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


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!


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!

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.


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.


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

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

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.

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:


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

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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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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