Recipe for Community: Connection, Cookies and Campion House

February 29, 2024

“It’s a coveted position,” says Laura Nelson, hospitality director for the Chaplains’ Office. “We interview students and have them come in and bake a test batch for all the chaplains to taste.”

Now, there are also 15 years’ worth of alumni bakers, many of whom are keeping Campion’s hospitality tradition alive in their post-Holy Cross lives.

Ben Lepper ’25, Campion baker
English major, French minor
Wellesley, Massachusetts

“I’m a tornado in the kitchen. I move fast, and I’m pretty frantic. That also means I usually have the cookies out of the oven by 9:30 a.m., so I’m frequently done early. I’ve become a well-oiled machine. I use the same chocolate chip cookie base and just swap up the mix-ins. I’ve memorized it, so at this point, it’s second nature,” he says.

“I’m a tornado in the kitchen,” Lepper says. “I move fast, and I’m pretty frantic. That also means I usually have the cookies out of the oven by 9:30 a.m.”

In fall 2023, Lepper specifically built his class schedule around having the job, so his classes begin in the afternoon. “If one of the other bakers needs to call out sick, I’m able to come in. I didn’t expect to turn into Mr. Campion Cookie, but it’s just special, the way we’re able to do something that makes people’s days better,” he says. “I don’t consider myself super religious, but I see Campion as a really cool place to hang out on campus.”

Favorite cookie? “I’m a big candy corn fan (I understand that’s polarizing), and one of my fellow bakers made a candy corn cookie that I loved. Another baker made a really good gluten-free white chocolate cookie.”

Amanda (Dipersia) Cantrell ’10, former Campion baker & cook
program manager, Boston Children’s Hospital medical-surgical ICU

“The cookies gave Campion that home-away-from-home feeling. It made a difference for a lot of my friends and other students on campus to have a place like Campion to go, whether they were stressed or just wanted a snack walking back from the library. When I was a student, I worked in the admissions office over the summer, and I always mentioned that I baked and cooked at Campion so that applicants, even from that early stage, got a sense that Campion is more than just where the chaplains’ offices are.

Today, at Boston Children’s Hospital, I have a large staff of about 40 people. For the holidays, I make all different cookies for them — pizzelles, sugar, chocolate amaretto. Sharing my passion with other people brings me a lot of joy.”

Favorite cookie? “Good old-fashioned chocolate chip”

Charlotte “Lotte” Kearns ’20, former Campion baker & cook
Ph.D. microbiology student at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
New York, New York

“It was always peaceful baking at Campion. I played my music and made cookies for a couple of hours, then watched people come in and enjoy them. That was the best part. It was a way to connect. People always connect over food. And you made new friends because people would come in to have the cookies and then introduce themselves.

“My aunt is actually Marybeth Kearns-Barrett, but nepotism can’t get you the job! I had to do a trial bake, like everyone else. I’m from Vermont, so I made maple cookies and I got hired.

“I live with my sister now (she’s an alum and also a former Campion baker), and we regularly cook or bake for people at our apartment in New York City. I love to see the happiness it brings them.”

Favorite cookie? “Chocolate chip, or pumpkin chocolate chip”

The ingredients

The ingredients don’t just appear in Campion, just like home cooks, someone has to shop for them. That’s where the Campion shopper, another work-study position, comes in. Bakers decide what kind of cookies to make and then send in their lists of needed ingredients.

In line with Campion’s commitment to being a welcoming place for all, there are designated days offering vegan and gluten-free cookies.

Evan Walker ’24, Campion shopper
economics and mathematics major 
Arlington, Virginia

“At the grocery store, my strategy comes from the layout of the list I’m given; it separates the items into produce, dairy, baking goods, frozen items and ‘other.’ I look for cheaper options and organic options. Guessing the kind of cookie based on the ingredients list is definitely one of the fun parts.

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