fair, which had cotton candy, free ice cream and decorate your own Frisbee. After that, I went to see my friend Lexie present her honors thesis which happened to be about my two favorite books Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice. It was great seeing her speak and I am really happy I was able to support her, writing over 100 pages deserves a round of applause at the very least! That was it for academics that day though because after that I stayed at the Spring Weekend carnival for literally four hours. The carnival had all sorts of rides, inflatables, and games and I ate far too much fried dough. As the sun set, people started walking up to the Hart Lawn and at 9:00 when it was all dark, an amazing fireworks show began. It was honestly the best of all four years and I have to admit I got rather sentimental watching the fireworks on my last Spring Weekend ever. I think the point of Spring Weekend is to allow college students to relax, have fun and most importantly embrace their inner child. I think this years Nickelodeon theme, coupled with the fantastic weather, did just that.

The last part of Spring Weekend is concert day (if you go back a year in my blogs you can read all about it). The 6:30 AM wake up call and the 3:00AM bedtime are never fun but strangely the hard work and dedication is. The concert itself, featuring Lupe Fiasco, was out of this world, he is a phenomenal performer and the crowd loved the show. The volunteers were also great this year and it is always impressive to see an entire stage go up and be brought down all in one day. As a “Last Concert” tradition, Jimmy, Julie, CAB’s adviser Ben and I all went to the “Bully” Diner and ate breakfast…before going to bed around 4:30AM. College life is unique to say the least.

This past Thursday marked the end of my undergraduate career. All paper, exams, homework and quizzes are done…for now. It is hard to wrap my mind around it because I technically go back to school on June 3rd, though not at Holy Cross. Like I said in my last entry I will be taking classes at Providence College to get my Masters and I just recently found out that I will be teaching at Pope John Paul II high school in Hyannis for the next two years! It is so exciting to think about what the future has in store but obviously the next two weeks leading up to graduation will be bitter sweet.

I leave for Cape Cod tomorrow for a few days before heading home to work at the library for the ret of the week and then….Senior Week! Don’t worry, I’ll write a few more blogs before graduation but for now feel free to check out some Spring Weekend and concert pictures!

Picnic-ing on Easy Street!

View of the carnival

taking down the stage

taking down the stage

With Alexandra...obviously sad over the end of Spring Weekend!

With Alexandra...obviously sad over the end of Spring Weekend!

Congrats to the class of 2013!

April 17th, 2009 by emhest09

I am still getting used to this new way of blogging so bear with me! Sorry for the lack of entries in the past month, it’s been insanely busy and I was waiting to be sure that all of you lovely readers could see this blog!

First and foremost CONGRATULATIONS TO THE ACCEPTED STUDENTS OF THE CLASS OF 2013!!! A special shout out has to go to the students I interviewed who got in, I was excited to see each and every one of your names on the list. Admissions has a fantastic night when the Senior Interviewers call all the accepted students they interviewed to congratulate them and answer questions they may have. Most people had around 10-12 students….I had 21! Luckily Jim in admissions made us all delicious baked goods so I got to take bites between calls and it was wonderful to hear from everyone again. The Open House this Sunday should be fun and hopefully lots of people come, it is really a great opportunity to see the school.

As I mentioned, the past weeks have been busy though not necessarily with school work. Instead, I have had to put a lot of time and effort into my future plans after graduation (the idea of sitting in my room crying can only go so far). I was accepted into the Providence Alliance of Catholic Teachers (PACT) program as well as the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) and after much deliberation and thought I decided to go with PACT. Through this program I will be earning a free Masters in Education degree from Providence College while teaching in a Catholic School for two years. I am really excited, I can’t wait to teach! I think it didn’t really hit me until I had my first interview at St. Mary’s high school in Westfield; as we walked down the hall the principal pointed to a classroom and said “that could be yours next year”. Seeing the physical room sent me into a state of shock, excitement and nervousness…but all in a good way. I will keep you posted as to how the job search ends up!

In addition to future planning, I am still swamped with CAB work. Spring Weekend is right around the corner (this year’s theme is Springelodeon) and fireworks, game shows, the big concert with Lupe Fiasco, and the Carnival are all on the agenda. It should be a great time and a lot of pictures will be taken, get ready!

March 13, 2009

March 13th, 2009 by emhest09

It has been over a week now since my time in Waverly and I am going to try to thank everyone and anyone who made that trip the powerful time it was.

Thanks to Marty, Dave and Meg who worked so hard at putting together the groups and for giving me the best one (unbiased opinion of course)

Thanks to my parents and family who have always supported me in doing these programs and a special shout out to my sister Katherine who turns 20 today!

Thanks to Beth Alizzi (check her out on the Spirit of Holy Cross) for being a great group leader for the other Waverly group and thanks to “Waver-bee” for making this trip ten times more rewarding and fun!

Thanks to Shannon Drew for driving and waiting with Brian and me for 5 and a half hours to get a simple tetanus shot and for being so friendly and personable.

Thanks to Jay for leading us in song throughout week and good luck with your wedding and with the lovely Charve, we are all expecting invitations to the ceremony

Thanks to Red, Garry and John for letting us take 10 minute to knock down a shelf that would take any of you one hammer swing and for telling us your stories and letting us see your lives

Thanks to Brenda Drew for working so hard without any desire for reward or recognition. You are truly inspirational and remind me so much of my own mom who I love dearly, I think you will see all your hard work pay off in the future and I hope your 25th wedding anniversary is lovely!

Thanks to Pastor Marvin Drew for being the rock that this entire experience was based on. You and your church family have single-handedly brought new life to Waverly and your big dream will come true, I know it.

Finally and most importantly, thank you to Laura, Colleen, Brian, Garry, Christina, Casey, John Joe, Julie, Rosi, Liz, Kathryn, Kate and Marjorie. I don’t think a more perfect 13 people could have been put into my group and your enthusiasm, hope and desire to do good still inspires me. You ALL have greatness in you.

Thanks for reading!

March 6, 2009

March 6th, 2009 by emhest09

Emotionally overwhelmed may be the best term for my current status. I think everyone was in a bit of denial this morning as we were working that it was our last day in Waverly. We finished some projects, collected some trash and had a delicious southern breakfast – I swear I have gained 10 pounds since coming here. This evening was what has left me in such a state however. Boston College went home this afternoon so only the two Holy Cross groups were left but we were by no means lonely, we had about 20 kids to keep us company!

On Fridays the church has all the kids in the community come for games, singing and just hanging out.Tonight, since it was our last night, was special so there were other members of the community there as well and we all went into the Church to be together. The evening started with a slide show made by two of our group members which incorporated a rousing rendition of “Lean on Me” which had everyone swaying and singing. After a short interlude of “Old McDonald”, led by our own Zach Lavender, Beth (Waverly B’s leader) and I presented Pastor Drew and Brenda a book of memories and two of our spiffy Appalachia shirts. It was really nice because lots of group members got up to speak about their experience and how wonderful Waverly had been to us. Members of the Church family in Waverly spoke too and their thanks and love were truly moving. The most wonderful show of love and faith came from the Children’s choir who sang us a song along with other members of the community. The lyrics to the chorus were “I pray for you, you pray for me, I love you-I need you to survive” and though it is obviously a prayer to God, the adults singing, the people we had gotten to know so well over the past week, looked straight at us and reached out their arms to us. It was so overwhelming and as I looked around at my peers, the children singing and people like Jay, Pastor Drew, Brenda and everyone who had been so wonderful to us during the week, I couldn’t help but cry. My sister will tell you, I don’t cry-EVER, but I was a mess for the first time in literally years. Luckily I was not alone, almost everyone had a tear in their eye (even the boys!) and when the song ended everyone just went around and hugged anyone and everyone in sight. I have never experienced something like that and don’t know if I ever will again. Our last reflection was about 3 hours long and ended with tears and hugs again and as I lie here, knowing I will only get about 2 hours of sleep before a 10 hour drive tomorrow, I truly couldn’t be happier to be here in this town at this time.


March 4 and 5, 2009

March 4th, 2009 by emhest09

The past two days have been just how we wanted them…work filled! Here is an idea of the various jobs we’ve been doing and will be doing the rest of the week:
-Trash pick-up. Pretty self explanatory, we get to use trash picker-uppers and wear bright orange, FUN!

-Lawn work at Jay’s house and various houses in the area. A lot of us have done work cutting down branches, raking leaves, getting garbage (car parts, dolls, entire TV sets) out of woods around houses. All of this is done with the help of axes, machetes and some power saws…pent up aggression once again given an outlet.

-The burnt-out trailer. Holy Cross and Boston College have worked hard to completely demolish a trailer that was destroyed by fire. It was completely smashed to the ground in a matter of days!

Probably the most meaningful job has been all the work done at the gym. A few streets down from the Church is a two story building that serves as a gym for the community of Waverly. Pastor Drew told us the very sad story behind it; apparently years ago it was a place where lots of drugs and alcohol were sold and a few people actually were killed due to drug violence right outside of the building. Lily of the Valley eventually bought the building and shut it down before turning it into a gym. The gym is successful on so many levels. Firstly, I saw a man bench press 445 pounds, therefore it MUST be working! The guys from the area have actually won awards for their weight lifting and training in the gym, I certainly was impressed. Secondly, and most importantly, the gym has given men in the community something else to do besides drugs and is a positive place of comradary and hard work. It was very easy then to get up early and walk over there in the morning because we knew what we were fighting for. With each stroke of the paintbrush, hammering of a nail or swinging of a sledgehammer, we had a goal. We were definitely “swinging with a purpose” and everyone worked really hard to improve the gym that had already brought new life to the community of Waverly. All of the jobs we did, whether it was demolishing a building or cutting tile for a bathroom, were done with heart and with great effort because of the connections we made in the town and the genuine feelings of gratitude we had towards the community that was feeding and housing us for the week.

On a slightly lighter note, one of my group members made a rather dumb move and said during reflection “God must be looking out for us this trip, I mean, I can’t count the number of times I almost died or at least got seriously injured” to which everyone nodded seriously. Being the group leader and a generally motherly type person I nearly fainted and then insisted that everyone stay inside and not touch anymore machetes, axes or power saws. Obviously nobody, including me, took that advice seriously. God must have had an eye out for us this week considering our worst injury was a shallow cut from a rusty nail that resulted in a 5 and a half hour wait for a simple tetanus shot in the ER. It could have been worse!

March 2 and 3, 2009

March 2nd, 2009 by emhest09

Well I was right about the snow storm, it was only about 2-3 inches but in Virginia that equals school cancellation for 2 days and a shut down of most local business. I heard on the news that it was “the worst storm since 2003”…it was a “dusting” in New England terms.

Luckily we were able to work on Monday and BOY did we work! I decided to volunteer to rip up a linoleum floor in the house next door to the church that had belonged to the old pastor of the church. Pastor Drew is looking to turn it into a museum and guest house and it needs a fair amount of work done. There were about 6 of us ripping up the floor and about 8 more people painting in the adjoining rooms. We put on our masks (there was mildew) picked up our chisels, hammers, kitchen knives and crowbars and went to work. By the end of the morning the linoleum was gone….and so was the entire kitchen floor. We worked so hard that Pastor Drew decided to rip up the entire floor and we got to use power tools and brute strength to finish the job. At one point I distinctly remember going at a shelf on the wall with a hammer and having Pastor Drew say “So what History test was THAT?”…we definitely had a chance to get out any pent up aggression.

On Tuesday, the snow was “so bad” that our lovely hosts decided to get us out of Waverly to see some of the surrounding area. We drove in the church’s bus through the rolling hills of Virginia and took the ferry over the James River to Williamsburg. It was interesting to see this area that was less than an hour away, Williamsburg was beautiful and I love boats so that was a plus. Something that my group talked about during reflection was that as we were driving down the winding streets and through malls and shopping complexes, we felt so cramped and realized how much we missed Waverly. It seems that this town is becoming our true home for this week, even though we have only been here a few days.


March 1, 2009

March 1st, 2009 by emhest09

I would rate this morning as one greatest of my life and that is saying a lot because we got up at 6AM after sleeping all night on army cots, had to put away all the cots before 7AM, and all this after driving ten hours the day before. That is all the complaining you will see for the rest of the entry though because today was SO amazing.

We had to get up so early so that we could set up the tables, eat breakfast and prepare for Sunday school at the church. We split into small groups and all of us got to work with a class of students, some were with babies, others with pre teens, some were with the adult class as well. I decided to work with the teen group along with Miriam, Marjorie, Brian and Pastor Drew. We met about 6 teens and went over a Bible passage with them about the tabernacle, a perfect connection with my Old Testament class! After Sunday school we went to service at the church which is Pentecostal. Most of us had been to Catholic Mass before and some had been to different services but no one in our group had seen anything like this before. The service opened with Jay, Pastor Drew’s son who is only a few years older than most of us, singing (in his amazing voice) a welcoming song that had everyone in the congregation singing and dancing. Now when I say singing and dancing, I mean SINGING AND DANCING. By the end, Jay would sing “What is the highest praise?” at the top of his lungs to which we would reply “HALLELUJAH!” and it was at this point that the group from Boston College arrived. If we were overwhelmed, they must have had it ten times worse but they were troopers and by the end they were singing with the rest of us. There were passages from the Bible and more songs (including one that a few members of the group were singing last night, they all got up on stage for an encore performance) and then Pastor Drew gave a sermon that made every volunteer feel like they were the only person in the room. He talked about his initial amazement that 30 plus students truly wanted to spend their Spring Break in Waverly as opposed to Florida or some tropical island. He then talked about our own personal journeys and that by coming here we showed that we have the potential for greatness. In probably the most poignant moment he looked at everyone and said “You have greatness in you” and then told us to turn to our neighbor and tell them the same thing. It was really moving; I often feel like in this day and age we focus on the negatives, we’re not smart enough, pretty enough, or wealthy enough, but we have to focus on what we are good at and how we can improve the world  with those skills. Having someone say “you have greatness in you” is a jump start for better things in my opinion and Pastor Drew’s sermon basically epitomized the Appalachia program for me.

Tomorrow is our first day of real work, hopefully the so called “snow storm” won’t be more than a few inches!


February 28, 2009

February 28th, 2009 by emhest09

I am currently tucked into a sleeping bag on an army cot wondering how on earth I made it to Waverly, Virginia without a hitch! It’s hard to believe that at 7:00AM this morning we were pulling out of the gates of Holy Cross, not knowing what to expect at the end of the 10 hour drive we faced.

This morning, we packed up the two rental vans as best we could (14 people, everyone’s duffels and mountains of snacks made for a pretty tight squeeze) and left campus right on time. Our group only had three drivers so we rotated every 2 hours, that way no one drove for over four hours at a time. We drove through Baltimore and then got rather lost when the navigator in my van (ehem, BRIAN) missed a sign for an exit. Luckily we had a native of Virginia in our car and got to take a different, quicker and more scenic route around Washington D.C. and we could actually see most of the city when we passed over a bridge nearby. The toughest section to get through was probably Virginia, not because of traffic or anything but because it was getting late and it started to rain, not a good combination! We made it through though!

When we were about 20 minutes away from Waverly, I called Pastor Drew who was our host for the week. I cheerfully told him we were about 20 minutes away and the silence that followed was a bit nerve-wracking. Turns out there was a bit of a miscommunication and we were not supposed to arrive until the following day…you never would have known it though with the reception we got! Both the Waverly A group and the Waverly B group arrived at about the same time and, even though we interrupted a wedding party, we were welcomed with open arms. We got a tour of the church, Lily of the Valley Deliverance Center, then heard from Pastor Drew about the various projects we would be undertaking and how they would help in the community and with the church. We all went out to dinner at Giuseppe’s, an Italian restaurant down then street, and it was great to finally meet the people and see the place I had been wondering about for weeks.

Most of us are currently passed out in our recently assembled army cots, but there is music being played in the church (the room we are sleeping in is the community room attached to the church by a short hallway). It’s certainly a good way to fall asleep and I can’t wait until tomorrow when our time here truly begins!