Katharine Shapleigh ’13

Appalachia. Was. Amazing.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I signed up for the Appalachia Spring Break Immersion Trip. My Orientation Leader said it was awesome (very vague), and so did all the other upperclassmen I talked to… But it seemed like an interesting venture, so I figured, why not?! I didn’t really think much of it once I turned in my application until a few months later when I got an email to meet with my group. Mostly sophomores, juniors, and seniors. A few days  later I departed on the adventure of a lifetime.

The land was beautiful. We swerved through the winding roads, weaving in and out of the hills in our two rented vans, Justin and Tina at the wheel, jamming out to the “Theme songs” of our lives (everyone contributed a song- mine was Send Me On My Way by Rusted Root). When we finally arrived in Fries, Virginia (pronounced “Frees” don’t ask me why…), we rolled into our modest shelter for the week… the town Rec Center! Complete with a duck pin bowling alley, basketball court where countless games of knockout were played, common room where hours and hours and hours of Apples to Apples were played, and kitchen fully equipped with all the peanut butter and oreos we could ask for.

Not to ruin the mystery of what makes Appalachia so great, I’ll just say it was a blast in the most meaningful of ways. Throughout the week we experienced some hard work and some good times. We bonded with each other and with the community. I met a couple that had been married for 75 years. We learned the history of the town and familiarized ourselves with a community that is proud of their heritage and of their culture, ESPECIALLY their square-dancing moves (of which we definitely took part). It was fun, reflective, evocative, and wild. And I will forever be bonded with those 13 others that traveled with me, and made the experience what it was! So if any of you are reading this, thanks so much to Justin, Marissa, Nick, Tina, Brigit, Melissa, Laura, Valerie, Alec, Amanda, Nora, and Michelle!

If you want to see a little more about the trip, my friends Nora and Val created this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weFli-8jlCQ

(Warning: we might look like freaks…It’s fine….)

And this song reminds me of the trip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2vJUadjdmo


If you think you love green, corn beef and cabbage, Irish accents, and spontaneous midday celebration, Holy Cross just might be the place for you.

I’m pretty sure that everyone on this campus has a little Irish running through them, in their blood or just in their heart. Because, really, I have never seen such collective celebration over a holiday. I woke up and everywhere I looked was green. It didn’t take long for my friends and I to hit the Hart Center Hill and soak up the much-missed sunshine of coming Spring. Wearing our St. Patrick’s day HC specialized t-shirts of course. I was so excited to finish my classes and head to Caro for the live (Irish?) music, and the flocks of people just standing outside enjoying the weather and each other’s company. It was a great day, I can’t wait for next year!

Hello, hello.

I can’t believe it’s already time to hit the library for midterms and papers. I mean, seriously? Second semester is half-way complete? I’m going to SPRING BREAK this weekend?!?! (Appalachia service trip, which I am SO pumped for!) I cannot for the life of me fathom where the time has gone. In short, this semester has been short. But also very fun. My new classes (Comparative Politics, Studio Art, Poetry, and Spanish 301) have been a challenge… which I’ve come to expect at this school. But with each new challenge, class, experience I find myself trying all kinds of new things. Like today, I was sculpting in Studio Art! Anyways, as you can see, I’m enjoying my classes.

This past weekend was my roommate/ other friend’s birthdays. This semester we have been all about getting off campus and checking out the sweet restaurants on Shrewsbury Street. On Saturday night, our college cash depleted, we held a “classy dining experience” for Hana’s birthday at Kimball… Inevitably, a good time was had by all.

Some exciting news- Hana and I finally got a TV for our room! Excuse my enthusiasm, but we have been without one for the entire first semester. Since last Friday the Travel channel has been on nonstop… Man Vs. Food marathons are the best thing ever.

Alright, well I have to go, it’s time to go to Friendly House for my SPUD. I have really gotten attached to the kids there, and my Lenten promise was to go twice a week instead of just once. Oooookay, time to go do some major arts and crafts/lego-building! (Why am I such a kid?) Then it’s major library time for my Comparative Politics Exam…


Hello! Just got back to Holy Cross campus from Winter Break and was lucky enough to have a very cool experience and opportunity before classes began…

I was born in 1990, 22 years after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Of course I knew his importance as a leader in the Civil Rights Movement; of the freedom he stood for, and his remarkable leadership. But even though his lifetime fell so close to mine, like many in my generation, I only saw him through the lens of my school plays and history books. I saw him as a role model and an example for others who wished to achieve a better world through nonviolent resistance, but I never had fully understood that behind my hero was a human. A human that was born no different than you or I, but who through his principled leadership was catapulted to the top of the fight for human rights for which he sacrificed his life.

Until yesterday at the Aptissimi Leadership Conference. As soon as that realization was made, it flung open the doors to both a deep and exponentially more profound respect for MLK, and my own potential as a leader.

I have to say that waking up at 7 am in Boston to be on time for the 10 am – 3 pm Leadership Conference, I was less than completely enthusiastic. Of course I was excited to be back on campus and meet more people with similar interests, but I half-expected the same old “Leadership” shpeal that I’d so often heard in high school.

However, thanks to Dr. Reverend Jamie Washington, the speaker sponsored by HC’s “Hate Not Here” Committee, I came out of Aptissimi with something valuable and relevant…  Inspiration.

Dr. Reverend Washington pushed us all to see the importance of where we come from, and how where we come from influences our approach to life and leadership. He also pushed us, once we were conscious of that influence, to try to see our world beyond our limited perspective. He asked us the question, “Who do we not see?”

And then it hit me. There is so much, in my charmed life as a Holy Cross student, that I don’t see. Dr. Reverend Washington challenged us to open our eyes, to see the world beyond our own individualism– to become Conscious of the struggle for human rights and dignity, to pursue the freedom for all that MLK pursued; to, adding on to MLK’s legendary words, “live the dream intentionally.”

Hello everyone!

Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile, life has been very busy!

Today I had my Philosophy exam, the first of my three exams. I used all three hours. I’ve never took a test that long in my LIFE. But after closing my FULL bluebook, I was overcome with a sense of accomplishment. Not only did I write over 12 pages on a philosophy test, I feel like I learned even more than that. I’m not quite sure how philosophy will fit into my career path, but I’m sure I will retain at least part of what I learned from my professor for the rest of my life. Here’s to a liberal arts education!

Other exciting news- HANSELMAN WON THE DECORATING COMPETITION between residence halls, after hours and hours of making snowflakes and making the common room into an ice castle! (Plus about 30 of us “frozen” in coats and hats for an interactive component) Also, my snowboard was shipped here over Thanksgiving break so now I can go to Wachusett any time I want!

The semester is winding down. I’m looking forward to being finished with exams and going home, but I think I will miss this place and the people I’ve met here so far. I’m really glad that I chose to get involved with S.P.U.D, House Council, and participating in things like the ESCAPE retreat. They’ve really helped me to meet a lot of people. I think that I’m going to apply to be an Orientation Leader to help other college freshmen feel as home here as I do.

Back to studying…

Hello all!

The exam I was stressing out about went well, but I’m glad THAT’S over. Now I’m procrastinating and putting off  a ten page paper for the same class. Ohhh well.

The ESCAPE retreat was really great, even though I was severely sleep deprived. We got lost on the way there, and I have never seen so many trees! I don’t want to ruin the surprise of it if any of you guys choose to do the retreat next year, but it offered a nice opportunity to get off campus and take some time to reflect. The Escape leaders, upperclassmen that worked really hard to make it a great experience for us, challenged us in the spirit of Ignatian spirituality to ask ourselves “How should I live this new life that I’m living?”

On top of reflecting, it was definitely a way to make new friends outside of our own residence halls. My friend Molly and I were the ONLY Hanselmanians, and there were A LOT people from Wheeler. On Friday night we roasted s’mores over a roaring bonfire and listened to some of the retreat leaders play Coldplay (and sung along of course). On Saturday we played “community building” activities (“similar” to icebreakers– but there IS a difference I’m told). We actually got an epic game of “the animal game” going. It was hilarious, not to mention unexpectedly competitive. Before we left the Toah Nipi convention center, everyone wrote letters to themselves and shared something that they would take back with them from the retreat. I met so many awesome people, I definitely gained a renewed appreciation and faith in the people that I go to school with.

The feeling was still with me when I got back to campus, and I even hung out with some of my new retreat friends on Saturday. Overall, I just felt reinvigorated. Like all my depleted energy was coming back. During my SPUD on Monday I got to go to a park, and I played a giant game of tag with the Friendly House kids. I was the “monster” and they ran from me and climbed on the playground equipment. It was adorable.

Alright, time to get some work done! Peace out!

Alright, I don’t have a lot of time because I have to keep studying for my Environmental Biology exam, but here is a quick update.

Tonight we had a HERO meeting and talked about the basketball walk-over on Friday. Unfortunately I’ll miss the first men’s basketball game against Harvard because I’ll be on the ESCAPE retreat, but my roommate Hana and I are organizing face-painting for our dorm. I’m sad to be missing the b-ball game AND the football Patriot League Championship game on Saturday, but I am VERY excited for the retreat. It’s all freshmen, and we get to go to a beautiful retreat center in New Hampshire by a lake. There are rumors of a bonfire and s’mores… mmmm. I’m excited for a break from the fun, yet sometimes chaotic and stressful, life of a college student. I really enjoyed the retreats that my class would go on in high school, and I think this one will be a good opportunity to take a breath, slow down the pace, and do a little self examination after the first few months of college.

Back to studying (I’ve made upwards of 100 notecards so far…)


You’re probably a little concerned by the title of this post, as well as by the fact that it’s Wednesday morning and I’m hiding in my room. But don’t worry, the reason isn’t that I don’t enjoy being around my new HC friends, it’s just that I’m paranoid (and rightfully so) of every Hanselmanian. Welcome to Hanselman Royale.

The giant game of “Assassins” called Hanselman Royale commenced on Sunday. It was started by HERO, our House Council, as a group bonding activity. The premise of the game is that you want to “assassinate” your assigned target by touching them with a spoon, while in turn trying to not get assassinated yourself. Once you take out your target, your next assignment is the person who your original target would have assassinated. This goes on until there is only one person left: the winner.

I’ve already assassinated my first target, Frances, and now I’m working on my second, who for secrecy’s sake shall remain nameless. On some days, like yesterday, there was a “safety,” which means that if you wear a certain item of clothing then you cannot be assassinated. Yesterday every participating Hanselmanian was wearing a hat. I even wore a hat during our intramural soccer game. It was epic. Today, however, there is no “safety” and I feel like I have to watch my back everywhere I go! I know I can’t REALLY hide in my room until this is over… But I can try! Just kidding 🙂

Hopefully I make it until my next entry,


Happy Halloween weekend everyone!

Another year has passed and I have to say that this year’s Halloween at Holy Cross was up there with the best of them. On Friday, my friends Molly, Shannon, and I volunteered at Friendly House (Our S.P.U.D. program in Worcester) and supervised games and a costume competition. Even though I was a little hesitant about working with little kids every Monday, I’ve come to look forward to spending time with my 8-year-old friends! Plus, I realize just how much attention kids need, especially these kids. Every Monday I am met with conflicting emotions: both the happiness of being able to play with them and the satisfaction of such a rewarding experience, and the sadness I feel when I realize the disadvantages these kids have that often result in behavioral/developmental/learning problems. Anyways, back to Friday night. I had promised Kiana and Ashley in particular that I would be at their Halloween party to see all their costumes, however unfortunately I came from 6-8 instead of from 3-5, so I missed seeing them! It’s sad that I can claim that “All my friends are 8 and under!” But hey, maybe they are… Kidding! It did turn out to be a really good time; we dressed up in M&M costumes, and one kid was an amazing breakdancer!

Afterwards on Friday night, C.A.B. (Campus Activities Board) brought in a Ghost Hunter. Even though it was the Friday of Halloween weekend, the room was packed. He started with a powerpoint on background information about the supernatural (the difference between ghosts and poltergeists, etc etc.) and showed us some E.V.P.s (sound clips of ghosts). I don’t really believe in any of it, and granted I could only hear  something in about 30 percent of them, but it was still terrifying and fun. I left after the lecture, but some of my friends then went on a “Ghost Tour” of Holy Cross’s campus, which has been rumored to be haunted. The legend goes that there was an exorcism in the top of Fenwick, and the group on the tour said that they heard voices. CREEPY!

On Saturday, my friend Alex and I re-donned our M&M costumes and ran in the 2.5 Miles for Smiles race to benefit a club on campus that helps children with cleft palates. It was really fun, but really hard! Although I’ve gone to the track and used the treadmill at the gym, it was my first experience running on Mount St. James. Of course, we started with a HUGE hill that basically killed me. Plus, the blue M&M costume I was wearing happened to hold in heat and was quite wind resistant… Who would have thought? Luckily, my friend Alex (red M&M) coached me through it, and we were rewarded afterward with free ice cream!

Later on Saturday, my roommate Hana and I carved a pumpkin that turned out interestingly… And prepared our Halloween costumes. On Family Weekend I had asked my mom to bring up all the old costumes my sisters and I had worn, which turned out to be hilarious. We made use of all of them: the red and blue M&Ms, a cow, a “deviled egg,” and, my costume of choice on Saturday, an orange crayon. I was pleasantly surprised that, for the most part, people at HC get really into dressing up for Halloween. I saw some clever costumes, from the crew team as lumberjacks to a giant leprechaun!

There’s family weekend and then there’s FAMILY WEEKEND! When it comes to the Shapleigh family, it’s go big or go home. And since for us home is a long way a way, why not go big? Of course that meant my family weekend festivities started at 10:00 AM on Friday as soon as I was finished with my classes. My mom and I drove to Boston and met up with my Aunt Kath, my dad, and my older sisters Julie and Claire. We did quintessential touristy things like chow down on “chowda” and tour the John Adams house in Quincy, and also made it back to campus in time to enjoy appetizers at the President’s reception and, of course, ice cream in Kimble! We ended the night with “… And Joyful Be,” a concert by the Holy Cross Choir in the St. Joseph Memorial Chapel. It was amazing! I’m constantly in awe of all the unique talents of students at this school.

Hana and I woke up early on Saturday morning to start flipping pancakes for the Hanselman Family Weekend Pancake Breakfast, one of our duties as Community Ambassadors for H.E.R.O. (Hanselman House Council). While we flipped away in the kitchen, parents and students congregated in the Hanselman common room, chatting with each other and listening to our friend James play the piano. I think it turned out rather well! After, my family did a thorough sports sampling, first supporting my friend Megan on the field hockey team, then drifting to the ice hockey rink to witness our first ever women’s ice hockey game, then, of course, we had to watch the ‘Saders dominate the Colgate Raiders in an exciting 42-28 victory, making HC the best team in the Patriot League! Since it was torrentially pouring (it always rains when parents visit the campus we’ve decided), we chose the drier option and sat in Hogan with a small contingent of other “fair weather” fans.

For dinner, instead of using my parents to get off campus and go to a gourmet restaurant, my family enjoyed a classy dining experience in Kimble with Hana and her family. My parents were relieved that there was plenty of food available on campus (I could tell my mom had been pretty worried by her weekly, and much appreciated, shipments of cookies and banana bread), and they were very complimentary of the pot roast! After dinner, we went right away to reserve seats for the Fools on the Hill a cappella concert in Seelos Theatre. I’m glad we did because it was PACKED! At the risk of sounding repetitive, those Fools are amazing! My family wants me to send them a CD as soon as possible. I finished out my Saturday night by volunteering at the Edge, HC’s on-campus dance club, and using up the rest of the leftover batter from breakfast by making late-night chocolate chip pancakes with my friends.

On Sunday, it was time to see my parents off. We had a great last hurrah by exploring the annual Wachusett Apple Festival at Wachusett Mountain (which I am SO excited to snowboard on come late November– for all you snowboarders/skiers, Mt. Wachusett is only 20 minutes away from Worcester). It was really great to see them, and I miss them a lot. Luckily, they have this blog to check up on me whenever they please– HEY FAMILY!

Sunday night we went to Heeley Haunted House (SO SCARY for being in the basement of a residence hall!) and got dominated in our intramural soccer game (our team is hilarious!).


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Katharine Shapleigh '13

  • Studies: Studies in world literature major with Peace and Conflict Studies concentration
  • Hometown: St. Louis
  • Read more about Katharine »
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