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Unique Learning Community Revived by In-Person Gatherings

It has gone way beyond Zoom fatigue for most students. Indeed, for many in the Class of 2025, their last years of high school were held online. And while most students were more than ready to come back in person, for students in the Manresa Program, the integrated learning community based out of Rose Hill’s Loyola Hall, they joined the program for its heightened in-person programming.

“You are with one another more than just about any other first-year students,” Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, told the students at a dinner held on Feb. 16.

Father McShane speaks at the “Love and the Fordham Family” event.

“You spend time with another one another, you go to Mass with one another, you go to seminars in the building, you study downstairs in the old chapel. We believe that you came here [to Manresa]to have as full and rich college experience as you could have.”

Father McShane applauded them for having maintained a sense of community through the pandemic, but he added that ultimately there’s no replacement for the on-campus, in-person experience.

Dean Robert Parmach welcomes students to the dinner.

“One of the things we learned over the course of the past two years, as the world has been turned upside down, is that students want to be on campus, they want the in-class experience, this rich exchange between students and faculty members that you can’t have on Zoom,” he said.

This is particularly true, he noted, for students in the Manresa Program who live, take classes, and study in the same building, just a stone’s throw from their classes at the Gabelli School of Business and Fordham College at Rose Hill.

In addition, the Manresa Program fosters community through events like the dinner with Father McShane, which was held in the Great Hall in the new campus center. Throughout the semester, Manresa students are invited to dozens of other programs intended to fulfill academic requirements tied to four Ignatian tenants, including: learning, sharing, serving, reflecting, said Robert Parmach, Ph.D., first-year dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill and the faculty director of the Manresa Scholars Program.

The program, which is now in its 14th year, features about 30 or 40 programs and events to choose from each semester. Titles include: “Let’s Talk About Public Speaking,” for learning; “Murray-Weigel Hall: Conversations with Jesuits,” for reflection; “and Bronx Fire Relief,” for serving. The February 16 gathering, “Love and the Fordham Family: An Evening with Father McShane,” explored sharing.

The Manresa team

For Ben Medeiros, a senior at Fordham College at Rose Hill and the programming and marketing fellow for Manresa, the first-year experience has carried throughout his time at Fordham.

“I love the community we built and the work we do on and especially off-campus,” said Medeiros, who is on the fast-track program with the Graduate School of Education to pursue a master’s degree, with the ultimate goal of earning an Ed.D.

Father McShane and Ben Medeiros

First-year Fordham College at Rose Hill student Tyler Norrie agreed. Having grown up in the military, Norrie said that he comes from a family oriented toward service. He said he appreciated how the Manresa approach is to listen to what the community needs and partner with local community organizations.

“It’s not like we wanted to feel good about ourselves because we were cleaning a park, it was about responding to the need. And then there’s the educational aspect of learning from a member of the community,” he said.

It’s the sort of compassionate exchange he said he found unique to the program, with professors and staff working together toward his full development.

“The transition to college is difficult, so it was helpful that there were a lot of programs dedicated to spiritual and emotional success,” he said.

“When we met our academic advisor, the first question wasn’t about academics. It was, ‘How are you feeling? Have you adjusted well? Did you get into a new routine yet?’”



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