Angel Collazo Has Multiple Missions — And One Full Calendar

Young Hispanic male student sitting at a table with a laptop.
The stickers that cover his laptop give you a glimpse of the multiple interests of Angel Collazo '26.

The Spanish and psychology major is committed to civic engagement and dedicated to social justice.  

To look at the calendar of Angel Collazo ’26 is to view a kaleidoscope of colors. Purple for classes. Blue for tasks. An hour-block each morning is highlighted yellow for time to reflect, let any tension from the previous day go and prepare for the day ahead.

Yet, it’s the hues of orange and pink that make up the vast majority of his waking hours. They indicate his multiple volunteer and service commitments, internships and advocacy work. He calls them his missions.

“Sometimes I forget that I'm a student because of everything else that I do. I'll sit in class and think about my next meeting or the next time I’ll be at one of the sites or what else I’m tackling that day. I’m pretty mission driven,” said Collazo, a Spanish and psychology double major with a Latin American, Latinx, and Caribbean Studies concentration (social justice track).

He refers to his outreach and volunteer work as his missions as a nod to his younger self who thought he would join the military after high school and set out on missions with his battalion.

His future plans and focus changed, though, as he became more aware of the systemic inequities and social justice challenges in the world. Informed by his own experiences, Collazo said he began to ponder the dichotomy between surviving and thriving.

A young Hispanic man smiles and poses for a picture and is highlighted by a sun beam.
Angel Collazo '26

“When I was a child, I remember saying things like ‘I need to survive this class or insert experience here’. I lived in Springfield, [Massachusetts], in the rough parts of Springfield. I never knew I was a minority or poor until my first year in college when I saw the expensive cars some students drove and who were going out to eat without thinking of cost,” Collazo said. “When I was on campus, I’d think, ‘I can't believe that I'm thriving here.’ In reality, I was just surviving here. I moved into a shelter. That’s where I went home to when I wasn’t on campus.”

His ultimate mission: to stop the perception that in order to thrive someone must first suffer and survive.

“I'm talking about the suffering that comes with injustice — systematic oppression. I am low income. I was homeless. I shouldn’t have to check certain boxes in order to say that I’m thriving now because I learned how to survive,” he said.

Understanding the Need

When asked to describe Collazo, phrases such as “always in motion,” “living and leading from his heart” and “radiating joy” are often repeated. So is a variation of “his eyes are open to the needs of others.”

“He has a full course load and his own things to get done. He can use his time in a lot of ways but he’s investing it in meeting the needs of others,” said Martin Kelly, associate director of the Office of the College Chaplains and advisor to Student Programs for Urban Development (SPUD), Holy Cross’ largest student-led service and justice organization. “I think he can see himself in the people with whom he’s working, recent immigrants arriving and trying to manage a new language and adjusting to a new place and community.”

He’s not only thinking about the problem in front of him. He’s thinking about making systems and structures better.

Isabelle Jenkins ’10, director of the Donelan Center of Community-Based Learning, Teaching and Engaged Scholarship (CBL)

Kelly first encountered Collazo soon after the fall 2022 semester began when Collazo, then a first-year student, was asking for ideas on how to raise money to help hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico. Their next meeting was in spring 2023 when Kelly and Isabelle Jenkins ’10, director of the College’s Donelan Center of Community-Based Learning, Teaching and Engaged Scholarship (CBL), were working together to think through a volunteer challenge after a course restructuring within the Spanish department.

“We had several community partners who needed our help and wanted Spanish-speaking volunteers. We collectively decided to get some student input and Angel came to that lunch,” Jenkins recalled. It was clear to her then that Collazo was a strategic thinker. “He’s not only thinking about the problem in front of him,” she said. “He’s thinking about making systems and structures better.”

Jenkins and Kelly credit Collazo with helping them with an immediate need and encouraging them to think more broadly about their approach to recruiting students to be part of the SPUD and CBL programs.

“He understood the need and the gap to fill and was willing to step into the unknown to help work it out,” Kelly said.

Collazo was later selected as a SPUD program director, helping to oversee and coordinate the programs involving the Spanish-speaking community partners and recruit student volunteers. In the role, Collazo connects student volunteers with organizations such as Ascentria Care Alliance in Worcester, a virtual and in-person academic tutoring and mentor program for unaccompanied refugee minors. He also actively volunteers at the sites.

“He’s on the ground helping to address immediate need, but he knows it’s not enough,” Jenkins said.

Sometimes I forget that I'm a student because of everything else that I do. 

Angel Collazo '26

Seeking a Solution

Collazo’s concern is that students separate and isolate themselves from their volunteer work. “It’s hard to become part of a community, to take responsibility for what happens there, when you come from a position of privilege,” he said. “Sometimes you have to ask what they need and then tell them what you have to offer and acknowledge that it might not help, but not conform.”

If student volunteers leave a space feeling angry and frustrated, Collazo said it’s possible to stretch past those feelings of powerlessness to ones of possibility and action.

Originally hired this spring as a CBL volunteer to teach financial and technology literacy to residents of Hector Reyes House, a substance use treatment residential home for Latino men, Collazo discovered on his first day that there were no computers. So, he grabbed his own.

“I went back to my dorm room, and I was so angry,” he said. “I knew what it meant. These men couldn’t apply for a job, couldn’t teach themselves how to do other things, like, speak English. The lack of computers was preventing them from connecting and accessing the tools they needed.”

He immediately took responsibility for the lack of resources. Collazo knew that the men could find a way without him — they could use computers at the library, for example — but he couldn’t let it go. He applied for a grant through the Donelan Office’s Marshall Memorial Fund to purchase a laptop for the organization. In mid-March, he was granted enough money to buy two.

“So many students would go into that situation and think about their role, what they need to do and just get it done. Angel will look around and say, ‘This isn’t good enough,’” Kelly said.

This summer, Collazo will continue working at Hector Reyes House as a civic engagement and recovery specialist intern.

“Angel lives not only to serve, but to critically examine. He knows how to think and is a leader for other students,” Jenkins said.

So many students would go into that situation and think about their role, what they need to do and just get it done. Angel will look around and say, ‘This isn’t good enough.’

Martin Kelly, associate director of the Office of the College Chaplains and advisor to Student Programs for Urban Development (SPUD)

Newman Civic Fellowship

In February 2024, Jenkins, Kelly and Amina V. O. Bristol ’16, assistant director in the Office of Justice, Equity, Belonging & Identity, nominated Collazo for a Newman Civic Fellowship, a national fellowship that recognizes and supports students who are identified as changemakers and public problem-solvers. In his letter to the Newman committee, Holy Cross President Vincent D. Rougeau wrote that Collazo’s “life experiences and Jesuit education have instilled in him a deep commitment to service and civic engagement.” Campus Compact, the nonprofit organization which oversees the fellowship, will announce the recipients in April. 

Jenkins, Kelly and Bristol each separately brought Collazo’s name to President Rougeau for consideration. Kelly said that the fellowship, which is intended to develop leaders, may also help Collazo discern an area that he really wants to dive deeper into

“He cares a lot and that can get him worked up, but it’s coming from a place of such care,” Bristol added. “What I want for him is to give some of that care to himself. I want him to be able to step back and reflect on his work, not in a selfish way, but to consider what he is gaining and learning from his experiences.”  


Collazo is the first to admit that he has a lot of energy, which makes it difficult to focus on the multiple projects he’s juggling. That’s why his morning reflection time — highlighted in yellow on his calendar — is so important.

That space could be filled with journaling, meditation or simple breathing exercises, whatever it takes to focus himself on the day ahead: “I’m so busy and at times I don’t know how I do it. It’s just that I have this motivation, this drive … I need to put some time on my calendar so I know to stop and start off my morning in a mellow way to reset for the day.”