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.
**This is the third in a series of four posts written by the summer 2017 Honors internship fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.**
I am honored and extremely grateful to be an inaugural recipient of the Honors Fellowship. This new program is another indication of the commitment of Fordham and the honors program to supporting the intellectual and professional endeavors of their students. The fellowship enabled me to live and work abroad in Panajachel, Guatemala as the Community Outreach Intern at Mercado Global. Mercado Global is a non-profit that is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty for indigenous artisans in rural Guatemala.
My work entailed keeping track of the donations and fundraising efforts of our network and facilitating donor visits to our office in Guatemala. The most interesting aspect was being a part of the company’s biannual Social Impact Assessment. With the help of local interviewers, the company gathered data on their 200 artisan partners. I learned the demographics of their artisans and witnessed a process that enabled the company to better support the women in the future. I then was able to use this information and other interviews I collected to create a research project about the effectiveness of social enterprises in the lives of indigenous artisans. As a result of this fellowship I was able to live abroad, develop my foreign language skills and learn a significant amount about nonprofit management and the value of research.
**This is the first in a series of four posts written by the summer 2017 Honors internship fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.**
Author: Olivia Jones, junior
This summer, I was proud to receive the Honors Summer Internship Fellowship. The fellowship was an incredible opportunity for me, since it allowed me to pursue my dream of working at a nonprofit organization. Many nonprofits only offer unpaid internships, so the fellowship was crucial to my being able to accept the position.
I interned with the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), an international association of reproductive health care professionals, including researchers, practitioners, and clinic administrators. During my internship, I worked with the Education and Training Department to prepare educational materials for dissemination and prepare for their annual conference. I spent much of my summer reviewing presentations that doctors has submitted to present at the conference, so I learned a lot about medical writing and terminology.
As an EMT with Fordham University Emergency Medical Services, I’m familiar with patient care, but less familiar with all the work that goes on behind the scenes in the medical field. This internship allowed me to explore possible careers in medicine that wouldn’t necessarily be hands-on. I’m excited to continue exploring new career fields as I continue my time at Fordham, and none of this would have been possible without the support of the Honors Program.
The Honors Program started the semester focused on service and social justice with and the inaugural Honors Service Week. The week began with the annual Mentor/Mentee dinner, where first year students meet their upperclass mentors and hear from Fordham service partners about volunteer opportunities. The rest of the week featured events for all of the students in the program.
Inaugurate the New Alpha House with Service and Snacks: The first event of the week was an opportunity to spend some time in the newly refurbished Alpha House. Students brought books to donate to local shelters and wrote notes and colored pictures to send along with the books.
Conversation about Structural Injustice in the Bronx: Dr. Mary Beth Combs, a beloved Economics professor in the Honors Program, presented on the history of housing inequities in the Bronx. Students were able to reflect on this history and their own desire to make a difference in situations of injustice.
Volunteer Event with the GOOD+ Foundation: A group of students traveled to the GOOD+ Foundation in Manhattan to pack donations for needy residents of NYC.
Habitat for Humanity Build: On Saturday, a group of students worked on a Habitat for Humanity apartment build in Brooklyn. In between helping to put in ceilings, the students took a lunch break photo.
The Honors Service Week was both a lot of fun and a great opportunity for students to learn more about and engage in service and social justice here in New York. Thanks to the Service and Social Justice Committee in SAC for making the week such a great success!