Holy Cross surrounded Shakira Suazo Valdez. Four of her classmates at North High School in Worcester — including her best friend — received acceptance notifications in March. Three of her teachers proudly wore purple as alumni.
When Suazo Valdez envisioned her next four years, she pictured joining them in Holy Cross sweatshirts and endless treks up and down staircases on The Hill. But unlike her peers at North, she was waitlisted.
“My mom told me, ‘They didn’t deny you. You can still get in,’” Suazo Valdez said. “That kept me going.”
Several times a week, Suazo Valdez emailed Holy Cross admission staff, listening to her mother and her high school English teacher, Vanessa Acheampong ’12. Acheampong and Suazo discussed Holy Cross every Friday, drafting emails en route to Suazo Valdez’s internship at the city’s Quinsigamond Elementary School, located less than a half mile from Mount St. James.
Even the elementary school students understood Suazo Valdez’s passion for Holy Cross:
“They were, like, ‘You’re still writing emails? I would’ve blocked you by now,’’” Acheampong said.
But persistence paid off. During the first week of May, Cortney Lima, Holy Cross associate director of admissions, called Suazo Valdez to let her know she had been accepted.
“I was crying! I was so embarrassed because I was crying,” Suazo Valdez remembered of the moment, one that now spreads an ear-to-ear smile across her face.