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

Senior Spotlight: Katie DeFonzo

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.

Ambassadorial Grant: “Venezuela: Charting the Future”

Author: Santiago Sordo Palacios

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.