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College of the Holy Cross Student Spotlight Interview, with Hispanic American Student Nachelle Duque

Nachelle is majoring in Biology, and pursuing a minor in Asian Studies. She is intended to graduate in 2025.

What led to your decision to attend College of the Holy Cross?

Deciding to attend college in Massachusetts was an absolute joy for me, especially being a Boston native and a proud first-generation college student. The proximity to my family brings me immense comfort, and it's extra comforting to know I can stay close to my roots while embarking on this exciting journey. During an unofficial tour of Holy Cross, I experienced a heartwarming moment that perfectly depicted the warmth of the Holy Cross community. During my tour, a friendly student, sensing my excitement, offered to take a picture of me with my family. Her kindness not only made my day but also highlighted the genuine and inclusive spirit that has made my college experience so special. Once I became a student, the feeling remained. The small class sizes are a true blessing. They create an environment where I feel seen and a valued participant in the learning process. The amount of resources available at Holy Cross has opened doors to endless possibilities, allowing me to pursue my dreams of entering the medical field. At Holy Cross, I have found more than just an academic institution – I've discovered a second home, a supportive community, and a place where every emotion and moment has been beautiful to experience. 

Can you describe what kind of support/communities exist for minority students at College of the Holy Cross?

At the College of the Holy Cross, there is a vibrant and supportive community for minority students, that creates inclusivity and cultural celebration. Affinity groups like the Latin American Student Organization (LASO), Black Student Union (BSU), Asian Students in Action (ASIA), and more, play a crucial role in creating a sense of belonging for students of various backgrounds. These groups are not only multicultural but also cater to specific interests within diverse communities. For instance, I am part of Latinidad, a Latin dance group that allows me to connect with people who share a passion for Latin music and dance. This provides a unique space to celebrate our cultural heritage and connect with others who appreciate the rich culture of Latin American traditions. As an American-Colombian, I take pride in showcasing my cultural identity and contributing to the diverse and dynamic atmosphere at Holy Cross, whether that is in shows, art, or more. The support within these affinity groups contributes significantly to the overall positive experience for minority students on campus.

Nachelle Duque and diverse group of Black & Brown students at the College of the Holy Cross
Nachelle and her fellow peers in their college dance club Latinidad

What advice do you have for Juniors and Seniors in high school who want to attend College of the Holy Cross and. . . are from the West Coast, and worried about being far from home?

First off, I would encourage students who want to go far away from home to apply to an overnight program that is sponsored by the college. At Holy Cross, we have two - Perspectives in the Fall and Visions in the Spring for admitted students. This will allow students to see the campus and connect with students who are wondering the same thing and resources who will support them when they are here. 

Adjusting to college life, especially when coming from far away to attend the College of the Holy Cross, may sound very scary, but it can be a rewarding experience. I would say to help ease the transition, it's important to explore and utilize campus resources, such as counseling services and student support groups, like clubs. Some clubs I joined were Latinidad (Latin dance group), and LASO (Latin American Student Association). I have also been working as an intern in the admissions office. I have loved speaking with students to distill this very fear! 

Building a supportive network through orientation events and connecting with friends from classes and other programs helps create a sense of belonging. It is important to remember, that other students have moved far away from home. Even though I live closer to Holy Cross compared to many students on campus, going to college an hour away from home was still a stretch for me. I made sure to stay connected with family and friends back home. It is also important to know that it's normal to feel homesick every once in a while, so acknowledge those feelings and try to actively embrace your new environment. 

Remember that adjusting takes time, be patient with yourself, and embrace the opportunities for personal growth that college offers!

… and are worried about the cost of attending a private university?

If you're worried about the cost of attending a private university, know that you're not alone, and there are ways to make it more manageable. Look into scholarships, grants, and work-study programs. Explore external funding sources and reach out to the financial aid office for guidance. Don't hesitate to advocate for yourself by expressing your concerns and seeking additional support. Also, many colleges meet 100% of the demonstrated need of a student. Those colleges are great resources and options.  Always remember, to seek out your resources and ask questions! 

… and want their application to stand out?

To make your application stand out, show genuine interest by researching the school thoroughly. This could be rereading their website to even join in on a couple of panels. Highlight specific aspects that resonate with you in your application and consider scheduling an interview if possible. An interview is always a great opportunity to express your enthusiasm and connect personally with the admissions team. Be authentic in showcasing your achievements, and passions, and how they can align with your college journey!

What are some of Holy Cross’ most notable programs? (Programs of study, extracurriculars, etc.).

Our pre-med and pre-law programs are very strong. HC students have an acceptance rate of above 80% for medical schools and 90% for law schools. More specifically, our research programs in all departments are solid and accessible. Holy Cross also has over 100 clubs and activities that accommodate almost everyone's hobbies. 

What advice would you offer a student who is considering attending College of the Holy Cross (or just college on the East Coast in general?), but is on the fence about it? 

If you're on the fence about attending the College of the Holy Cross, take the time to reflect on your academic and personal goals. I would also consider the unique opportunities and programs Holy Cross has and how they align with your aspirations. If there is any way to reach out to current students or alumni to gain insights into their experiences, I would take that offer as well. Overall, I am a very strong believer that everything that is meant for you will come to you; you will ultimately always end up where you are meant to be. 

Two words to describe a Holy Cross student? 

Collaborative and Resilient


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