The event was billed as the Fall Gratitude Reception, and it honored the campus’ many Westchester partners—like Kevin Mahoney, PCS ’00, senior vice president for investments at Raymond James Financial.
Like so many nontraditional graduates from the School of Professional and Continuing Studies (PCS), Mahoney has a colorful backstory. He spent two years at Rose Hill on a football scholarship before dropping out.
“I was an immature kid, I was an athlete, I got hurt, I got mad, and I dropped out,” he said.
Even with just two years at Fordham, he said he ended up doing okay. He landed a job in the financial sector at Merrill Lynch. But his mother remained disappointed that he didn’t finish college.
“She grew up in the city and, to her mind, the best Irish Catholic kids went to Fordham,” he said.
On falling ill, she reminded him of his promise “to finish up at Fordham.” He did, and today he chairs the PCS Dean’s Advisory Board.
“I lived on campus, off campus, commuted,” he said. “I lived every experience Fordham had to offer. It was one of those things: I didn’t need it for my career, but I made a promise.”
Mahoney was one of 12 honorees. The Graduate School of Social Service (GSS) honored Kevin McGuire, commissioner of Westchester County Department of Social Service. In addition to his professional connection to the University, his wife, Joan McGuire graduated from PCS (as Joan Candela) in 1974 and from the Graduate School of Education in 1979. Fordham’s Walter Jaskiewicz, S.J. married the two. And when her family’s apartment caught fire in nearby Belmont, then-Fordham President Laurence McGinley, S.J., allowed the family to live on campus till they could find a new home.
“My connection to the University is more than just passing,” said McGuire. “It’s personal.”
On a professional level, McGuire said that Fordham’s Ravazzin Center has been integral to Westchester’s Building Futures program, which helps foster care teens and other teens avoid homelessness.
“Fordham was an essential partner who could do the research and validate the work we were doing,” said McGuire.
Honoree Patricia Langan, principal of the Patricia A. DiChiaro School in Yonkers, praised the “professionalism that Fordham’s Graduate School of Education brings into a building.”
“Fordham comes to our school and works with our teachers, they work with the children, provide workshops for our staff, they’ve helped build a professional learning community,” she said. “They … make our educators better.”
The benefits of Fordham Westchester seem to go well beyond the campus’s 32 acres, noted Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont. He credited the University with economic revitalization of the office park neighborhood.
“Fordham has been a catalyst for the entire strip of Westchester Avenue,” he said. “This was a ghost town. Office parks were fading, and Fordham had the insight to do this at a very early stage nearly 20 years ago.”
Belmont said the University got the ball rolling; now, a soon-to-open 400-unit apartment complex with restaurants and a major supermarket on its way.
“It’s all thanks to Fordham,” he said.
The reception was sponsored by Fordham Westchester, the GSS, the PCS, the Fordham University Alumni Association of Westchester, and the Fordham University Association.