Despite the many changes this year, some things remain constant: Nothing could keep Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, from his long-standing tradition of personally greeting students and families. And though their smiles may have been hidden behind their masks, New Student Orientation leaders cheered on the incoming class with all the enthusiasm of years past.
More than 2,000 first-year students joined the Fordham community this August, both on campus and remotely. Members of the Class of 2024 hail from 47 different states and more than 40 countries. They are a talented bunch academically, with a mean high school GPA of 3.64.
In an effort to make the transition back to campus as safe as possible, Fordham implemented new policies and installed a variety of new equipment. All members of the Fordham community will be tested upon their return to campus and again within two weeks. Daily check-ins via the Vital Check app are required to make sure members are in compliance with health guidelines. All those on campus are required to wear a face mask and follow appropriate social distancing measures. And students were asked to take the Ram Pledge to do their part to safeguard the community.
Throughout University campuses, hand sanitizer stations were installed, classroom seating was reduced, and new ventilation was installed to help maximize the use of outside air and reduce the amount of recirculated air. Enhanced cleaning procedures were put into place and new directional signs were added to encourage one-way traffic. In dining areas, protective barriers were installed and self-serve stations were eliminated.
Despite the unprecedented times, members of the Class of 2024 said they’re still excited to begin their college experience, even if it looks a little different than they’d imagined.
A New Media Artist
Araly Langomas never thought she would start college in a pandemic. But she’s very grateful to be on campus.
“I waited so long to get here,” said Langomas, a New Jersey native who now lives in Queen’s Court. “Fordham is doing a good job, and they’re definitely being very careful.”
Langomas is a new media and digital design student at Fordham College at Rose Hill. Her artwork has been featured in a statewide exhibition in New Jersey and sold on Redbubble.com. She also curates content about her life on her YouTube channel, including a tour of her new home at Fordham.
In the past week, Langomas has explored campus and visited the McGinley Center and the Rose Hill Gym with her orientation group. She has tried Cosi’s pesto chicken sandwiches—the “best thing” she’s eaten on campus so far—and she’s excited to become involved with the Office of Multicultural Affairs and join musical theater and art clubs. And she looks forward to exploring the city with her new friends, once it’s safe to do so.
“Right now, [being] here, I feel like a college student,” Langomas said.
A Motivated Bronxite
When Bronxite Syeda Rahman, a first-year student at Fordham College at Rose Hill, was deciding where to go to college, two things appealed to her about Fordham: the ability to stay close to home during the pandemic and the opportunity to mix liberal arts with her biological sciences major.
The pandemic forced Rahman to finish her senior year of high school virtually, and while it was tough at first, she said it helped prepare her for college, which she will also be starting fully remotely.
“It was difficult to make a smooth transition into quarantine life and online classes and to be consistently motivated,” she said. “I did not want to give up with the pandemic as an excuse for my experience falling short. I learned how to work in a virtual classroom setting, had a virtual graduation ceremony, … kept in touch with my friends online, and grew closer with my family. After all the remote experiences I have had so far, I feel a lot more confident starting college during this time than I was a couple of months ago.”
‘Gaga’ for Live Theater
When Trey Sullivan entered high school in Providence, Rhode Island, he set out to write a musical about issues facing his contemporaries, including poverty, divorce, and the difficulties of coming out. He wanted to complete the piece by the time he graduated and he wanted to tell the story using music by Lady Gaga. He accomplished both, including getting the rights to three dozen Gaga songs from her management in Los Angeles and, eventually, from Sony Publishing.
Though he remains passionate about theater—both plays and musicals—Sullivan plans to major in new media and digital design at Fordham College at Lincoln Center. Now, with the pandemic shuttering theaters, it would seem that Sullivan made a prescient decision, though he doesn’t see one as a substitute for the other.
“Even in the short time of quarantine, I did a lot of video editing [of performances]. My first impression is that even if you approach theater digitally, you’ll still want it to have that feeling of catharsis of when you witness live theater,” he said.
In a phone call, as he gazed out at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts from McKeon Hall, he said he’s confident he made the right choice.
“It’s only day three, and it’s not fully set in but I can see how amazing it’s gonna be,” he said.
Ready for Business
As Emma Burke was getting ready to leave Danville, California, for the Gabelli School of Business at Rose Hill, she said her friends were getting news that nearby universities were shifting to online-only instruction. But she was determined to make it to campus.
“I’ve been looking forward to college for so long and worked so hard for this—and lucky that my family could financially do this, not everyone can. I just feel lucky to be here,” said Burke, who will concentrate in marketing.
“I was always interested in business and all the opportunities—how marketing can make or break a business. And it comes naturally to me,” she said.
After a two-week quarantine, Burke said she went to orientation and felt more comfortable than she was expecting to.
“I’m kind of impressed at how many people are out and keeping their distance. But it’s not just people sitting around, they’re making use of the opportunity to go outside. We don’t want to mess it up; we want to stay as long we can.”
A TikTok Star from Argentina
Margarita Fernandez Pereira will be taking her first Fordham classes from more than five thousand miles away.
Pereira is a first-year Fordham College at Lincoln Center student who will study remotely this semester from her home in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Pereira and her family decided it would be best for her to remain home during the pandemic. After some initial disappointment, she’s making the most of her first semester.
Through online orientations and meetings, Pereira has made friends with people from around the world. In one Zoom meeting, she met a first-year student from Brazil who had attended the same Global Young Leaders Conference in New York City as she did last summer. In another meeting, she bonded with students about TikTok, where she has nearly 80,000 followers. And she connected with peers over this summer’s shared read, The Colossus of New York.
“[After our first Zoom call], I told my mom, ‘I think this has been the best Zoom call I’ve ever had,’” said Pereira, who plans to focus on international studies. “We all talked about our own personal experience with New York, race, and identity. It was such a beautiful discussion.”
Charlie McAtee arrived in Manhattan from Punta Gorda, Florida, on Aug. 14 and spent two weeks in quarantine with his older sister, Morgan, in her apartment on West 85th Street. It was Morgan’s Fordham experience—she’s a junior now—that inspired Charlie to enroll at Fordham College at Lincoln Center. After two weeks sequestered in an apartment, he’s enjoying views of the Time Warner Center from his room in McKeon Hall and spending time in Central Park.
“When we first came to the University, we didn’t even know if we were on campus when we actually were, because the University blends in so well with the city. Fordham likes to integrate you in the city and make sure you understand that you are now part of it. You come to understand that real life is all around you,” he said.
McAtee said memories of his parents recounting old movies got him interested in screenwriting before he even knew how to write. His interest in that specific skill waned, but his desire for a career in television and film did not, and he’s hoping a major in New Media and Digital Design will help him get there.