Who She Is
Assistant Director of Admissions for the Graduate School of Social Service (GSS) and the Fordham Veterans Entry Advisor.
What She Does
Treantafeles supports and assists the admission of students for the GSS, and also helps assist veterans who are interested in attending the University. “Instead of having all veterans go through separate doors at Fordham, it was decided that they would have someone there to greet them when they had questions or an interest in coming to Fordham, sort of like a concierge. So, my job is to send them to the right contacts in each department. Sometimes I get people that call and just want to have a chat. I once had a guy talk to me about the best pastries in Germany and how much he didn’t like the tea in Afghanistan. Another called and talked about dogs. But for the most part, people are focused, and sometimes nervous and anxious because they are looking at this university as a big deal, which of course it is. I always want them to feel more relaxed.”
Where She Is From
Hailing from San Diego, Treantafeles was the 8th child in her family.“I grew up with a great life, a lot of outdoor time, a big family, and lots of animals. I had horses growing up that I loved; often when I’m walking through the city I think, ‘I’m so lucky: I get to see,or at least smell, horses every day!’”
A Journey at Fordham
Starting at the University in December of 2005, Treantafeles worked as a secretary and eventually enrolled at the GSS. While earning her master’s in social work, Treantafeles had a palliative care internship with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
“I was really excited about working with veterans. Older men told me about their lives and families; one man had dementia but still talked in detail about his first love, who he met in Italy during World War II. I got to read one veteran a letter from his sister as he was dying; it was incredible and really a privilege.”
Developing a Personal Connection
“It made me do a lot of looking back at how much the military has been a part of my family, reaching back to the Revolutionary War, and up to and including my parents’ meeting. My dad was an officer on a destroyer in the South Pacific and my mom’s cousin was on that ship. My father hand-carried a letter home [for him]to San Diego to Capt. Ferguson, my maternal grandfather. When my parents met, it was love at first sight. I realized how much military service has informed a lot of my life.”
Importance of Social Work
“People think that social work is a soft science. But social workers have to present a neutral, empathic presence and an unconditional, positive regard with their clients, constantly taking in everything they are seeing and hearing, all the while being analytical and using evidence-based practices with their clients. It’s quite a skillset.”
Raised as an Episcopalian,Treantafeles chose to be Muslim for 10 years before returning to her native religion. “Even though I converted to Islam and was really happy with it and had wonderful women friends from all over the world, I always felt there was a connection to my family church. I knew that if anything ever went really wrong I could always go back there and they would open their doors and arms. It’s an interesting time to live in now because I know Islam from such a different experience.”
“My daughter Fatima passed away last year from cancer. My spirituality, faith, and community helped me. My Fordham family has really been there for me.”
Treantafeles enjoys reading, knitting, and attending an opera whenever she can. She would love to attend an opera in Bayreuth or Covent Garden one day.