Dignity: What Does It Mean?

According to many understandings of human rights, all people are born free and with dignity. We often speak of dignity as something that should be protected and respected. However, when prompted, you’ll be hard-pressed to come up with a true definition of dignity. What is dignity? Does everyone have the same amount of dignity? Can someone ever do something to lose their dignity?

These are just a few of the difficult questions that students tackled during last week’s Keyword Colloquium on “Dignity” led by Dr. Bryan Pilkington, interdisciplinary philosopher and Director of Academic Programs at Fordham’s Center for Ethics Education.

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Dr. Pilkington (2nd from left) leads an engaging colloquium on “Dignity” with Manresa Scholars.

Dr. Pilkington described the hypothetical case of a patient suffering from cardiac issues who is then also diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Without taking these medications, the patient would almost certainly suffer a fatal cardiac event soon after stopping them.

The patient could potentially stop taking his or her heart medicine to avoid living an “undignified” life with dementia. Dr. Pilkington got Manresa Scholars thinking by posing the question — is it morally acceptable to seek your own death, and by doing so are you acting with or without dignity?

He discussed the three viewpoints. The first view is that someone should stop taking the heart medicine and seek death to avoid falling into an “undignified” dementia. The second view is that one should continue to take the heart medicine because seeking your own death is a violation of dignity. The third group provides what Dr. Pilkington considered the best answer: allow the patient to make his or her own decision about what they feel is right for their life and body; that is, “dignity” is relative to individual patients.

Manresa Scholars split into small groups to discuss similar cases and attempt to create a working definition of “dignity.” Some Scholars suggested that people can never lose their dignity while others argued that dignity can be taken away by outside circumstances outside of one’s control.

While there were no definitive conclusions by the end of the dinner-colloquium, Manresa Scholars grappled with some difficult questions and utilized the critical thinking skills they’ve been developing all year.

Anja Asato, FCRH 2018
Manresa Programming & Marketing Fellow, 2016-2017

An Eggcellent Easter Service Opportunity

To embrace the springtime weather and the final push to Easter Recess, Manresa Scholars took a trip out to Bartow-Pell Park in the Bronx recently to help with the annual Bartow-Pell Easter Egg Hunt. With over 1,000 children expected, ranging from 2-12 years old, our students were put to work to make sure the event ran as smoothly as possible.

Most of the Scholars were stationed at different aged egg hunts, taking on the task of DSC_4844.JPGscattering eggs full of candy for the children to collect in the various hunts throughout the day, as well as creating the perfect hiding spots for the unique golden egg in every hunt that could be turned in for a prize. Others manned the Easter-themed craft tables and organized egg-related lawn games in order to keep the children and their families happy. With endless activities as well as an appearance from the Easter Bunny himself, the expectations of the local community were exceeded thanks to the team effort put in by the Manresa Scholars.

This event counted as a “Serving” program as part of the Scholars’ Shared Expectations. “I really enjoyed serving at the Bartow-Pell Easter Egg Hunt because it allowed me to give back to the community I’m living in and see a different side of the Bronx. It was also really great to see how much fun the kids were having and how much they enjoyed it,” said Melanie Orent, a current Manresa Scholar.

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As volunteers, the Scholars demonstrated true Manresa spirit through hard work, effective communication, and overall enjoyment of the experience as they contributed to this close-knit community beyond Fordham’s campus.

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

 

“Grit”: Lessons from Manresa Alumnae

Manresa Scholars become part of a prestigious group of Fordham students who go on to enter fields in business, law, communications, social service, and more. When Manresa Scholars leave Loyola, they still remain part of the community by sharing their knowledge and experiences with current Manresa Scholars, creating a diverse and active network.

This past week, three Manresa alumnae, Sara Kugel (FCRH ‘11), Danielle O’Boyle (GSB ‘12), and Victoria Cappucci (FCRH ’16), came to speak with current students about how “grit” played an integral  role in their post-graduation success. Together, the speakers and Scholars discussed the meaning of “grit” and spoke about how it refers to one’s ability to persevere, work hard, and focus this work ethic toward one’s passion. It also means utilizing strengths and realizing that not everything will go as planned, but that some resourcefulness and creativity can take you down meaningful paths.

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Kugel, Associate Producer at CBS News, spoke about focusing on your passion. By doing this, you can overcome the background noise and focus on your goals. However, she stressed the importance of balancing ambition and self-care. She also encouraged Manresa Scholars to reflect and appreciate this period of their lives where they can focus primarily on learning.

O’Boyle, Assistant District Attorney in the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, gave valuable advice to the pre-law students and those interested in the legal field. In her experience, “grit” meant never giving up despite rejection and never being too busy to take on the less glamorous tasks of a job. Knowing what needs to happen to achieve a goal can be vital to success.

Cappucci, who graduated from Fordham last year, gave Manresa Scholars advice about steps they can take during their time at Fordham and her experience post-graduation thus far. For her, having a long term goal to foster a sense of grit is important. She intends to attend law school and is currently working as a paralegal at Allen & Overy in Manhattan.

Each Manresa Scholar had a chance to work with the speakers in small groups to come up with concrete ways to apply a sense of “grit” to their lives. Whether it’s applying for more internships, getting better grades by visiting office hours, or joining a club related to their interests, Scholars can take steps to apply a sense of “grit” to their academic, work, and personal experiences. Whatever the goal, the speakers shared the importance of having a sense of purpose by doing something personally fulfilling.

Anja Asato, FCRH 2018
Manresa Programming & Marketing Fellow, 2016-2017

NYC Urban Immersion Service Project

Manresa Scholars hold the values of service, learning, community, and reflection to high regard, and this doesn’t change when classes let out for vacation. The annual NYC Urban Immersion Spring Break is a unique opportunity for Manresa Scholars to take part in a 2-day program focusing on service and living in the Jesuit tradition.

Program highlights included volunteering within the Bronx community, a visit to St. Nicholas of Tollentine Church and Parish Center, and morning prayer walk through the New York Botanical Garden. The program was co-led by Dean Parmach and Manresa Tutor Nicole Benevento. Loyola Resident Director, Matt Dishman, shares his experience below.



As the Resident Director to Loyola Hall, I had the pleasure of observing eight freshman students sacrifice the start of their Spring Break to participate in an immersion experience that intentionally made them feel uncomfortable. These students signed up for the annual Manresa Scholars Urban Immersion experience, not knowing what they were getting themselves into.

On the first night, these eight students learned they were going to have to, “live simply.” This included only taking one shower, sleeping on the floor, eating just enough, and carrying the same bottle of water for an entire weekend. Dean Parmach, who facilitated our weekend, stated the goal was to experience dissonance in “our heads, hearts, and hands” – and that’s just what we did.

The goal of living simply was to reflect the thousands of New Yorkers who are less privileged than the typical Fordham college student. Throughout Urban Immersion we explored this idea through community service, spiritual engagement, personal experience, reflection, discussion, etc.

One of the most unexpected yet impactful moments of the weekend came when walking the High Line. Our team had just watched a meaningful documentary on the Chelsea area and the topic of gentrification. On our final morning, we found ourselves walking where the documentary was filmed (which was not a part of our original schedule). To see the contrasting socioeconomic neighborhoods featured in the documentary firsthand left an evident impact on me and the students of our group. Below is a photo of our team in said neighborhood and on the High Line:

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We walked away from the weekend cold and exhausted, all very excited for a typical Spring Break.

Breakfast with CBS News

Hard-hitting journalism, dedication to ethics, and finding your passion all take guts. Guest speakers Dick Brennan (GABELLI ’83) and Alice Gainer (FCRH ’04), award-winning news anchors/reporters for WCBS-TV, sat down with Manresa for a special breakfast Keyword Colloquium on “guts.”

Brennan and Gainer each spoke about the unexpected paths you may take through college and post-graduation, and how their Fordham education has stayed with them throughout their careers. Asking hard questions, holding people in power accountable, and upholding the integrity of journalism in this tumultuous time are central to their work. While these are difficult tasks, they stressed the importance of their Jesuit education in guiding them through this period.

Students gained insights and tips for entering the journalism field. Network, make connections, and intern were points that they stressed. Similar to a few of the Manresa Scholars present, both Brennan and Gainer worked on WFUV, Fordham’s award-winning radio station, during their college years.

Kindness and being nice to anyone you encounter is something that has been important in both of their careers. Whether interviewing a cannibal cop, local politician, or the average New Yorker, everyone is treated with the same sense of respect. This is a trait that Manresa Scholars can apply in their daily lives and any field they decide to pursue.

“Why not me?” Brennan’s question was perhaps one of the most important take-aways of the morning. As capable students and community members, Manresa Scholars should have confidence in themselves and their abilities. Whether you’re applying for an internship or competing for an award, it’s important to put yourself out there. It takes guts, but it can make the difference in discovering your passion, and pursuing that passion.

Anja Asato, FCRH 2018
Marketing and Programming Fellow, 2016-2017

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Manresa Scholars with Brennan (third from left) and Gainer (fourth from left) at the CBS Breakfast.

Fr. McShane: Love and the Fordham Family

“Love is a transitive verb. You have to experience it.” This was Father McShane’s message to students when he spoke with the Manresa community over dinner on Friday evening.

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Photo by Zach Asato

St. Ignatius once said love is shown more in deeds than in words. You have to show love in ways that really touch others. A very special part of the evening was when Fr. McShane went around the room to spend a minute speaking individually with each Scholar, learning his or her name and hometown. For each person, he found a connection. Whether he knew their high school, their parents who were Fordham graduates, or other students from their home, there was a unique Jesuit connection between the Manresa Scholars and Fordham’s President.

A sense of family and interconnection is embedded into life at Fordham. Fr. McShane took a minute to touch upon current events, noting that Fordham is an institution founded on and for immigrants. He asked students when their families came to the United States. For some, their families have been here for generations. For others, they or their parents were the first to come to America. However, Fr. McShane emphasized the fact that everyone knows the story of his or her family. And in this way, we are all immigrants. Then, he reminded students of the story of our Fordham Family, which began in 1841 when John Hughes founded Fordham University.

This intimate conversation with Fordham’s President is truly a highlight of the Manresa experience.

Anja Asato, FCRH 2018
Marketing and Programming Fellow, 2016-2017

Integrated Learning Community Spotlight: West Wing

The Manresa Scholars program is not the only Integrated Learning Community (ILC) on campus that engages the academic, spiritual, and social components of students’ lives. The West Wing ILC for Ignatian Leadership and Civic Service is a program for sophomores, many of whom were in the Manresa Program as freshmen. Learn more about an exciting service opportunity that West Wing Scholars took part in this semester.


A group of West Wing Scholars headed to St. Francis Xavier Parish Mission recently in search of a meaningful opportunity to learn and serve the Manhattan homeless community. We arrived on site to help Xavier with one of its most important outreach programs– their Sunday meal.

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Image source: XavierMission.org

Throughout the afternoon, the Fordham group was separated and placed into different stations. Some of us greeted guests at the door, handed out trays with meals, or helped clean. When asked about his experience, West Wing Scholar (and former Manresa Scholar) Neil Joyce said, “Serving meals at St. Francis Xavier was a humbling, humanizing experience. It is an experience that teaches one to be forever grateful of the countless liberties they have, while also serving as a call to action to volunteer and serve for and with others.”

WW Scholar Rosalyn Kutsch echoed these sentiments by saying that “Volunteering at Xavier was a startling and valuable reminder of the importance of stepping outside of the comfort we make for ourselves and engaging with the unfamiliar. Most importantly, this work serves to remind use that at the end of the day, we are all humans who all need a little extra help sometimes.”

WW Scholar Brian Daaleman (another former Manresa Scholar) added that those he interacted with “served to remind [him] that those trapped in the cycle of homelessness each have their own unique story and are not just another statistic. Our service also provided a physical representation of the immediacy and gravity of this issue that sadly is often neglected.”

Each job we were given and interaction we experienced was full of meaning and purpose, bringing us closer to the Jesuit tradition of serving those in need as men and women for and with others.

Monica Olveira, FCRH 2018
West Wing ILC Intern, 2016-2017

Emily Mohri, FCRH 2017
West Wing ILC Resident Assistant, 2016-2017


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