Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs about the Alpha Sigma Nu Application Process

Q. Can my recommendation come from someone outside the Holy Cross community?

A. If possible, your recommendation should come from someone in the Holy Cross community, i.e. someone with a email address.  If you want someone from outside the Holy Cross community to write your recommendation, please contact the current Alpha Sigma Nu faculty moderator, by emailing

Q: Is it alright to have the director of the service project you're involved with in his Study Abroad program write a letter of recommendation for me?

A. Yes. The same holds true for people who have directed/supervised you in service projects at home during your summers during your years here at Holy Cross. They can just email or fax their recommendations to me. I will acknowledge receipt of the letters to both you and your recommenders as soon as I can. If they do fax in the letter, please have them include their email address on the fax form.

Q. If I've worked closely with a SPUD program director or mentor who happens to be a fellow student, can I ask that person to write a letter?

A. Yes, if the student has been in a supervisor's position within that particular SPUD program and you worked closely with him or her. One of the tasks a supervisor or director of such a service project should expect to have is to write recommendations for people who serve with them and under their supervision. It's up to you as the applicant to make a judgment who best knows your work and commitment.

Since you are all qualified academically, even you choice of an academic recommender should ideally be someone who knows more about you than your academic achievement and is familiar with your service commitment as well. One example might be a department chair with whom you have had to work on an SAC committee.

Q. Is there a particular focus expected in the resume in contrast to other types of resumes for positions such as internships?

A. The resume should include
your name home and local addresses,
your major(s), minors(s), concentration(s),
your awards (academic and service),
campus organizations you belong to:
e.g. sports teams, RAs, Kimball captain, chapel ministry
your particular forms of service and
the nature of your involvement in the program/project
e.g. did you start with a program and over time assume a leadership role

Q. I also have a question--it may be rather obvious but the email didn't actually say it. Do you have to actually be a Jesuit/Catholic to apply for this? Is this a society honoring outstanding Catholics, or just outstanding HC students in general?

A. You certainly don't have to be either a Jesuit or a Catholic to apply. We've had students and faculty whose faith tradition is Jewish, Hindu and others who are members of other Christian traditions inducted in my 4 years as faculty Moderator.

A key phrase I used in my letter :"Ignatian" ideals of education" was chosen specifically to indicate that admittance to Alpha Sigma Nu is certainly not limited to Jesuits but seeks to honor those who made a conscious effort to live out the ideals of scholarship, leadership and service in light of Ignatius' and the Jesuit concern for forming the whole person. Ignatius was neither a Jesuit or priest but a layman when he developed the Spiritual Exercises and a key principle in Jesuit education has been adaptability to changing circumstances while developing the spiritual, social, civic and even physical aspects of human life with a basic respect for human dignity so that we all become more dedicated to our common call to be "men and women for others". The important thing is for you to be able to articulate how through reflection you have come to view your service experiences as integral to your educational experience here at Holy Cross in living out that call.

Q. Can I use a experience where I helped established a service group in high school as part of my reflection essay?

A. The key thing would be to make sure that you tie that experience into your own experience of reflective service here at Holy Cross. Have you kept up involvement with that program during your HC years? How did it give you the incentive to do similar service work here?

Q. How long should my reflection essay be?

A. The essay should be approximately 700 words.

Q. Who should I have as my faculty recommender? Can I ask one of the chaplains and the mentor/supervisor of my service project/program?

A. I believe all the chaplains are all considered adjunct faculty members since they sit in and vote at faculty meetings so you could have one of the chaplains as your "faculty" recommender. Since the people in the Dean of Students are part of the administration, they could also be considered under the "faculty" rubric. As I noted before the key thing is to ask a faculty member who know you beyond the limits of your academic achievements, so an faculty advisor might be a good possibility. Remember a service project director at home is also a possibility.

Q. What if the faculty member who knew me best no longer teaches at Holy Cross?

A. I'd suggest checking with the secretary of the department he or she taught in to see if the faculty member left a forwarding address. This question raises an important issue for all of you in terms of graduation next year. The Center for Career Development has forms for a recommendation that you can request faculty members to fill out for you before you graduate. If you need the recommendation several years after graduating , you can always try to contact the faculty member who can update the letter.

Q. What sort of items should be placed under the "rubrics" or "categories" of special achievements and religion?

A. The "Special Achievements" category would includes your involvement in starting up or developing some service project. For example last year a student helped develop and lead the first reflection group for 1st year SPUD volunteers. Under Religion, I would include any involvement with campus ministry programs such as greeters, lectors, Eucharistic ministers, music ministry. For those who are not Catholic, involvement in your church, synagogue or mosque or any service project that they might sponsor would be included there.

Q. What about involvement in sports teams here at Holy Cross. Where do they fit in?

A. Commitment to a varsity sport is a huge time investment which is considered a service of representing the college, but many teams often commit their time and energy to service projects. I was just told that members of the men's Lacrosse team was recognized at a dinner by a locale community group for their work on Big brother programs or the hockey an swim teams have worked with the deaf community, so all those service projects should be noted.