**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
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.
**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.
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.
**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
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.
**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
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.
Katie DeFonzo is a graduating senior in the current Honors class who is incredibly involved on and off campus. Double majoring in History and Spanish and minoring in Medieval Studies, Katie works as a research assistant for The Bronx African American History Project through Fordham’s history program. She also gives tours of the Fraunces Tavern Museum in Manhattan, acts as an ESL tutor at St. Rita’s Immigration Center, works on both the Copy Editing and Peer Editing staffs of the Fordham Undergraduate Research Journal, leads retreats through Campus Ministry, plays second violin in the orchestra, and sings in the Schola Cantorum. Finally, she has been involved with the Honors Service and Social Justice Committee since its beginning and has become one of the committee’s chairs, passionately helping to plan events that allow Honors students serve their community.
I had the chance to speak with her about Honors, her role in the Service and Social Justice Committee, and her post-graduation plans.
From your time in Honors, do you have a favorite event or a favorite thing about the program in general? I really like sophomore year, being able to go to the [AJCU] Honors Conference. In terms of my favorite part about the program in general, I like how cohesive it is and how you can see a lot of continuity between classes; I love when something we are talking about in literature comes up in my history class. I’m really looking forward to the Last Lecture tomorrow and I love the community and the events we have, like the Christmas party and the barbeque. I like how it’s more than just a learning community — it’s a community of friends in a lot of ways.
So you mentioned that you’ve been a chair of the Service and Social Justice Committee basically since its beginning. How did you become involved with that project? Sophomore year when Dr. Keller became the director of the [Honors] program and started the Student Advisory Council, she asked us what we wanted to see, which was really nice. Someone put forth the idea that there should be a committee for service and social justice and that seemed really interesting to me so I put my name on the list. My junior year I became a chair [of the committee] and started to help plan the events that we do. It’s been really rewarding and I’m happy that I became involved with that subcommittee in particular.
What is your favorite event that you’ve done with that group? We’ve done a lot of different things, but I really like one program we did earlier this year, which involved distributing food to residents in an apartment complex in the Bronx with Meals on Wheels. That was really special because we got to meet and deliver food personally to each resident so we could see immediately where our help was going.
What are your post-grad plans? I’m going to Catholic University in Washington, D.C. for their dual Masters degree program in history and library science. I chose [that program] really because of the internship I had over the summer at the Museum of American History in D.C.; I realized how important not only a knowledge of history is, but also how being able to make that history accessible to people really matters. I think that this dual Masters degree program will be a great way to do that.
With support from the Honors Program, I recently attended a symposium at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service; titled “Venezuela: Charting the Future,” the symposium brought together scholars, policymakers, business leaders, and civil leaders to discuss how the United States, Latin America, and the global community can facilitate economic growth, social peace, and political stability in Venezuela.
I applied for an Honors Ambassadorial Grant to attend the symposium to support work on my senior thesis, which uses a game theoretical model of political survival to understand why chavismo (the political movement founded by former president Hugo Chavez) has survived in Venezuela since 1999. The purpose of my project is to identify the equilibrium levels of taxation, private goods, and public goods that Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro have selected throughout their presidencies.
As a mathematics and economics joint major, I was prepared to work with the model. However, I did not have the necessary background in Latin American economics and political theory to apply it. Fortunately, at the symposium, I learned about potential data sources, key economic and political developments in Venezuela, and I networked with the panelists.
I thank the Honors Program for awarding me an Ambassadorial Grant and Dr. Barbara Stolz, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, whom I met through the Honors Alumni Network, for inviting me to attend the symposium.
Bernadette Haig is a Rose Hill Honors senior with a double major in Engineering Physics and Classical Civilizations. A woman of motivated curiosity with a clear love of learning, Bernadette has participated in many research projects in different areas of physics, while also studying Latin, Greek, and the ancient world. I had the opportunity to speak with Bernadette about her double major, her experiences inside and outside of Honors, and her plans for after graduation.
Continue reading for an in-depth interview with Bernadette!
M: What made you decide to pursue a double major?
B: What really got me into the Classics major was the Honors Program. Professor McGowan taught my first class in the Honors Program at 9:30 in the morning in Alpha House, Ancient Lit, and he just so clearly loved what he was teaching; that was probably one of my favorite [classes.] He said that I should consider a minor in classics and I thought, “Well, why not!” So I started taking a couple classes. Second semester freshman year I took Roman Art down at the Lincoln Center and loved it, and then sophomore year rolled around and I took a couple of classes in Latin and thought, “Wow this is amazing, I’m going to keep taking this!” The classes started to add up and I had wanted to take Greek too because it was just on this strange bucket list of things I want to do over the course of my life – learn a little bit of Latin and Greek. By the time I got into junior year, I started Greek, kept taking Latin, and took the study abroad class Ancient Roman Cities. At that point, my advisor told me I was close to finishing a major so I decided to complete the requirements.
It’s been a lot of fun; it’s something different. Obviously I adore physics, that’s what I’ll be doing with my life I hope, and I will probably never come back to this again in a concrete way. But I’ve just so enjoyed it — tackling ancient texts just for the purpose of doing so.
M: What is your favorite thing about the Honors Program?
B: I would say my favorite thing about Honors as a whole is the breadth of the curriculum because I’ve been exposed to things in Honors that I know for a fact I would never have taken on my own. Even first semester taking art history, art was so not my thing, but the more we started to be in the class and learn about what art history really was, the more I started to love how peoples’ cultures are reflected through their art – their values, their customs – and how much you could learn from reading art if you knew what you were doing. But I never would have taken that on my own, and [the same goes for] the few philosophy classes that I’ve taken through the Honors program – not that I don’t find them interesting, but as a physics major I probably never would have taken [these classes] on my own if I didn’t have to.
What I also love is the critical environment. If you blurt something out in a seminar class, you better be ready to defend it. You can’t have a half-formed opinion, which is kind of frustrating but also for me I’ve found that it forces me to have really fleshed out ideas, and that has carried over even outside of the Honors Program. I find myself wanting to really engage with my own opinions critically, and this is something that I’ve really found to be beneficial.
M: What was your favorite internship/research project you did during your time at Fordham or one that taught you a lot?
B: The two major projects that come to mind are the ones that I’ve done this past summer and then the summer before. The summer before my junior year I was here at Fordham doing research in the physics department and we were using Raman spectroscopy to look at cancerous tissue compared to healthy tissue to see if the signature looks different in healthy tissue as opposed to cancerous tissue. We were working with Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan and they essentially gave us people’s cancers to study. They wanted to include the project that we were developing into a surgical robot so that if they were going to do robotic surgery, they could check to see that the margins were clear to make sure they removed all the cancer, and do that without excising the tissue and sending it to the lab; they have to do that all while the patient is still under anesthesia and it takes about 45 minutes. So we developed a new probe that was much more precise than some of the other [tools] that my professor had worked with in the past. That was really exciting because this was my first experience with “real” research, working on something that was going to matter. Our research is going to be published in a journal called Review of Scientific Instruments and so the probe that we developed is really the focus of the research so that will be really cool; I don’t know when it will be published but it is still really exciting.
This past summer I was doing completely different work out at the Fermilab in the Chicago area. It’s a particle physics lab and I was working on a piece of equipment in their neutrino beam line that was malfunctioning. Basically I got there and they said to me, “Your project for the summer is going to be to figure out why this thing is not working and what we should do about it.” It was a really cool project and I got a lot of training and got to go down into the ground 300 feet underground to work on this piece of equipment. In order to look at it and install what we needed I had to take a huge elevator down and it was really exciting but also very frustrating because I had to deal with a lot of real workplace issues, like my supervisor was not the most helpful person and would sometimes disappear or did not know the project very well because he was new to the department. Everyone was very nice and it was a great place to work because of the general atmosphere, but I did encounter a lot of those logistical issues. I would say that those taught me a lot about working in general outside of academia, which was again really frustrating but really cool.
Neither of those projects are in fields that I will be going into, so it has been neat to do research that’s a little outside of where I want to go because I will probably never get that chance again.
M: How do you think Honors has influenced your opportunities and decisions throughout college? Is there anything that you learned in Honors (information or a skill) that you have seen specifically come into play in your non-Honors/work experiences thus far?
B: I would say the critical thinking has been the biggest chance that I’ve seen in myself in terms of when I evaluate myself as a student. Being more critical about the information that I’m hearing or the things that I’m working on, and not just accepting things at face value and if I have an opinion formulating it really carefully and making sure that it’s something that I really do believe as opposed to something I’ve just always assumed.
I don’t know if I’ll ever come back to all of the interests that I’ve developed through Honors, but like I said about Classics, it’s been really great to just do something for the fun of it. I’ll probably never come back to Latin or Greek, which on the one hand is kind of sad, but on the other hand has been really, really neat. I feel like that has made me a more curious person. The fact that I have been exposed to all of these different things and found them very interesting everywhere I’ve gone has made me more inclined to try new things. I knew coming into college I wanted a broader undergraduate experience and that I wanted to be exposed to things outside of my own field and so Honors has honestly been perfect for me – it’s everything I could have ever wanted out of a college experience.
M: What are you looking forward to? What are your plans for after graduation?
B: I’m going to graduate school for a Masters degree in aerospace engineering and right now the best offer on the table is Stanford – I’m still waiting to hear back from a couple of other schools but I’ll be going out to visit Stanford next week and they have a lot of cool projects going on there. They have an aerospace robotics laboratory, which is everything I could have ever wanted; it has my name written all over it. But like I said, I’m still waiting on a couple of other schools so I just want to evaluate all my options and go out and visit to see the environment and make my decision based upon those factors also.
There are certain things that I’m a little worried about leaving Fordham — I’m really involved with Campus Ministry and I have experienced so much personal spiritual growth through that ministry so I’m a little concerned about what will happen to that part of me when I leave Fordham. I will obviously miss Fordham a lot; it’s been such a great place for me and has ended up being exactly the place I needed to be. I’m sure I won’t be gone for good!
Santiago is a Mathematics-Economics major from Chicago, Illinois. He will be working as an Associate Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago after graduating in May. His Honors Senior Thesis explores whether there is a game theoretical model to explain political instability in Venezuela under Hugo Chávez.
Why Fordham/Why Honors?
Santiago chose Fordham because he was attracted to the Jesuit mission of the school, and because of two excellent campus visits. (On one visit, even though Fordham was closed, an admissions officer set Santiago up with a private tour of campus.) Santiago was excited to be invited to join the Honors Program because he knew its community and the experience of its curriculum would enrich his time in college. And they have!
Favorite Honors Class
Santiago’s favorite honors class was Religion in the Modern World with Dr. Kathryn Reklis. Analyzing what religion means in the modern world challenged his assumptions and pushed him to think in ways he considers “eye-opening.” Santiago believes that this analytic approach has helped him think more critically in his major classes, too. He seeks to assess, not merely accept, what he’s taught.
Other College Involvement
One of Santiago’s favorite extracurricular activities has been leading Fordham’s retreats. During these weekend trips, he’s been able to interact on a spiritual level with different kinds of people with whom he shares classes and a social life, and this, he feels, has both enriched and expanded his Fordham experience.
Feelings about Moving On
While Santiago will miss New York City, he is excited to be moving to his hometown and starting an engaging job with the knowledge that he is leaving college with a really strong and diverse set of skills. The strong liberal arts background of Fordham Honors will bolster his economics and mathematics skills, and he feels confident he’ll be able to apply all of this in his new job and professional future in Economic policy or research.