Colum W. Cross


Scouting has been a big part of my life, ever since fifth grade. During my time in Boy Scouts I learned a lot of interesting and useful skills. I also managed to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout during my time as a Boy Scout. One of the major requirements for becoming an Eagle Scout is a project that benefits a non-for-profit organization. For my project I decided to install a 20 foot flagpole in front of my local church school.

I decided to work with my local church because it has been a part of my life for a long time. In Spring of 2013, I contacted the Deacon from my church and asked if there were any projects that needed to be done. He told me about a great project idea at the local church-owned school, where they needed a new flagpole installed, as their current one was old and dilapidated. I decided that this would be a good Eagle Project for me.

I then contacted Kris Burns, who would later become the beneficiary representative, about what she wanted done. At first, the plan was to sand down, repaint, and fix up the pre-existing flagpole. Unfortunately, due to the size and location of the flagpole, that was beyond our capabilities. So, I came up with a few alternatives. In an e-mail to Kris Burns I suggested that we could either take down the current flagpole and fix it up on the ground, or we could install a new flagpole altogether. Kris decided on the latter. That meant that I would have to find a new flagpole for the right amount of money, and have myself and a group of scouts install it. This led me to step two of the project.

This is where the good people at Gettysburg Flag Company came in. I told them that I was doing an Eagle Scout project, and a man by the name of Patrick Dooney, said he could help with that. I told him I needed a 20’ flagpole and he told me he would see what he could do. After a few days he told me that he had a pole that could do the job.

The flagpole I used was a 20’ aluminum, satin, commercial grade flagpole. Originally the pole was 50’ tall, and it stood in front an automotive dealership. Then ironically a car hit it, and they had to get a new one. Due to the fact that all the damage was at the bottom of the pole, they were able to remove it when they trimmed down the pole to 22’. Because it was refurbished and it was for an Eagle Project, I was able to get a really good discount on the pole. Also, the pole is a much better quality than if I were to get a new one.

Now that I had my pole picked out, I had to pay for it. Kris and I agreed on doing a bake sale at the church. The bake sale was on Saturday and Sunday in between masses. We were able to raise over $200 to pay for the flagpole.

With this money we were able to purchase the flagpole and begin the first part of the two part installation phase: digging the hole and pouring the concrete. Once the day was scheduled, I had to get the materials. I went to Home Depot and was able to talk to one of the managers, Bill, about getting some concrete for the dig. He went into the back room, and after a half-hour or better, he came back and told my dad and me to drive our truck around back. Nate, from the construction department, helped us load the 20 bags of concrete onto the truck and we went home to unload them into the garage.

Two days later we had to install the project. I spent months making the plans for that day. I had countless phone calls with Keith Bemis, my Scoutmaster, Kris Burns, and Patrick Dooney; most of which were me relaying the same information, or getting the same things said to me. I had done countless sketches, a number of which were on a program nobody knew about, Google SketchUp, even after I told them about it. When the day came I was ready. Ready for everything except the adults. You don’t realize how much work it is to lead, until you actually do it yourself. With that being said, it’s even harder to lead when you have to lead people who have been leading you for most of your life. For instance, because of their life experiences many adult leaders have opinions about how to perform the work. While I listen to their concerns and questions, my role is to explain my plan to the leaders, and be the one to make the final decisions. Which I feel like was one of the most difficult parts of the whole experience. I learned that I needed to be a little more assertive in my leadership towards the adult leaders.

After installing the concrete pad the flagpole would sit on, I had to wait until the concrete cured before I could install the flagpole itself. Although I wasn't actively building things, I still used this time for behind-the-scenes planning. I needed to set up everything for the second project day.

Finally, in Spring of 2014, we had our second project day, installing the pole, which went very well. We were able to get everything done in a timely manner. One thing that went well was that the pole was easily cleaned. I also think that everyone followed their orders much better than on the first project day. All the adult leaders were respectful of my authority, and it made the installation of the flagpole very smooth. The issues I ran into were that I actually had more people than I needed. Because there were so many people, I didn't have jobs for all of them, so many were sitting around doing nothing. This was a definite error on my part. What I should have done was organize the number of people I needed better, as I did the first project day. Another problem that arose was that the finial at the top was not the right size; it did not fit into the truck (the piece at the top that holds the wheel). I had to go back to Gettysburg Flag Company and get a new one, and no one could do anything until I came back. In hindsight, I should have checked if the ball fit before I began the installation day.

Overall, I learned a lot from my Eagle Scout project, such as good leadership skills and how to properly mix concrete. I feel that these skills and others will be useful throughout my life, no matter what career path I pursue.

Other Activities

I have played the trombone in my school band since fourth grade, and have received multiple gold metals at New York State School Music Association adjudications in both group and solo performances. I have also sung in my school's choir for a total of seven years.

I have been in many theatrical performances, including playing the lead in A Christmas Story and Lend Me a Tenor, and Luther Billis in the musical South Pacific.

I am currently the President of Fowl Play, RIT's oldest comedy troup. This past January I was in Rwanda surveying Congolese refugee camps for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This semester I started working in RIT’s Comparative Cognition and Perception Lab to help with ongoing research on visual object recognition in goldfish. I am also working with Dr. DeLong on creating a new comparative cognition task for orangutans.


Rochester Institute of Technology. 2014-Present

I entered RIT in the Computer Exploration Program, and after one semester I declared Information Technology. After a year in IT, I transfered to Human Centered Computing, because it was the right fit for me.

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