Some 300 guests attended the annual event, which offers a chance for students to meet those who helped support their college education. The event also celebrated Faith & Hope | The Campaign for Financial Aid, a financial aid fundraising campaign which was announced in March, and which has raised more than $100 million toward its $175 million goal.
The students talked about the moment they heard they’d received their scholarships, which was also, for many of them, the moment when they knew they could attend Fordham.
“It was literally the final couple of thousand dollars that would be the make-or-break thing, so when I opened the envelope, I said, ‘Yes! Thank God!’ Because Fordham was my first choice,” said Sereen Kurzum, a Fordham College at Rose Hill freshman and recipient of the Dolf Leitner and Mildred Schalk Leitner Endowed Scholarship.
“It was such a sense of joy and relief, a moment when I knew my hard work had paid off,” said Janae Rene, a Gabelli School of Business senior and recipient of the Richard J. Fay Memorial Endowed Scholarship.
South Bronx native Ariel Corozo-Morales, a Rose Hill sophomore and recipient of the Albert and Jean Salvatico Endowed Scholarship, said that he grew up knowing about Fordham and it was his top choice, but “the biggest obstacle was affording it.” He and his mother were “relieved and excited” when he got his scholarship.
He said that many of his friends attending Fordham also got scholarships, which he said helps foster diversity on campus.
Addressing the gathering, Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, said that Fordham was founded by Archbishop John Hughes to “pass on the faith and break the cycle of poverty” in the Irish immigrant community. He said that no matter which wave of immigrants that alumni and students were part of—whether from early waves of Irish or Italians or from recent waves of Eastern Europeans and Africans—Fordham has “always been a school that has a soft spot in its heart for immigrants.”
Student speaker Caroline Koenig, a Gabelli School junior, received the Peter and Carol Howe Endowed Scholarship. Koenig said her family sold their home and left their bakery in France, so that she could have better opportunities in the United States. The family opened a new bakery in Fairfield, Connecticut.
She said she began her college in arts and sciences, but her mother told her, “T’as le commerce dans le sang,” “You have business in your blood.” She said when she decided to come to the Gabelli School, she began to look for ways to save money, such as living off campus or even commuting from Fairfield. Her scholarship has allowed her to fully immerse herself in campus life and to participate in all the activities and networking opportunities offered by the school.
“I am forever grateful to everyone in this room who helps us realize our own American dreams,” she said.
Some alumni donors made a strong distinction between the new campaign, Faith & Hope | The Campaign for Financial Aid, and monies raised for brick-and-mortar projects.
“In bricks and mortar you’re trying to make sure the facilities that the University provides for the students are the best that they can be,” said John Costantino, GABELLI ’67, LAW ’70. “But that’s different from financial aid, because in financial aid there’s a face behind it. And there’s a tremendous amount of charm to giving when you can actually see that you’ve helped somebody.”
While supporting buildings is important, said William Toppeta, FCRH ’70, he sees himself as supporting on the “people end.”
“We believe in the future and the future is shaped by the students who are able to come,” he said. “And we want to make sure they have the ability to come.”
Darlene Luccio Jordan, FCRH ’89, a Fordham trustee, campaign co-chair, and a benefactor of the Darlene Luccio Jordan, Esq., and Gerald R. Jordan Jr. Endowed Scholarship, drove home the critical importance of supporting students.
“All schools need buildings that contain classrooms and labs; fields, pools, gyms for the sports teams; and libraries to house books and research materials,” said Jordan. “But without the students, none of those things matter … The value is in the students who will use all the resources that Fordham has to offer, and leave their mark not only on Fordham but on the world.”