Fordham’s campuses returned to life on Opening Day last Sunday, when the University welcomed the Class of 2027 and their loved ones from around the U.S. and the world.
The students and their families arrived at the Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses, as early as 7:30 a.m., carrying keepsakes from home as well as new furnishings for their first year of college. As their cars pulled up to their residence halls, they were enthusiastically greeted by Fordham’s student welcome crew, who shouted the name and hometown of each new student while helping them move their belongings into their new home.
A Place to Find ‘The Purpose and Meaning That Will Bring Joy to Your Life’
In her welcome speech to the newest Rams, Tania Tetlow, president of Fordham, praised their entrepreneurial spirit. Among them is a student who created a national awareness campaign to urge teenagers to donate blood as soon as they are legally allowed. Another created a nonprofit to create and sell art that donates profits to mental health organizations. Yet another, from Alaska, designed an alert system to address the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous people.
At Fordham, all of them will work together to figure out a deeper goal—the purpose of their lives, she said.
“We want you to find not just your first job, not just your career, but your vocation—the purpose and meaning that will bring joy to your life, and the courage to follow that path,” said Tetlow. “There is nowhere better to do that than New York, a city that brings together the peoples from every corner of the world to make something amazing.”
Some first-year students are no strangers to the city, like Sylvia Sonenstein. “I’ve always loved New York City—both my parents work out of New York City—so I’ve been in and out since I was very little, and I’ve always dreamed of living here, so it’s kind of surreal moving into this great apartment building,” said Sonenstein, a Connecticut native and new sociology major at Fordham College at Lincoln Center, while standing in front of McKeon Hall.
Others have personal ties to the community around campus. “My grandfather grew up in the Bronx, so I’ve come here a bunch,” said Francesa Stella, a political science major in the honors program at Fordham College at Rose Hill. “I love being able to just see people living here … and the food and diverse cultures.”
Meanwhile, other families traveled farther from home. For many, the art and culture surrounding the Lincoln Center campus was enticing. “Broadway is my first love,” said Matthew Bloss-Baum, a journalism student from Virginia who might double major in music or theater. “But I also love the magic that New York City has. It’s so nice to have a campus that we can come home to at night, and also go around Manhattan and the Bronx and explore. Basically, we have the best of worlds.”
Stay Humble, Be Kind, and Enjoy the Experience
Another student, Samantha Go, chose Fordham for its reputation in business and its global opportunities. “I’m in the Gabelli honors program,” said Go, a global business major in the Gabelli School of Business at Lincoln Center, who is from Orlando, Florida. “I know for honors, there’s the two abroad trips, so I’m really excited for that.”
For other families, Opening Day was a special homecoming. In 1999, Inez Diaz graduated from Fordham College at Lincoln Center with her bachelor’s degree in economics. More than two decades later, her daughter Isabelle is joining the Ramily.
“It meant a lot to her,” said Isabelle, who will study theater at the Lincoln Center campus. “But I also feel like I have a sense of security because I know someone who went here and really liked it. … I have someone to back me up … give me advice … guide me through.”
As families prepared to say goodbye to their children, they offered some advice.
“It’s hard for us because we are so far … She’s our only child, so it’s very difficult. But Fordham—this is our third time here. Fordham is such a beautiful campus and it seems so secure,” said Tiffany Ragan, mother to Emerald, a political science student at Fordham College at Rose Hill from California. “I tell her to remember the way we raised her … as a good person. Be careful. Get good grades. We’re here whenever she needs us. Stay humble. Be kind. And just enjoy the experience.”
*Numbers and stats as of Aug. 28, 2023.
—Additional reporting by Kelly Prinz and Rebecca Rosen
—Photos by Bruce Gilbert, Taylor Ha, and Hector Martinez
—Video shot by Taylor Ha, Hector Martinez, and Rebecca Rosen and edited by Rebecca Rosen