Kelly Gallagher ‘22
Incoming students had an introduction unlike any other to the College of the Holy Cross, but hopefully one impression remained consistent: that the community was thrilled to receive them. This summer, Gateways Orientation did their best to communicate that as they developed creative solutions in order to rise to the challenge of welcoming the Class of ‘24 and transfer students to a community with which they could only interact remotely. Whether it was by hosting a virtual scavenger hunt or by sending first-years and transfer students class T-shirts, Gateways worked tirelessly to share the school spirit with the newest members of our community.
Summer Gateways involved five modules which prepared students for life at Holy Cross by introducing them to the academic, co-curricular, and spiritual identities of the College. At the beginning of the summer, first-years and family members received an emailed unique link which granted them access to the online program. The modules aired live, but were recorded for students and family members to access later, along with captions in English, Spanish, and Chinese. First-years were able to connect with students from other classes, as well as professors, academic advisors, class Chaplain Fr. Keith Maczkiewicz, SJ, and class dean Constance Royden.
Beyond the module, Gateways offered a series called “Gateways Gatherings,” which included fun activities such as “Legends of Holy Cross” and a virtual scavenger hunt. The latter was particularly lively, involving breakout rooms where incoming first-years viewed videos from campus and answered trivia questions in hopes of winning a prize. Many student leaders from the scavenger hunt ended up staying in touch with the first-years from their group throughout the rest of the summer.
Gateways also organized events to help students to prepare for the challenges of remote learning. Events included “Gateways Gathering: The Hill From Home,” an informal session which allowed classmates to connect and discuss the upcoming semester, and “Gateways Gathering: Making the Most of Remote,” which connected the Class of ‘24 with faculty members and students who shared their experiences of online classes.
Additional orientation programs included International Student Orientation and Transfer Student Orientation, which were designed to address questions and needs unique to their experiences. The College Transition Program operates independently from Gateways, but they also played a vital role in supporting incoming first-generation college students, students of color, students eligible for the Pell grant, and students invited to the Passport program.
Cathleen Doane Cannon, Director of Orientation and Transition, told The Spire in an interview that she hopes Gateways helped students feel that “Holy Cross is a place where they are welcome, and can find a sense of belonging…. Even in times of Covid-19, they belong to the community, and we are here to support them.”
A wide range of community members were eager to welcome incoming students into the fold. Professors submitted videos introducing students to their departments, professors and students wrote postcards to incoming students, and ITS helped establish and manage the online module. In an interview with The Spire, Patrick Rogers, Assistant Director of the Office of Student Involvement, reflected that “Gateways touched every corner of campus” this summer. Hopefully, despite the remote environment, incoming students can feel that the community is rooting for them and is delighted to welcome them into the Holy Cross family.Now that the semester has started, Gateways is focusing on helping students continue to foster connections and to get involved with campus organizations. On September 10, the Class of ‘24 attended a Book Club meeting to discuss their first-year reading, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Four Holy Cross professors introduced questions raised in the book which were related to their fields, and students joined small breakout rooms to share their thoughts. Coming up on Thursday, September 24, the Purple Key Society will present the Cocurricular Extravaganza, where students will be able to further explore involvement opportunities which will shape the course of their four years at the College.