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

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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.

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


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.


The Secret Gem of the Bronx: A Manresa Event Sneak Peek

Our Manresa Staff has been working tirelessly on our upcoming year’s events and programs for you all. I’m here to give you a little inside information from behind the Manresa Intern’s desk. This September (although, I won’t give you the exact date, because that would ruin the surprise), the Manresa Program is going to hold an all-hands-on-deck service project at the Bronx’s very own Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum and Garden.

Before I let you in on the little secret on what we will be doing there, I’ll tell you about this hidden gem, one that even some people from the area do not know about.  Hundreds of years ago, there were around 20-30 mansions located in the Bronx along the Long Island Sound. Today, only one remains. This mansion, which is now both a New York City Landmark and a National Historic Landmark, is known as Bartow-Pell Mansion. The land was bought by Thomas Pell from the Siwanoy Indians in 1654, and was later sold to John Bartow in 1790. The house in which the Bartows lived still remains on the property and is the site of our upcoming service project.

This mansion is an official landmark and a living piece of Bronx history. Ellen Bruzelius (the mansion’s Executive Director) and her team give tours of, and offer service opportunities on, the mansion’s grounds. Last year, the Manresa Program took advantage of one such opportunity. It turned out to be one of our best programs of the year. Get ready, Manresa, because this September, we will participate in an outdoor garden cleanup in the beautiful and lush gardens at the Bartow-Pell Mansion while working alongside some of the inspiring individuals that make it possible. Put on your boots, long pants, and baseball caps, and get ready to make a difference!

Nicole Benevento, FCRH 2017
Manresa Program Student Intern, 2014-2015 and 2015-2016

Get to Know Next Year’s Staff: RA Francesca Russo

Hi everyone! I am Francesca Russo, a recently selected 2015-2016 RA for Loyola Hall. When I received myFrussoblog acceptance letter last month, I was beyond excited. The Manresa Program made my freshman year so special and memorable, and I can’t wait to be a part of it next year, too. I commute from Westchester County (specifically, Yonkers), which is about a fifteen-minute drive. Commuting can be tough sometimes, but the Manresa program helped me feel like an important part of a close community.

In the fall I took Dean Parmach’s course, “The Lost Interlocutor: Philosophy of Human Nature”. Our class was small- only about fifteen students- and we were all a part of Manresa. This was awesome because we got to know each other in a more significant and personal way. Dean Parmach incorporated cool campus (and Manresa) events into our curriculum. We went out to dinner at a Greek restaurant in Queens, saw a play about Plato’s Apology, and attended colloquium dinner-discussions with notable faculty. Only a few weeks into my freshman year, I already felt like I was challenging myself and learning more about who I am.

This semester, I’m taking the Manresa Spring Symposium. The Spring Symposium is a class that incorporates all the characteristics I loved about my first semester course, such as a sense of community, while adding a new, exciting dimension: social justice. A few times a month, we travel as a class to a local Catholic elementary school to tutor and mentor the younger students. This is special because not only do we study the important work of Jesuits, but we are also given the opportunity to follow their lead by serving others in the local Bronx community.

Next year, you all will have opportunities like these, and much more. I’m really excited to be an RA next year because I will help execute all the programs I loved so much. We have all kinds of events, from talent shows and a Christmas party, to manhunt around Halloween. There’s something going on almost every day, so it’s hard to be bored. I will definitely miss being a Manresa Scholar, but I am looking forward to making your freshman year just as memorable as mine was. I can’t wait to meet all of you in the fall!

Francesca Russo, FCRH 2018
Manresa Scholar and 2015-2016 Loyola Hall Resident Assistant

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