Senior Spotlight: Andrew & Kacie

Author: Megan Schaffner, junior

After meeting through the Rose Hill Honors Program, seniors Kacie Candela and Andrew Seger started working together on their WFUV podcast, Prickly Politics. The podcast covers a range of topics, providing crucial information for the everyday listener to become an informed voter in New York elections.  With two complete seasons, Prickly Politics has gained attention and traction, receiving shout-outs from multiple New York reporters and WFUV alumni. Kacie and Andrew recently spoke to me about the podcast’s beginnings, both past and future projects, and how their work on Prickly Politics has shaped their experiences in Honors.

Q: Can you introduce us to the podcast?

Kacie: The podcast is called Prickly Politics– prickly like a cactus. It started two years ago and I was one of the original co-hosts. Andrew came on for the second season, and we were covering Mayor De Blasio’s 2017 election for his second term. Then this last election season, we covered the midterms in New York, focusing on Governor Cuomo’s race, the Democratic Primary with Cynthia Nixon, the Attorney General race — which was a surprise race because Schneiderman had to step down last year –and other crazy midterm and state legislature [elections].

Q: So how did the podcast get started? Kacie, you said you were an original member?

Kacie: We definitely saw a need at the [WFUV] station for a politics podcast, because a lot of our day-to-day coverage, which Andrew and I have been doing for years, is day-of or  day-to-day press conferences. It’s not really a zoomed-out guide for voters to be educated moving into an election season. So, for example, if you care about the environment, [we cover] what you need to know about the candidates’ stances on the environment for you to be an educated voter. We spent an entire episode talking about that, talking about the [environmental] issues in New York state, and talking to a Green Party candidate.

Andrew: I think the big idea was to be a go-to resource for all things on the election, whereas if we were doing day-of reporting on, say, Governor Cuomo talking about an issue, this kind of [big picture] stuff gets swept under the news cycle. [We wanted to have], like Kacie said, episodes devoted to topics, [such as] months of a candidate’s policy stances and speeches — just being able to be the resource for people wanting to know what’s going on in the election.

Kacie: It’s for the everyday person. A lot of talk shows are geared towards insiders who are following the day to day, political nitty-gritty, and we were hoping to reach a wider audience of people who may not know anything about local politics and just want to be able to make a good decision on election day.

Q: Has the podcast grown or changed in any ways you weren’t expecting?

Andrew: I think we got a solid following this season. That didn’t [necessarily] surprise me, but I was impressed by how much of a reach we had and how many influential reporters or political heads listened to us. We got a lot of shout-outs on Twitter from big New York politics reporters. Scott Detrow,  a WFUV alum and the NPR congressional correspondent, is a big deal and for him to shout us out on Twitter, it’s a really rewarding feeling to know that people are listening and people are taking stuff away from this.

Kacie: And on that note, FUV has provided us with a network of really amazing, supportive reporters who have maybe stayed in New York, maybe went national, who want to support people who work at FUV and our work.  We’ve had a handful of FUV alums who are still covering New York politics join us on the show about what they’re covering right now. Having their support, their Twitter retweets, things like that, has made us feel like we’re part of this wider community.

Q: Has being involved in this podcast shaped any of your course decisions or the way you approach Honors course readings or classwork?

Andrew: Actually yes! It’s been very helpful tying in current events to different course topics, especially studying the Modern period [in the Honors curriculum]. For example, in an economics and ethics class with Professor Mary Beth Combs we focused on contemporary issues that we know are affecting New York. Or, in [our modern religion class], knowing what’s going on in New York’s Jewish community and the political turmoil surrounding that. In the craziest circumstances, I can say “Oh, this is going on in New York right now!” and it relates so perfectly to what we’re talking about in classes now at the end of the Honors curriculum.

Kacie: I have a lot of distinct memories of incorporating things that I’ve experienced working at FUV in my Honors classes and I think that more than half the time, the professor [had no idea].  It’s so interdisciplinary because the things we learn about in Honors are applicable to Society [as a concept], and things we cover at FUV are societal problems of poverty, healthcare, immigration and education [at a local level]. Things that we’ve learned about in a global, historical context still relate to New York.

Q: What’s next for Prickly Politics?

Andrew: So we’re working on a new season of the podcast which is a little different than the way the other two have worked. They’ve been elections and political coverage, and now we’re doing a deep-dive investigative series into the problem of sexual harassment and misconduct in Albany. Within the State Senate and Assembly, there’s historically been this culture and tolerance of corruption and misconduct, so we’re doing a little bit historical, but mostly recent, overview talking with survivors who have lived through this harrassment, either in Albany or in different district offices around New York City and New York state.  We have already talked to legislators who have served alongside these perpetrators and [we are hoping to] also talk to new faces who are bring change to the issue — either new politicians who are entering their first time in office or advocates who are taking a stand against the sexual harassment in Albany.

Kacie: The incidents we are looking at are from the last 20 years or so, basically the start of the century until now.  Some things have changed, but some things haven’t, and our hope for the project is that we can shine a light on how the institution of the New York State Legislature and ethics bodies have really failed survivors of workplace harassment and misconduct and how efforts at reform have been successful thus far, looking to the future. It’s probably my favorite thing I’ve ever worked on – and that’s saying something because I love covering elections.

Andrew: We’re looking forward to it! It’s exciting, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Kacie Candela is an IPE (International Political Economy) double major and Philosophy minor.  She will be attending law school after graduation.

Andrew Seger is an IPE major and Philosophy minor. He hopes that his two past internships at CNN will help him land a job there in May and plans to pursue a career in news production.


Check out all of the Prickly Politics podcasts on their website (https://pricklypolitics.atavist.com/) and follow them on Twitter @pricklypodcast!

Engineers Without Borders: An Honors Duo’s Trip to Uganda

Author: Stephanie Albert, junior

Honors students Kelsey Vinzant ‘20 and Meg Whelan ’21 first connected with each other through the Honors Mentorship Program, which pairs incoming Honors students with upperclassman peers. In one of their first conversations, Kelsey mentioned her involvement with Fordham’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), which has since become another shared experience for the pair.

Kelsey, the current president of the club says, “At Fordham, EWB is a group of students of many disciplinary backgrounds and we are partnered with a community in Uganda through an NGO there called “Selocoffi” which stands for Serere Local Community Fish Farming Initiative. Through their partnership, we are linked to communities that are interested in building fish farms. Our task is to visit and survey land, then design a suitable fish farm for their community.” Thus far, the Fordham chapter of EWB has successfully built two fish farms.

This past August, Kelsey and Meg, along with several other Fordham participants, visited their partner community in Uganda. The trip lasted for 10 days and involved almost 48 hours of travel to get from the United States to the small villages in Uganda. The main purpose of their trip was to oversee construction to make sure things were going well. Three people who went on the trip were very involved technically so they could help with any issues or any necessary deviations from their designs that arose. They also met with the community to sign contracts and assign roles, such as a security guard, for the new fish farm. The Fordham group also was able to briefly look at land for a new breeding center project location, which is the third stage of Fordham’s EWB project. It will allow the club to have a more widespread impact because more Ugandans will have access to the center, making the project more sustainable for the communities. The Fordham students were also able to go visit a full-scale fish farm that is funded by numerous organizations including the UN, so they were able to get to see how a larger-scale project operated and what their project could possibly grow into in the future.

While visiting, the group stayed at the home of the man who operates Selocoffi. “His family was really wonderful and his daughter Lucy was always cooking for us and bringing out these amazing meals.” “The trip didn’t seem as busy [while we were there] but looking back on it, we were able to do quite a lot.”

Both Meg and Kelsey noted that community interactions were the most memorable parts of the trip. A particularly special interaction was meeting the Ugandan students who benefit from the portion of farm proceeds that goes to local education and healthcare initiatives.  They interacted with the students by exchanging language lessons — the Fordham students shared some English phrases with the kids, who then taught them some words in Ateso, their native dialect. This was Meg’s first ever trip abroad, so a lot stood out to her but learning about the culture of the people they were visiting was the most impactful.

For each Fordham EWB delegation, there are a few students who have participated in previous visits. Their leadership helps facilitate introductions and interactions with their host community. The most rewarding aspect of the trip was the meeting with the host community because they presented gifts to the returning Fordham delegates. “We have an adult professional engineer who travels with us and they gave him a live chicken which is a big deal,” shared Kelsey.

In reflecting on taking this trip with her Honors mentor, Meg spoke about how grateful she was to have Kelsey to help orient her in addition to orienting the whole group. The last three presidents of EWB have been Rose Hill Honors students and numerous other members of the club have also been Honors students. Although there were cultural and communication barriers as well as a variety of stakeholders for the Fordham team to coordinate with, Meg and Kelsey used the skills they’d learned around the Honors seminar table to discern when to speak up and when to listen, in order to collaborate well for this global partnership.

SAC Showcase: Bronx Music Heritage Tour

Author: Kelsie O’Leary, sophomore

Three years ago, the Honors Program initiated a student-led advisory board to assist in creating co- and extra-curricular programming. Since then, the Student Activity Council has developed into a ten-committee organization with focuses varying from Arts & Entertainment to Community Engagement & Social Justice. Last year, in an effort to encourage students to learn more about history and culture in the local neighborhoods, the Bronx Culture Committee was formed.

This month, Bronx Culture Committee Chair Kelsie O’Leary (‘21) organized an opportunity for Honors students to visit the Bronx Music Heritage Center (BMHC). The students enjoyed a walking tour around the Crotona Park East neighborhood led by Co-Artistic Director of BMHC, Elena Martinez, where they learned about the rich history of hip-hop and jazz music in the Bronx.

The Honors students with Bronx Music Heritage Center staff members,Elena Martinez and Bobby Sanabria.

The Heritage Center is located near many historical areas of the Bronx, including Charlotte Street. The opening scene of the controversial 1981 film, Fort Apache the Bronx, was shot right outside its door. The film depicted the Bronx as a hostile, crime-ridden borough, and community members fought against this negative portrayal during the film’s production. Despite their protests, the film was still released. Stereotypes, like the ones in the movie, are still being combated by the Bronx community today.

A photo of the protests that students were shown on the tour

After the tour, students saw inside the Heritage Center, where a dance class had just finished. The current exhibit, titled #papielmaestro, displayed a series of photographs of musician Ray Santos, documented by his daughter. The other BMHC Co-Artistic Director, Bobby Sanabria, spoke with the Honors students about the current programs and events offered at the Heritage Center, including dance and music classes, poetry nights, live performances, film screenings, and more.

Overall, the trip was great and the students learned a lot from Elena and Bobby. The Bronx Music Heritage Center is an amazing organization that everyone should visit if they have the opportunity!

Redesigning The Student Mentorship Program

Started several years ago, the Honors Mentorship Program paired incoming Honors first-years with sophomores or juniors during the summer before their first year.  With the help of current Honors junior Henry Zink, the program was redesigned for the 2018-2019 school year. This new Mentorship Program allows Honors first-years to enter into mentoring “families,” in which they join with students from each cohort within the Program, creating small groups rather than pairs.

A psychology major and music and theology double minor, Henry found his experience as a first-year in the Mentorship Program valuable.  “I appreciated the opportunity to get to know an upperclassman and to pick his brain about both Honors-specific and general college topics,” he told me.  However, as Henry completed his first few semesters within the Honors Program, he noticed that younger students were looking for more ways to foster community with older Honors students: “Many Honors students felt that they had more success forming connections with other upperclassmen who weren’t their mentors.”  With this in mind, Henry started looking for ways to expand the Mentorship Program.

With funding from the Honors Program, Henry was able to attend the 2017 AJCU Honors Conference at Loyola New Orleans. There, he spoke with Honors students from other Jesuit schools about their student mentorship programs.  Inspired by these conversations, Henry pitched the idea of redesigning the Rose Hill Honors’ Mentorship Program to the program director, Dr. Eve Keller. He believed that by placing students into mentor families, rather than pairs, they would be encouraged to stay more connected and spend more time together.  Moreover, he hoped that involving Honors students from all grades would promote bonding across the Honors Program as a whole.

The new iteration of the Mentorship Program officially kicked off with the annual Mentorship Reception in September.  At the event, Honors first-years were welcomed into the Honors community as they met their new mentor family and got to know the upperclassmen better.  So far, Henry has received positive feedback about the program’s redesign: “It seems like people are excited about their mentees and the opportunity to be involved in a mentor family.  I’m excited to see what happens in the next two years and beyond, as the program grows.”

Honors Summer Internship Fellows: Kat

**This is the final post in a series of four posts written by the Summer 2018 Honors Internship Fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.**

Author: Kat Martucci, senior

Summer Internship Fellow Kat with one of her students.

This summer, I was awarded an Honors Summer Internship Fellowship to be an Education Intern at Children of Promise, NYC (CPNYC). The experience was challenging, unpredictable, and often times exhausting – but more than anything, it filled my summer with incredible joy and love.

Last year, I attended the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) Honors Conference as a representative of the FCRH Honors Program. There, I participated in a teach-in on criminal justice and spoke with both currently and formerly incarcerated people. The teach-in sparked a desire in me to further learn about and work towards criminal justice reform.

Because of this, I was instantly drawn to Children of Promise. CPNYC aims “to embrace children of incarcerated parents and empower them to break the cycle of intergenerational involvement in the criminal justice system.”  Its innovative model of a combined after-school/summer camp program and mental health clinic provides children with holistic support and exciting opportunities.

Throughout the summer, I could be found in many different roles. Primarily, I led a ‘Science Club’ for groups of 8 and 9 year-olds. Other days, I helped with ‘Read-aloud’ for 6 and 7 year olds, accompanied children on trips throughout New York City, and directed volunteers at CPNYC’s Saturday Resource Center. Regardless of the role I was in, every day I developed relationships with the children and grew to love their unique traits and bold attitudes.

Although my internship has formally ended, my relationship with CPNYC has not. I plan to volunteer there during the school year and am currently helping to design and implement a youth Council of Promise to provide leadership opportunities for the children.

2.7 million children in the nation, and 105,000 children in New York State, have a parent in prison. CPNYC is the beginning of a movement to support these children, whom the odds are against, and create opportunities for them to succeed.

For me, this internship has emphasized the importance of building relationships with the individuals who are affected first-hand by issues of injustice. In becoming a part of their community, their struggle becomes my struggle, and I am all the more committed to a career in solidarity with these communities.

Thank you to the FCRH Honors Program and its donors for this fellowship as well as the opportunity to attend the 2017 AJCU Honors Conference. These experiences have been critical in my formation at Fordham, and I so grateful for the continued support of the Honors Program as I enter my final year at Fordham.  

Honors Summer Internship Fellow: Andrew

**This is the third post in a series of four posts written by the Summer 2018 Honors Internship Fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.**

Author: Andrew Seger, senior

I am grateful to have received the Honors Program Summer Fellowship, which afforded me the opportunity to learn from and work alongside some very hardworking journalists writing in the field of global affairs news and analysis at the Council on Foreign Relations. In this very consequential time for U.S. politics, our country’s role as a leader on the world stage is increasingly coming under question. As one of the world’s premier think-tanks, CFR is a rendezvous for scholars and diplomats who lead the charge at carefully analyzing, sometimes criticizing, and constantly learning from U.S. foreign policy actions and blunders.

As an intern with CFR’s editorial team, I worked with established journalists and writers who contributed news and analysis content to CFR’s website. As my capstone intern project, I worked throughout the summer on producing a published interview on the current state of Libyan politics with Frederic Wehrey, a senior fellow in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

My internship at the Council on Foreign Relations was any political junkie’s dream summer job. As an International Political Economy major, the internship supplemented and built upon everything I’ve learned in three years of studying politics and global affairs. It was also complementary to my growing knowledge of world history and political philosophy, subjects the Honors Program first sparked my interest in years ago. Again, I am grateful to Dr. Keller and the Honors Program for affording me this opportunity to work and learn at the Council on Foreign Relations, and I look forward to building upon this experience in the future.  

Andrew Seger, 2018 Honors Summer Internship Fellow

Attending the Global Climate Action Summit as a Student Reporter

Author: Robin Happel, senior

Jane Goodall and Alec Baldwin in conversation at the Global Climate Action Summit.

Thanks to a generous travel grant from the Fordham Honors Program, I was recently able to attend the Global Climate Action Summit as a student Reporting Fellow for the UN Association. UN Secretary-General António Guterres recently called climate change the defining issue of our time, and this summit was a crucial step towards advancing the goals of the Paris Agreement, the Green Climate Fund, and other UN initiatives related to Sustainable Development Goal 13.

As a pre-law student specializing in environmental policy, attending this summit was a dream come true, and it was so amazing to see Jane Goodall, Al Gore, John Kerry, and other luminaries of the environmental movement speak in person, as well as hear from diplomats from the Antarctic to the Amazon. Interviewing Fordham alumna Queen Quet Marquetta L Goodwine and other inspiring diplomats for GenUN was such a great reminder of why there are still so many reasons to be optimistic.

As a Southerner with family and friends in the path of Hurricane Florence, it’s easy to be cynical, but this summit was such a great reminder that there are people all over the world working to turn back the clock and stop catastrophic climate change. I feel very fortunate to be have been able to represent the Fordham Honors Program at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, and I hope that my experience inspires other students to get more involved with United Nations environmental initiatives.

Robin (second from left) and colleagues at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, CA.

 

Honors Summer Internship Fellows: Kelsie

**This is the second in a series of four posts written by the Summer 2018 Honors Internship Fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.**

Author: Kelsie O’Leary, sophomore

Kelsie tutoring with City Year

This summer, the Honors Summer Internship Fellowship allowed me to work for City Year New York, an education nonprofit whose mission is to provide quality education to students in New York City’s most underserved schools. City Year employs AmeriCorps members in 28 cities and hundreds of schools across the country to combat the dropout crisis.

As an intern for their Corps and Site Operations department this summer, I managed day-to-day office tasks as well as helped prepare incoming AmeriCorps members for their year of service. I developed content for training, collected and organized compliance forms, and helped coordinate events in the office. This was my first time working on the administrative side of nonprofit, and I gained valuable experience for my future plans in nonprofit management.

Although I did not work directly with students this summer, I understand the impact that City Year has because I served in City Year Los Angeles for two years before attending Fordham. The AmeriCorps members serve not only as tutors to students but as mentors and role models. I witnessed firsthand the tremendous impact of having a positive adult role model in a student’s life, and the City Year AmeriCorps members provide that to hundreds of students in NYC’s schools. I am grateful that the Honors Program gave me another opportunity to serve such an important cause.

Kelsie and her colleagues at the City Year Corps and Site Operations Team.

Honors Summer Internship Fellows: Julia

**This is the first post in a series of four posts written by the Summer 2018 Honors Internship Fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.**

Author: Julia Hammond, junior

Julia and her co-workers take a day trip to the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center to attend a discussion about racism and white supremacy in light of the one-year anniversary of the violent rallies in Charlottesville.

This summer, I was lucky to work at an organization called the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund as the Development and Communications Intern. CWEALF works to advocate for and empower women and girls in Connecticut, particularly those who are underserved or marginalized. They pursue this mission by providing free legal information (including individualized, bilingual community advocacy) and advocating for public policies that support Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens.

As the Development and Communications Intern, I was able to translate fundraising skills I’d learned at larger nonprofit organizations to a smaller-scale organization with a different donor base. I spent time creating informative and emotionally engaging content for social media and email blasts, as well as taking photos and creating video content for the website. I was also able to write several articles about important events and their policy implications, such as the anniversary of Title IX and the significance of Black Women’s Equal Pay Day.

In the spring of my sophomore year, I worked as an unpaid intern at a larger organization called charity: water, and fell in love with nonprofit work. However, I knew that I couldn’t spend the summer continuing to work as an unpaid intern, so I was incredibly grateful to receive this opportunity; the Honors Fellowship enabled me to learn about a different part of the nonprofit sector and solidify my passion for nonprofit work. Working for CWEALF helped me to see firsthand the difficulties our laws and justice system often present to individuals who face language or income barriers, and it has inspired me to continue working with nonprofits in the future.

Inaugural Service and Social Justice Newsletter

We are excited to announce Volume I, Issue I of the Service and Social Justice Newsletter.

We hope you all enjoy reading about some of the great Service and Social Justice work that’s going on in Honors and at Fordham.

Many thanks to our SSJ Committee Chairs, Katie DeFonzo and Olivia Jones, for their work on the newsletter!

 

Click the link below for the Newsletter:

Inaugural Service and Social Justice Newsletter