The College of the Holy Cross is an institution where students can immerse themselves in a liberal arts, Christian humanistic education that promotes justice and faith, which allows them to be guided by their faith, talents, and commitment to others. As a student who grew up fighting for social justice issues and giving back to my community, I was excited to immerse myself in diverse experiences when I came to Holy Cross.

In my sophomore year of college, I learned that Holy Cross has several partnerships with different organizations throughout the city of Worcester, MA. I came across an internship opportunity at the Nativity School of Worcester, and was drawn to apply because of the school’s history and mission:

“Nativity School of Worcester is an accredited, independent, Jesuit middle school that provides a quality, all-scholarship education to underserved boys of all faiths. Drawing upon four pillars – strength, scholarship, character, and service – a Nativity education inspires self-discovery, responsibility, spiritual growth, and a lifelong dedication to learning.”

On the first day of my internship, I was greeted with a warm welcome by Nativity’s Senior Vice President of Advancement and Graduate Support, Elizabeth Deliberto, and two fifth-grade students, who were excited to give me a tour of their school. On the tour, I was amazed by the inspirational quotes and students’ accomplishments that covered every wall. As I listened to the students describe their school, I noticed how much they liked attending Nativity. Their eagerness and excitement to talk about what they were learning in class and explain their future career goals depicted how Nativity cultivates a love for learning in students.

After the tour, I was greeted by Rev. Thomas McMurray, S.J., the school’s Chaplain and Director of Jesuit Mission and Identity. As the admissions intern, I assisted Fr. McMurray and the Admissions Team with various tasks, such as updating the admissions database on Salesforce; tracking and filing incoming admission application materials; and assembling admission application packets for student and parent interviews. Before this internship, I was not aware of how to use programs like Salesforce or how to handle databases. However, I had excellent guidance from Fr. McMurray and the admissions team on how to use them. In my second year interning at Nativity, I continued assisting Fr. McMurray, as well as the Assistant Principal, Nerelly Checo. As a second-year intern, I continued creating and updating databases, but also assisted teachers and staff with tasks like creating bulletin boards and assembling materials for the school’s Religious Education curriculum.

During my two years interning at Nativity, I noticed that the school prepares its students to be leaders and changemakers. Through the academic program, after-school program, summer program, and graduate support, Nativity fully equips its students to be on track for pursuing a higher education. It is empowering that students receive support and guidance from the teachers, staff, and volunteers throughout their time there. As a student who grew up in a low-income neighborhood and attended Title I schools, I did not have many opportunities or mentors who encouraged me to go to college. I also did not have a teacher or a mentor who could help me with understanding the way the college application process works and how to apply for summer programs. Despite the setbacks, I always had my sisters as role models. They helped me understand that education is important and the key to surpassing barriers. That is why, since high school, I have valued giving back to my community and being an advocate for education equity.

As a first-generation Latina student from a low-income background, interning at Nativity opened doors for me and provided me with professional development and leadership skills that will help me in the future when I graduate from Holy Cross. I am grateful to have been able to work with the amazing staff at Nativity and enjoyed learning about the school’s development so much that in my sophomore year of college, I combined my economics major with an education minor. Likewise, I have enjoyed the courses offered in Holy Cross’ education department, especially “The Catholic Mission in Education” because I have seen how Nativity embodies the Catholic mission in education.

Guided by its Jesuit principle of “men and women for and with others,” I have found Holy Cross and my internship at the Nativity School of Worcester to be life-changing and rewarding. After graduating from college, I intend to pursue a career in education policy and continue advocating for social justice issues.

By Diana Chavez Cruz, College of the Holy Cross ‘24

Diana Chavez Cruz is a rising senior at the College of the Holy Cross. She served as an intern for AJCU in Summer 2022.