An Interview with “Unsung Hero” Najee Quashie ‘21: The Highs and Lows of Virtual Academia

Stacey Kaliabakos

Features Editor

I met Najee Quashie ’21 through my Introduction to Psychology class where he works as a “Tech Assistant” along with two other College of the Holy Cross upperclassmen. Intro to Psych is one of the largest classes at Holy Cross and our instructor, Professor Axelson, along with the other professors Najee helps, is constantly striving to streamline information to his students, which is much harder due to remote learning. Tech Assistants help professors accomplish their goal of creating the intimate and personal Holy Cross classroom experience, even at a distance. I felt that a Tech Assistant like Najee deserved the title of an “Unsung Hero” on campus because he plays a vital role in ensuring the success of our online classrooms. 

Picture courtesy of Najee Quashie ’21, graphic design by Hui Li ’21

Stacey: What is your major and what have you been involved in at Holy Cross?

Najee: I am an English major and Art History minor with a Creative Writing concentration. Since Freshman year, I have always been engaged in a variety of activities. I was a model in the Black Student Union’s 50th Year Anniversary fashion show, where I walked in three scenes. During my Sophomore year, I decided to become a RA, which was challenging yet rewarding. I also worked for the Audio-Visual Department, helping professors set up powerpoints, adjust the lights, check the sound system, etc. I also volunteered for Big Brother Big Sisters of America.

Stacey: How and why did you decide to become a Tech Assistant?

Najee: After the MRC office reached out to me regarding the Technology Assistant position, I was excited to take on a role I was well-acquainted with. I assist Professors Axelson, Schaefer, and Ja-Nae Duane in their virtual classrooms with any technical issues they may encounter during the online semester. I am accustomed to helping professors with anything related to technology and its associated difficulties and have learned how to be patient when clearing up any misunderstandings. 

Stacey: What have you learned thus far from this experience? 

Najee: As previously mentioned, I have learned how to be more patient and understanding. Not everyone has the same technical understanding, affinity, and exposure as my generation, which is okay– everyone is still learning and it is rewarding for me to help! During the first week of using Zoom, I had those initial nervous feelings in the pit of my stomach. However, with the month of September almost at an end, all has been smooth sailing. I really enjoy helping out my professors in any way possible.

Stacey: How has Holy Cross’ motto “Men and women for and with others” influenced your perspective, particularly during online learning?

Najee: This year has been unreal and as students, we have had to cover our faces with the mask of pain and struggle. I am sure this has not been an easy time for others as it has not been one for me. However, through the strength and will of our creed as Holy Cross students and being in union with others, we have lifted each other’s spirits through laughter about a professor’s struggle with breakout rooms or simply by asking each other how we are doing. Now more than ever I have been thankful for the education Holy Cross has given me, and I am glad my return on investment involves getting to know some incredible people.  

Stacey: How do you envision life after Holy Cross?

Najee: This summer, I have reflected upon the failures in our political system, thinking about how the laws in place do not favor people who look like me and how there is a small number of Black leaders in top positions in our government. Someday, I would like to represent the country in leading America into a better and more inclusive future. This journey is not an easy one, but I know that if I have people around me like the ones at Holy Cross, then these goals can be a reality.

Check out Najee’s online platform at https://medium.com/@najeequashie1312.

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