Manresa Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Rachel Annunziato

For the upcoming 2018-2019 academic year, we welcome back Dr. Rachel Annunziato to 080615specialsections20awthe Manresa faculty. As a faculty member in the program from 2015-2017 before she became an administrator, Dr. Annunziato currently serves as the Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives at FCRH and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology. Given her participation in the recent Urban Immersion Service Project, we wanted to introduce her role in the Manresa Program, as well as preview her course for the fall.

When asked about her involvement in Manresa, Dr. Annunziato explained,

I love spending time with my students and colleagues outside of the classroom. I enjoy so much how these opportunities are seamlessly woven into the Manresa curriculum. It’s such a fun, rewarding teaching experience. I also am so grateful for the genuine emphasis on service that is a core part of Manresa programming. To me, there has been no better way to get to know my students than in participating in service activities together.

Her fall 2018 Manresa seminar is “The Mind-Body Connection: An Introduction to Behavioral Health.”

This course will offer a broad overview of psychological aspects of health as well as a focus on this relationship in specific, common illnesses. The overall goal of the course is to provide a comprehensive perspective on how psychology can augment the understanding and treatment of significant public health problems. In addition, this course will prepare students for future engagement in undergraduate research, she explains. In her experience with the course and Manresa Program in previous years, Dr. Annunziato excels in challenging the Scholars in a positive and fun way.

From Dr. Annunziato’s passion for teaching, enthusiasm for the program, and care for our Scholars, she is excited to return as part of our Program Faculty.

Lindsey Register, FCRH 2020
Manresa Programming & Marketing Fellow, 2017-2018

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Urban Immersion: Final Day & Recap

On our final day of Urban Immersion, Scholars served as volunteers at the annual Easter Egg Hunt hosted by the Bartow-Pell Park located in Pelham Bay, Bronx. The group was assigned to different tasks, from staffing the crafts table, to dispersing and hiding Easter eggs between each hunt. The jobs were nonstop, but overall entertaining, engaging, and a fun way to finish up the previous few days of service!

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Scholars volunteered at the Bartow-Pell Park’s Easter Egg Hunt for young children.

We congratulate and thank this year’s Urban Immersion group of seven Scholars for their hard work, intellectual contributions, and commitment to the service project. From their participation in challenges, conversations during reflections, and enthusiasm for each day of activities, the group demonstrated the best qualities of Manresa Scholars. Through their intellectual bothered-ness and curiosity to learn, we look forward to seeing their achievements in their time to come at Fordham.

Stay tuned for additional photos from this year’s Urban Immersion project!

Human and Natural Environments

The third day of Urban Immersion embodied the theme “Human & Natural Environments,” and consisted of local activities and experiences within the Bronx community surrounding Fordham. The group kicked off the day bright and early with a prayer and morning walk around campus led by Fr. Lito Salazar, S.J., Executive Director of Campus Ministry and Jesuit Housemaster. The walk allowed for an initial reflection before the day ahead and a look towards the approaching Holy Week.

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Urban Immersion participants engaged in an outdoor prayer on campus.

The group was then joined by Dean Annunziato (FCRH) and Dean Totino (Gabelli) who accompanied the group to Part of the Solution (POTS), a local organization that aims to help low-income families and individuals on their path to stability. The group was divided and participated in various tasks, from peeling and washing potatoes for meal preparation, to distributing clothes to low-income individuals to use for job interviews, to helping stock the pantry for families to pick up their food. Through these various experiences, the Scholars were able to reflect upon the help that is needed on a regular basis within the local community, as well as the resources that are able to be provided to these low-income groups.

After a lunch break, the group took a short walk to Murray-Weigel Hall Jesuit Infirmary, the home for retired Jesuits just outside Fordham’s gates. Here, the Scholars participated in a discussion with three Jesuits on the topic of “Ignatian Stories that Transform”. The men highlighted key stories from their Jesuit apostolates that illustrated how lives can be transformed in daily life.

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Participants discussed Ignatian spirituality with retired Jesuits at Murray-Weigel Hall.

Over dinner, the group reflected on the relationship between the UN’s 17 Sustainable Goals that were surfaced on the second day of Urban Immersion, and their experiences at POTS on this third day. The Scholars drew connections between the efforts and resources available at POTS in correlation with the global goals to better the world’s well-being.

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Following this, the group watched a PBS documentary on the Triangle Shirt Factory fire in the 1920s, which prompted discussion on the issues of gender and labor inequality, unionization, and the resolutions of change in response to social problems such as these, then and now. Dean Totino helped facilitate a final Ignatian Reflection of the day, giving the Scholars a chance to settle in with their personal thoughts and considerations after their day full of community-engaged, eye-opening experiences and conversations.

Lindsey Register, FCRH 2020
Manresa Programming & Marketing Fellow, 2017-2018

Global Humanity and Unity: Competing Desires

The theme of Urban Immersion’s second day was “Global Humanity and Unity: Competing Desires.” Traveling into Manhattan, the Scholars experienced the lifestyle of different social classes, as well as the contrasts between societal goals for better overall life. The group arrived first at the Strand Bookstore in Union Square to complete their first challenge. Led by Mr. Rametta and Fellow Lindsey, the Scholars had to work together to make a purchase of children’s books with a $20 bill.

The catch? This was a Silent Challenge, meaning they could not communicate by speaking, and with just $20, they could not go over that price limit or under $19, forcing them to use the most of their resources, but also making communication efforts more difficult. Under the circumstances, the group performed very well, and finished in record time! It was a learning opportunity for all as they understood the constraints of money as well as struggles with communication from those of a different lifestyle.

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At NYC’s iconic bookstore, The Strand, Scholars (silently) chose books for local children.

The next challenge, after upwards of 30 blocks of walking, was called the “Fixed Income Solidarity Lunch,” for which each Scholar was given only a $5 bill with which to find their lunch. With the ability to pool together their money, the group was able to successfully feed themselves, but also reflected upon the lack of options, as well as lack of nutrition in the inexpensive food they ate. Conversations about poverty, American agricultural subsidies, and contrasting lifestyles were sparked by this experience.

After lunch, the Scholars were surprised with a tour of the United Nations! Through this opportunity, the group was able to see where calls to action are born and carried out, learn more about the UN Sustainability Goals, and spark conversation about the realities of these goals, and how the goals of the UN contrasted with the challenges of the morning.

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It was each Scholar’s first time visiting the UN Headquarters.

The most important takeaway from the day was that the Scholars were able to experience these kinds of “competing desires” first hand, through their challenges with monetary restrictions and knowledge gained at the UN, seeing where goals are made, worked for, and met by world leaders and people fighting for change to eliminate the kinds of struggles they encountered earlier in the day.

Lindsey Register, FCRH 2020
Manresa Programming & Marketing Fellow, 2017-2018

Introduction to Urban Immersion

Over the next few days, a group of seven Manresa Scholars and several staff members will participate in the Manresa Urban Immersion Spring Break Service Project. Taking place from Wednesday evening through Saturday afternoon, the group will use the first portion of their spring break to engage in a variety of Community-Engaged Learning programs and events in the model of simple living and Ignatian solidarity. Scholars participating will ultimately fulfil their entire Shared Expectations spring requirement through the experiences presented to them throughout the four-day project. Scholars are unaware of the details of project, allowing them to be challenged and intellectually bothered through the unfolding schedule of events.

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Scholars discuss the 2016 HBO documentary, Class Divide.

Tonight’s Urban Immersion theme was “Examening NYC Urban Challenges,” in which the group participated in a Community-Engaged Learning reflection centered around structures of injustice found in a familiar New York City location. We welcomed Emily Horihan, FCRH 2014, a staff member in the FCRH Dean’s Office and a Manresa alumna, who presented the Scholars with an HBO documentary film, Class Divide. Produced in 2016, the documentary focuses on the neighborhood gentrification of the West Chelsea area that surrounds the High Line. As this is an area these Fordham students are familiar with from their city explorations, it was a unique experience to see and discuss the contrasting identities within the area that were most likely not seen to the naked eye of a New York college student.

The documentary focused specifically on the public housing that ultimately fell in the shadows of Avenues, a private school, and the high-priced real estate and housing developments that have occurred since the development and popularity of the High Line. The ideas of gentrification, socioeconomic status, and human nature in correlation with money and mindsets were the main takeaways discussed and reflected upon. Scholars and staff commented on the specific storylines followed, of young children and families either growing up in public housing or attending the private school in this area, and how the contrasts of socioeconomic status, race, and personal responsibility determined the outcomes of these everyday experiences. To close the discussion, Dean Parmach had the Scholars self-reflect on “hopeful messages” to those of different “class divides” featured in the film.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s full day of events!

Lindsey Register, FCRH 2020
Manresa Programming & Marketing Fellow, 2017-2018

Shark Tank and Eloquentia Perfecta

At a recent Learning program, co-led by FCRH Tutor Sarah and Gabelli Tutor Christian, Scholars critically evaluated a variety of business plan pitches from the TV show, Shark Tank. Tutors Sarah and Christian prompted students to consider how the show’s presenters could have delivered their business plans more persuasively. These same skills are developed through Fordham’s Eloquentia Perfecta (“perfect eloquence”) core curriculum requirements, which all Manresa seminars fulfill.

After discussing the TV show, it was the Scholars’ turn to create their own simple “inventions” out of household items, like paper clips, colored paper, bobby pins, and rubber bands. Scholars then pitched their creations to the tutors and their peers and received constructive feedback.

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FCRH Tutor Sarah co-leads a discussion on persuasive presentation skills.

Palanca Letter Program

The Palanca Letter program was first organized by my Global Outreach leader from my freshman year, so stepping into a role to organize letters for Loyola Hall was personally meaningful for me. “Palanca” means “lever” in Spanish. Just as a lever enables a person to move something beyond their normal strength, Palanca letters empower the recipient to feel a depth of love that would not be possible without those held dearest to the individuals. Palancas allow students to experience love from their friends and family, although those held dear to them may not be nearby.

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The letters are a huge production. The RA staff collaborates to see the program through. We started by collecting e-mails from parents at the very beginning of the school year, on move-in day. Five months later, we began sending on e-mails about the letter program, asking parents to send e-mails by the beginning on February. However, I think we still got e-mails up until the night before! In terms of volume, we received so many letters. It’s very easy to see, just by the sheer number of letters, how much parents, family members, friends and other loved ones care about the students in Loyola Hall.

The Palanca Letter program also happens at a crucial point in the year. Students have just returned from a month-long break at home, spending lots of time with family and friends. Any student tends to perhaps miss home more easily after the winter break. I think for a lot of students, the letters came at a perfect time when they needed to receive some love and affirmations in the form of a letter to help propel them through the rest of the school year.

Julia Gagliardi, FCRH 2019
Resident Assistant, Loyola Hall

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