The fall semester held a fair amount of firsts for the sophomore cohort: the first time having all in-person classes; the first time (for some) being on campus; and the first time meeting everyone in person. However, it was not our first time to win the Honors House Cup Competition!
This was the second year of the House Cup Competition, which is a semester-long competition between the four Honors cohorts (seniors, juniors, sophomores, and first-years). There are different challenges and events, like sports games or trivia nights, that students can participate in to earn points for their cohort through their participation and victories.
Throughout the semester, our sophomore cohort participated in a lot of the House Cup challenges, which led to our eventual win and also helped us form friendships with each other outside of the classroom.
At the end of the competition, after putting it to a vote, our cohort decided to donate the prize money to a New York state non-profit organization called the Center for Community Alternatives. This non-profit works to promote reintegrative justice and reduced reliance on incarceration through advocating for public policy change and working directly with impoverished communities that suffer the effects of the state’s current reliance on incarceration.
Through our donation, our cohort hopes to raise awareness for this specific social justice issue, as well as inspire our peers both in and outside of the Honors community to work to embody our call to be a Community of Scholars for Justice.
This summer, I was a research associate for a study led by Dr. Acevedo, Dr. Ross, and Dr. Azhar from Fordham’s Graduate School of Service in collaboration with the BronxWorks food pantry. Established in 1972, BronxWorks is a nonprofit organization with locations all across the Bronx that has grown to serve over 60,000 people in 2020 by providing numerous services to families and individuals, including immigration services, workforce development, housing assistance, youth education, and nutritional assistance. Along with the other undergraduate students Olivia Youngblood, Hasib Mia, Ver Sogueco, and Camila Da Silva, I surveyed food pantry clients to hear about their experiences during the pandemic and learn about the impact COVID-19 has had on food insecurity throughout the Bronx.
After taking Dr. Acevedo’s Bronx Exploration seminar as a freshman and reading South Bronx Battles: Stories of Resistance, Resilience, and Renewal by Carolyn McLaughlin, the former executive director of BronxWorks, I was excited for the opportunity to engage with and work alongside the nonprofit that we had learned so much about. I began the summer hoping to gain a better understanding of public health research and community-engaged work through my hands-on role as a Research Assistant.
While I did learn a lot about qualitative research, the most memorable aspect of this project was the relationships that I formed. After a year of being at home and taking classes remotely, it felt really special to be back in the Bronx and meeting new people face to face. As a Spanish speaker, I connected with immigrant clients from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and other Latin American countries and was fully attentive to the stories that they shared during the surveys.
I am especially grateful for the support and wisdom imparted to us by Dr. Azhar, Dr. Acevedo, and Dr. Ross. They were always excited to share their research interests, current projects, career/life advice, and experience in academia with us. The staff at BronxWorks was also incredibly welcoming to our team and inspiring in their dedication to their work. I am excited for the next stage of the research project and hope that the results will be able to support BronxWorks as they continue their mission of empowering individuals and families in the Bronx community.
This is the final post in a series of six posts written by the Summer 2021 Honors Internship Fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.
Author: Aya Harel, sophomore
I was thrilled earlier this year to be chosen as an Advocacy Intern for Unchained At Last, the only organization dedicated to ending forced marriage and child marriage in the United States through direct services and advocacy. The nonprofit boasts a variety of direct services for survivors of forced and child marriage, including pro bono legal aid, childcare, and emergency financial assistance. On the advocacy side, where I worked, the organization tirelessly fights to end child marriage through legislation. When I started at Unchained, only four U.S. states had ended all marriage before age eighteen, no exceptions. Now, New York has recently become the sixth state to end child marriage. My work consisted of contacting legislators in states with pending bills to end child marriage and encouraging their support. Being a fellow this summer allowed me to purchase new personal electronics with which I made calls, sent emails, and participated in company events. I have found a new passion in the fight to end child marriage, which would not have been possible without the support of the Honors Program Summer Fellowship Grant.
As my work was supported by the Honors Program, being an intern at Unchained called upon abilities I had gained and strengthened during my first year as an Honors student and hope to apply to my future career. Cold-calling legislators and convincing them to listen—or even answer the phone, in all honesty— is no easy task. I relied heavily on the communication and persuasion skills instilled by my Honors professors, who encouraged clear, concise writing with carefully chosen words. I kept their advice in mind and produced a convincing script for my calls and emails, leading to many productive conversations with legislators and staffers.
My first experience in the professional world was invigorating and inspirational. The support of the Honors Program allowed me to pursue a new passion, fostering a new belief in myself and my capabilities.
This is the fifth post in a series of six posts written by the Summer 2021 Honors Internship Fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.
Author: Jeremy Fries, sophomore
With the effects of COVID-19 still lingering through Summer 2021, I was thrilled to be accepted to complete work for the nonprofit of my choice. The organization that captured my interest is called The Theater Project, a group that endeavors to create a fully remote theater experience for high school students. To work with The Theater Project entailed many tasks, but the common denominator was always the love of theater, found plainly on the faces of my directors. I’m only passingly familiar with the art of drama, but the team’s use of the craft as a means of inspiration inspired me to join—in many ways, it felt true to the spirit of the Honors program, a group that encourages its students to explore their passions through a number of exclusive events and opportunities.
The most ambitious project of my internship, and the one which spanned the full duration of my job, was my outreach initiative. One of the Theater Project’s events is a competition for young playwrights, in which students submit their play to a panel of judges and even have the opportunity to have it performed by professional actors. To afford this opportunity to more students, my task was to increase our email list by collecting the necessary emails—English teachers, drama teachers, counselors, and principals—from high school staff directories. The result of my work was a master list of over 6,100 school contacts, as well as nearly 450 additional emails for other projects. I also completed a number of smaller tasks, including drafting two cover letters, transcribing a podcast episode, arranging a Google calendar for grants, and collecting royalty-free images for future productions.
What I loved most about my scholarship was the singular emphasis on problem-solving and intellectual growth. I felt that my work was uniquely situated in the context of my development—for instance, one of my royalty-free image searches was for a play about the Nuremberg Trials. This investigation both educated me and deepened my appreciation for efforts towards justice. My scholarship also allowed me to cultivate new and useful technical skills. By doing research about Google Sheets to facilitate my outreach project, for instance, I inadvertently acquired a wealth of spreadsheet skills to take with me through other disciplines.
As a whole, my Honors summer internship fellowship opportunity has been an incredibly rewarding experience, and I am looking forward to my continued involvement in fall 2021!
This is the fourth post in a series of six posts written by the Summer 2021 Honors Internship Fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.
Author: Harry Parks, sophomore
Over the span of eight weeks from late May to late July, it was my privilege to intern at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (“GOA”) within the Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical, and Interfaith Relations (“the Ecumenical Office”). I was honored to work under the direction of Fr. Nicolas Kazarian and with the much needed and valuable support of Dr. Keller and the Honors Program through the Summer Internship Fellowship.
Under the archiepiscopal direction of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, the Ecumenical Office is expressly tasked with preserving Orthodox unity in the United States, sustaining efforts of dialogue and collaboration with Ecumenical partners, engaging in constructive relations with interfaith communities, and advancing “Church and Society” initiatives.
Before this internship, I wanted to engage in the Ecumenical Office’s creation care and racial reconciliation initiatives, but soon realized that I needed to commit myself fully to the tasks that were asked of me in order to yield the best fruits from this opportunity.
During my time in the Archdiocese, I was given a variety of assignments, compelling me to adapt to the various areas and concerns of the Office within Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical, and Interfaith relations as the mission of the Church intersects and transcends these arenas. Generally, my work centered around three areas: administrative briefs, ghostwriting and editing, and initiative brainstorming and content creation.
My work constructing briefs was undertaken either to prepare the Archbishop for meetings with religious or secular leaders, or to advocate for the positions and safety of the Church. I found myself engaged in meaningful work to produce concise, yet instructive documents for the Church. Regarding ghostwriting and editing, I was privileged to write and/or edit multiple texts, giving me an intimate glimpse into the importance of accurate, tempered, and consistent spiritual and social messaging within the GOA. I was fortunate to help preserve the Ecumenical Office’s creation care initiatives by creating social media content for the Office’s Facebook and brainstorming new projects and structures to implement in the future.
Undoubtedly, this internship was the oil needed to fuel the fire of my spiritual journey in the Orthodox faith and my academic aspirations at the intersection of international studies, Orthodox Christianity, and Ecumenical dialogue. I pray that I may find just as potent a fuel in the future to “set [myself and] the world on fire,” as attributed to Ignatius of Loyola, in offering myself to the missions of the Orthodox Church.
Last year, we could only see our classmates’ faces in little Zoom boxes. All of the events that usually bring people together, like Club Fair and Spring Weekend, were canceled. Many of our friends did not even come to campus. At a moment when human interactions were so restricted, I was grateful for a chance to experience myself and others as social beings.
The new Youth Engagement Program builds unity and understanding between two communities: Fordham Rose Hill Honors Program, and Jonas Bronck Academy, the middle school across the street from our campus. Each Fordham student is paired with a JBA student in a one-on-one mentoring relationship. As preparation for the program, Fordham students met with JBA staff to complete training sessions on the theory and practice of mentoring. Some of the main lessons were that the mentors should encourage goal-setting, a healthy work/life balance, and personal and civic responsibility.
Once the weekly meetings began, things became more free-form, with each mentor-mentee pair charting their own path. Whether it was through casual chatting or helping with homework, talking about mental health, or playing video games, the mentors helped the mentees achieve their goals and maintain their social and emotional wellbeing. That is not to say that the mentors did not learn and grow from the meetings, as well. At the end of the semester, when all of the program participants came together, mentors and mentees alike expressed the same sentiments. “It’s so nice to have somebody to talk to, and somebody to listen to.” “It’s really fun to share my interests with my mentor/mentee.” “I am learning so much from the weekly meetings.”
I truly appreciate the trust and rapport that my mentee and I built together, and I hope that she feels the same way. I have high hopes that this program will keep thriving, and expanding our social lives even after we say goodbye to Zoom!
This is the third post in a series of six posts written by the Summer 2021 Honors Internship Fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.
Author: Megan Farr, senior
This summer, I interned with the Housing Rights Initiative (HRI), a New York-based non-profit group working to educate the public on source of income discrimination and research the debts that real estate companies owe New York City from violations of city policies.
As an intern, I was able to participate in this mission through my work on HRI’s project to uncover discrimination against Section 8 voucher holders. Section 8 is a federally-funded program providing housing opportunities to low-income tenants. Tenants can use vouchers on any apartment below a rent limit set by their caseworker. Discrimination against the use of Section 8 vouchers is illegal, but landlords and brokers continue to deny prospective tenants based on their sources of income. In order to meet the need for greater public awareness of tenants’ rights surrounding source of income discrimination, HRI trains testers, including myself, posed as Section 8 tenants and called real estate companies to determine if they are in compliance with laws surrounding Section 8 vouchers. HRI also works to educate these companies about source of income discrimination laws, so they can ensure their practices are in line with local and federal laws. As a tester, I was able to hone my ability to think on my feet when speaking to landlords and brokers, as well as experience the investigative side of the public interest legal work I hope to pursue after graduation.
I also researched the debt owed to the City by real estate companies. This portion of my work involved interpreting legal documents, collecting data, and utilizing public records to conduct research. I found this work invaluable for developing skills I will need later in my legal career, including how to read legal documents and collect data in an efficient manner.
My internship would not have been possible without an Honors Summer Internship Fellowship, and I am grateful to the Honors Program for giving me the opportunity to pursue work for a cause I am passionate about. Not only have I deepened my understanding of housing rights issues and further developed my own skills, I have also had the opportunity to participate in the Honors Program’s mission to be a “community of scholars for justice.” HRI values community engagement in their work for housing justice, and working with HRI this summer has allowed me to engage with the New York community and further the work for justice the Honors Program encourages.
This is the second post in a series of six posts written by the Summer 2021 Honors Internship Fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.
Author: Patrick, junior
This summer, I had the opportunity to work in Disaster Services at the American Red Cross of Illinois. During my time there, the ARC team responded to hundreds of disasters, opened shelters throughout the state, and offered 24-hour services to people in need. As a Volunteer Lead, I administered the response schedule for Response Area 2, helped transition our team to a new online platform, and implemented a monthly forum for our volunteers. As a Disaster Service Associate, I conducted virtual responses to house fires and tornados, in addition to attending weekly regional leadership meetings to discuss the state of disasters in the Midwest and the nation at large. This experience has been amazing! It introduced me to the unique responsibilities of a nonprofit, opened my eyes to the realities of disaster relief, and has solidified my desire to do similar work in the future.
From my time at the Red Cross, I have most appreciated getting to work with incredibly talented professionals who prioritize character and humanity in their work. During the last week of my remote internship, I finally got to meet my supervisor, Isamar, in person at the Rauner Center in Chicago. She gave me a tour and introduced me to everybody in the building. After telling them it was my last week and I would be moving to New York for school, every single person I met – including both our Regional CEO and Executive Director – gave me their contact information and told me to reach out to them if I needed anything. This speaks to the quality of people working at the Red Cross and is a testament to the atmosphere they have created: character and meaningful relationships are prioritized at all levels, at all times.
If I’ve said this once, I’ve said it a million times: I love my job. It’s stressful at times, heartbreaking at others, and almost always tiring. But I love it. I am so grateful for Dr. Keller, Ava, and the rest of the Honors Program for creating the Summer Internship Fellowship. This program has made it possible to work at a nonprofit, and I believe the Honors Program community not only inspired me to join the Red Cross, but also made me qualified to do so. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and I look forward to applying my Red Cross experience in the classroom and beyond.
This is the first post in a series of six posts written by the Summer 2021 Honors Internship Fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.
Author: Jack Moses, junior
Thanks to the Honors Summer Fellowship, I was able to intern at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and their partner organization Reverse the Trend: Save Our People, Save Our Planet. Both of the non-profit organizations that I worked for centered around nuclear disarmament – extending denuclearization into the intersecting social justice issues of civil rights, women’s rights, sexuality, and environmental protection. Thus, justice, a key tenet to the academic work of the Honors Program, was front and center to my work at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and Reverse the Trend.
One of the most important aspects of the internship was the close collaboration and work with affected communities: people and groups who had been directly affected by the production, deployment, and testing of nuclear weapons.
I helped organize an event on August 6th 2021 to honor those affected by the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in which hibakusha (survivors of the bomb) ensured that their stories will never be forgotten. We worked directly to amplify the voices of the Pacific Marshallese community – those from the Marshall Islands, where the United States tested nuclear weapons in the 1970s – to hold the US government accountable for their atrocities against the community.
The internship brought me in contact with an incredible amount of people, and for that, I will forever be grateful. My previous activism and social justice work had focused only on domestic issues but witnessing the consequences of nuclear proliferation on the international community was a significant step in my professional and intellectual growth.
My intellectual growth was compounded by an exposure to materials on nuclear weapons that I had been previously unfamiliar with. Nuclear weapons and their consequences are rarely covered in traditional academic courses; the connection between the civil rights movement and the nuclear disarmament movement is almost never. Having advisors in our organization who specialize in connecting nuclear disarmament to women’s rights, environmental protection, and civil rights was fascinating and provided new knowledge for me.
To conclude, I would like to thank the Honors Program for such a generous grant to be able to intern with these nuclear disarmament organizations. While I will be branching out into the redistricting field in the fall, I will certainly remain a nuclear disarmament and environmental justice activist throughout the entirety of my academic and professional career.
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, Honors junior Gigi Speer interviewed Hayden Cresson, an Honors senior majoring in International Political Economy and minoring in Philosophy.
Tell me about yourself and what you’re interested in!
I am majoring in International Political Economy with a minor in Philosophy and am in the process of applying to law school. I am the president of the b-Sides a cappella group and am a member of the Rose Hill Society, where I lead tours and information sessions to prospective students. I am on the Executive Board for the Campus Activities Board as the Comedy Co-Chair, which means I am responsible for bringing comedians to campus (or Zoom!). I also helped teach the First Year Formation Class, and I was an Orientation Leader.
How did you get involved in all of this?
I learned about the B-sides at the club fair, and my orientation leader recommended CAB since I had been on Student Council in high school. I joined the Comedy committee because I am very into SNL and stand-up comedy; one of my favorite memories from Fordham was seeing John Mulaney perform at Radio City during his “Kid Gorgeous” tour. It has been so interesting to navigate how live performances have changed with the transition to Zoom since COVID-19. Heidi Gardner from SNL did a Q&A for Welcome Week via Zoom, and it was nice having her explain the ins-and-outs of SNL, especially since so much of the format has changed during COVID.
What has been your favorite experience at Fordham?
Orientation, in general, has been one of my favorite experiences because it allows me the opportunity to give back to a community that has provided me so much growth. Not only do you make new friends yourself, but you also get to help other people form friendships and feel welcome at Fordham. When I moved in freshman year, my Orientation Leaders made me feel so safe and comfortable, and getting to provide that for other new students has been so rewarding. Aside from Orientation, being a part of the b-Sides has definitely been one of the best parts of my time at Fordham. I especially enjoyed getting to perform at events like the Founder’s Dinner!
What initially interested you about being in the Honors Program?
I did not know about Honors when I initially applied to Fordham; I received the invitation to join a few weeks after I was accepted to Rose Hill. Upon the invitation and some research, I decided to accept my place in the Honors Program because I felt that the small, seminar-style classes would be really conducive to my preferred style of learning. For a girl coming from a very small high school, I felt that the size of the Honors Program might help make Fordham feel more intimate and close-knit. I also really liked the design of the curriculum, as I knew it would challenge me and push me outside of my academic comfort zone.
What do you think is the best thing you’ve learned while in the Program?
I’ve really loved all of the English classes I’ve taken in the Honors Program, even though I’m not an English major. The readings were fascinating and the professors were some of my favorites; my Contemporary Lit professor even wrote my law school letter of recommendation. Outside of my coursework, the biggest thing I’ve learned is that it is okay to ask for help. I’m not always going to have the right answers, so it’s good to rely on other people sometimes. I used to feel like a failure if I needed help outside of class time, but Honors has taught me that asking for help when you need it is a strength, not a weakness.
I agree, I have had so many good relationships with professors and I would also recommend that everybody talks to their professors after class or during office hours.
Is there a teacher, book, or course that has had the most impact on you?
Like I said I loved all my English professors, especially Dr. Keri Walsh, who taught Contemporary Literature. I appreciated that she gave us freedom in our papers — I was given the freedom to write an essay comparing the film A Star is Born to Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poetry. I also really loved Dr. Bruce Berg and had the chance to take a public health-focused class with him last spring, which ended up being especially fascinating and relevant, as we were sent home due to Covid right after midterms. That class really sparked my interest in public health, which is now the focus of my senior thesis.
Speaking of theses, what is yours about?
After being indecisive for months, I have finally settled on my topic. I am examining the way Medicaid expansion in Louisiana has impacted women’s health care. My research will consist of interviews with clinic directors, hospital officials, and advocacy groups.
How do you think you have grown during your time in the Honors Program?
I have definitely gotten better at studying, and I have also learned to be more comfortable with failure. I have become more self-aware and have learned to trust my strengths and understand my weaknesses without constantly comparing myself to others.
I know things are so crazy right now because of COVID-19. Given the circumstances, is there anything else you would like to add?
No matter where you go to school, it is important to seize the day and make your college experience worthwhile. College really does fly by, so savor every moment and take advantage of every opportunity!