At the annual 1841 Awards ceremony, Fordham employees with at least 20 years of service are honored with medals.
They are lauded in decorative citations for their exemplary work and dedication to the University. But it is personal anecdotes that are revealed at the ceremony that tell their real stories.
For instance, Jose Benitez of Accounts Payable visits his 94-year-old mother every day after work and stays with her until she falls asleep.
Frederica Roberts from the Office of the Controller is a cancer survivor known for her naturally sunny disposition. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Fordham while working full-time and raising a daughter, who is now a junior at the University, and a son.
Nickola Kinaj, better known as “Nicky Doughnuts,” began his career in Custodial Services as a young man who wore a baseball cap with a “long bang of curly hair flowing from it” and whose humor and easygoing personality are admired by colleagues.
The 28th annual ceremony was held on Dec. 15 at Duane Library on the Rose Hill campus. There, Fordham honored 15 employees with a collective 300 years of service. The event was followed by a reception that was full of laughs, tears of joy and buckets of pride. The festive gathering included family members, former 1841 Award recipients, coworkers and many children.
“This is what Fordham is all about,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the University. “Fordham is a community bound together by love and able to move forward precisely because it is bound by love. It is our great fortune to have you—the ministers the Lord has sent to us to give life to this community. You minister to us with enthusiasm, humor, great devotion and extraordinary professionalism, generosity beyond measure and with great love.
“On behalf of all here at Fordham, I thank you for all that you have done. I praise you for the life that you have given to the community and I beg you to stay at least 20 more years,” Father McShane said.
The 1841 Award was established in 1982 by former president James C. Finlay, S.J., in honor of the year Fordham was founded by Archbishop John Hughes.
Honored at this year’s 1841 Awards ceremony were:
- Maria Assaro Custodial Services
- Jose Benitez Controller’s Office
- Marlo Coates Graduate School of Business Administration
- Pamela Cook Law Library
- Georgia Edwards Custodial Services
- Mary Lou Elias Pena University Press
- Nickola Kinaj Custodial Services
- Ulises Negron Facilities Operations
- Lynette Osborne Graduate School of Social Service
- Maria Pignataro Controller’s Office
- Antonietta Pomilla Custodial Services
- Michael Raucci Facilities Operations
- Fredrica Roberts Controller’s Office
- Anna Romain Facilities Operations
- Michael Smith Facilities Operations