Thinking and Acting Purposefully

I am beyond blessed to be part of the Manresa community. I truly believe that the program is one of the many “crown jewels” of the Fordham experience. From the first day I stepped foot in Loyola Hall and met all my hallmates, RAs, and Manresa staff and professors, I knew that nothing could compare to this community in the years to come. Whether it’s late nigIMG_2370.jpght study sessions in the O’Keefe Study Commons, watching Sunday football in the Social Commons, tutor sessions with peers in various seminar rooms, jam sessions in the hallway, Mass in the chapel, dinner at Father Lito’s, or Mario Kart tournaments in my room, there is a great energy present. Everyone looks out for each other. Everyone is committed to each other’s success. We truly are a family and it has only been a month!

While the Manresa seminar courses are academically rigorous, they come with some interesting perks. My Manresa class has been served breakfast and coffee on various occasions so that we may consider challenging metaphysical concepts on a full stomach. We are also planning to visit a Greek restaurant in Queens in connection with the Ancient Greek texts we are analyzing in class. As a Gabelli student, these seminar courses are extremely valuable in balancing the business sphere with liberal arts tools to think and act purposefully.

I was initially unsure about applying to an Integrated Learning Community like Manresa. I didn’t know what kind of students it would attract. I think the biggest fear people have is that students in programs like this will have an imbalance between their work and play, placing an unhealthy emphasis on work. But I can assure you that is not the case. While work does come first, the social scene is alive and well in Loyola Hall! In addition to all the activities I mentioned above, I have participated in numerous RA programs, such as attending a Yankees game and kayaking in the Hudson River. I have also visited a New Jersey beach with my roommates, explored the Bronx and Manhattan on the subway, played spike ball, Frisbee, and baseball on Edward’s Parade—all with my fellow Manresa Scholars, who also learn more about themselves through Manresa-sponsored service projects that serve local communities in need. We are not just a community, we are a family, and I can’t wait to see what the next month has in store for us.

Liam Fitzmaurice, GABELLI 2021
Manresa Scholar, 2017-2018

Advertisements

Of Manresa and Midterms

Being a Manresa Scholar was tough. The Shared Expectations, the Manresa seminar, the extracurricular programs—certainly not a walk in the park. But would I have wanted my freshman year to go any other way? Not a chance. And I suspect, by the end of this year, neither will anyone from the Manresa Class of 2021.

I remember sitting in the O’Keefe Study Commons on the eve of Dean Parmach’s philosophy mid-term. A sprawl of handouts and notes covered the table before me. I had inhaled so much Philosophy that I felt about 99% confident. I got up to finally call it a night, but something stopped me—that 1% of uncertainty: What if that’s one of the questions? What if that’s what the entire test is on? The possibility haunted me and I had to choose: sleep or certainty. And though I tried my best, certainty won out. I studied, skimmed, and searched that last concept until I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

The next morning, I sat in my desk with a glint of sleep deprivation and determination in my eye. Dean Parmach placed a test in front of me and I began to read. And guess what: That 1% I studied an extra hour for? That small, specific piece of knowledge I dissected so carefully? Nowhere on the test. Zero mention. Suffice it to say, I was a tad peeved, but it was a good thing I had prepared the other 99% of knowledge. It turned out just fine.

It takes a special type of relentless perseverance to thrive in Manresa: a meticulous work ethic paired with an unslakable sense of curiosity. It’s that very drive that propelled you to apply to and ultimately be accepted into the program; resolve and resourcefulness define Manresa Scholars. The Manresa Scholars Program imbues within you an endless pursuit of knowledge; “almost” will hardly be enough, and excellence will become your earmark.McCarthy Dinner Immersion.jpg

Though occasionally the work is intense and the sleep scarce, nothing prepares you better for a fruitful college experience than Manresa. The lessons I gleaned from Manresa last year—both academic and personal—continue to shape the course of my Fordham career. As a Manresa Scholar, I learned that my words and actions have the power to affect a change; I learned to think and speak concisely, making every word forcible and meaningful.

The very hallmark of a Manresa Scholar resides in their ability to be men and women for others. This year, I get a chance to put that adage into effect in a personal way; I was afforded the opportunity to work as Dean Parmach’s Faculty Advisor Student Assistant (FASA) for the same class I took last year. As a FASA, I aim to help this batch of unsuspecting interlocutors. I provide insight into the academic experience and help to guide the freshmen through the maze of first-year uncertainties. I see it as my way to give back to a program and class that empowered and inspired me.

Now, I know how rigorous these classes are, but I know that you’re in Manresa because of your desire for rigor. As a former Manresa Scholar and FASA, I’ll be accessible if you need help with learning that 99%. But that last 1%? Well—I couldn’t stop you if I tried.

Rafael Saplala, FCRH 2020
Manresa Scholar, 2016-2017

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.

IMG_2249.JPG

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

Seminar Spotlight: The Lost Interlocutor

Manresa Scholars in The Lost Interlocutor Seminar spent the past semester investigating the themes of existence, knowledge, truth, morality, and beliefs. The course taught by Manresa Faculty Director and FCRH Freshman Dean, Dr. Robert Parmach, stresses critical spoken dialogue and writing. The skills and material the Scholars learn come together at interactive out-of-class events, such as the Interlocutor Fallacy Night.

Manresa Scholar Nick Swope reflects on his experience.

Spotlight Evening.jpg

Dean Parmach facilitates a discussion on intersections between the semester’s Manresa Seminars.


Coming from a public high school, I had never taken a philosophy course. My Manresa Seminar has opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking. I now examine the world around me in a more thorough manner, asking the questions of why and how instead of who and what. Some of the main themes we discussed include avoiding sloppy thinking, Eloquentia Perfecta techniques, the meaning of relationships, the relationship between the physical and metaphysical world, and nature of the mind, among others.

One Manresa program I found particularly meaningful was the Interlocutor Fallacy Night.

Swope Spotlight.jpg

Scholar Nick Swope presents his insights at the Manresa Showcase.

As part of the program, we learned about different types of logical fallacies and picked some out of different video clips. This really opened my eyes to how often people misuse logic to make an argument, especially when they do not have a strong one. As a young adult, I find this most relevant during the recent presidential election, in which I was a first-time voter.

In an election focused more on the candidates’ character than the issues concerning our country, I believe it is important to critically examine each candidate’s argument to determine which, if either, is making a strong case as to why they should be our next Commander-in-Chief. After seeing so many logical fallacies in a short clip, I realized how important it is to critically examine people’s arguments to make sure they are cogent and truthful.

A concept that has been heavily emphasized in our Manresa Philosophy class, and I believe is valuable for all young adults to study at a Jesuit institution, is Eloquentia Perfecta. This skill is defined as developing critical reading, writing, and speaking skills to make cogent arguments and be able to defend them under intense scrutiny. This is practiced every class through discussions, as everyone contributing is expected to have adequate defense for his or her claims.

For one assignment, we teamed up with a partner to do an Eloquentia Perfecta presentation based on an assigned reading. Pairs presented over the course of the semester and after each presentation, Dean Parmach emailed the entire class as to what the presenters did well and what they need to improve on, so that everyone could learn from each other’s mistakes in a supportive environment. I had an enlightening experience in my Manresa course and am looking forward to continuing my involvement next semester.


 

Philosophical Psych-Outs: Practical Eloquence Techniques

This past week, students from Prof. Parmach’s Philosophy class and Prof. Annunziato’s Psychology class participated in Philosophical Psych-Outs: Practical EP Techniques. Eloquentia Perfecta (EP) is a Jesuit tenet meaning “right reason expressed effectively, responsibly, and gracefully.” The purpose of the event was to show how Eloquentia Perfecta is one lens through which we develop as students in the Jesuit tradition.

The program started with an exercise that involved writing a poem that included the following information: your full name, nickname, three hobbies, four traits, and a life quote. Each Manresa Scholar  presented his or her poem on stage, and we were asked if it was uncomfortable to us. The exercise demonstrated the classical Greek model in which public speaking permeates daily life. Speech permeates who you are. 

Even if we don’t feel like public speaking “pros” just yet, our public speaking skills will improve over time with practice and preparation. Speeches do not always take place on a stage, or in front of an audience. They can take place in many different forms. We practice public speaking with family, in religion, in our civic life, and in business. There is a variety in the types of speeches that can be made, whether they are analytical, persuasive, or argumentative.

We discussed the importance of the public speaking acronym SPATE (stance, poise, articulation, tone, and eye contact). Following SPATE helps you to be more effective and affective at public speaking. Effective speaking means that your argument is clear. Affective means that it is impactful and meaningful.  We discussed the ancient Greek statesman and orator Demosthenes and his methods. In order to improve his skills, Demosthenes would recite things with a rock in his mouth. Inspired by Demosthenes’ methodology, three brave students volunteered to recite the Pledge of Allegiance with a mouth full of gumballs.

PHILPSYCPhoto.jpg

In another exercise, one student had to direct another to unscrew an Oreo cookie and eat off the icing. Once the exercise started, the class realized this seemingly easy task was much more difficult than imagined. The student giving directions was not allowed to start over if they made a mistake. This was difficult because we tend to speak vaguely, and only when we realize that confusions arise do we go into more detail.

Next, we read a selection from Aristotle’s Rhetoric, which discusses the art of persuasion, which is necessary for effective and affective speech. In groups, we read through magazines and discussed whether or not we thought the articles were effective and/or affective. At the end, we were asked what concrete steps we as students will take to be both effective and affective speakers. 

One of Aristotle’s famous maxims is: “Seldom deny, rarely affirm, always distinguish.” Through this program, Manresa Scholars strengthened their Eloquentia Perfecta skills of making proper distinctions while speaking.

Brooke Evans, FCRH 2020
Manresa Scholar

A Night of Clarity

Last Thursday night, a group of 17 Manresa Scholars, dressed in formal attire, met in the Ph.D. defense room in Duane Library. The meeting marked the culmination of the students’ Philosophy of Human Nature course as part of the Manresa Scholars Program. The class met outside of the classroom several times throughout the semester for guest lectures and joint programs with other classes; however, this final program, named A Night of Clarity, gave the students the stage.

During the program, four groups of students presented and defended original philosophical responses that incorporated various course themes studied throughout the semester. The responses attempted to present and cogently argue relevant applications of the course material outside of the classroom, specifically among the Millennial Generation. Four judges, including Dr. Robert Parmach, Freshman Dean and professor of the course, and Ms. Danielle O’Boyle, Assistant District Attorney for New York State, offered constructive criticism of each group’s presentation.

My group argued that students of this course are prepared to address and avoid the traps many other members of the Millennial Generation have fallen into, such as laziness and entitlement due to the modern convenience and prevalence of the Internet and social media. We argued that we, as well as all Manresa Scholars, are capable of creating concrete, practical progress in the world.

As Manresa Scholars, my peers and I strive to continually learn in and out of the classroom, as exhibited by our dedication to excellence in out-of-class programs. It is not sufficient to simply fulfill the curriculum; rather, Manresa Scholars strive to embody and practice their knowledge constantly.

Lucas Baker, GSB 2019
Manresa Scholar, 2015-2016

Words of Wisdom from Tutor Ryan

Manresa Scholars,

Many of you may question the merits of taking classes in the humanities when parents and the media often place so much emphasis upon the hard sciences and swollen bank accounts. After all, the earning potential for the latter is seemingly greater than that of the former, but I posit to you that the benefits you gain from studying the humanities will outweigh your future lack of money.

Below you will find an article entitled “Why Are Hundreds of Harvard Students Studying Ancient Chinese Philosophy?” I hope that this piece will enlighten those of you that dismiss the study of subjects such as English, History and Philosophy as merely a waste of time, as well as allow you to see that the value of a class need not lie in its potential for career advancement. I also hope that Fordham College at Rose Hill and Gabelli School of Business students alike will realize the importance of the humanities within their core classes.

Ryan Gilligan, FCRH 2015  |  Manresa Student Tutor

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/10/why-are-hundreds-of-harvard-students-studying-ancient-chinese-philosophy/280356/

Blog at WordPress.com.