There's No Place Like Home: Céili Donnelly's Story

A portrait of a smiling young women with dark hair beyond her shoulders. She is earing a dark blouse.
Céili Donnelly '24 reflects on her 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 Céili Donnelly '24 read her reflection
Audio file
Two young women stand atop a landing with ocean and rocks in the background
Céili Donnelly '24 spent a semester abroad in Galway, Ireland.

Late nights spent studying, but also having fun, in Dinand. Spontaneous hours of laughter during the rare times all of my roommates and I can be home together at a reasonable hour after classes, clubs and homework. Bringing my love of line dancing to my New England friends. A warm afternoon lying on the front lawn of a townhouse singing along to Zach Bryan with many of my best friends. Cooking dinner each week with two people I became close with more recently, whom I now could not imagine my life without. The joy of being able to have a home here and in Galway, Ireland, from the most amazing semester abroad. Taking an hour each Tuesday to play some good old-fashioned board games with friends at Pub Night. Keepsakes from Mobile, Alabama. Weekly meetings in Campion full of just as much laughter as they are serious discussions. Dancing to the music from “Teen Beach Movie” in the middle of a Connecticut farm.

The common denominator in all of these memories is that they were made with people I love and care about who Holy Cross brought me to, but the other recurrent theme is that each of those people is someone I see as an exemplar of what it means to be a part of this community. I never would have met these inspiring people without the thread that ties us all together: serving others and seeking justice, whether here on The Hill in our simple, everyday interactions or beyond when we leave this place, perhaps nervous, but also ready, because we know we have the backing of this community and a home (no matter how many years go by from our last time writing a paper until 11:59 p.m. in the stacks).

I would not have met any of the three amazing women I share an apartment with if the scared, timid person I was during my first year had not been prompted to apply to be a resident assistant and be there for the next group of nervous new students. Nor would I have the two friends who could make me laugh so hard I would practically cry during RA staff meetings last fall.

Without Student Programs for Urban Development and my two years as an intern, I could never have gained the insight and perspective I have on social justice and the motivation to continue this work in everything I do, not to mention the fun and conversations we constantly enjoy. I wouldn’t have the girls I spend each weeknight in Dinand with without our spring break immersion trip to Alabama. Without my wonderful leaders on that trip, I would not have my Wednesday dinners or the courage to become a leader myself for a trip to Connecticut this March, from which I gained an entirely new group of friends, even with just a few months left. Holy Cross is my forever home because these people are my forever people. They made me believe that even on the saddest or most stressful days, I will always have their love and support behind me. And I couldn’t imagine feeling that way about anywhere else, because, as the saying goes, there’s no place like home.