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Connecting Across Generations: Five Questions with Jalen Glenn

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When Jalen Glenn, FCLC ’16, first considered applying to Fordham, he didn’t know what Jesuit meant.

“I knew I wanted to be in the city,” says the New Jersey native. “I grew up Baptist, so the whole Jesuit thing was new to me. But I always felt I should be a man ‘for and with others,’” he says, citing one of the central tenets of Jesuit education. “That helped me connect to it and opened my mind. Now I can view issues from a variety of perspectives.”

Glenn, who majored in communications with a concentration in film, is now using that skill in his role as a business development coordinator at a New York City law firm.

As a member of the Young Alumni Committee, he’s also helping people who graduated in the past 10 years stay connected to the University. “I’m passionate about keeping our young alumni base strong so that, when we get to Golden Ram status, we can look back on this journey and see that Fordham has remained in our lives,” he says. In his role on the group’s philanthropy subcommittee, he focuses on encouraging his fellow graduates to help the next generation of Rams by supporting scholarships and financial aid.

“Had it not been for the 9/11 Scholarship, I would not have received a Fordham education,” says Glenn, whose father, Harry, an assistant vice president at March & McLennan, was killed in the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center. “So I know the importance of scholarship—whatever it looks like, in any shape or form,” he told Fordham News in 2016. “That’s why giving back is such a big thing.”

Glenn also represents his fellow recent grads as the youngest member of the Fordham University Alumni Association Advisory Board, where he volunteers with the lifelong learning task force. “Fordham alumni are always trying to learn and enrich their minds,” Glenn says, “so we want to find better ways to engage them as they do that.”

“I think it’s incumbent upon me to give back in any way I can, whether it be time, resources, or enhancing the Fordham experience in some other way,” he says.

Which is why Glenn also joined Fordham’s new multicultural alumni affinity chapter, MOSAIC. “We want to be a resource for alumni and students in any way we can,” Glenn says of the budding group. “We want to build that community.”

On June 7, Glenn attended the Block Party at Lincoln Center, which this year featured a celebration of the first 50 years of Fordham College at Lincoln Center. Glenn particularly enjoys seeing people across generations and classes at the annual event. “Of course I love my class,” he says, “but it it’s always great seeing people who were seniors when I was a freshman, to catch up with lots of people and hear about what has changed.”

What are you most passionate about?
Continuing to learn, helping others learn and enhance themselves, striving for more, and never really settling—it’s that Fordham value of magis.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
That’s a tricky one. But I think it’s what Father McShane said in his speech at our graduation. He broke it down into three parts. Never forget where you came from; love them and thank them for supporting you. Never forget where you went to school; never forget the relationships you developed and all you learned. And matter; be somebody in the world who makes a difference and an impact. I’ve especially taken that last one to heart. I think that’s one of the reasons I stay connected to Fordham, because I want to matter to Fordham. I want to make an impact there and hopefully in the greater global community.

What’s your favorite place in New York City? In the world?
In the city it has to be the Central Park Reservoir. At the end of every semester at Fordham, I would take a walk to the reservoir and use it as an opportunity to reflect on the semester and all my accomplishments, and also to think about what I could improve on. It’s such an interesting place because of the contrast. It’s so quiet in the middle of Manhattan. I find that fascinating and quite calming also.

In the world, this is a little cheesy, but it would have to be Walt Disney World. My bucket list is to visit every Disney park in the world. Some of my favorite memories with my father were going to Disney World, and the last vacation we had was there. That’s also part of the reason I wanted to come to school in the city. He was from New York and obviously worked here, so that was a deeper connection to him.

Name a book that has had a lasting influence on you.
I have two. The first is a nonfiction book called Racecraft, which is by sisters Barbara and Karen Fields. It’s about racism in America, but the way they talk about it is so fascinating, and I had never really thought about it that way. Their main thesis is that most people believe that race comes first and racism follows, but they invert that and say that racism is an action that produces race. It’s a small change but it has tremendous repercussions. I share the book with anybody who will listen to me talk about it.

The second is The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything by Father James Martin. The way he takes Jesuit values and puts them in real-life situations … he has the answers. It really is the guide to almost everything. I still use a lot of the methods in the book in my day-to-day life, like decision-making, finding out what you’re passionate about.

Who is the Fordham grad or professor you admire most?
I have two again. The first is Professor Jennifer Clark, who was my adviser and teaches film. She taught the theoretical underpinnings of film in a way that was easy to understand, and she’s brilliant.

The second is Professor Tom McCourt, another communications professor. His Popular Music as Communication course opened my mind to looking at music in a scholarly way. I can’t even look at music the same way because of that class. He also advised me on a summer research project I received a grant for which compares gangster films from the 1930s to gangster rap from the 1980s. He always asked me to think a little bit harder and deeper about certain issues. And his closing lectures for his courses are so well done. If I could go to a closing lecture for any of his classes every semester, I would.

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