Roommate Confidential: Q&A with Two First-Year Holy Cross Students

The first-year roommates get candid about clubs, campus and what's surprised them about their first semester on The Hill

First-year roommates share more than four walls — they experience navigating the leap into college together. To get a peek at the ins and outs of the first semester on The Hill, we went right to the source — to first-year roommates Grace Acquilano "22 and Abby Connolly '22 who share a cozy room, decked out with band posters and string lights, on the first floor of Brooks-Mulledy Hall. We listened in while they bantered about classes, clubs and the transition into college life.

Has anything surprised you so far about your first semester at Holy Cross?

Abby: You know how in high school, there's a hierarchy of seniors "owning" the school? Here, it's not like that at all. Everyone's on the same level — you can be friends with anyone. Sometimes I'll be talking to a senior and I'll think they're a first-year student. I feel so cool! But it's just normal here. I really like that.

Grace: Oh man, I don't know. What do you think surprised me? I guess I was surprised by how many people you can meet, even though it's 3,000 people. I recognize people everywhere I go. And I've noticed that once you do meet someone, you see them everywhere!

Abby: You do! I didn't think certain people would remember me, but they still say hi, and it's cool.

What has been the hardest thing about your semester so far? What's been the easiest?

Grace: For me, the hardest thing has been getting adjusted to a whole new environment — living on your own, making decisions for yourself, managing your own time and not being on a schedule that your parents make for you. I'm pretty outgoing and I love meeting new people, so reaching out to different resources and finding new friends has been the easiest part of my transition.

Abby: The hardest thing was physics! Can I say that? I'm also really bad at going to bed at a good time.

Grace: You really are!

Abby: I've gotten so good at naps! But the easiest thing has probably been making friends, which I was so scared about. The last time I went to a new school was in fifth grade, so I didn't remember how to make friends. So that was shockingly the easiest thing so far.

What about your friendship? Did you two hit it off right away?

Grace: There's a story! It was July 31 or something when we had to enroll for classes and everyone's Instagram stories from Holy Cross was like, "Oh, put pictures of your schedules!" So I, of course, did that. Abby messaged me on Instagram and was like, "Yo, we have acting together!" And then we started talking nonstop about how much we love theater and stuff. Then, we get the roommate assignments, and I was like "Abby Connolly…wait…that name is strangely familiar." So I go back into my Instagram and realize this is the girl I've been talking to this whole time. It was just great.

Abby: When we were talking I was thinking, "Hmm…I wouldn't mind if we were roommates. That would be kind of cool." And then it happened!

Grace: Our acting class is small, too, so it's really weird. We were meant to be together!

Abby Connolly '22 and Grace Acquilano '22 in their room. Photo by Dan Vaillancourt

What classes are you taking and what are you finding most interesting?

Grace: I'm in environmental science, Italian 101 and Basic Acting, which Abby and I have together. My Montserrat is my favorite thing ever — it's 13 Ways of Writing Nature. My professor is Professor Reents and she's great; she's a published author. It's a class where we just kind of explored creative nature writing, and it was just really, really cool. We got to write creative essays every single week and we have her next semester too, but it's a different class. In a way, this class helped me this first semester because I was writing about my feelings, and it was good to get it on the page.

Abby: I'm in Calculus, Basic Acting and Physics. My Montserrat is Nature in the City, and this semester we've been focusing on the Middle River, which is in Worcester.

How about clubs? What are you each involved with?

Grace: I'm in the Dance Ensemble. I kind of joined late, but I'm glad that I reached out. I'm a greeter in the Admissions Office, which is really nice. My shifts are on Friday and I basically just sit in the office and kind of calm the nerves of prospective students and just talk to the parents and stuff. I'm also in Eco-Action, which is the biggest environmental group on campus. I'm sure I'm missing something. I've been busy! I would encourage every student that's starting college to join clubs right away, because I didn't. I was so focused on my work, and that actually hurt me, because I was doing nothing besides studying.

Abby: I work in Kimball, and I was on the intramural soccer team. I've also done midnight theater. I was in one of the Directing class pieces, and right now I'm in a one-act with the same director. That's really cool because in high school, I didn't really have an opportunity to do much with acting, and now I've been doing so much. I'm probably auditioning for "Into the Woods" in the spring.

Grace: We want to do it together! We're really looking forward to it.

So, why Holy Cross?

Abby: I know about the College because my brother goes here, and I have another brother who graduated last year. But I didn't want to go here just because they went here. I ended up touring and I really liked it. I knew I wanted a smaller school and I didn't want to be too far from home.

Grace: My dad's a college guidance counselor, so we've been talking about college forever. This is the school that checked all of my boxes — the size, the location, the academics — it just had everything I wanted. And it was so pretty! This was my first college tour, actually. I told my mom afterward, "I felt something here. I have a feeling I'm going to be back." She was like "It's your first tour, calm down!" But, here I am.