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, 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!