Lana Ho-Shing learned about Fordham as a 12-year-old student at the Jesuit Convent of Mercy Academy in Kingston, Jamaica. Ever since then, she has wanted to come to New York City’s Jesuit University.
“I was just completely taken with the school,” Ho-Shing said. “Whenever I met someone who had gone to Fordham, I would ask them endless questions.”
Ho-Shing’s fixation on Fordham stemmed from its location near members of her family and a childhood steeped in Catholicism and church life. Latin masses had a great draw for her, and she developed a deeply rooted love of the language. When the church began switching over to English, Ho-Shing had trouble adjusting to the change.
“I continued to pray in Latin in my head, even though the service was in English,” Ho-Shing said.
After finishing her studies at the all-girls Jesuit academy, Ho-Shing enrolled at the University of the West Indies and earned a nursing degree. At the age of 21, she immigrated to the United States, where she had spent many summers in and around New York.
She reunited with her family in the Bronx. The avid reader found the borough to be lacking in bookstores and in 1994 she opened Briscoe-Brown Books. She ran the business successfully for four years, at which time competition from a Barnes & Noble store forced her to sell.
“It was like a real-life You’ve Got Mail story,” Ho-Shing said.
In a major career change, Ho-Shing headed over to Wall Street and accepted a position at Morgan Stanley working in mutual funds. She stayed at the investment firm for 12 years, until she had an epiphany.
“I remember I was on my lunch break and one thought came to me: Why don’t you go do the thing you’ve always wanted to do?” Ho-Shing said. “Why don’t you go study philosophy at the school you have always dreamed of attending?”
Ho-Shing decided to challenge herself and submitted an online application to Fordham.
“I thought to myself, what’s the worst that could happen?” she said.
To her surprise, Ho-Shing received a reply the very next day from John Bach, assistant dean at the School for Professional and Continuing Studies (PCS), asking her to come down to the school for a meeting. When Ho-Shing heard about the program, she felt an immediate connection and decided to take the entrance exam—another challenge she wasn’t ready for.
“When the math section came along, I saw questions about pi and thought, ‘lemon meringue and apple,’” she joked.
But an early Jesuit education apparently paid off. She was accepted.
She began taking night classes and added day classes to the roster when she retired from Morgan Stanley in 2012. She is graduating with a double degree in theology and philosophy.
“I think everyone should return to college when they are older because you come back with more life experience,” she said. “Nothing daunted me because I understood stress and was able to bear it better.”
Ho-Shing’s family was not surprised to hear that she had decided to go back to school, as she was always playfully teased for being the nerd of the family.
“And now they’ll get to watch me walk at graduation. They are incredibly proud,” she said.
With a double major under her belt, the 68-year-old grandmother hopes to pursue Latin next. Her one wish is to someday earn a doctorate and assist a Latin professor at Fordham.
“This school will always be a part of me,” she said. “Fordham is my Elysium.”
— Angie Chen