This fall, Fordham College at Lincoln Center grad Janine (Repka) Guzzone will be among dozens of alumni paired with students through the Fordham Mentoring Program, now in its 20th year.It’s early September. A new academic year is underway. And so far, about 150 Fordham alumni are ready to be matched with a group of undergraduate mentees. For the past four years, Janine (Repka) Guzzone, FCLC ’10, has been one of them—participating in the Fordham Mentoring Program as a way to stay connected to the university that helped her find her way.
As a mentor, Guzzone, who majored in communication and media studies and minored in theater, has been paired with students interested in similar fields. This year’s application deadline is September 28, and in early October, the program team will pair undergraduates with alumni for one-on-one mentorship throughout the academic year.
“It’s been really awesome to give back, especially since I found my career path through my courses and my major at Fordham,” said Guzzone, now a senior development manager at the New York City-based Crime Victims Treatment Center. “I really enjoy being a part of that and … getting to work with students who are interested in either communications or maybe specifically nonprofit” organizations.
Alumni and students agree to a 24-hour time commitment, which includes events, surveys, and goal setting, in addition to their one-on-one interactions. The program is part of the Fordham Mentorship Network, which also provides alumni with opportunities to share advice with current students through a “flash mentoring” tool.
Last academic year, the network facilitated more than 1,300 alumni–student mentoring connections—something that may have helped Fordham earn a spot on Town & Country magazine’s list of colleges with the “best alumni networks.”
All NYC Has to Offer
Guzzone, who said she has been interested in theater, dance, and performing for as long as she can remember, didn’t think twice about applying to Fordham when an admissions counselor visited her high school in Washington Township, New Jersey. (In fact, she said, her mother had to force her to apply to any other schools just in case she didn’t earn admission to Fordham.)
“Being able to be in the neighborhood that Lincoln Center is in, to be so close to all of the theater and dance and … [to]have the opportunity to continue doing some shows as a student was just really, really attractive to me,” she said.Guzzone joked that although the Lincoln Center campus didn’t necessarily resemble what you’d see in “a movie about college”—unlike Fordham’s Rose Hill campus, which has played that role numerous times—her experience at the University’s Manhattan campus really embodied a sentiment familiar to almost every member of the Fordham community.
“I remember during our time, they would always say, ‘New York is my campus. Fordham is my school,’ and I think that was really apparent,” she said. Things like exploring the Upper West Side, catching a baseball game, or stopping by a farmers market “and really immersing ourselves in everything that the school was offering through the city was really awesome.”
Though the University has changed in many ways since she graduated, Guzzone said that serving as a mentor allows her to stay connected and abreast of what’s happening on campus.
“A lot of the professors that I had are not there anymore. … There are new buildings that didn’t exist, but it seems like, at the same time, the core Fordham values are very much still apparent, and the experiences are still pretty similar, which is cool.”
Remembering Casey Feldman
During her first year at Fordham, Guzzone met Kelsey Butler, Christina Halligan Asaro, Callie Fisher Hall, and Casey Feldman. The women lived together through their junior year, 2009, when Feldman was tragically killed in a car accident by a distracted driver. Guzzone said she and her roommates helped plan a memorial for Feldman at the time.
Today, Guzzone serves as a board member of the Casey Feldman Foundation, which Feldman’s parents established shortly after she died. “It’s really a gift, I think, that her parents have allowed us to continue to be involved and to really help her memory be carried on,” she said.
What are you most passionate about?
I’m passionate about connection—whether it’s through mentorship or hosting a big dinner party for friends and family. Having the opportunity to connect with so many different people is the best part of working in fundraising, too, in my opinion. Meeting with donors, hearing why they’re passionate about our work [at the Crime Victims Treatment Center], collaborating with funders, building relationships: It all boils down to connecting with people on a personal level, and I love it!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Always be kind. You never know what someone else is going through, and a smile or nice gesture can go a long way.
What’s your favorite place in New York City? In the world?
It may be cliché, but my favorite place in New York City is Central Park. I have so many amazing memories from my Fordham years—picnicking in Sheep Meadow, waiting in line for free Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte, trying (and failing!) to ride my bike—and I still love to visit the park today with my dog or go for a run.
I’ll also always be a Jersey girl at heart, and nothing beats a beautiful summer day on the Jersey shore.
Name a book that has had a lasting influence on you.
I love to read, so it’s so hard to pick just one! Anything by Nora Ephron will always be top of the list. She’s such an iconic author and feminist and is a quintessential read. My guilty pleasure is also any mystery or thriller stories—I’ve been known to stay up way too late trying to find out the ending!
Who is the Fordham grad or professor you admire most?
Brian Rose! He introduced me to the world of communications when I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to major in, and he really helped me set the course for what would become my career.
I still use lessons from the internship seminar he taught in my work today—and definitely pass his advice on to my mentees.