Seminar Spotlight: American History and Citizenship

The Manresa Scholars Program offers five seminars each semester, and this upcoming fall, we are excited to offer a new history course, “Understanding Historical Change: Fighting for Equal Rights in American History.” Taught by Professor Kirsten Swinth, the course explores episodes in American history through the lens of citizenship.

Together, Scholars consider how different groups of Americans have acquired full citizenship, from political to civil and social rights, and the conflicts that resulted from these expansions in citizenship. “Everything we talk about in this class speaks to what it means to live in America today, from political rights to income inequality and social inclusion. We ask hard questions about what democracy means in America and debate whether or not this nation has fulfilled its promise of full equal citizenship to all its members,” says Professor Swinth.

Course highlights include documentary screenings including 13th, to learn about the history behind Black Lives Matter. Students also take part in a discussion group to discuss the powerful book, Evicted, and the Freedom Schools of the Civil Rights Movement.

The course fulfills the Eloquentia Perfecta 1, Understanding Historical Change, and American Pluralism core requirements for Fordham College at Rose Hill students. As an American Pluralism course, it specifically examines how race, gender, and ethnicity have shaped struggles for citizenship. Students gain Eloquentia Perfecta skills as the course emphasizes participation, speaking, and writing, using effective speech and analytical thought.

In this course, Manresa Scholars are be challenged to explore issues facing modern-day Americans. Professor Swinth hopes that students gain an “understanding of the roots of hotly-debated issues of today and a passion for equality and justice.”

Anja Asato, FCRH 2018
Manresa Programming and 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 Last Lecture from Manresa Faculty

As the year comes to a close, Manresa faculty gathered to give their students some parting words of wisdom in a “Last Lecture” dinner-colloquium. Faculty were asked to give a brief lecture as if it were the last lecture they were to ever give, offering advice and life lessons to the Manresa Scholars.

The lectures were thoughtful, inspiring, and touching, with each professor speaking on items most important to his or her life and career.

Following the lectures, students had the opportunity to ask rapid-fire questions ranging from favorite book to best restaurant on Arthur Avenue.

The Last Lecture was a personal end to this year’s dinner-colloquium series.

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

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(L-R) Profs. Parmach, Nasuti, and Annunziato

 

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Prof. Parmach delivers his Manresa Last Lecture.

 

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(L-R) Profs. Annunziato and Shen

“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

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.

Learning as a Community: A Reflection

Discussion is one of the most powerful components of the Manresa Scholars Program. It is emphasized in the Manresa Dinner Colloquia, where professors and guest speakers challenge Scholars to think about ethical and societal issues, in the Manresa Seminars, where students utilize their eloquentia perfecta skills in presentations and debates, and in the Manresa Study Commons, where Scholars collaborate on projects and coursework.

Manresa Scholar Alexandra Berndt shares her thoughts on the participatory nature of the Manresa Program, and the importance of participation as both a speaker and an active listener.


In a community such as the Manresa Scholars Program, there is often an emphasis placed on leadership as engagement: always offering up your thoughts and contributing so that you and your peers can grow together into greater versions of yourselves. However, engagement and community is not exclusively about voicing your opinions. A large— and arguably more important— aspect of participation is listening.

What I have contributed to Manresa so far is just that— listening. As a freshman in college, surrounded by professors and peers of the highest caliber, I have no grand illusions of superiority. Learning and growing requires humility. I have used my time so far here at Fordham and within Manresa to absorb all that my surroundings have to offer.

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At the end-of-semester Scholars Showcase evening, Alexandra Berndt (top row, 4th from right) presented this reflection.

If only I listen, I can use the valuable intellect that my peers and professors provide as the foundation upon which I can become the person worth listening to. I firmly believe that having a perspective worth listening to is the result only of first being willing to listen to the perspectives of others.

I have contributed the often-overlooked half of engagement, and thus minimized the pattern of speaking without really listening (and therefore speaking without really knowing much of anything). Ending ignorance and increasing intellect demands that I allow others to share rather than talking over each other with our fingers in our ears.


 

Reflecting on an Ethical Dilemma

Fordham’s President, Fr. McShane, says that Fordham students are bothered by the world around them. Manresa Scholars share this trait, and are challenged to question their beliefs and the world around them, struggling with ethical and moral dilemmas. Manresa Scholar Emma Budd, who took “Representations of China & the West” as her Manresa Seminar, shares how a Reflecting program offered in collaboration with Fordham’s Campus Ministry helped her to resolve an ethical dilemma.


Among the Manresa programs that I attended this semester, I can definitively say that Dean Parmach and Fr. Lito’s “Unpacking the Millenial Digitized Mind” colloquium ethically bothered me the most. This colloquium was centered on the concept of the millennial generation – what we are known for, both the good and the bad. Millennials are commonly recognized as lazy, technology-obsessed, and self-absorbed. I attended this colloquium expecting it to assert those very ideas – that as a generation, we need to improve ourselves. Although I do not entirely disagree with the conclusion that my generation is more self-absorbed than some of our predecessors’, I think it is incredibly unfair for other generations to assume that nothing good can come of us.

Thus, I was pleasantly surprised when Fr. Lito addressed the positive attributes of the millennial generation by stating that we have logged far more volunteer hours than other generations, showing that millennials have a prominent interest in charity work. Hearing this was refreshing, and I was excited about it until my peer raised her hand and brought up the following point: millennials may be logging more volunteer hours simply because we need them now more than ever for the college application process.

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Manresa Scholars clean up Bartow-Pell Park in the Bronx as part of a fall service project.

This point brought up the question of whether or not anything we do can truly be considered selfless. This is an ethical dilemma with which I have struggled in the past, and considering it in the context of my generation only heightened my worries that perhaps I did not enjoy helping people as much as I thought I did. I turned this thought over in my head for the remainder of the colloquium, and came to the conclusion that although volunteering did add to my resume, I do love helping people. I also decided that from now on, I should take the time to consider why I choose to help others before doing so.

If anything, this colloquium served to make me more aware of the ethics behind the choices I make when it comes to helping others.


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