Help When You Need It: Chris Cosenza’s Story

A portrait of a young man smiling with short hair and a collared shirt
Chris Cosenza '24 reflects on his time at Holy Cross before graduating later this month.

Editor's Note: On May 24, 751 members of the Holy Cross class of 2024 will walk the commencement stage. Each path to the stage is unique. As we celebrate the class, HCM asked several seniors to share their journeys in their own words. Listen and read their uncut narratives — how they got here and what they’re taking with them — as they reflect on the Holy Cross chapter of their life.

Listen to Chris Cosenza '24 read his reflection
Audio file

Reflecting on my years at Holy Cross, I feel these have been some of the most formative years of my life.  I knew I would be a different person after four years of college, but Holy Cross shaped me in ways I never would have expected.  Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic cast a continuous shadow over my first couple of years.  I contracted the virus twice, but each time I got sick, I was reminded of my ability to adapt and persevere when it came to extraordinary circumstances, emphasizing my resilience and skills to navigate challenges life throws my way.

I’ve had the privilege to continue my rowing career at Holy Cross. My time with the Men’s Rowing team has been the most rewarding and impactful experience of my life.  On the water, I was an oarsman, but I also played a key role in building camaraderie and culture for the team off the water. Our shared experiences of pushing our physical and mental boundaries brought us together, and as a result, we acknowledged our mutual respect and support for each other. We thrived on the thought of knowing that our tight-knit bonds will extend beyond our time at Holy Cross, and helped us develop into lifelong friends.  

A perfect example where this deep brotherhood and friendship was showcased was when my dorm room flooded during my junior year.  My roommate and I were interrupted one Sunday afternoon, by the fire alarm, and we each kind of smiled and left the building.  This wasn’t the first time this had happened so we weren’t nervous. 

Ceiling tiles clutter the floor as a wires run across the bare ceiling
The room of Christopher Cosenza '24 after water leaked from the ceiling.

When we walked back into our room, sheer horror set in as we now heard a shower-like noise in our room.  We opened the hallway door to see if the noise was coming from outside; but began to notice the hallway was quickly filling with tannish-brown water.  It did not smell pleasant, and as we decided what to do, public safety officers rushed in and urged us to move our valuable items out of our room as quickly as possible.  We called one of our teammates in a panic, who lived just a few floors up, who also notified the rest of our team that we’d need some help. Within minutes, teammates from every class year rushed to our room to get everything out. The bottom line is, as soon as some of my teammates got word that we were involved in a sticky situation, so many rushed to help and offered their support.  In the end, none of our belongings were damaged and we were relocated to an apartment in a different building.  While not directly related to rowing, this experience introduced the concept of brotherhood to me and the rest of my teammates. When one brother is down or is struggling, the rest drop everything to go help.  

This brotherhood wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for each one of my coaches, who has been extremely supportive and helped me grow as an individual and athlete. I am confident their mentoring and encouragement will stay with me for years to come. Whether I was on the rowing machine, in the weight room, or on the water, their guidance has been extremely influential to my personal growth as a human being, and for that I will be forever grateful.    

When not on campus, I’ve taken the opportunity to explore and contribute to the Worcester community in various capacities. During my sophomore year, I participated in Holy Cross’ Student Program for Urban Development (SPUD) as a volunteer at the Mustard Seed Catholic Worker. My initial involvement in the program began as an occasional fill-in for volunteers, but eventually turned into weekly work throughout the rest of college. As my passion for addressing the community needs grew, I advanced to the role of Program Director within SPUD, and led volunteer groups weekly for the past 2 years. My choice to lead as a Program Director has been very fulfilling as it allowed me to directly address the housing and food insecurity issue in the Worcester community.  Furthermore, my SPUD experience has motivated me to continue this type of work in the years beyond college.”