The Inaugural Van Cortlandt Park Scavenger Hunt!

Author: Julian Navarro, sophomore

On September 5th 2020, Honors Program First-Years completed a scavenger hunt as a part of the Honors’ orientation programming, a tradition hundreds of First-Years before them have had the fun of experiencing as well. This year’s scavenger hunt, however, was quite different than years prior. Instead of taking the D Train down to Columbus Circle and running around Central Park to take photos in the Shakespeare Garden or at the Bethesda Fountain, the Class of 2024 logged into a Zoom call for a virtual scavenger hunt “in” Van Cortlandt Park. 

The idea to move the annual Honors scavenger hunt from Manhattan’s Central Park to the Bronx’s Van Cortlandt Park first came about during one of this past summer’s Honors Mission Discussions, a series of meetings between current Honors students and professors that served to assess the Honors Program’s role in newly prevalent public dialogues on racial justice. Honors Sophomores Erik Brown, Amelia Medved, Julian Navarro, and Pilar Valdes designed, organized, and hosted the hunt with the intent of creating a Bronx-affirming program to highlight disparities in care, treatment, and accessibility between Van Cortlandt Park and Central Park. Fordham’s hybrid approach to the Fall 2020 semester complicated the original plans for an in-person event, but the scavenger hunt was quickly adapted to an online format as a Google Form.  

The First-Years were asked to research and answer a series of trivia questions that were scored on correctness and timeliness. The trivia emphasized Van Cortlandt Park and the Bronx’s historical significance as well as their contributions to the beauty of New York City. Examples of such questions are, “Which park is one of the 3 largest parks in New York City?” and, “Which park has over 1000 acres of land considered to be ‘Forever Wild Reserve,’ an NYC Parks program that was established to protect ecologically valuable land?” The correct answer to both of those questions is “Van Cortlandt Park.”

Julian and Honors first-year students overlooking the city from Van Cortlandt Park.

After the virtual scavenger hunt, an in-person, socially distanced trip to Van Cortlandt Park was planned for those who could safely attend. A total of eight First-Years, accompanied by three of the hunt’s organizers, Erik, Amelia, and Julian, as well as sophomore Nick Urbin, walked northward to the park along Mosholu Parkway. Everyone noted the difficulty of reaching the park from anywhere south or southeast of it as Sedgwick Avenue and the Major Deegan Expressway’s on-ramps are formidable opponents to foot traffic. However, trumping the sight of such deficits on the trip was the beauty of Van Cortlandt Park and the Bronx. Friendly hellos were exchanged with people barbecuing along the Parkway on the walk; the historical Van Cortlandt House stood in all the vibrant green of New York City’s third largest park; and from the Vault Hill Overlook everyone caught a glimpse of the Manhattan skyline and the roofs of the wonderfully colorful borough the Honors Program has the privilege to call home.

Honors Summer Internship Fellows: Amalia

This is the second post in a series of four posts written by the Summer 2020 Honors Internship Fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.

Author: Amalia Sordo Palacios, sophomore

The Covid-19 pandemic would have made obtaining an unpaid internship impossible for me this summer, which is why I am incredibly grateful to Dr. Keller for awarding me with the Honors Program Summer Fellowship Grant that made my work possible. I had the opportunity to intern with Autism Community Network, a nonprofit in San Antonio that serves children by providing autism diagnostic services, occupational and speech therapy, and classes for parents and caretakers of kids diagnosed with ASD (autism spectrum disorder). Because I began working with ACN at the same time that they started transitioning to telehealth, I witnessed a historic shift in the way autism diagnoses are performed and, alongside my coworkers, learned how to make remote services successful.

Amalia at the Rose Hill Campus.

Some of my roles included observing diagnostic and therapy appointments, administering the social media platforms, serving as a translator for Spanish-speaking families, and conducting research to assist with the grant-writing process. By working alongside clinical professionals, I learned a lot about careers in healthcare. I was reminded of the Honors Program’s interdisciplinary curriculum while observing how the diagnostic team came to a decision: each clinician specialized in a different field, but their collaboration and input ensured a more accurate autism diagnosis for the child. I also worked on finding research to support several grants; this was really exciting because I learned more about the real-world applications of neuroscience (my intended major). I was even able to give a presentation to parents about my own experiences growing up with a sibling with ASD. 

Throughout my internship, I reflected on the Honors Program’s idea of being scholars for justice and how it connected to my work. Prior to the pandemic, autism diagnoses were difficult to obtain due to long waitlists, shortages of trained professionals, and geographic barriers. I thought the pandemic would exacerbate these issues; however, I found that the transition to telehealth was a step towards ensuring accessibility for all families by helping them overcome geographic or financial barriers. ACN also developed a new program for parents struggling with mental health issues, supporting the Jesuit tradition of cura personalis. Through this internship, I’ve had the chance to explore different career paths and observe concrete examples of the role that the tradition of homines pro aliis (men and women for others) plays in nonprofit organizations. Despite working fully remotely, I was able to do really meaningful work this summer, all made possible with the Honors Program’s support.

Honors Summer Internship Fellows: Caitlyn

This is the first post in a series of four posts written by the Summer 2020 Honors Internship Fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.

Caitlyn Humann, Honors ’22

Author: Caitlyn Humann, Junior

Thanks to the Honors Summer Internship Fellowship, I had the opportunity to intern at my regional food bank, Long Island Cares Inc. – The Harry Chapin Food Bank, this past summer. Long Island Cares brings together all available resources for the benefit of the hungry and food insecure on Long Island and aims to provide for the humanitarian needs of the community.

Initially, my goal for this internship could be summed into one statement: to learn, from the perspective of LIC, the relationship between non-profits and all levels of government. I wondered if it is easy for non-profits to get funding and personal acknowledgement from legislative bodies and the extent that food banks rely on federal and state support.

What I didn’t know at the time I applied for this fellowship was that the COVID-19 pandemic would put New York in a state of emergency starting in March and that by May 4th , the demand for Long Island Cares’ services would increase by 64%.

What was initially designed to be a government advocacy internship – during which I would draft letters to representatives, attend in-person legislature meetings and help expand LIC’s Veterans Project by hand delivering food to veteran’s homes – expanded. I worked under LIC’s Chief Government Affairs Officer and drafted letters to advocate for COVID-specific support for food insecure communities, attended virtual local government and advocacy meetings, tracked new legislation on the federal, state and local levels and outlined testimonies on LIC’s new developments, successes and challenges since the start of the pandemic.

As increasing amounts of Long Islanders faced unemployment and food insecurity, I saw first-hand the vital role that food banks play in communities across the nation. I analyzed the impact that COVID had on all demographics of Long Islanders along with representatives’ actions that supported food banks. I was also able to make positive impacts in the moment by packing boxes full of nutritious food for members of my own community.

Just as the Honors Program builds a sense of community by bringing diverse groups of students together to collaborate and support each other in reaching their academic (and personal) goals, Long Island Cares brings together people of all demographics to form a community that stretches across Long Island in which everyone plays their role in fighting against hunger. In our Honors classes and conversations, we often discuss the “missing voice.” Through this internship, I heard
the voice of food insecure families, who rely on non-profits to live a happy life. I am grateful to the Honors Program for giving me this opportunity. As I enter my professional career and strive towards my goal of representing my community as an elected government official who advocates for justice, I will keep this experience with me.

Spring 2020 Bronx Talks & Coronavirus

Author: Amelia Medved, sophomore

Earlier this semester, the Honors Program hosted a series of Bronx Talks, in which Honors students and the wider campus community were invited to engage with expert speakers working in the borough. On February 11th, Dr. Jane Bedell and Ms. Kim Freeman gave a presentation called “The State of Health in the Bronx.” Both work at the Neighborhood Health Action Center, which the City Department of Health placed in Tremont to address location-specific health disparities. In the talk, Dr. Bedell and Ms. Freeman discussed the historic policies creating inequity in the city (redlining, for example) and the systematic inequality that perpetuates problems today. In the Bronx, severe pollution, insufficient access to healthy food, and other deep-rooted issues amount to a 5 to 7 year difference in life expectancy compared to the rest of the city.

All around the country, the coronavirus outbreak has given existing inequalities like these more urgency. As of May 18th, the Bronx accounted for 23% of cases in the city, though Bronx residents only make up 17% of the population. Bronx residents are contracting COVID-19 at a high rate, and are also more likely to have severe cases. Dangerous pre-existing conditions such as asthma, hypertension, and diabetes are more common in the Bronx than in other parts of the city. In the Belmont neighborhood where Fordham’s Rose Hill Campus is located, for example, 22% of adults have been diagnosed with diabetes, compared to 11% for the entire city.

Since being sent home due to the coronavirus, I have been thinking about the Bronx often, not only because I miss my Fordham friends, classes, and Honors community, but also since the borough is being hit hard by this crisis, and may continue to be affected years into the future. However, I am also reminded of the resilience which Carolyn McLaughlin described in her Bronx Talk on February 24th. In a Q&A forum with Honors students and in her book South Bronx Battles, Ms. McLaughlin gave a first-hand account of the community efforts she witnessed over the last fifty years as a social worker in the Bronx. She shared numerous examples of successful advocacy and rebuilding efforts following insufficient city funding and frequent fires in the 1970s, and her testament to the previous endurance of the community is a reminder that the Bronx can do the same following the current coronavirus crisis. From my home, I recognize the privilege I have to be able to leave the city to protect my health and the health of other Fordham students, and I hope that when we return to campus, I have the opportunity to contribute to the Bronx’s recovery.

Showcasing Honors Talent with the Student Art Gallery

Author: Megan Schaffner, senior

It’s no secret that the Honors community is full of incredibly talented students. From scholars to actors to everything in between, Honors students have a wide set of skills that make them unique, well-rounded individuals.

In the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, the Student Activities Committee decided to create an Alpha House Art Gallery in order to exhibit photography, paintings, and poetry created by Honors students. The gallery, first unveiled during the annual Honors Fall Fest event, was an immediate hit!

From then on, the Alpha House Art Gallery was updated each semester with new artwork by Honors students. This spring, although we could not be physically together due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Student Activities Committee wanted to keep the Art Gallery alive.

Thus, we are proud to announce that the Spring 2020 Study Art Gallery is available in digital format. Please use this link to view Honors students’ amazing work!

Professor Spotlight: Dr. Greg Acevedo

Author: Amelia Medved, first-year student

In Fall 2019, Dr. Greg Acevedo, Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Social Service and Director of the Social Work Bachelors program, taught the first-ever semester of Bronx Explorations, a key component of the Honors Program’s new curriculum. With a focus on social justice that drives the mission of the course, students gain knowledge  of the community surrounding our Rose Hill campus by studying Bronx history and culture. Every Honors student will start their time at Fordham by taking the course in the fall of their first semester. I met with Professor Acevedo a few weeks ago to talk more about how this course will continue shaping current and future generations of Honors students.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Amelia: First, I was wondering if you’d like to speak about your relationship to the Bronx and to Fordham University? 

Dr. Acevedo: I first came to the South Bronx in a volunteer capacity; I had just finished my first year of undergraduate studies, and I was living and working in a Christian Brothers community in the South Bronx at 150th and Melrose. And it was life changing. It was really at that point that I decided that my talents and my passions were something that were going to be best pursued in something like social work. I think that those types of experiences are crucial opportunities for learning and personal growth, and we should encourage them as much as possible. And as you know, the reputation of the Bronx, and not just the South Bronx, looms so large in a negative way. I think that that was something I wanted to counteract, tell a different story. When you move to Rose Hill as an undergraduate, initially it’s like the Bronx is hosting you. But you’re also becoming a member of the Bronx community.

I ended up teaching [at Fordham] as an adjunct in the Sociology and Anthropology Department after getting my PhD in Social Work. Then my CV made its way to the Graduate School of Social Service, and the rest is history. Now I’ve been here for fifteen years. 

Amelia: What were your earliest thoughts while creating this course? 

Dr. Acevedo: I had a deep-seated respect for the reputation of the Honors Program, and felt very responsible to do a very good job in making a course that was rigorous but engaging and spoke to the mission of what the course was supposed to be. I was obviously very intrigued [in this Honors course] because issues of social justice are so essential to me, because it’s such an anchor for the Social Work profession.  I wanted to bring to it a very interdisciplinary perspective [with the three anchors, history, economy, and culture] Where do you start with the Bronx? How do I do justice to all the racial and ethnic traditions and heritage and current composition of the Bronx? Because it’s always changing. And I didn’t want to give short shrift to anything. […] For me important issues were rigor and relevance, and then a fidelity to what the mission of the course was, which was to make the Bronx, as your new home, an inviting and interesting place.

Amelia: Now that you’ve taught it for the first time, are you considering any changes for future semesters?

Dr. Acevedo: I think what I enjoyed the most was the content I developed on the aspects of the political economy of the Bronx. I wish I would have had time to show the documentary Decade of Fire as well, because I think that would have also made those connections. Although the [main text we read, South Bronx Battles] also does a good job of at least telling about that period in the South Bronx [fires during the 1970s], I think that it could have gotten better treatment, because I do think that it is important that we know how the Bronx got to where it is today. 

Part of my goal this next time around [is] to see how I can come up with more creative ways to deepen the connection between what’s going on in our classroom and what’s going on in our community and the various communities in the Bronx. If there are ways students can become engaged in [current events in the Bronx, for instance] a zoning issue that’s currently coming up or a public hearing or petition. Being able to communicate to students, “This is what’s going on if you want to get involved.” I got some very positive feedback about the community assessment, the walk-through [of local neighborhoods]. I think that was a worthwhile educational tool for that class. And I think that students can use that in the future, in their various professional careers in some creative ways.

Amelia: Our main text for the course was the brand-new book South Bronx Battles. First year students enjoyed this text a lot and recently had the chance to hold a Q&A with author Carolyn McLaughlin. Why do you think that text fit so well with the course and was effective in teaching First-Year students about some of the history of the South Bronx?

Dr. Acevedo: I think one of the most effective things about [South Bronx Battles] is its positive vibe. This is a story about people who managed to accomplish very concrete changes in the Bronx, even amidst challenging policy constraints and other issues. It’s a story about people actually being able to create substantive change in their communities.  I don’t think it sugarcoats what the challenges were that the South Bronx was facing at the time, but it also doesn’t leave you hanging. The worst thing you could do is create a cohort of well-informed cynics. Our students need to have concrete knowledge about the history of the Bronx, about the culture of the Bronx, and about the political economy of the Bronx. And then they need to know how they can go about doing something. That’s really one of the essential elements of the new curriculum of the Honors Program as I see it. That’s obviously an essential element of a Jesuit education. And I think it’s an ethical responsibility for us as part of the Fordham community. So I think that book does it. And it wasn’t written in this dry, academic way, although it was well-researched and factual. I think students hopefully walked away with this idea, what Paulo Freire used to call “critical optimism.” You want to be a pragmatist about things, but you don’t want to give up on your ideals. I always say this when I teach courses on social policy: “It is not your responsibility to finish the work of perfecting the world, but you are not free to desist from it either,” a statement originally made by Rabbi Tarfon. That’s pretty much a credo of mine with social change. It might not happen with me, but I’m not going to walk away from the work. And I think the stories in that book are that.

Amelia: Following the Bronx Explorations course, a couple of First-Years took the initiative to become more deeply involved in the community. Why do you think that it is important for Honors students, and the Fordham student body as a whole to engage with the Bronx? Do you have advice for students looking to learn more about and be more involved in the Bronx?

Dr. Acevedo: I think Fordham has really made tremendous progress in this. There has always been the Dorothy Day Center, which is now the Center for Community Engaged Learning. The Office of Mission and Ministry also has other programs like Urban Plunge. The more that we continue to build on those, [as with] this course, it’s going to happen. I think service learning classes could be even more well-developed, [and] there could be more of them. And I think also bringing the community onto campus. Our  Chief Diversity Officer, Rafael Zapata, has been super instrumental in making that happen, in partnership with the Center for Community Engaged Learning. They’re taking their mission seriously. And I really do commend the Honors Program for taking this seriously enough to build this into their curriculum. I think that’s groundbreaking, honestly. I’ve had those experiences in the Bronx in the past that were life changing for me, and to have the opportunity to now really try to create a space for students today, that was really fulfilling. It was a lot of hard work but the kind of hard work that you don’t mind doing because the payoff was so clear.

Senior Spotlight: Megan Schaffner

Author: Gigi Speer, sophomore

The Senior Spotlight Series is an opportunity for Rose Hill Honors students to interview their peers in the Program and share the conversations with the broader community.

For this article, sophomore Gigi Speer interviewed Megan Schaffner, a senior Honors student majoring in English with minors in Marketing and Philosophy.

G: What made you choose your disciplines of study?

M: I’ve always loved books, so an English major felt like a natural choice to me. My marketing minor came a little later when I got interested in how companies communicate with their audiences and how that can affect the publishing industry. And with four philosophy courses in the old Honors curriculum, you only need one more class for a minor. So, like many Honors students, I chose to take a fifth philosophy class in order to do so. It’s been really interesting! I definitely wouldn’t have done a philosophy minor if I wasn’t so close to it, but I’m happy I did. 

G: Tell me a little about your internship!

M: I work at Beaufort Books, which is a small independent publisher all the way downtown [Manhattan].  I help the editors there with book schedules, manuscript edits, and basically whatever else they need!

G: What is the commute like? 

M: It’s not too bad.  I take a ram van for an hour and then a twenty minute subway. I sleep in the van which helps and the intern hours are 10-5 which is super nice.

G: Is this something you would like to do after you graduate?

M: Definitely!  I want to go into publishing, hopefully doing editorial stuff, so this is a good way to get a feel for the industry.

G: Is this your first time working for a publisher?

M: It is!  Over the summer, I worked for a literary agent, which was great but it dealt a lot more with the business work like finalizing book deals.  I really want to work with the actual text of books, so I’m hoping I can do that with this internship.

G: So you’ve been writing Senior Spotlights for the past two years as part of your role on the Student Activities Council.  Has writing these articles been helpful in directing your interest?

M: Yes, I think working with the Web Presence committee of SAC has  helped me a lot in general. I’ve gotten to think about the different forms of social media marketing, which is a little bit of what I’ve been doing at my internship now. So the web presence and marketing minor has been really helpful and have given me the chance to do some trial and error, figure out what I like, and figure out what works.

G: Do you have a favorite Honors memory teacher or book?

M: Yes! I love remembering the first two years of the Honors curriculum, all struggling together. I think back to freshman year, with all of us huddled in Alpha House cramming for Dr. Miller’s exams. My one friend, who wasn’t in Honors, would come with me and be my unofficial philosophy tutor. Even now, although I feel old, I like doing extra-curricular activities  with the whole Program. The book exchange last year was so sweet—people put in such an effort to figure out what their person would like to read. I got Educated, which I was really excited to read, and I was given a hardcover edition which I thought was so nice. Little things like that remind me that people are enjoying [Honors], that things are continuing, and that there will be a lot of activities still going on after I leave.  I feel like a proud mom!

G: Favorite Honors professor?

M: I really love Dr. Keller. I had her for Early Modern Lit, which is the time period I really like. Reading Shakespeare with her was the best thing ever because she really pushed us to keep thinking.  She wanted to know more than just the things that stood out to you; she wanted us to figure out why they did and how they fit into the larger scale of what we were learning. Having that practice in my head moving forward to other English classes has been helpful, since it has rewired my brain to think more.

Senior Spotlight: Kristen Cain

Author: Gigi Speer, sophomore

The Senior Spotlight Series is an opportunity for Rose Hill Honors students to interview their peers in the Program and share the conversations with the broader community.

For this article, sophomore Gigi Speer interviewed Kristen Cain, a senior International Studies major with a concentration in the Middle East and North Africa.

G: Where are you from?

K: The Poughkeepsie area [of New York].

Kristen in Morocco last spring.

G: So I know that you were just abroad.  Do you plan on travelling more?

K: I traveled abroad last spring in Morocco, which was perfect since I study both French and Arabic.  It was my first time travelling out of the country. I got lots of practice interning at a refugee organization and teaching English classes, which was really cool. I just found out last week that I got accepted into the Peace Corps, so I’ll be in Morocco for another two years working in youth development, teaching English classes, running after school programs, summer camps, and depending on the area, running some female empowerment programs as well.

G: Was there anything from Honors that came to mind when you were in Morocco?

K: Having a small community of thirty people in the program and classes that all relate like our interdisciplinary schedule reminded me of Honors. The other students were mostly American and there was one other Fordham student, but some were from China and Germany as well.

 G: Is there anything that you brought back that you really loved from Morocco?

K: I got really into their mint tea. Not just the tea itself, but the culture. Sitting and having tea with people is such a good way to get to know them. I’ve definitely been trying more Mediterranean stuff like couscous. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do before I went, and once I was there I got really interested in refugees, so I decided to write my thesis on it along with youth development and education. Most of the refugees are from West Africa and Sub Saharan Africa, and the government wasn’t really receptive to them; most of them were homeless or living in crowded apartments, whis is obviously not a great environment.

G: Are you still interested in refugee resettlement?

K: I’m interning at the International Rescue Committee, working in refugee resettlement, working with refugees coming into the U.S. They have offices throughout the country, and we help them their first 90 days, enrolling in food stamps, SNAP benefits, and trying to find apartments in New York. It’s not a great program, but its better than what they have in Morocco. I get to use my language skills, which is cool since I haven’t been able to practice since being in Morocco.

G: What will you miss about Honors?

K: I definitely like the community, especially freshman and sophomore year when we all spent so much time together. Every seminar class was people you knew, so you felt more comfortable talking to people.

G: Has there been any teacher that has had a big impact on you?

K: There’s been a lot of really good professors. From freshman year, definitely Professor McGowan.  I feel like everyone says their Ancient Literature professor is the best, but he can truly make any topic interesting.

G: Do you have a favorite memory from Honors?

K: I loved going to the Classics Halloween party with my class freshmen year; I dressed up as Athena.  At the same party, Devin D’Agostino came in a blow up T-Rex costume—which he’s worn multiple times—and put a Greek robe over it to be Oedipus Rex.

Senior Spotlight: Onjona Hossain

Author: Gigi Speer, sophomore

The Senior Spotlight Series is an opportunity for Rose Hill Honors students to interview their peers in the Program and share the conversations with the broader community.

For this article, Gigi Speer, a current sophomore in the Program, interviewed graduating senior, Onjona Hossain. Onjona is a biology and philosophy double major in the Honors Program.  She is currently preparing for medical school and has a plethora of different achievements. I interviewed her to learn more about these accomplishments, in addition to the many other things she’s done with her time here at Fordham.

Onjona Hossain, Honors Class of 2020

Gigi: What has been your favorite Honors memory?

Onjona: My favorite Honors memory is the freshman Scavenger Hunt in Central Park. As a native New Yorker, I had no idea about all the different sights to see at Central Park and so it was nice to finally get to explore my city. It was also a great opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and spend the day with other Honors students who I had never spoken to before. It was also fun because I love competition and this event brought out all of our competitiveness.

Gigi: What has been your best internship or volunteer experience while at Fordham?

Onjona: Through International Samaritan, a non-profit, Jesuit organization, I volunteered as an EMT in Guatemala on a medical mission the summer after my freshmen year. As a volunteer, I helped organize a makeshift clinic including a triaging station, physician consult area, pharmacy, and distribution center. I also spent time as a medical scribe to Guatemalan and American physicians to improve efficiency. This allowed me to learn from two unique cultural and practical approaches to medicine. My time in Guatemala reignited my passion to provide medical care to those underserved and taught me that basic treatments can make huge impacts on others’ wellbeing and health. I was so inspired my trip, I began a subchapter of International Samaritan at Fordham for other students to participate in. 

I also really enjoyed my Patient Advocacy Volunteer in Emergency Research Services (PAVERS) internship. As a patient advocate for the Emergency Department at Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital, I aided physicians and nurses in patient transport and care, observed initial assessment of patients in the ER and interacted with patients as they awaited treatment. When I wasn’t making beds, distributing blankets and food, I found myself engaging in conversations with patients about not only their complaints and illnesses but also their personal lives and backgrounds, which not surprisingly often influenced the reasons for which they were seeking care. 

Gigi: What have you enjoyed getting involved in on-campus at Fordham?

For the second straight year, I am the Editor-in-Chief of the Fordham Undergraduate Research Journal (FURJ). After being a Peer Review Staff member and Peer Review Editor, I wanted to become Editor-in-Chief to channel my creativity and take initiative in sharing research and knowledge. In 2018, I became the first junior to become Editor-in-Chief of FURJ and, under my leadership, this year FURJ published two volumes in print for the first time, a testament to its growing demand.

I am also the President of the Minority Association for Pre-Medical Students (MAPS). MAPS increases minority matriculation into professional health-related programs. Through my leadership role in MAPS, I solidified my commitment to encouraging diversity in the health professions. I always admired diversity of health professionals, but now I actively promote and increase it. 

Gigi: How have you grown as a person throughout your time in the Honors Program?

Onjona: Majoring in biology was an easy choice, but it was not until my second semester in the Honors Program that I chose to add a major in philosophy. Ancient Philosophy was my most difficult course, but I felt intellectually challenged, and I knew discomfort meant that I was learning. I chose philosophy to further enrich my perspective on the world and to question my pre-existing ideas. In addition, being part of the Honors Program allowed me to explore courses in the humanities as they relate to all topics, even medicine. Reading authors like James Baldwin helped me recognize my passion for literature. I make the most of my Jesuit education at Fordham through leadership, volunteer work, discourse, and giving back. At Fordham, I reaffirmed my passion for medicine and am becoming the best version of myself. The Jesuits emphasize education and commitment to giving back to the underserved. I carry out this mission as I serve my community as an EMT on campus, a peer mentor for freshmen at the pre-health symposium, and as an educator at Khan’s Tutorial. I hope to practice patient-centered care with the mission of relieving human suffering which is in line with the Jesuit tradition of Cura Personalis and caring for the whole person. In my career as a physician, I will continue to be a woman for others and cultivate the Jesuit values and traditions of service through discovery, wisdom and education. At Fordham, I learned the importance of self-reflection and caring for the whole individual, qualities I will continue to cultivate as a practicing physician.

Gigi: Which Honors professor made the biggest impact on you?

Onjona: Professor Mary Callaway made a great impact on me because she changed the way I viewed my entire college education and experience. She taught me that college doesn’t just give us the tools to engage in civil discourse and live a successful life, but this is exactly what life is all about, engaging in civil discourse with others whether it be in an interdisciplinary seminar or a casual conversation with a peer. It changed my perspective on my education. College was not merely a stepping stone, but an end in its own right.

Gigi: What will you miss most about Honors?

Onjona: I will miss Alpha House the most. As a commuter, I really appreciated having 24/7 access to Alpha. I remember on overnight FUEMS shifts, I would camp out in Alpha House. It’s always nice to intermingle with other Honors kids there as well.

Gigi: Is there anyone you would like to shoutout?

Onjona: I would like to give a shoutout to Honors Program Director Dr. Eve Keller for seeing potential in me from even before we officially met.

A Last Semester Bucket List for the Honors Senior

Author: Megan Schaffner, senior

There comes a time when every college student has to start thinking about saying goodbye to the people and places they’ve known for the last four years.  As a second semester senior, I am hesitant to admit that such a time is right around the corner. But until then, it’s time to relax (a little) and enjoy all of the wonderful things that college has to offer!

The Honors Program has been a major part of my college experience.  From struggling through challenging classes, to meeting incredibly intelligent and driven people, to completing a senior thesis that I am proud to call my own, I know that my time at Fordham would not have been as precious as it is to me without Honors.

So, while I am sad to think about it all coming to a close, here are ten important, fun, and somewhat silly things that I think every senior should do this semester.

  1. Set up camp in Alpha House to write one more paper. Extra points if you order Pugsley’s while doing so.
  2. Go to Central Park and recreate some of your pictures from the first-year Scavenger Hunt.
  3. Visit Professor Jones during her office hours, because let’s be honest, she has one of the coolest offices on campus.
  4. Pull an all-nighter in Alpha.
  5. Send Dr. Keller or Ava a frantic email (or save yourself the stress and just reread your old ones).
  6. Wear your Honors sweatshirt around campus.
  7. Get the breakfast gang back together and make one more early-morning trek to the caf.
  8. Sneak into an underclassmen interdisciplinary seminar.
  9. Force your friends to eat eggplant pizza.
  10. Find a way to work “Actually, I’m in Honors” into normal conversation.