Author: Gigi Speer, junior
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, junior Gigi Speer interviewed Amelia Antzoulatos, a senior Honors student majoring in Theology and Economics and minoring in Comparative Literature.
G: Do you have any passions that still exist today that were founded in your childhood?
A: Passion is a strong word, but I guess Greek music most closely fits here. I took a class with Professor Mohamed Alsiadi, another incredible Fordham professor, director of the Arab Studies minor, and world-renown oud player, who once said that listening to traditional Arab music “rips your chest open and makes you want to fly.” It’s not a violent sentiment so much as a deeply spiritual one, wherein you’re moved so profoundly you don’t know if you should jump out of your chair and dance or just let that ineffable joy or pain or nostalgia swell up from your chest and water your eyes. I can’t think of a better way to describe how I feel when I listen to Greek music.
It might have been the hours spent writing Honors essays that got me exploring new playlists & following different musical leads while I (should’ve) worked, but I’ve got to thank Professor Walsh for also allowing me the intellectual space in our sophomore Honors Contemporary Literature class to research 19th and 20th century Greek urban music. Last year, too, I finally bought myself a bouzouki, a traditional Greek instrument, and it was Prof. Alsiadi who actually helped me find an instructor and prepped me & my instrument before my first lesson.
G: Who were the Honors professors that made the biggest impact on you?
A: Wow, so many I’m not even sure I can list them all, but here are just a few.
Dr. Fiano, who introduced me honestly to the world of academia and the possibility of doing scholarship & “pursuing knowledge” in the long-term. And wow, constructing a syllabus really is an art.
Prof. Davis, my advisor, who inspired a wild excitement in theological texts and is probably the reason why I’m a Theology major.
Prof. Callaway, for making me feel, for the first time here, like we were partners in scholarship.
Prof. Burnett & Prof. Gribetz, for being the truest examples of compassionate, innovative, and attentive scholars and educators I’ve ever met. Also so brilliant. How they teach is just as important as what they teach.
G: What will you miss most about Honors?
A: It really is a community in the end. And, as with any community, my relationship with it evolved over the course of my time at Fordham; I stuck close to it, grew disillusioned then grew nostalgic, reflected upon it, but, ultimately, always knew I could return to it whenever I wanted, even if only to pop in for some warm seltzer and free pizza. For all its exclusivity, Honors can be whatever we want it to be, and I’ll miss its flexibility (except when it comes to fulfilling the core) and the communal spaces it offers students and professors to discuss and react and adapt and act together for those things most meaningful to us.
G: What has been your best internship or volunteer experience while at Fordham?
A: My internship experiences have been somewhat limited, but during my sophomore year, I very, very briefly volunteered with a Hellenic-American radio/television station called Aktina FM. The previous summer, a friend of mine had invited me to a Greek/Cypriot event at which the station’s founder, Elena Maroulleti, was a speaker; I ended up approaching her after the event about the possibility of working with her and she obliged! The commute was a little unsustainable for me (3 hrs each way to Astoria), but I really enjoyed learning from Elena’s experiences (she was a Cypriot refugee to the US in the 1970s who built her station on her own, becoming one of the first major advocates for Greece & Cyprus in this country, but who doesn’t hesitate to criticize the male-dominated leadership of the Greek-American community). At one point, I helped her cover an event attended by the Prime Minister of Cyprus and interview a member of his cabinet.
G: What have you enjoyed on-campus?
A: Late night walks around campus, exploring new spots to hang with friends. There’s nothing better than texting someone at 1am on a Thursday and taking a break to talk with them outside in the fresh air.
G: Favorite off-campus spot?
A: Pick a cafe and Isabel Velarde and I have been there for a mid-afternoon existential interlude. Prince. Luna. DeLillo’s. Dealy Starbucks in a pinch.
G: Any favorite authors?
A: Barbara Kingsolver, Robert Penn Warren, Sally Rooney. Also Abraham Heschel; every time I read a line I’ve gotta put the book down and find someone to share it with. A few books I’ve read at Fordham that I can’t stop thinking about are I & Thou by Martin Buber; Mr. Mani by A.B. Yehoshua; and Sisters in the Wilderness by Delores S. Williams. One book that I never actually read but can’t stop thinking about: Memoirs of Hadrian.
G: Any last things to add?
A: It’s been wonderful meeting some of the Honors underclassmen. They’re seriously impressive, and I’m really excited to see how else they’ll transform Honors and Fordham.