Prepared For The Real World

From Left to Right & Top to Bottom: Lindsay MacPhail, Derek Kump, Dave Dudzinski, Amber Jones, Lauren Bellerose, Gary Acquah

By Taylor Gull
Special to

Members of the 27 varsity athletic programs at Holy Cross have always taken great pride in being able to call themselves student-athletes, young men and women who excel in their rigorous academic schedules and in stiff competition on the field. Holy Cross athletes’ commitment to academic success is evidenced by the over 300 athletes placed on academic honor rolls for the 2013-2014 academic year. Eight teams earned a multiyear perfect score in the NCAA’s academic performance indicator, while 17 teams received a perfect score for the 2012-2013 academic year. This past year’s graduating seniors are no exception to this excellence. Many athletes gain real-world experience through the many extra-curricular activities and internship opportunities offered through Holy Cross. Six graduates of the Class of 2014, Lauren Bellerose (Shrewsbury, Mass.), Lindsay MacPhail (Goffstown, N.H.), Amber Jones (Manorville, N.Y.), Gary Acquah (Bronx, N.Y.), Derek Kump (Falmouth, Maine) and Dave Dudzinski (Elburn, Ill.) have all stepped into the real world with valuable knowledge and experiences taken from their four years on and off the field.

Lauren Bellerose, who was a member of the women’s track and field team, is working as a clinical research assistant at UMass Medical School for two years before attending medical school. In preparing for her research position and beyond, Bellerose was heavily involved with the Sleep and Behavior and the Cognitive Development labs within the psychology department at Holy Cross. After taking an internship at Hartford Hospital the summer before her senior year, Bellerose was certain that she wanted to pursue medicine after graduation. Despite the demanding requirements of being a pre-med student, Bellerose found a way to successfully juggle practices, meets, labs, research projects and homework.

Bellerose believes that her athletic experiences have greatly influenced her professional ones by building her confidence and ability to work both individually and as a team. “I had a very successful senior year in track and this ultimately built my confidence as a person in general,” said Bellerose. When she enters the medical field, Bellerose believes that the nature of track as a sport will allow her to transition easily onto a medical staff. “Track and field is a unique sport in that it is very individualized in nature, but ultimately your individual performance contributes to the overall success of the team,” said Bellerose. “Medicine is completely paralleled to track in this way. Doctors work both independently and as a team player among nurses, technicians and other medical staff for effective patient care. Running track will definitely influence how I will work as a doctor in the future.” In order to reach these goals, however, Bellerose believes that she will rely on the “go-getter attitude” that she learned from her track and field career at Holy Cross.

Field hockey alum, Lindsay MacPhail is also going on to serve others. She will be volunteering for the non-profit Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation in Raleigh, North Carolina through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. MVFR is a community led by family members of murder victims and the executed that advocates for the repeal of the death penalty. This is the culmination of years of service, from before her years at Holy Cross and during.  This past summer, MacPhail interned at Career Collaborative, a non-profit organization in Boston that aids those from lower-income demographics in finding and maintaining a job. “Witnessing and becoming educated on structural injustices and difficulties that under-served populations face as well as working directly with Career Collaborative's clients and being a part of helping them achieve their goals was a special experience and only furthered my interest in service work,” said MacPhail.  She also enjoyed volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters during the academic year. In addition to her regular volunteer activities, MacPhail also participated in an immersion trip to Ivanhoe, Virginia and studied abroad in Nairobi, Kenya for a month. In Kenya, she was a 9th, 10th and 12th grade teacher, a role which sparked her interest in serving others.

Her time on the Holy Cross field hockey team will certainly aid MacPhail in her future endeavors with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. “Athletics and service work are most definitely connected,” said MacPhail. “Playing a team sport requires you to be flexible, adaptable, work intimately and well with others; it requires a lot of give and take and teaches you how to support those around you.” She also believes that challenges learned through the course of one season can translate to a lifetime of success-whether it be having a tough game schedule or juggling a hectic work load.

Amber Jones is also joining the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Bethel, Alaska, to advocate for victims of domestic violence in the neighboring villages. Jones found this path through yet another volunteer organization on campus, the Students for Responsible Choices (SRC). Through the SRC program, which is a peer education group whose primary goal is to educate students about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, Jones became involved with Jeremiah’s Inn, an addiction recovery program in Worcester. After her internship at Jeremiah’s Inn, Jones realized that she wished to pursue a career in helping those afflicted by addiction.

Just like MacPhail and Bellerose, Jones believes that teamwork is the greatest lesson learned from her years as a varsity softball athlete, as well as having a passion for what she does. “My future career goals are to love whatever I do and to have a positive impact on those who I work with,” said Jones. “Whether that be in a setting that deals with substance abuse or something completely different. I want whatever I do to be something that I'm passionate about and that enables me to have a positive impact on others.”

Gary Acquah, who was a member of the football team, mirrored his passion for athletics with his summer internship with ESPN. “ESPN prepared me for the professional world by showing me how to get involved and communicate with all individuals of a company,” said Acquah. “Being part of the employee resource group initiatives at ESPN, I was able to interact with co-workers and upper level management both inside and outside of the office. This helped me learn to feel comfortable introducing myself, communicating and interacting with anyone I came across in a positive way, which really helps you build your brand.”  Outside of this internship, Acquah participated in the Holy Cross Leadership Academy, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and Big Brothers Big Sisters. He learned confidence, how to take constructive criticism, being supportive of your teammates and how to achieve his goals. He also found these exact lessons in playing football for Holy Cross. “Playing football helped me to realize that you can’t get complacent because you will not reach your full potential.”

In addition to his role as a business development consultant at Oracle Corporation in Burlington, Mass., Acquah is also the Vice President of Hope For Us, a charity that his brother, Kenneth, founded. This commitment to serving others stems from his time at Big Brothers Big Sisters. “My involvement in Big Brothers Big Sisters will always help me to remember that there are people who need your help in life,” said Acquah. “I learned that you can never be too busy with athletics or work to take a step back and either volunteer your time to those less fortunate or help someone in need any way that you can.” Acquah’s brother Kenneth, is a junior on the Holy Cross football team founded Hope For Us in order to aid children who suffer from sickle cell anemia and those who come from low income backgrounds. Although Hope for Us is based in his hometown of the Bronx, Acquah would like to extend the charity’s services to children in the Massachusetts area.

Derek Kump is yet another member of the Class of 2014 that started his own charity. He and teammate Jeffrey Reppucci, class valedictorian, started both Working For Worcester and Students Helping Children Across Borders. Kump says that he learned a slew of valuable life skills from those two endeavors that helped him tremendously in his job as analyst on the Interest Rate Products desk at Goldman Sachs. “The experience afforded me leadership, vocational and interpersonal experiences that will undoubtedly aid me moving forward.  From managing a large team of individuals to operating under strict deadlines and budgets to interacting with donors and public officials, developing these organizations alongside Jeff were some of the most challenging, valuable and rewarding aspects of my college career.” These projects, combined with a summer internship and his career as a student-athlete prepared him for life now at Goldman Sachs.

Kump says that his time playing hockey at Holy Cross helped him to become a well-rounded person. “Achieving success both in the classroom and on the ice was by no means easy,” said Kump. “The constant interplay between my studies, athletics and social life helped shape me into a more interesting and diverse person, and better prepared me for life after college.” He also believes that being so well integrated into hockey, Working For Worcester and Students Helping Children Across Borders teams has helped him transition into yet another team structure in his position at Goldman Sachs, where he helps meet the needs of institutional clients by providing and/or structuring a variety of fixed income products.

Dave Dudzinski is on the fast track to making a career out of what he loves - basketball. Previous to graduation, Dudzinski thought that he would play basketball overseas for a couple of years and then return to the states to change path. “At first I thought this would be something I would do for a few years, but now I want to make this my career,” said Dudzinski. A strategic chain of events, beginning with playing basketball at Holy Cross, led Dudzinski to be able to play for Fortitudo Agrigento in Italy. First and foremost, he attributes his preparedness to play internationally to the coaching staff at Holy Cross. Dudzinski believes that being constantly challenged by his coaches created the necessary work ethic.

After graduation, Dudzinski attended the Celtics Draft Workout. “The Celtics workout was a fantastic experience,” recalled Dudzinski. “I had the opportunity to see how the best players in the world prepare themselves in the off season. Although it was a demanding workout, I came away more confident in my abilities and learned some new drills I have since incorporated into my routines.” Dudzinski attributes his ability to excel in Division I basketball, at the Celtics Draft Workout and abroad to the mental toughness he amassed from being a student-athlete. “There are times when I was tired and had to perform to the best of my abilities on the court or in the classroom,” said Dudzinski. “Holy Cross gave me the confidence to continually break through fatigue and expand my work capacity.”

Through the vast amount of extra-curricular activities outside of their respective sports, Holy Cross student-athletes are more than prepared for what the “real world” after graduation will bring.

Carly Grimaudo contributed to this story.

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