Senior Year Fall Break: A Time to Reflect

With the whole of September and half of October behind us, I can’t help but notice how fast my senior year is going by. Classes still feel more or less “new”,  I have handed in only a few things to be graded so far, and yet the first break is already here.  Of course the break itself is welcome; this fall break has already provided me with a chance to catch up on some class reading, and I hope to do some more serious job searching a little later in the week.

Fall break also provides me the downtime to consider what is merely weeks away. For one, I am competing in my last Moot Court regional tournament in Albany, New York. If I qualify for nationals, I will be heading with my partner to New Orleans, Louisiana for the Moot Court national tournament in late January.  If I don’t do well, I’ll be done competing in Moot competitions for good, which only makes me appreciate time spent with the team that much more. Senior Ball is also seemingly right around the corner, which falls right around the time of Thanksgiving break. Given how fast the first stretch of this year has gone, I know that this upcoming stretch between fall break and Thanksgiving will fly by. Now, more than ever, I am trying to be cognizant to enjoy each day, even those relatively mundane ones.

While I attempt to enjoy the present, I simply cannot ignore the fact that it’s time to plan for what is to come after Holy Cross. This means looking for appealing job openings, polishing up my resume, and writing cover letters.  I am far from certain what I’ll be doing next year, but I am sending applications to a handful of think tanks in Washington D.C., some law firms for paralegal positions both local and further away, and the Dismas House for Prison Rehabilitation.  Surely, it will feel incredibly rewarding to see what all my hard work has lead up to, but it’s also somewhat fun to send applications out to a variety of jobs and wait to hear back. A lesson I have taken from talking to many Holy Cross alumni is that finding one’s vocational calling is often term a longer-term process. I am excited to see what my hard work and some amount of random chance yields for a first job.

In the meantime I’ll do my best to savor my second-to-last semester at Holy Cross. Before I know it, I’ll be writing about the upcoming month from my desk at home over Thanksgiving break.

Starting Senior Year

As cliche as it sounds, it’s hard to believe that I have only two semesters left at Holy Cross. In comparison to high school, the time has passed incredibly fast. As it is, in four weeks Holy Cross will observe its gracious week long fall break, around which time many of us will have our midterm examinations or papers due.

I came back to campus after “taking it easy” this summer. I worked at a small co-op farm in Amherst, Massachusetts, spending lots of time outside in the beautiful western Massachusetts summer weather. I looked at this summer as potentially the last chance to really be “off the clock” for the entirety of June, July, and August.  I took time to see high school friends who are still in the area, and visit family. As august approached, I began to prepare for the upcoming moot court season, as well as doing some preliminary reading for my College Honors thesis that I’ll complete this year.  The topic of this year-long project is still somewhat ambiguous this early on, but my adviser and I are both interested in the following question: what makes a law something that one should follow? Is it mainly the fact that the law was presumably produced by an organized and well-respected process–like how a bill makes it through congress and is signed by the U.S. President–or is it more accurate to say that laws are followed because a majority of persons respect the content of the law? This debate has important implications for examining some of the worst atrocities of human society, since many of these violations of basic human dignity came out of an at least partially legal processes.

This project will occupy a lot of my time, but I am also excited for my three traditional courses, as I am now taking the upper-level philosophy seminars that promise to lead to robust class discussion. Outside of the classroom, my friends and I are eagerly awaiting the stunning transition that Holy Cross campus sees during the autumn months.  New England’s autumn never disappoints, but Holy Cross looks especially good as the ivy turns a new hue and the trees lining Linden Lane turn.

As the second week of classes begin, I have reflected on some of the aspects of my life on campus that have tacitly become “little traditions”. For instance, my roommate and I laughed as we both suggested that we should get pizza at Antonio’s a few minutes from campus this past Friday night like we had done so many times sophomore year, and the fall of junior year while I was on campus. Or, the fact that we have concert tickets for our favorite band in Boston at nearly the same exact time of this fall as last year’s. Farming and relaxing over the summer was much needed, but being back is great. The only sad part is that it’s my last year here.

Semester in Washing: Part 2

Since my last post, lots has happened in D.C. First and foremost, our group of 16 had the honor of meeting Justice Clarence Thomas. I think I speak on behalf of the group when I say that the meeting exceeded all of our expectations (that were high to begin with, no doubt). Justice Thomas is known to be very quiet on the bench (he once went nearly 10 years without asking a question during oral arguments), but is gregarious and as welcoming as one could hope in real life. A meeting that was slated to last a little over an hour turned into a nearly three hour meeting, including a personal tour of his office, offers to attend oral arguments, and a small group tour of the entire Supreme Court building.

In addition, we met with Brendan Dunn (HC ‘96) who worked alongside Mitch McConnell as the key staff architect of his endeavors with respect to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December 2017. We met Mr. Dunn at the private firm for which he works after his public service experience, and he gave us more than two hours of his time, speaking on his time at Holy Cross, his post-undergraduate career path, while fielding our questions on all sorts of topics. Shortly thereafter, we met with Rich Davey (HC ‘95), who was the Secretary and CEO of the Massachusetts Dept. of Transportation, before becoming the Associate Director of the Boston Consulting Group. Mr. Davey took the time to attend our seminar on a Tuesday night to share anecdotes of his time on the Hill (both Mt. Saint James and Capitol Hill). Next class, Amy Brundage, deputy assistant to President Obama and deputy communications director at the White House, stopped by to speak with us and answer questions. Finally, and most recently, Brian Morrissey met the group at Vapiano’s Restaurant to chat over dinner about his time clerking for Clarence Thomas, his experience in the private sector, and his recent move to the Department of Justice, where he serves as the Counselor to the Attorney General. As one can imagine, we were all excited, albeit somewhat shocked, that this semester program included so many meetings with high profile Holy Cross alumni; however, I don’t think any of us were utterly surprised by how warm and down to earth each and every one of the alumni were. One hears about the dedicated alumni base at Holy Cross, but we all witnessed that in action as very busy professionals invited us to their place of work, or missed dinner with their families, to share their insight and experiences.

Amidst meeting with these gracious alumni, we all were chipping away at our thesis, eventually handing in a rough draft early last week. Personally, I have never carried out a 40-50 page research project, so grappling with the body of literature I consulted, pacing the project appropriately, and ensuring that enough, but not too much, background is provided before delving into my argument is proving to be a serious challenge indeed. That said, my advisers have been giving helpful, regular feedback, and I already feel myself becoming more confident as a writer; not to mention the fact that it’s intellectually rewarding to feel like I could talk at length about a singular subject. We on the trip joke that those 10-12 page papers due at the end of the semester will seem a good deal more manageable after we have this project under our belts.

All this said, we need some time to decompress on the weekends. Luckily, last weekend, the temperature hovered between 60-low 70s. As if such nice spring weather wasn’t enough, my girlfriend came to visit me on my birthday. We took the metro three stops to Arlington Cemetery and walked the beautiful grounds, and later that day, we visited both the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials. On Saturday, I drove us to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s Estate, and took a mansion tour. I highly recommend seeing Mount Vernon. It’s a little outside of D.C. proper, but totally worth the 25 minute drive.

By the time you read this, I will have less than three weeks left in D.C. I was told in high school that the years “fly by”, and was reminded of that phenomenon again in college by family and recent grads. But truly, no period of my young adult life has passed quite as quickly as my semester in Washington. It surely doesn’t help that my friends and I regularly, almost in disbelief, discuss the fact that we are coming up on our senior year, but that reality notwithstanding, I still wish I had more time in the city. I love my job at the Federalist Society, Costco grocery runs with my roommates are more fun than they are burdensome, and I know I have only seen and experience one percent of what D.C. has to offer.

Semester in Washington: Part 1

It has been exactly one month since I arrived in Washington, D.C. for the Washington Semester Program. There are 16 of us from Holy Cross living in the Meridian Apartments at Pentagon City. One of my favorite parts about the program so far is hearing highlights from all 15 other students who are at varying internship sites. My direct suitemates, for instance, are interning at Flywheel Government Solutions, the White House, and the Department of Education, respectively. I am interning at the Federalist Society, which is a nonprofit organization whose mission it is to help educate law students, lawyers, and judges about the structure of our republican government; the separation of powers, the meaning of our written constitution, and the dangers of executive overreach.  

On the work front, I have been assigned only substantive projects. I have briefed many court cases, helped to author blog posts, and worked with special project staffs for upcoming Federalist Society events around Washington. From everything I have heard from the other students on the trips, their experiences have been equally substantive and engaging.

Of course, there’s lots to do in D.C. on the weekends. I have only begun to scratch the surface with regard to sightseeing. (It’s also very nice that many of the best sites are free!) So far I have seen a Washington Wizards basketball game, been to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and the National Gallery of Art. I am planning on visiting the Arlington Cemetery soon, and later in February, I am taking a half-day at work and heading to the Supreme Court to hear a religious liberty case. With a little help from gracious Holy Cross alumni, each student has gotten a Metro Card subsidy, making getting around the city even easier than it otherwise would have been.

As if an internship in D.C. with time to sight see on the weekend weren’t enough, Holy Cross also works diligently  to ensure that we have the chance to meet with some of the school’s most distinguished (and welcoming) alumni while we are in the city. For instance, we went to the D.C. trial court to meet with Judge Richard Leon, who presides over the D.C. District Court. During our meeting he spoke of his time at Holy Cross, the events that steered him into the field of law, and some of his high profile cases, including his ruling that freed five Guantanamo Bay Prisoners due to insufficient evidence. Judge Leon is a gregarious man who entertained the group, but also took the time to hear where each and every one of us was from, what we did at our internship, and what our post-graduation plans were.

The week after, we met with Senator Bob Casey Jr. from Pennsylvania, who was equally as engaging and interested to hear our stories. In fact, Senator Casey was 20 minutes late to his next engagement because he made sure that he gave all 16 of us time to share a bit about our time in D.C. I am perhaps most excited to meet with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who was classmates with Judge Leon. (The two remain close friends today.) After reading many of Justice Thomas’ opinions pursuant to my involvement in Holy Cross Moot Court, I am excited to meet him in real life. One truly does not know if Holy Cross will ever place another graduate on the Nation’s highest court, and as such, we are all very excited for the chance to him.

For those reading this blog and thinking, “Hey, this might be something I am interested in!” I highly encourage you to apply. There is no specific major, nor career aspiration, that makes a successful candidate. Instead, you simply have to be interested my some aspect of the Nation’s capital; be that public policy, politics, economics, health policy, law, education, nonprofit, social justice, and more. Though I still have two months left in the program, I can confidently say that these have been some of the most informative and fun weeks of my HC career. Oh, and one more thing: definitely go in four ways on a Costco card! Eating out in D.C. is expensive to say the least, and what better time to get better at shopping and cooking for one’s self? It’s even a little fun.






Junior Year Spring and Beyond

Many exciting things have happened post-fall break. First among them, I was fortunate enough to be offered an internship position with The Federalist Society in Washington D.C. for this upcoming spring semester.  During the phone interview, the gentleman interviewing me made clear the fact that he had never had a poor experience with a Holy Cross intern–the infamous alumni network in action! Myself and 15 other Holy Cross students–many different majors, interests, and career aspirations among us–will be heading to D.C. in the spring as part of the Washington Semester Program. A few of good friends are currently participating in the fall semester program. A recurring comment I receive upon asking them how their time has been is that they feel “like adults, doing meaningful work and learning to truly live on [their] own.” I think I speak on behalf of them as well, those remotely interested in law, public policy, government, social activism, to name but a few fields, should look into the program.

Beyond this exciting news, I am beginning to more seriously consider how I will synthesize what I have learned in my classes pursuant to a neuroscience minor and my philosophy classes so as to begin planning my College Honors thesis. I am currently in a Philosophy of Mind course, and the material we have been reading has sharpened my interest in the field of Philosophy. This said, I am considering addressing some question in the sub-discipline of Philosophy of Mind; moral agency and its connection to free will is a question, albeit it massively complicated, that I would love to explore.

Lastly, I am a proud new contributing member to A Contest of Ideas: A Journal of Opinion. A Contest of Ideas is the third regularly syndicated on-campus publication, aiming to host longer form pieces on politics and the economy, religion and philosophy, and social justice. The editors-at-large stress their wiliness to publish any viewpoint, so long as it is well reasoned and coherently supported. I have been humbled by the experience so far, reading the top-tier work that many other Holy Cross students do for the journal. I urge anyone curious about the political climate and discourse on campus should sample a few articles.

Beginning Another Year

Today marks the third time I unpacked my car to move into a new room at Holy Cross. Classes begin Wednesday, meaning I have a couple of days to gather my thoughts before my busiest semester thus far commences. Taking a fifth course will inevitably introduce challenges that I had not experienced during the last two years, but I don’t wish too over emphasize the negatives; I am tremendously excited for the upcoming semester on the Hill.

For one, I am directing all of my focus towards my major in philosophy and minor in neuroscience. I completed all of my common area requirements last spring, meaning I will be taking more upper level courses within my chosen courses of study. I am perhaps most excited about my Philosophy of Mind course, which will in itself bridge the gap between philosophy and modern neuroscience.
This coming semester is also special to me since I will be heading to Washington, D.C. in the spring. Semesters fly by, so I want to make a conscious effort to enjoy the day-to-day before I say goodbye to my roommate and good friends until next fall.

Amidst the work that comes with my normal academic courses I will be competing as a part of the Moot Court Team this fall and winter. This year’s case involves a female college professor who–upon being rejected from the law school, despite less qualified male applicants being admitted–was fired for speaking negatively about the state school system that both employed and rejected her. The case calls into question her first and fourteenth amendment rights. Out of the three cases I have seen since being a member of the team, this is the most fascinating. Lastly, I will be slowly-but-surely completing applications to different internships in D.C. I plan on applying to a handful of think tanks and a few publications. My top choices currently are the Cato Institute, the Federalist Society, and ReasonTV magazine. Regardless of the internship I am fortunate enough to get, I still have a busy, fun, and rewarding semester ahead of me. It is time to begin another year.

The April Rush

Throughout a given week, it is safe to assume that Holy Cross students are busy.  There is reading to keep up with, friends to see, and extracurricular activities in which to take part.  However, the month of April, in my experience, has to be one of the busiest times of the year.  Not only is work picking up as finals approach (faster than many of us would like to think about), but it is also the month in which next year’s courses are picked, study abroad details are ironed out, and rooming plans are solidified. Add a few scholarship options and internships deadlines into the mix, and it’s no wonder that Dinand seems a little busier than usual.

With this being said, I think campus as a collective is looking forward to warmer weather.  The change from grey and cold to a bit brighter and warmer invariably lightens the mood.  When walking to class is enjoyable rather than painful like it is in the dead of winter, it is a lot easier to think about the quickly-approaching summer plans.  While we are still waiting on this nicer weather, the event held in the Hogan Ballroom, “Halfway to Someday” this past Monday lifted spirits and rejuvenated sophomore students in a different way than the weather will.  This event, sponsored by Dean Zuckerman, Associate Dean for Student Affairs , included a catered dinner, a speaker from a recently graduated HC class, and a video compilation put together by a class of 2020 student.

The video included a handful of my classmates discussing where they see themselves a few years from now.  Some made mention of specific career paths they would like to pursue, but a majority referenced the type of life they would like to live.  Common to many responses was a desire to serve others and live a reflective, meaningful life.   During a time when day to day life can seem like little more than ticking off boxes, it was nice to hear my classmates talk about purpose, the very thing that drives students here to work as hard as they do.  The evening reminded me of the importance of savoring the last few weeks on campus, despite the laundry list of things that need to be accomplished before leaving.  After all, half of my Holy Cross career is completed in less than 30 days.  What better time than to take a second and reflect amidst the April rush.


Washington Semester

From Thanksgiving on, study abroad is one of the most discussed topics on Campus among second year students.  While not technically an “abroad” program, the semester in Washington D.C. is one of the opportunities students discuss in the winter and spring months.  In my opinion, the Washington Semester is one offering that distinguishes Holy Cross from some other similar liberal arts colleges.

The program lasts for one semester.  Roughly half of the students accepted to the program go to D.C in the fall, while the other half attend the spring semester.  Holy Cross has deep connections in Washington, meaning the internships that many current students apply to are places at which other Holy Cross students have made strong impressions.  One can find a list of just some of the impressive internships that past Holy Cross students have had here.

The program consist basically of three parts.  First, every student takes a public policy seminar.  Second, each student completes an internship. Third, each student completes a 40-50 page research thesis about their respective internship.  Irrespective of the nature of their work experience, it is easy to see how the Washington Semester would prove to be an invaluable experience for any student considering a life in law, politics, policy, academia, etc.  It shows a great deal of responsibility and academic promise if a student can manage an intensive seminar, a full time internship in D.C. and complete a substantial writing assignment.  Even students interested in public or global health should apply, as there are plenty of internships in Washington relating to health care and medical ethics, to name just a few.

Internships and career- related work experience are aspects of college life that can sometimes be stressful.  Over the summer, many students are looking for something paid.  The great thing about the Washington Semester is that it is built right into one’s academic year.  It is one’s only focus during one semester of junior year.  When else would it be feasible for anyone not local to the D.C. area to spend 14 weeks in one of the busiest cities in the nation?  The Washington Semester is just example of how strong the Holy Cross network is.  Take advantage of it if you find yourself here!

Second Semster Underway

At Holy Cross, the “grace” period between arriving back on campus and being busy once again is as short as the winter break is long.  Many Holy Cross students joke about the lack of “syllabus week,” but many are ready to jump right back into their lives at HC after being on break for over a month.  Winter break, especially for sophomores, is a popular time for job shadows with HC alumni and service trips to underserved areas here and abroad.  Upon arriving back on campus, one hears chatter about every students unique break experience.

At the outset of the semester everyone is excited to take on their new classes and set a routine that will take them into the spring months. Last semester’s lunch and dinner schedule might not remain the same, but the fresh faces you see walking from class to class is a welcome change.  Familiar friends are eager to have another great semester considering many students have just sent their applications to the study abroad programs of which they hope to be a part their junior year.

Whereas the first semester of sophomore year felt a bit strange insofar as the “newness” of freshman year has worn off, the second semester of sophomore year brings with it a new sense of purpose.  One’s major needs to be chosen by the end of this year, and many students have either joined a new organization or become a well known part of one they were in last year.  Personally, I had a successful season as a part of the Moot Court team  (I encourage you to “meet the coaches” on the web page!) as my partner and I finished top 40 in the country at the National Tournament in Dallas, TX.  More importantly, the Moot Court team is something I have felt more connected to thus far this year.  Being involved on top of the workload can be a lot at times, but the personal rewards of staying with an activity year after year are invaluable.

Happenings Over Break

After a very busy second semester, I was ready to enjoy a relaxing break in sleepy Belchertown, MA.  Just recently I cleaned out any messages pertaining to fall semester from my email inbox and cleaned out my backpack.  Until the New Year, I, and I believe most of my classmates, will be spending a majority of their time off relaxing with friends and family.  With this being said, Holy Cross students have a very generous break, meaning many choose to partake in something academic before classes resume.

A popular activity that I  and many other sophomores and juniors take part in is the Alumni Job Shadow Program sponsored by the Center for Career Development.  This program pairs you with a Holy Cross alumnus in a specified field of interest.  For example, I curated a short list of alumni that I would like to shadow in the field of law and I was recently matched with a woman who is the Presiding Justice over the Trial Court of the Commonwealth.  You contact the alumnus, set up a date and spend a full day witnessing what it is like to be in that field for a brief time.   I am very excited to meet my day host in early January.

Besides the Job Shadow Program, many students will be reaching out to professionals they know in their area for internships or just to ask career related questions.  Sophomore year is a strange time, for it is often times a bit too early to have decided precisely what field to which one would like to belong.  However, unlike freshman year, the winter break seems to long to simply relax for the entire month.  Therefore, it is suggested to do something career related no matter how “unofficial” since the semester is so busy that is renders career searching nearly impossible.  Holy Cross gives you a long break so use it both to recharge and hone in on your career aspirations!