All About Athena at the Acropolis 

Subtle flex: going to the Acropolis to learn about Athena. One of the courses I’m taking is called “Greek Mythology and Religion.” Briefly, it deals with the myths of Ancient Greece, puts them into perspective with the ancient Greeks, and analyzes their reception and possible relationships with our mortal world today. It’s quite an enjoyable course, especially while studying in Athens.

On the Acropolis!

If you don’t know, Athens is named after the goddess Athena, a virgin warrior goddess known also for her wisdom and craft. She is the namesake of Athens following a contest with Poseidon. For those dwelling in the area (soon to be known as Athens), Poseidon produced a spring, but it was salty; Athena produced the olive tree, bearing a multitude of fruits and gifts for the mortals. As you can guess, Athena won this contest. Thus, Athens received its name. 

In the discourse surrounding the goddess, Athena is also known as Parthenos (Παρθένος): virgin. Like the other goddesses, Artemis and Hestia, she was to remain a virgin. If you didn’t know, now it might make more sense how the Parthenon got its name. During our lecture on Athena, the Parthenon, and Athens, we had the opportunity to learn more about the relationship between Athena and the ancient Athenians. We also discussed our opinions and thoughts on the modern implications of this relationship. 

Nina Papathanasopoulou (CYA) giving a lecture on the friezes and pediments of the Parthenon.

I chose to study abroad in one of the places from where my Classics major comes for several different reasons (which I can elaborate on in the future). Of course, being in the spot where the Athenians lived, learned, and worshiped is close to the top. I’d take a lecture on the Acropolis over being in the classroom any day. I feel grateful to be able to learn about the illustrious Athena and her temple while being in its very presence. 

A Wiser Fool: Sophomore Year Reflection

Sophomore literally means “wise fool.” How are we supposed to feel about being called a wise fool? Is it a good thing? Does it embrace our naivety? Or, undermine our intelligence? It’s up to you. For me, it’s a fitting description for the sophomore year I had at Holy Cross. For my last post of the year (which is long overdue!) I would like to share some overall highlights, lessons I’ve learned, and some highs and lows. Precisely, I’ll take you through a year of a wise fool. 

Dinand Library

Interdisciplinary Thought

College classes are difficult. Yet, they are not impossible. After a successful first year at the college, I felt unstoppable in terms of my academic career. I earned high marks in all of my classes. I was settling into my Classics major pretty well. I couldn’t tell you what came over me, but before the spring semester, I decided to switch up half of my classes. Even though it meant putting my Art History minor on hold, I decided to take intellectual risks by taking my first Political Science and Philosophy courses. 

While I was prepared for these courses, they were well out of my comfort zone. I took a class on American Politics because I longed for some sense of political literacy and involvement. Turns out, politics is just as hollow as the politicians make it out to be. Spoiler alert: it’s all about power. I can’t see a future in politics for me, but I used my interest in the Ancient Roman Republic to fuel my involvement and interest in this course. My background in this field in Classics guided my understanding of American politics, and vice versa. It was a nice complement to my upper-level Latin class on the politician Cicero, whose Pro Caelio I read in the fall semester. 

Philosophy was a bit harder to get into, but the most rewarding of them all. The course topic was called “Metaphysics.” Yea, maybe I should’ve swapped the class when I had the chance. At the start of the semester, my professor gave several warnings about the difficulty of the class. He wasn’t kidding, these philosophers are no joke. Some days I was better off not reading the chapter, because whether I read it or not, I wouldn’t even begin to understand what these people were talking about. But, that was the beauty of the course. I learned how to better approach philosophical thought, even philosophize myself, but my professor’s lectures about the importance of the metaphysical were all worth swallowing my fear of misunderstanding the readings. I got over being wrong in class a long time ago; there is no room in college for a fear of making mistakes. 

This course was such a challenge that it completely altered my approach to my life. I saw my writing style, intent, and ideas flourish in front of my very eyes. In the same interdisciplinary nature, I was able to connect all of my classes with one another. Ancient transformation myths were now paired with Ancient and Modern political theory. I could go on and on.

New Windows of Opportunity  

This fresh embrace of life and interdisciplinary thought was not only fostered within the classroom. This year I worked as a Research Associate for the New England Classical Journal. With NECJ, I was able to write my own abstracts, host a podcast episode, and even present my very own research paper at a conference. I never thought I would have accomplished something as an undergraduate student, but I did it! Even though I was a nervous undergrad surrounded by intimidatingly brilliant grad students and professors, it was excellent exposure I am grateful for so early in my career. I even had the opportunity to produce original research in Art History for the exhibition, which you’ve heard me talk about countless times. It was truly a success! 

This year I also planned and hosted Classics Day, which was a massive undertaking. The students and volunteers all had a wonderful time celebrating the Classics. In my eyes, it was a little peace in the ever-changing world of a liberal arts education (we can get into that issue another time). This was my ultimate intellectual and leadership accomplishment that I have completed in my life thus far. Along with being Classics Day Chair and doing Community Based Learning work in my courses, I was recently named a Charles A. Dana scholar (2023-2024) for my outstanding intellectual competence, good character, and representation of the values of Holy Cross. What a way to end my sophomore year! I am beyond grateful for these opportunities and excited for what the future holds. You know, in Athens next semester! 😉 

Fools as My Friends

Turns out my fellow wise fools make the best friends. This year has posed a lot of challenges. After a particularly low fall semester, I was reminded about how much of a gift we are to one another. College is a stepping stone for our success, not the end all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m that girl who will be in Dinand for hours; but, in the spring, I found my crowd that will do the same. My people who work so hard and deserve all the accolades, but remain humble and kind. Most importantly, we have fostered a loving community that cares for one another, the kind that supports one another instead of bringing each other down. 

All the lows were worth it when I put into perspective what it means to be a woman for others. It means putting faith in yourself, your family, and your very best friends that we can do anything we set out to do. And, this is not over-optimistic, it is true. This comes out of pure joy for the people I have grown close to and those I have sadly grown apart from: you all have positively impacted my life. Thank you. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Whether it be cracking up in the main reading room, family Kimball dinner, or an off-campus walk (or two), these memories are forever. 

Well, I guess I’m wiser now. Or, more foolish? Either way, this year was wild, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. It’s been lovely writing to you all, and thank you for sticking around. If you don’t hear from me on this blog, you know where to find me!

Go Crusaders! 

“These studies nourish the youth, they delight old age.” – Cicero

Ringing in a New Decade 

Many say that your twenties are the best years of your life. I guess it’s time to find out what’s so great about them. As we enter the last weeks of the spring semester, we have begun to think about what’s next. For some of us, we’re just getting started on our college journey. For others, we are soaking in the very last seconds on the Hill. For me? Well, I’m at a weird point in my college career. When you get to sophomore year you too will understand. There is not as much of a rush of newness as there was freshman year. You are figuring out your interests and friends that make you happy. While this is all and well, it’s the perfect time to learn about yourself. 

For some of us, we will be bringing Holy Cross away by participating in DC and international programs. I’m part of the latter group: I’ll be studying in Athens, Greece next semester. It’s a big jump, but I am confident that Holy Cross has prepared me well beyond my expectations. For many others, the Hill will continue to nourish their studies and relationships. 

So, I just turned 20 yesterday. And, attending my classes yesterday, Metaphysics and Latin, reminded me why I’m at Holy Cross in the first place. I am on the Hill to make mistakes (And, if I weren’t here for that reason, I would not be in college.). I am here to learn. I am here to love what I’m learning and to enrich my soul with these studies. Like the inscription in our beloved Dinand Library says: haec studia adulescentiam alunt, senectutem oblectant. Coincidentally it’s my favorite Latin author, Cicero and translates to: “These studies nourish the youth, they delight old age.”

While I have my thoughts of Holy Cross as a Liberal Arts Institution, I personally keep these values as grounding my identity as a Holy Cross student and woman for our community and our world. Sometimes we forget why we’re here, both in our world and our campus. But, learning things that make us happy, regardless of a direct outcome, is our purpose.

Holy Cross allows us to enrich our souls by studying a wide range of disciplines insofar as we consider this an advantage to our future. Of course, we are working towards a productive future in our professional lives, but like Holy Cross, I am a firm believer in allowing our studies to shape our person so that we can be the best version of ourselves in whatever workplace we deem fit. I have a good feeling that my twenties are going to be rewarding as long as I continue to flourish where I’m meant to be. 


For the Kids: Community Based Learning Courses

At the core of our Jesuit identity is service. At its most basic level, service is the practice of helping others. This can take so many different forms in different places and circumstances. From my experience, however, service is a duty we must fulfill given that we have gifts, skills, and passions to help others. As a Holy Cross student, I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to study. When I figure out what I am meant to do in this world I will consider three things: What do I love? What am I good at? What does the world need me to do? 

That last question grounds my identity as a woman for others. Whatever we put out in this world, whether we see explicit effects or not, is affecting our world. And so, why should we not make the world a better place from it? Even if it is a small deed, it still has a meaningful impact, even if it does not have a massive change. This blog post goes out to the skeptics who claim that smaller deeds of service, like the ones I will describe here, are meaningless. Here goes nothing. 

For the most part, the Holy Cross community practices what it preaches. They take this value so seriously, some courses have a required Community Based Learning (CBL) component alongside course material. At a quick glance, this CBL component is not seen to be merely a requirement for the course, but it should enhance the course’s material aims and goals.

I have taken two CBL courses: Kings & Caliphs: Art of Luxury and Introduction to Greek 1 and 2. I already wrote about my experience in the first course, so be sure to check that out! Right now, I’ll give you the rundown on a more hands on CBL experience with my Introduction to Greek classes.

In the fall semester, we had a CBL section of the class which focused on creating a project for the Worcester Art Museum to work on. My group created an interactive pyxis, a jewelry-type box out of materials we had at school. We were able to create a fun and enriching experience for anyone who would use our pyxis, both younger students and older ones. 

In the spring semester, we completed an exciting project which included going to Worcester East Middle School and teaching a lesson on the Ancient Athenian Legal System. After weeks of planning and outlining our lesson plans, our groups split up into pairs and we had the opportunity to teach our lesson to 7th grade students. Overall, the students seemed like they were engaged and learned something new about Ancient Athens and American Democracy. I would love to go into specifics, so feel free to reach out!

From a service learning perspective, this one day of teaching did not transform the kids. But, what is important to get out of this experience is that we showed up for them. Service, regardless of its size, is something that I will defend until the end of time. Let’s make sure we show up and understand what the world needs us to do today. 

Jesuit Tradition and Crusader Art: Student Scholarship in Action

Holy Cross prides itself on the intersectionality of student scholarship and our communities, both near and far. It’s certainly a part of the Jesuit tradition that I find myself deeply committed to. Given Holy Cross’ top-tier academic instruction and resources, our commitment to the Worcester community (and beyond), and our scholarship goes beyond the walls of our historic Fenwick Hall. 

I recently reported back on the new Prior Performing Arts Center and how integral it is for our campus community. If you remember, you might have gotten a passionate request to come to the new Cantor Art Gallery to see the inaugural historical exhibit: “Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece.” Well, I am ecstatic to say that the Holy Land has finally made its way “home” on St. James Hill. 

Across several semesters, different sections of the Art History class, “Kings and Caliphs: Art of Luxury,” spent countless hours researching a particular object that would be highlighted in the exhibit. And, after years of research by the leading curator, Professor Amanda Luyster, and students along the way, the exhibition was finally a reality. The exhibition activities began with a guest lecture by Dr. William Purkis from the University of Birmingham on “Bringing the Holy Land Home: Crusaders, Relics, and the Transformation of Latin Christendom’s Sacred Material World.” This was an appropriate and engaging talk to put our Jesuit identity in connection with the Islamic and Crusader Art that would be living on our campus for the next couple of months. 

The Chertsey Tiles © Janis Desmarais and Amanda Luyster

After the lecture concluded, I could feel the anticipation from everyone as we made our way up to the Cantor Art Gallery. I was feeling a great deal of honor and privilege being able to study under the incredible guest curator, Professor Luyster. The exhibition was phenomenal. So amazing, you’ll have to come yourself to see it! You’ll certainly regret it if you don’t. It’s not everyday that you can see all of these objects in physical conversation with one another. 

Me and My Seal!

Like I mentioned before, I was in one of Professor Luyster’s classes on Crusader art. So, we had the opportunity to research an object that would be highlighted in the exhibition. As many professors and advisors have told me in the past, there is nothing like seeing something you’ve worked so hard on for the first time. And, even though the seal I worked on was tiny, it was still mighty. Nonetheless, I was so proud to see it there in the flesh. You know, someone nearly 800 years ago got a letter with that very seal on it. Now we have it. How crazy is that? It’s something you can say about every object in the exhibition, and yet, something you can’t come across very often in your own community.  

My Seal! Seal of Latin Emperor Henry of Flanders (Dumbarton Oaks)

This is only the beginning of sophisticated student research with professors, advisors, and other professionals in their fields. There are plenty of opportunities at the college for involvement in our studies outside of the classroom. And, this blog post is one of the opportunities I’ve been involved in this year alone; I’ll write some more later. It truly connects our communal Holy Cross identity with our own personal identities. The exhibit closes April 6, 2023; hopefully, you can make it over here before then!

A Close Up

Sophomore Spring: “Realistic” Academic Goals

Sophomore Spring. I already like the sound of that. You already got a taste of what the spring semester might look like for me; but, I have some very realistic academic goals I would like to share with you all. 

Things are going to start looking different around here. You know, because I’m about to turn all philosophical on you. My first realistic goal is to be more philosophical this semester. And by this I mean I’m taking my first philosophy class at the college: Metaphysics. Yea, scary. But, hey, I really just want to start spitting out some Aristotle and Descartes, no big deal. It’s realistic, if you ask me.

As I’m becoming philosophical in my own way, you should expect that I’ll be referencing the Constitution and political ideology thanks to taking a shot in my first political science class on American Government and Politics (only after watching The West Wing, of course). I already spit out Hamilton lyrics without command, so what’s the difference?

While I’m becoming more philosophical and political, I plan on pursuing all my other endeavors in the form of eloquent Latin poetry, such as Ovid’s Metamorphoses and the Greek text of Lysias with some of my very best friends.

If you know me, you know I’m working on my humor. And, all bad jokes aside, I am so excited for my classes this semester. Although it’s always hard to get out of comfort during break, I miss the energy during a busy semester. And, as you know, I love taking academics seriously and challenging myself, so here goes nothing.

By the way, I plan on completing all these goals among others. So, be prepared.

New Year’s Resolutions 2023 (From an “Anti-Resolutions” type)

I’m not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions, and I tend to stray away from them. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I feel some personal power in being able to make changes any time during the year. But, since it’s the season for sharing our hopes and dreams for the new year, I thought it might be nice to share them for a change. 2023 has not yet begun for my time back at Holy Cross, but we’ll be going back to campus later this month. For the meantime, I had a lot of free time on my hands to reflect on my time at school and this past year. 

Last year was certainly challenging. It’s no surprise that Holy Cross students are such a force because of how positively demanding Holy Cross is. And, don’t get me wrong, this is the best thing for a student trying to find their way. While it’s hard to academically challenge yourself, I feel like I’m truly making progress in several areas at Holy Cross. I finally feel comfortable with my academic strengths and weaknesses and began to optimize and target them. I am so proud of my peers and myself. It’s a step in the right direction for all of us! 

While this sounds optimistic, I always seek to find new things to challenge myself. What’s the joy of having the privilege to go to school if not to embrace not knowing something. Last semester I began some professional editorial work as a research associate for the New England Classical Journal under a Holy Cross professor. The work we’ve been doing is something new to me. As someone who loves to learn, I’m having a great experience. I thoroughly enjoy getting some practical experience of the ways of editing a big and professional publication. I’m looking forward to continuing my work throughout next semester. I’ll keep you posted about it!

When we get back to campus, I’m cracking down on all of my courses and planning Classics Day! It’s an event for high school students to celebrate their knowledge of the Classics with a series of activities hosted on campus. You might remember that I wrote a blog post about helping out with this event, but now I get to lead it as Classics Day chair. I’m beyond excited (and nervous). The biggest risk I’m taking this year (so far as I know) is possibly studying abroad in the fall. I’ll let you know when I hear back, but you might be hearing from me across the globe next semester!

2023 is full of endless possibilities. I truly hope that my next year on and off the Hill will be positively challenging and rewarding by putting myself out there more. I hope to lead a fulfilling year by surrounding myself with people I love and doing things I love. I hope to be kinder and more intentional in my thoughts and prayers. I hope to live more gracefully with gratitude in an attempt to be a force for the world. I could start with the Hill and we’ll go from there.

I’ll be around a bit more in 2023. I hope you like these blogs as much as I love writing them! Bye for now!

A New First for All: The Prior Performing Arts Center

Everyone needs a makeover every once in a while, even Holy Cross. Maybe you’ve seen all the hype, or maybe you’ve missed it in the black hole of social media, but there’s a new and refreshing addition to the Hill: the Prior Performing Arts Center.  

I would consider myself an art person, but certainly not an artist. Growing up, I danced, but I’ve always loved watching live performances of plays, musicals, and all types of music. And this new performing arts center is absolutely remarkable. I’ve only been inside once or twice (so far), and it is incredible. My apologies for the minimal pictures; that’s just an excuse for you to get over to Worcester and visit for yourselves! This captivating space is now home to the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery, a concert hall, a theater, and many spaces for students to create in whatever art form they find fit, like design, dance, theater, and so much more! 

As an art history enthusiast, I will likely find myself in the upgraded Cantor Art Gallery, given how welcoming it feels. Not to say that it wasn’t loved before; the love just grew even deeper in this new space. Well deserved if you ask me! The first time I went to the Prior Performing Arts Center was to view the current exhibition at the art gallery: “Afterimage: Visual Arts Faculty 2022.” This is a wonderful showing of Holy Cross’ own visual arts faculty showing their hard work. For someone who has a special interest in ancient and medieval art, this was certainly out of my comfort zone because it was modern and abstract art. Regardless, it was still breathtaking, and the new space gives it the perfect opportunity to show off for the first time.

Inside the Prior Performing Arts Center. They call this the “Beehive.”

In exciting news, my art history class this semester, called “Kings & Caliphs: the Art of Luxury,” will be working with the following exhibit: “Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece.” My professor, Amanda Luyster, has been working extremely hard and long on this project. Trust me. You will not want to miss it. I repeat. You will NOT want to miss this! January 26, 2022, through April 6, 2023. I’ll be there, and I hope to see you there! I feel so lucky to be learning under such an incredibly talented art historian whose passion shines through my course and this entire project. There is art coming from all around the world, surrounded by the Chertsey Tiles, which are being loaned from the British Museum! I know. It’s going to be insanely amazing! For our semester-long research project, I will be working closely with the Seal of the Latin Emperor Henry Flanders. Although his seal is extremely small, it is still mighty! As I begin putting together my own research as part of this lovely project, I’m lucky to be a part of this magnificent exhibition in any way.

“Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and The Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece.”

Coming up in November, there will also be performances of Iphigenia by Euripides, translated by Holy Cross Classics’ very own Professor Mary Ebbott. (And, my very own Greek professor! Can I get any luckier?) Again. You will not want to miss this! I just bought my ticket, and I hope you will too! 

So, I’m not entirely sure what type of vibe you’re catching, but if you have not got the hint that you should be heading to Holy Cross to check out the Prior Performing Arts Center and these glorious events, you better reread this from the start. This is the start of something great; you can be a part of it! See you there!

Fun Fact: the Prior Performing Arts Center is in the shape of a cross, which you can see through aerial view photography. And there are doors on each side so you can walk into the heart of the center from anywhere. Fitting, if you ask me!

Rushing into Sophomore Year!

Hello fellow Crusaders, friends, family, and everyone in between!

Welcome (back) to my blog! For those who may not know me, my name is Alexandra Berardelli. I’m a sophomore from Brooklyn, New York, studying Classics with an Art History minor. If you’ve been following me on this blog for a while now, you already know about some of the cool things I’ve been keeping up with for the past year. Well, you’re in luck because my time at Holy Cross keeps getting better and better. 

My semester is already looking pretty incredible, and we’re less than a month in. If you’ve been reading, you know by now that I love to be involved on campus with my friends and classes, and I’ve been doing just that. I want to keep this first blog post short and sweet, but I hope that you will follow me along this exciting journey of my second year, knowing that I am constantly learning and open to new opportunities that come my way. Please reach out to me if there is anything, in particular, you would like to see on this blog. Anything is fair game for me! 

That’s all for now! I’ll write again later this week!

Peace out, Crusaders!


Annual First Day of Class Picture!


First-Year Down

We did it; I finally finished my first year at Holy Cross. And, honestly, it was incredible.

The year was great! Difficult, but great. I had the opportunity to learn about myself, my community, and my aspirations, all within this short time. While it was not easy to transition into the college lifestyle, the welcoming environment on Mount Saint James made it all worth it.

My biggest takeaway and piece of advice for incoming and prospective students would be to throw yourself into everything Holy Cross (or whatever college you choose) has to offer.

In my first blog post, I briefly touched on things I wanted to be a part of, and every bit of community I found exceeded my greatest expectations. Coming out of my first year, I found community in all of my classes, with my peers and my professors. I found community in the clubs, forming relationships with other students in my grade and upperclassmen. And, in general, in college life, I found so many amazing people that I now call my friends.

I’m very proud of myself. And, if you’re reading this having finished your first year, another year, graduating high school, or whatever your most recent achievement is: celebrate it! I believe the smallest victories make the most impact in our lives!

Let’s take some time to reflect on what we’re proud of, and I’ll tell you about what I’ve gotten involved in already in my first year (and plans for next). I made my high school dream a reality when I declared my Classics major. After coming here as one of the Bean scholars, being a Classics major was inevitable, but I would not want it any other way. I found a new interest in art history, and on a whim, I’m now an art history minor. (See, you never know what will pique your interest!)

I found a niche research community in the department’s Manuscripts, Inscriptions, and Documents Club (MID), where we are currently working on indexing one of the oldest Iliad manuscripts we have. I met some amazing people and great friends in the Classics honor society, Eta Sigma Phi.

Not only have I found my academic community, but the friends I’ve met are incredible. Holy Cross truly attracts a certain person: a caring, independent, collaborative, hard-working eternal scholar of the world. And, I’m certainly grateful to have found my people that uphold similar values in this community and want to maintain a flourishing environment.

I’ve even interacted with many people at the college as one of the SodaStream partners, where I promoted the SodaStream Professional machines on campus. You probably saw me with tons of giveaways in Hogan. Maybe, we’ll see more of that next year!

Next year, I’m joining the Student Advisory Committee for the Classics department. I get to sit in and help the Classics faculty with decisions about curricula, requirements, and other events. I’m also pumped to be the Associate Editor for Parnassus, the Undergraduate Classical Journal, which was a blast to work on this year. And, in more exciting news, I’m off to Rome (tomorrow!) to begin the Maymester Program: Rome: History and Imagination. I’ll be posting a lot of pictures on my Instagram if you want to follow along there: @alexandraberardelli

Most importantly, if this year has shown me only one thing, it is that I am in the right place. I’ve never felt more at home, with the right people, doing the right things, until now. And I am eternally grateful for that miraculous call from God (and the gods) last spring.

Thank you — I appreciate all of you who read my blog. It was an honor writing for you to read, and I hope I’ll be able to do more of this soon. Some highlights of my year have to be: seeing Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness with my Montserrat class, daily lunches with my friends at Lower Kimball, spending hours in Levis Browsing Room, and camping out on Fenwick 4 with friends.

Whenever you are and whoever is reading this, I wish you the best of luck. And, remember to throw yourself out there because you never know what opportunities can change your life for the better.

So far, I’m known as having the “yolo” type of mentality, and I leave you with one of my favorite Latin quotes I discovered this past semester.

dum vivimus vivamus
(While we live, let’s live — from Epicureanism)

Peace out, Crusaders!

Alexandra Berardelli