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Life at College of the Holy Cross – from Dublin Gaels to East Coast Crusaders

February 4, 2013

by Clint Jackman (Dublin High School Class of 2012 and College of the Holy Cross freshman)

Dublin High School Graduate Clint Jackman in Boston Outside Cheers

I recently learned that it would take me nearly 40 straight days of walking to get from College of the Holy Cross back to my home in Dublin, California. Fortunately, a seven hour plane ride will allow me to cross the 3,000 miles a lot faster, but either way, the distance is daunting. Or, it was for me right after I committed to play football at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA (pronounced, “Woosta,” by the locals – I’m not kidding). The thought of being that far away from home was quite intimidating, especially after learning that, out of my Dublin High graduating class, I would be going the furthest away for school. But I was never the kind to get particularly homesick, so I pushed it out of my mind and got on that plane in July.

Let me tell you, it was one of the best decisions of my life.

Not the getting away from home, mind you, but the experience that I had in just one semester at Holy Cross was unlike anything I had ever been a part of, or I imagine most of my classmates would ever get to see.

First of all, I had to leave home a lot sooner than most of my friends, which, on the bright side, meant that I was able to say goodbye to them all at once, instead of watching them trickle away to their respective colleges. All of the heartbreak was out of the way very quickly for me, like ripping off a really, really painful bandage. Fortunately, I made 27 fast friends among the other freshmen on the Crusaders football team. Over the course of the next four weeks of football camp, I went from knowing nothing about those guys to knowing more than I ever wanted to know. Ninety young men trapped together for a whole month? You hear some things. By the time orientation rolled around, I was anxious to meet some other new classmates. To be honest, however, I ended up spending most of my time with my teammates, even outside of practice.

That being said, I can’t recommend being a college athlete enough. The trials I faced during my first season of college football were, perhaps, the hardest I had ever had to face. But I stuck with it, and I was molded into someone I never thought I’d be. Whether it’s joining a giant intramural team, or even a small club team, try to be a part of athletics wherever you end up. The experience will be worth all of the time and energy you invest. Also, volunteer some of your time. I joined a lot of guys on my team in working with the Big Brothers / Big Sisters Program in Worcester, and an hour a week is more than enough time to make a little kid smile when he sees you.

Client Jackman at Holy Cross in the Snow

Holy Cross in the Snow

Holy Cross has a reputation for being one of the most rigorous academic institutions in the country, but thanks to my teachers at Dublin High School, who prepared me well, I hardly felt that at all (although we’ll see how the next semester turns out before I make any final conclusions). The two most important tools you’ll need most in order to be successful in college are the ability to communicate effectively — with your teachers and through your writing – and being able to manage your time well. Also, look ahead to see if your AP credits will fulfill common requirements. I didn’t have to take an English or history class because of them. This will allow you to take other classes that you might not otherwise be able to take, or you might even find that you will be able to graduate early. If you can help it, don’t take Calculus your first semester, either. I have many friends, at Holy Cross and elsewhere, who say that their first college semester was made much harder by the rigors of college math. Pace yourself! Wade in and take classes that you think you’d enjoy, instead of just trying to fulfill a prerequisite. Otherwise, it could leave you with a sour taste in your mouth.

I had always wanted to go to a big school, and initially, I thought that Holy Cross’ enrollment was a little underwhelming at 2,900. However, I learned that you’ll never have enough time to meet everybody, and it’s just as easy to blend in as it is to stand out, should you so choose. That being said, I learned very quickly that one of the perks of going to a small school is that the class sizes match the school’s enrollment. My most populous class had just thirty students, so it was easy to get to know both the professors and the other kids around me. My tip is to get to class a few minutes early every day so you can chat up some new friends. I guess you can do that just as easily in a crowded lecture hall, but I wouldn’t know.

Holy Cross Football

Holy Cross Crusaders

Going back to the distance issue, I really encourage students to at least look at schools outside of their comfort zone. California is great, and I will probably (a word I use carefully around my mother) end up back in California after I graduate, but getting to live in another part of the country so different than where I grew up is worth it, in and of itself. People always say that California has only two seasons, and I never believed them until I saw the leaves in Massachusetts turn amber and red before finally falling away so that the first snowfall can take their place.

Facebook, Skype, Twitter, and Snapchat make staying in touch with family and old friends much easier for our generation. Make use of them, and your phone, even if it’s just a call or text every couple of weeks. Making sure the people back home know you still care is important so that when you finally do come home, you actually have friends, and not strangers, to hang out with.

Now that Winter Break is over, I’m packing my bags and gearing up for my second semester at Holy Cross, and I can’t be more excited. Prepared? We’ll see. But excited is a start.

At the Dublin High School 2012 Senior Awards Night Clint was recognized as a U.S. Army Reserve – National Scholar/Athlete, Dublin Lions Club Student of the Year (with Tatum Wheeler), was awarded a Dublin High PFSO Scholarship, Don Nelson Scholarship, Dublin High School Counseling Department Scholarship, was named a California Scholarship Federation Life Member, was awarded the President’s Gold Award for Educational Excellence and earned Dublin High School’s Advanced Scholar Diploma.

Holy Cross Football Clint Jackman Locker

Clint Jackman Locker – Holy Cross Crusaders

Clint Jackman with Friends Holy Cross

Clint Jackman (far right, standing) with Friends at Holy Cross

Clint Jackman - Holy Cross Homecoming Game 2012

Clint Jackman (91) – Holy Cross Homecoming Game 2012

Holy Cross Homecoming 2012

Holy Cross Campus

Other articles in the Life in College series: