Volunteering at Fordham’s 173rd Commencement Week

While most students have gone home to begin their summer vacations, a few Manresa students stayed behind to volunteer for Fordham’s 173rd Commencement Week. Being part of these graduation festivities is a unique experience that not many Fordham students see until they themselves are graduating.

Manresa Scholars Amos Ong and Lindsey Register were two students who volunteered for Commencement Week. They, along with other Manresa Scholars, took on important roles such as serving as ushers during the Graduation Ceremony and setting-up and assisting with the Encaenia Academic Awards Ceremony for Rose Hill Seniors.

In order to put on Commencement Week, which includes a multitude of events for students and their families, in addition to the graduation ceremonies themselves, Fordham relies on faculty and student volunteers to put everything together. Fordham’s staff, faculty, students, and alumni all come together for Commencement.

Ong described the experience as the perfect fitting to the end of his freshman year. “I was reminded of what it means to be part of something bigger, something that is more than just myself, and to use my time productively in contributing to something good.”

Ong and other student volunteers assisted Dean Parmach, and got to learn some interesting stories behind the graduation ceremony and Fordham traditions. For example, hanging from the University Church ceiling is the official Vatican approved cardinal’s hat of Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., who taught at Fordham. By Church tradition, the hat is to remain suspended from the rafters until it disintegrates on its own. There’s also the statue of Archbishop Hughes, founder of Fordham, who gets dressed with his own large scale Fordham cap and gown during Commencement week by the University carpenters.

For Register, the experience was eye opening. “It was great to see and partake in the behind the scenes work that happens all throughout the week, even from the Deans themselves, who you would never expect to be cleaning the graduation chairs or distributing granola bars the day of the event! The dedication from the whole Fordham community to make the ceremony enjoyable and memorable for the graduates and their families is truly an amazing thing,” said Register.

Commencement Week is truly a product of the efforts of the entire Fordham Family as we celebrate the Class of 2017 and all their accomplishments.

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

Manresa’s Finest: Nicole Benevento

Over the past four years, Nicole Benevento, FCRH 2017, has been an integral part of the Manresa community. She entered the Program as a freshman participant, served as its Intern as a sophomore and junior, and as live-in Tutor her senior year. Our community has truly benefited from her positive energy, dedication to student success, and Ignatian grit and kindness.

Benevento aspires to a career in the publishing industry following her internships with America Media, Fordham University Press, and Penguin Random House. She’ll take the skills and lessons learned from ManDSC_0004.JPGresa. Nicole notes that “Manresa helped me to feel comfortable and confident in my own skin, and I plan on having that newly-found confidence exude in my interviews and during meetings and interactions throughout my publishing career.”

Amid countless Manresa programs, she notes NYC Urban Immersion as her most memorable. The experience of volunteering at nearby soup kitchens and with homeless youth, and staying at Fordham Bedford Housing in the Bronx, ignited her passion for bridging the gap between rich and poor. In true Ignatian spirit, Nicole became bothered by inequality. “It was such an incredible experience because we were not only reflecting on the injustice in the world, but also witnessing it firsthand. It set something off inside me…it was the first time I really understood how privileged I am compared to others, and it didn’t sit well with me,” said Benevento.

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Benevento turns to the famous Babe Ruth quote for inspiration: “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” Nicole earned a double major in English and Italian and minored in Marketing, and served in Campus Ministry and on the boards of the Fordham Club and as vice president of Fordham’s chapter of the National Jesuit Honor Society Alpha Sigma Nu. “You will meet amazing people, form lifelong friendships, and create lasting memories if you take the initiative. College may seem overwhelming, but trust me, in the end each moment is so worth it,” said Benevento.

The Manresa Community wishes Benevento the best. Thank you, Nicole, for your service to Fordham. We look forward to having you back to share your experiences and wisdom with future Manresa Scholars.

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

A Memorable Spring Semester

The 2016-2017 Manresa Scholars have officially completed their freshman year as Fordham Rams. This year has been filled with rigorous academics, engaged service-learning, and dedication to the Manresa-Loyola Hall community. As Scholars embark on new adventures as upperclassmen, we are confident that the lessons they’ve learned with Manresa will serve them well.

Fordham’s President, Fr. McShane, spent an evening speaking with Manresa Scholars on the topic of “Love” and the “Fordham Family.” A personal conversation with Fr. McShane is a special Fordham experience that Scholars will reminisce about throughout their time at Fordham and after graduation.

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During the NYC Urban Immersion Spring Break Service Project, a group of Manresa Scholars took part in service-learning projects and explored issues such as economic inequality, while practicing simple living for a meaningful and reflective experience.

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Manresa Scholars visited Bartow-Pell Park in the Bronx twice this semester, once to clean up the park grounds and again to help facilitate their annual Easter Egg Hunt.

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Manresa professors concluded the year’s dinner-colloquium series with a “Last Lecture.” Each professor shared their most valued piece of wisdom with Manresa Scholars before they embark on new journeys as upperclassmen.

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Scholars took a break from finals to celebrate the end-of-the-year on the Manresa patio to enjoy burritos and the warm weather.

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Loyola Celebrates a Year of Community

Now in the final days of the school year, Manresa gathered on the porch of Loyola Hall for an end-of-year picnic. With the warm weather and beginning of final exams, the picnic was a much-needed break for students to relax. Manresa hosted a Welcome Picnic during the first week of the fall semester, and it is truly amazing to think of all the friendships, personal growth, and knowledge that Manresa Scholars have gained over the year.

Manresa fosters a close-knit community, where students support each other. During the picnic, students made plans for finals study groups and reminisced on shared experiences as Manresa Scholars. Although students will move-out of Loyola next week, the community will remain connected as Manresa Scholars, and will take with them the friendships and lessons they’ve gained over their freshman year.

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

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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

 

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.

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

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