New York Was Her Campus
Daniella Mignogni, FCLC’ 22, a natural science major, arrived at Commencement with her mother Rosa, her father Sam, her brother, and an aunt and uncle who traveled from Houston for the occasion. For her first two years, she commuted from her home in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, and although the pandemic kept her from moving into McMahon Hall last year, she was able to live on campus this year. She’s currently working as a dental assistant and is applying to dental school.
“I know it’s so cliché when they say ‘Fordham is my school, New York is my campus,’ but it’s true. I was able to go off campus all the time—going to restaurants, and just exploring the city in general. It was really fun, and I still had all my friends from Fordham.”
Her mother admitted she was emotional and happy.
“It’s been great. She absolutely loves it. She chose the right school for her. Some of the classes were difficult. She stressed, but she always excelled,” she said.
‘I Am My Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams’
Being a resident assistant helped bring together friends Ayana Bitter and Che Puentas, both 2022 graduates of Fordham College at Rose Hill.
“I was an RA for three years, and I got to build a community everywhere I was placed,” said Bitter, who’s from the Bronx. “I’ve been placed in freshman buildings so having the ability to help freshmen transition from high school to college has been a big part of my Fordham experience.”
Puentas, who’s from Brooklyn, said that he was only able to be an RA for a year since he transferred in, but it still helped him find his community.
“Being an RA, it’s helped me not only get to make friends within the RA staff and community, but it’s helped me get to know people throughout class years as well,” he said.
Bitter, a sociology major and African and African American studies minor on the pre-law track, will be attending Howard University’s School of Law in the fall. She said she wants to put her Fordham degree to work there.
“I was interested in sociology, learning about people and different groups of people. Being from a marginalized community, it was very important to me to know about aspects of life and how this affects our community and how we can work together, change structures and institutions,” she said. “Sociology does all of that.”
Bitter said that getting to this day is not only special after the last four years, but also because of how much it means to her and her family. She decorated her graduation cap with the phrase “I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.”
“This once wasn’t even a reality for people like us, people of color, and just having the opportunity to be all together with the community, your family’s here it’s just a big achievement,” she said.
A Postgradaute Fellowship in D.C.
For Ned O’Hanlan, GSS ’22, a native of New Canaan who carried the banner for the school at Commencement and served as the school’s Beadle, Commencement marked the first time he’d set foot on the Rose Hill campus.
He did his field work placement in Brooklyn at MJHS Health System and East New York Family Academy, and after graduation, he’s doing a postgraduate fellowship at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C.
“I felt a part of Fordham before, but after two years, it’s interesting to see everything in person. It’s more exciting, and I feel like it’s a great cap to everything,” he said.
O’Hanlan said that while he had an untraditional experience, taking many classes virtually, the faculty and curriculum made it worth it.
“Any sort of feelings that I felt earlier on when I was a little bit confused about how it would go with Zoom courses, that’s all been appeased,” he said.
Focusing on ‘Business for Good’
For Laira Bhurji, a 2022 graduate from the Gabelli School of Business at Rose Hill, attending Fordham not only helped her earn a bachelor’s degree in applied accounting and finance, but also figure out her own identity and community.
“I think a big part of the last four years was figuring out my identity within my college and my community,” she said. “I’m originally from California, so I moved across the country. I did everything by myself, like moving in. It was a solemn experience, but I learned a lot. My parents are immigrants who came here from India. They basically came here with nothing and worked really hard for me to attend a private university. As I reflect, I’m really thankful for all the opportunities I had.”
Bhujri will be going on to work as a risk business controls associate at accounting firm PwC after graduation.
“I’m really into social innovation, entrepreneurship, and business for good,” she said. “I want to change businesses from within, instead of just making new ones. I chose Fordham because of its social innovation programs and proximity towards big businesses I want to work for, like big banks.”
Bhujri said that she plans to use her Fordham lessons in her new role.
“I think my peers and I have a really good head on us, and we think not just about money, but also stepping into the world and figuring out how to impact people on a greater level,” she said.
And she and her family aren’t quite finished with Fordham just yet—her younger brother is following in her footsteps and starting at the Gabelli School of Business this fall.
A Spiritual Director Working with Disaffiliated Children and Their Families
Don Kremer, GRE ’22, a spiritual director from Arkansas, said he was called to pursue his doctor of ministry degree at Fordham.
“I had kind of a spiritual experience in that I heard God telling me to do this. I’m a spiritual director, and I’m a teacher too, so the reason I chose this is that I just liked the social justice orientation,” he said. “I just liked the philosophy of the Jesuits and Fordham.”
During his program at Fordham, Kremer wrote and defended his thesis on the impact of the disaffliation of children on the parents, and plans to put what he learned into practice.
“I hope to take back some sort of ministry for parents of children who have left the church,” he said.
Learning to Be Adept at Adapting
Erica Messina, FCLC ’19 and now GSAS ’22, who got her master’s in English, aid that she appreciated how her Fordham professors and classmates dealt with all the challenges of the last few years.
“What I was most impressed with was that my classes worked both online and in person,” she said. “Students and faculty were all very adaptive. I think my Master’s Capstone was my most rewarding class, being in a classroom physically and talking about how we could improve our work, being supportive of (each other’s) work.”
Messina, who hopes to work in publishing, said that she was “grateful to my family for being supportive of me and putting up with me stacking books all over the house.”
Bringing Cura Personalis to Goldman Sachs
Angel Alcantara, originally from Queens, New York, graduated from the Gabelli School of Business at Lincoln Center with a bachelor’s degree in global business with a concentration in global finance and business economics.
Alcantara said one of the things he appreciated about his education at Fordham is that it gave him a wider perspective on how to be successful in business beyond just the profits.
“Cura personalis is embedded within every teaching, including finance classes,” he said. “It’s not always cutthroat. It’s more of thinking of the greater good.”
This July, he will begin working as a full-time investment banking analyst at Goldman Sachs, and wants to bring some of those lessons with him.
“At the heart of the field is the idea of trying to help companies achieve their end goals. Usually there’s a stigma when it comes to finance that it’s sort of culling the excess employees and stuff like that, but I think it’s more of giving a company opportunities to grow, and that also means giving employees and people the opportunity to extend their living,” he said.
Staying at Fordham for a Social Work Master’s
Meg Cardi, a 2022 graduate of Fordham College at Rose Hill, said she decided to transfer into Fordham for its social work program, location in New York City, and the community. Cardi, a double major in social work and anthropology, said one of her favorite experiences was participating on the Graduate School of Social Work’s strategic advisory commmittee.
“I was the bachelor’s student representative,” she said. “That was really cool—being able to speak up on what the students are wanting and getting involved in behind the scenes stuff like course schedules.”
Cardi decided to continue her Fordham education at GSS, in the hopes of “advocating for children with chronic illness and disabilities.” That made her graduation feel more like a next step.
“It feels really rewarding—it was a very crazy four years I think especially for this class, getting here and then leaving and then being able to come back, it’s just really exciting,” she said. “I’m staying with Fordham for my master’s degree, so it also feels like I’m not fully done yet, but it’s definitely really exciting and rewarding.”
Completing a Religious Ed Degree Online
Kelly Henderschedt, GRE ’22, decided to pursue her master of arts in religious education, with a concentration in youth ministry, after learning that she would be able to do it all online.
“Since I work in Hartford, I wasn’t able to get to campus, so I’ve been able to take all these great classes but do it remotely,” she said. “I just was impressed with the academic rigor of the program, and … just the great reputation Fordham has.”
Henderschedt, who works for the Archdiocese of Hartford, said she’s going to use her degree to help support the youth ministers and the faith formation leaders there, and hopefully use her own story to inspire them.
“At 53, I didn’t know if I could do it, but I just felt like it would really inform the way I work with the people in Hartford. I just thought, ‘I can do this!’” she said.
A Real Estate Master’s Grad from Colombia
Carlos Mena, PCS ’22, moved to Astoria, Queens, from Colombia more than three years ago.
“I’m happy to be here at Fordham,” he said. “I came as an international student, and the faculty, staff, and the professors—and the whole environment—gave me the opportunity to stay here, and I’ve enjoyed it.”
Mena got his master’s in real estate this year, after already earning degrees in finance, engineering, and public administration in his home country. His goal is to find a job on the development side that connects all of his interests.
“I would like to connect the engineering, the finance, and international view of the [real estate]business,” he said.
Additional reporting by Patrick Verel, Sierra McCleary-Harris, Taylor Ha, and Adam Kaufman.