From Honors Music Major to Budding Concert Conductor

Author: Kristina Lazdauskas, junior

With support from the Honors Program, I participated in the Choral Institute at Oxford this summer. The ten-day program consisted of lectures on the philosophy of music-making, masterclasses in conducting technique and culminated with a final performance in which I conducted in concert for the first time. 

I applied for the Ambassadorial Grant to help me with this opportunity because I knew that it would prepare me to apply for a graduate degree in Choral Conducting in the future. My studies as a music major have focused primarily on music history and theory rather than performance. I knew that the practical experience I would gain at the Choral Institute at Oxford would complement the academic side of my major and help me put what I’ve learned in my classes at Fordham into practice. 

The immersive nature of this institute was invaluable. Though I arrived having had virtually no experience, conducting daily in the masterclasses and receiving real-time critiques from conductors Dr. James Jordan and Dr. James Whitbourn helped me to improve my technique and musicianship quickly. Daily lectures on conducting delivered by music faculty from Westminster Choir College and Oxford University also helped me to gain a deeper appreciation for the philosophy behind conducting. These talks encouraged me to think critically about the way in which the conductor’s performance is influenced by their self-perception, which aligned well with the ideas about the self which I had begun exploring in my Honors Early Modern Philosophy course and which I continue to explore in the Honors’ Religion in the Modern World course. Now, I am expanding on this question of the role of the artist’s self and its impact on conducting in an independent study, and it’s one that I hope to investigate further in my research as I progress through the major. 

Studying in Oxford also afforded me opportunities I couldn’t have had elsewhere. I was able to sing mass with the Cathedral Singers of Christ Church Cathedral, view original medieval manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, and observe featured conductors in rehearsals with the Institute’s choir-in-residence. Furthermore, the program opened up to me an amazing support network of fellow conductors and singers equally interested in fostering human connection through the collaborative art of choral singing. 

My experience at the Choral Institute at Oxford has been a shaping force in my studies. I’ve narrowed my research interests to the history and philosophy of conducting, and I am more confident now that I want to pursue choral conducting in graduate school. I am extremely grateful to the Honors Program for supporting me in this endeavor. 

Honors Summer Internship Fellows: Megan

Author: Megan Gilligan, senior

This is the fourth and final post in a series of four posts written by the Summer 2019 Honors Internship Fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.

Thanks to The Honors Program Summer Fellowship, I was able to work as a student intern for the Pace Women’s Justice Center.  PWJC is a nonprofit that advocates for and provides legal assistance to victims of domestic violence, elder abuse, and sexual assault.  It also conducts outreach and training sessions on how to interact with victims of abuse as well as how to escape abusive situations.

Megan (left) with the other PWJC summer interns.

As an intern, I was able to take part in many different aspects of PWJC’s work. I provided support to attorneys and staff and researched topics relating to individual cases as well as New York State law. I attended client interviews and court proceedings, created Excel spreadsheets for client financials and outreach events, and revised a 150-page resource guide for attorneys on the PWJC legal helpline. Additionally, I attended Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse training sessions and represented PWJC at Family Law, Women’s Advocacy, and Immigrant Advocacy committee meetings.  Most importantly, I witnessed the positive impact that PWJC has on so many victims’ lives by providing access to legal services. Many people in abuse situations are not fully aware of their legal rights or are afraid of taking their abusers to court. PWJC works with all of its clients to figure out the best plan for them and coordinates with other organizations to make sure the clients are receiving all the help they need.

As someone who hopes to become an attorney and is currently studying for the LSAT, my internship with the Pace Women’s Justice Center solidified my passion and determination to enter into the legal profession.  Through my history classes in the Honors Program, I learned a lot about how law can shape the course of a nation. This internship furthered that understanding by allowing me to see how law can directly affect individual people’s day-to-day lives.  It gave me the opportunity to learn from and interact with all sorts of legal professionals from attorneys to paralegals to law students. I was able to see firsthand the dedication of the PWJC staff to do the best they possibly could for their clients and the effect that has on their clients’ lives.  I am very grateful to the Honors Program for allowing me the opportunity to have this profound and rewarding summer internship experience; I could not have asked for a better way to spend my summer.

Honors Summer Internship Fellows: Jack

Author: Jack Andrews, senior

This is the third post in a series of four posts written by the Summer 2019 Honors Internship Fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.

Honors Senior, Jack Andrews, at his South Bronx United summer internship.

The Fordham Honors Program can, at any time, signify a variety of different things to different people. If you ask a rising sophomore, it might call to mind the chronological study of the different periods into which scholars have divided history; to a senior, it might be a large and looming paper upon which his or her graduation relies. However, along with the different demands of the academic syllabi of the Honors Program is the consistent expectation that Honors students will use the educational and professional opportunities they have received for the betterment of themselves and others. As such, the Honors Summer Internship Fellowship application demands from its potential recipients a cover letter describing their understanding of the common good and how their various internships further it. 

Jack with other South Bronx United interns.

I was graced with the Honors Summer Internship Fellowship, and, thus, with the ability to accept an internship with South Bronx United, a local youth organization combining soccer and academics with the hope of animating Bronx kids to excel in high school and pursue college educations. My role at South Bronx United, as an education intern, was to serve as a classroom aide and mentor to a cohort of rising ninth graders who all attended SBU’s Summer Soccer Scholars program—as well as to coach a recreational soccer team comprised of students of different age groups within the program.

Many of the students with whom I worked were from immigrant families from places like Mexico, Venezuela, and Ecuador—and many had complex immigration stories. As someone both pursuing a Spanish minor and with aspirations to become an immigration lawyer, working with a group of people I hope to serve in the future was a dream come true. My students were a daily reminder as to why I was passionate about my potential career; they were intelligent, driven, and compassionate individuals who, in addition to loving soccer, felt an obligation to achieve to their highest potential for the parents and guardians who gave them the chance to do so. They also taught me some new words in Spanish, although I might not rush to use them in a professional setting. I can’t wait to hear, a few years from now, where my students plan to attend college, and I am forever grateful to the Honors Program and Dr. Keller for making this summer possible.

Honors Summer Internship Fellows: Ellen

Author: Ellen Thome, senior

This is the second post in a series of four posts written by the Summer 2019 Honors Internship Fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.

Thanks to the Honors Summer Internship Fellowship, I was able to intern at Save the Children as a Supporter Experience & Retention intern this summer. Save the Children is a global nonprofit, working in 120 countries to protect the rights of every child. Save the Children achieves this by providing health and nutrition programs, increasing access to education, promoting gender equality, and protecting children in areas suffering from conflicts or disasters. Save the Children also advocates for policies that protect children at the local, national, and international level.

As a Supporter Experience & Retention intern, my job was to help communicate Save the Children’s latest efforts to donors. I did this by revising fundraising materials and selecting images and links for Save the Children’s calendars. I also helped Save the Children celebrate its Centennial anniversary by sending donors materials that highlight the long-term changes Save the Children has achieved since its establishment. Finally, I collected donor feedback by analyzing and creating surveys. The scope of these surveys ranged from small matters – photos for the annual calendar – to broader issues, such as what motivates donors to give. Overall, this internship introduced me to the administrative side of nonprofit work. Additionally, I met several experts in international nonprofit fieldwork, which also allows me to consider the possibility of overseas nonprofit work. 

This internship has reinforced the importance of written communication that is central to the Honors Program curriculum. Revising donor-facing materials showed me how small textual details can have profound, long-term impacts. Furthermore, Save the Children considers literacy foundational for children’s development and rights, and prioritizes children’s literacy with early childhood reading programs, supplemental school reading initiatives, and campaigns to keep girls in school. 

Additionally, Save the Children’s work around the world corresponds to the pillars of justice and diversity of the Honors Program mission. Save the Children protects children regardless of nationality, religion, or refugee status, and demonstrates a commitment to justice by focussing on children hit hardest by conflict, such as children in Syria and Rohingya children from Myanmar. Save the Children delivers justice to children experiencing conflict by establishing child-friendly spaces where children are protected from violence and work through trauma, and by addressing governments to end conflict. Save the Children’s job-training and livelihoods programs also ensure justice for the poorest children by breaking cycles of poverty.  

Finally, this internship has helped shape the focus of my Honors senior thesis, which I will be writing this fall on the topic of migrants. This summer, Save the Children established two centers along the US-Mexico border for migrant children transitioning out of ICE detention centers. Seeing  Save the Children’s work for migrant children both reinforces the importance of my topic and highlights how much more needs to be done to help detained migrants. 

I am incredibly grateful to Dr. Keller and the Honors Program for their support in allowing me to pursue this wonderful opportunity.

Honors Summer Internship Fellows: Abigail

This is the first post in a series of four posts written by the Summer 2019 Honors Internship Fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.

Author: Abigail Gillis, senior

This summer, I had the privilege of working as an Elementary School Intern at DREAM Charter School in East Harlem. Like other charter schools, DREAM’s goal is to provide a strong college preparatory education to disadvantaged students. DREAM is also focused on family involvement in children’s education; promoting social, emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing as well as academic achievement; and using baseball to promote holistic wellbeing and the skills required to achieve it.

As an intern with the elementary school, I was able to spend a couple of weeks at the beginning of the summer supporting teachers in their classrooms and on field trips before the school year ended. However, most of my responsibilities were oriented toward the upcoming school year(s) rather than on direct work with students. My fellow intern and I pursued two research projects, one on Inquiry-Based Learning and the other on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, and put together teaching resources based on our research. We also had a few projects which we chose to split up between us. I worked mainly on creating ELA pacing calendars for PreK-5th grade and on putting together the Staff and Family Handbooks for the 2019-2020 school year based on earlier years’ materials.

Abigail Gillis, Rose Hill Honors Program Class of 2020.

As a rising senior, I was very much hoping to find a position this summer that would allow me to work inside a school. I was looking for an education-based internship that would give me a different kind of experience than the tutoring I’ve done in the past (including work with the Rosedale Achievement Center through Honors). I was especially hoping to have the opportunity to work at a place like DREAM, whose mission and work support so many students with limited opportunities. The Honors Summer Internship Fellowship has allowed me to accept a position that not only helped prepare me for my future career in education but actually gave me a chance to do so in a way that benefits hundreds of lower-income students in NYC, and I am so grateful to the Honors Program for providing me with a way to spend my summer with DREAM.

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.  

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.

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.