Faces of Fordham
By: Madeline Johnson and Victoria Munoz
Photography by Jess Mingrino and Sabrina Thadani
They sit in front of you in your 8:30 am class. They yawn next to you on the 7:56 am Metro-North. You cheer them on from the stands. You may have been quietly stalking them on Instagram for the past couple of months.
Since The Rival’s inception, our goal has been to give Fordham students the lowdown on people, places, and events they should be aware of. After sitting down and talking with some of Fordham’s finest leaders and innovators, we can confirm that these students should be on your radar. By shining a light on peers that inspire us, we’re reminded that at Fordham, there’s more to many of us than meets the eye.
Without fail, when asked what they love the most about Fordham, almost every person we interviewed responded with “the people.” What makes Fordham’s community strong isn’t the rigor of academia, the networking opportunities, or even the perfectly manicured landscaping. It’s simple. It’s the people.
These are The Faces of Fordham. We’re humbled, we’re honored, and frankly, we’re obsessed with you.
GSB ‘18, Finance
Walter Burnett is the President of ASILI - The Black Student Alliance at Fordham. He describes the groups brand as, “Unity and family. It’s a space for people to feel connected to their community in an area [Fordham] that doesn’t necessarily foster strong community building. It’s somewhere for people to be comfortable, to just be yourself and be happy.” Burnett works to foster an environment that emphasizes open communication and facilitating discussions, “On race relations, political issues, and about all things that affect us as people."
Having parents who have both been elected to public office, including his father being a current Alderman in Chicago, political interest and care for community have always been a part of Burnett's life. Of his father and family, he explained, “He’s someone I admire a lot because he cares so much about his community, and everything he does is to help further them on and do better. And that’s something I try to embody in myself, to live up to their standards and what they’ve done. Big shoes to fill.”
In order to help build the community, he advises underclassmen to get engaged. “I feel like I’ve always cared about community, but it was about finding those lanes in which I could help out the best. And that’s my advice to freshman; try things out, find those lanes.”
Kylie Lauren Frink
FCRH ‘19, International Political Economy, Humanitarian Studies and Marketing Minor
Kylie Lauren Frink has been signed with Wilhelmina Models for a year, and is also signed abroad in Germany. Of balancing a flourishing career with her academia, she explained that, “I never want to sugar coat it and make it look like it’s easier than it really is; it’s a lot of taking the Metro-North every damn day, not sleeping fully at night, and it’s a lot of just going.”
Frink’s latest creative venture has been the launch of SOUL, an online publication which she and her co-creator Isiah S. Magsino launched in September. SOUL’s highly anticipated relaunch this past April featured a beautiful up and coming transgender model on the cover. Of that choice, Frink said, “We want to show what’s truly a reflection of society, and we should get to do that in an art form.”
Frink was motivated to create SOUL after she was dropped from her agency during her freshman year. She explained, “I was done with people controlling what I was going to be doing...It woke something way up in me, that I’m going to push ten times harder, I’m going to be that much better, and I’m not going to let people beat me out anywhere. I’m going to do it, and that’s it. Sometimes you have to be knocked down really hard to do that.”
How can one emulate Frink’s success? “It’s about finding the motivation. That’s what can be a setback for a lot of people. I know a lot of people who have different aspirations, but just don’t have the drive to actually do it. And that’s the differentiating point between people who do it, and people who say they’re going to do it...If you have a dream, do not quit until it’s not possible. And even then, still don’t quit.”
FCRH ‘18, Engineering Physics, Concentration in Mechanical Engineering
Football player. Student-Coach. President for RHA Off-Campus Housing. Member of the Robotics Club. Automotive Engineering Club. Fordham Leadership Academy. Fordham Gents Initiative. UNICEF. There isn’t a corner of Fordham’s campus that Tony Fox hasn’t explored.
After being injured the summer before junior year, Fox took on student coaching. He explained, “I realized I couldn’t just sit and be sad. It is what it is. Millions of people get hurt every year...I just basically switched out football for 3 or 4 other clubs, and my time is just as busy.” Back home, Fox is also on the board of a non-profit organization, “Beats for Cleats”, which meshes culture with music and athletics in an effort to provide inner-city youth with the equipment and resources for varying sports.
For those trepidatious about trying new things, he advises, “Take a step outside of your bubble. We all come from different backgrounds; just try and place yourself in someone else’s perspective. I’m a big risk taker...I’m very bold. I’m willing to stick my neck out, and if my head gets chopped off, then oh well. I’m still here.”
FCRH ‘18, Philosophy and Environmental Studies, Concentration in Agriculture, Food Security, and Food Justice
For Arielle Brender, sustainability isn’t just a word; it’s a lifestyle. “For me, sustainability means looking at the function of natural systems, and designing our systems around those systems, so that our presence on earth is not just slowly extractivist, but actually regenerative.”
Brender acts as the Site Manager & Permaculture Director at St. Rose’s Garden, the President of Students for Environmental Awareness and Justice (SEAJ), and Chairperson of the Sustainability Committee on USG. The Committee works with the administration to pass sustainable policies, which SEAJ then reinforces by building a culture around environmental compassion and awareness of environmental issues. They’ve successfully banned the use of petroleum based plastic bags on campus, installed Fordham Flea as its own entity, and created the eco-reps program within RHA. “We as young people are idealistic, and we are idealistic in a pragmatic way. So we’re not going to back down when someone tells us that we can’t achieve something, we’re just going to find a new way to get it done.”
“Given that we live in a concrete jungle, it’s near impossible to achieve holistic and authentic full sustainability. But it’s very much possible for students to integrate compassion for the earth into their lives.”
FCRH ‘20, International Political Economy and English
Rosie McCormack is only a sophomore, but has already fully engaged herself with the Fordham community. She’s a member of the Fordham Social Innovation Collaboratory, the Dorothy Day Center for Service & Justice, a board member of Humanitarian Student Union, and acts as an Urban Plunge leader. McCormack is also a Marketing Intern for the Fordham University Press, and an assistant within the President’s Office.
Of her strong communication skills and positive outlook, she explained, “I love to talk! I love connecting with people that way. My twin brother has autism with severe social language impairment, so I grew up working with him. When I moved away, I started to think so much more about how seeing from different perspectives and explaining that to people, and having that mentorship role, really shaped me. Storytelling, social justice, it all goes into that.”
Our Story is a natural fit for McCormack, as she says, “It’s a cool place for people to be authentic at Fordham. As much as people know each other, you’re not like, ‘Hey I want to talk about how I felt really isolated last semester’ or some deep experience you had, so this is a cool place to come together and do that.” Of the Humanitarian Student Union, she’s firm in her belief that, “There needs to be a place to talk about humanitarian issues both in the Bronx community and internationally on campus.”
“We all have times on campus where you’re like ‘I don’t want to say hi to them, they don’t remember me’, but I’ve tried to think, no one will ever judge you for being too nice. If anything, they’ll be like, ‘That was kind of weird. But nice!’ If that’s the tagline for me, ‘weird but nice’, then that’s fine.”
FCRH ‘18, Environmental Studies
Reyna Wang channels her passion for environmental justice into the non-profit organization The Bronx is Blooming. She stands in agreement with their mission to, “Promote youth leadership, especially in young people from the Bronx being stewards and defenders of their environments.”
Discussing frustrations with the administration and Fordham community over issues such as the lack of support for Adjunct professors, Wang described her time at Fordham as a “Blessing and a curse...I’m almost grateful because it’s not an echo chamber here, and there definitely are a diversity of voices in the real world. So I’ve learned a lot about how to get people on board with your movement, and how to deal with bureaucracy.”
Wang raises environmental and political concerns in her band OCTOGON; “A lot of the energy we have is passion or anger about these issues.” They’ve had numerous shows, including one in which they worked with Hydro Punk, a Bronx based collective that builds community through music and the arts, to have bands from the Bronx play alongside Fordham student bands. “It’s cool to see Fordham kids and kids from the Bronx at the same party, having a great time.”
GSB ‘18, Finance and Marketing with a Communications Minor
Following the devastation in Houston this past fall, Devin McEnroe took the initiative to get involved. The Fordham Hurricane Relief Fund made significant contributions to Houston and Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. At the groups’ inception, McEnroe and his friend Greg Wagner were discussing how they wanted to get involved and help alleviate the suffering of those affected. That passion and determination has been fueled into an organized group that is intent on making a difference.
McEnroe is also involved in an Autism Siblings Alliance Group on campus, a space in which he and other students meet in order to openly and actively discuss their experiences. “Autism alone, there’s such little research on it, and how it affects the lives of those who grow up around it. It’s a part of my life that I don’t necessarily share with people...Coming here I realized how little I talked about it, which is what made that group really fun and why I enjoyed it so much.”
“A big part of why I enjoyed it [The Hurricane Relief group] so much is it was going back to giving back to your community, your country...We’re so lucky, we have all of these gifts, so you have to do what you can to give back to the people that aren’t as fortunate. It’s a big part of how I was raised, and I’m happy that I was able to do that here at Fordham as well.”
FCRH ‘21 Film and Television
Possibly Fordham University’s most popular freshman, (with good reason), Jeffrey Pelayo exudes confidence through dance and fashion. On both of these passions, Pelayo explained, “They bring inspiration, confidence, and leave an impact on others in unnoticed ways."
Although the Fordham Flava dancer is now known for being self-assured and positive, he says it hasn’t always been that way. “Growing up, I had a lot of people telling me ‘you can’t do this’ and ‘you can’t be that’, because my interests were associated with femininity,” Pelayo says, “But now I reflect on how I can do anything with my life and how no one can stop me."
On how others can develop the confidence to express themselves, Pelayo advises that, “People will love you for who you are. It gets better. I am as confident as I am now because of previous insecurities and people telling me ‘you can’t do this.’”
Pelayo’s mission to spread confidence through dance and fashion was inspired by the Fordham community. “Fordham is my greatest inspiration," Pelayo commented, “I realized people here love authenticity and are so accepting." Pelayo’s love for our community is what gives him the strength to keep expressing his passions.
GSB ‘18, Marketing with a Communications Minor
As a freshman, Colliton spontaneously decided to start a food blog, not knowing how much of a positive impact it would have on her life. Flash forward four years later and that passion has grown into Colliton landing an internship at Scripps Network (Food Network’s parent company) and Discovery Channel, and increasing the influence of her blog “BitesofheBest” to reach 76,0000+ followers. Colliton is now preparing to begin her professional career.
The reason why Colliton’s blog opened up so many opportunities is due to the authenticity of it. On the topic, Colliton said, “I started BitesoftheBest because I wanted something that reflects my interests. I love all food and my blog is a way for me to share that."
Not only was authenticity a vital factor in Colliton’s success, but also her ability detect her passions. For individuals that haven’t found their passion quite yet, Colliton advises to “Take a look from an outside perspective- sometimes people don’t realize that your passions are hidden in everyday moments."
GSB ‘18, Applied Accounting and Finance
Matt Farrell’s curious and competitive nature was what led him to get first place in three case competitions; Deloitte his sophomore year on a national level, PwC as a junior, and this year at Ernst & Young. His most recent competition was centered around the potential future impact of blockchain and cryptocurrency.
These case competitions have resulted in Farrell getting a full time offer after graduation at Deloitte in Cyber Consulting. “My professional interest has stemmed from these case competitions...it’s one thing to go to class and learn how to do something. But when you’re really communicating and talking with people in the professional world, and doing and seeing what they do on a daily basis, that’s what’s interesting.”
Formerly a water polo student athlete, Farrell begun these competitions following an injury. “It was really hard for me to quit a sport that I was a part of for more than 10 years of my life. Matt Farrell and water polo were, to me, synonymous. It really hurt. Because of that I wanted to dedicate myself 100% to something that was so different than athletics, which is truly hitting the books, these competitions, and working...I would say 95% of my weekends sophomore year were spent working. For me, I needed to work in order to re-identify myself in a different way.”
“I’m a firm believer that no one knows what they want to do with their life...No one knows exactly what they want to do, but they want to do something really interesting, and something that they’re passionate about. The only way you can do that is to keep trying. Trying new things. Do something that you’re not used to...If something sparks your interest, don’t be afraid to try it.”
GSB ‘19, Finance
Jenna Florendo is the CEO (President) of Fordham’s Smart Women Securities (SWS). The organization’s greatest quality, in the words of Florendo, is the exposure it gives young women. “A lot of females feel intimidated since finance is a male-dominated industry, but SWS gives us a chance to network and think ‘Hey, I can do this too.’”
SWS is all about educating young women about the financial sector and exposing them to a valuable alumni network. They recently held their annual Women in Leadership conference and tripled their attendance from last year with a whooping 125 members. The popularity and recognition SWS has attained is well deserved, and largely attributable to having intelligent, caring leaders such as Florendo on board.
Florendo inspires young girls to succeed in any career field, even if it is not the norm. “I am always willing to sit down with freshman, answer any questions, and expose them to our network,” says Florendo. To young women planning to go into finance, Florendo advises “Don’t be afraid; it’s intimidating to walk into a room filled with men, but it's important to remember that it’s always the girls who stick out.”
FCRH ‘18, Theology/Theological Studies
From writing satiric comic books and reading Greek mythology as a young boy to having his very own book published, Marcus Marrero has consistently demonstrated a passion and skill for reading, writing, and everything in between. Marrero claims tenacity to be a key factor in his success as an artist. “Tenacity is present in all of my art forms. There were times in which I felt discouraged, but I reminded myself ‘As long as you find your passion, it will all be good.’”
Although his creativity and tenacity have been present since a young age, Marrero claims Fordham’s professors have helped him expand his passions even further. “My professors help me explore and analyze different art forms,” Marrero explained. Marrero is both curious and determined, two characteristics that have helped him explore his creativity at Fordham and have made his writing so successful.
FCRH '20, Economics
When asked how Fordham students can make a small difference in their community, Olivia Greenspan responded with “Why not a big difference?” This response is totally expected for anyone that knows Greenspan; she is determined, influential, and pours her heart and soul into her work.
Today’s Industrial Living Landscapes (TILL), is a company that reflects Greenspan’s astounding work ethic. As a co-founder of TILL, Greenspan is committed to remediating brownfields through creative, carbon-negative development strategies. As an alternative to encapsulation and dig-in-hauls, TILL’s strategies are finding a way to develop and remediate land simultaneously. TILL can achieve this by planting the ground and building raised above it and secondly through using carbon-negative materials such as cross laminated timber. By doing these two things, TILL creates a, “Healthy and vegetative landscape that not only is healing the earth, but is also creating a beautiful environment”.
Greenspan realized environmentally friendly strategies had to be implemented when remediating and developing land and reacted by co-founding TILL. In short, she saw an issue and responded by providing a solution. Of change-making and social innovation, Greenspan says, “We’re all really good at complaining about things, but are we good at fixing things? If you want to change the world, then just do it.”
FCRH ‘18 Economics
As a Fordham sports commentator and assistant sports manager at WFUV, Tom Scibelli has always felt passionate about the behind-the-scenes aspect of athletics. “I started writing sports articles in high school, but I never really thought of it as my future career path until I got to Fordham,” Scibelli remarks. It was Scibelli’s success as a commentator and assistant manager that caught the eye of Barstool. As an intern for Barstool, Scibelli has had the opportunity to manage social media content and cover March Madness.
During Scibelli’s time interning, he has developed a strong bond with Barstool President Dave Portnoy. “I kind of became his lucky charm,” Scibelli said, “Whenever we worked together, or even if I was just next to him, his bets would start to win.” Although it was Scibelli’s luck that interested Portnoy, it was Scibelli’s passion and work ethic that promised him a long-term career with Barstool. “It [Barstool] will be a very fun place to work in since it’s so unique,” Scibelli comments, “I’ve always liked sports media, but I never liked the traditional aspect of it, so Barstool will be a good fit.” As an outgoing senior, Scibelli is excited for his future, but will definitely miss certain aspects of Fordham. "Going into the real world, I will miss the freedom of college and the great relationships I've made here".
FCRH ‘18, Journalism
Now acting as President of the Fordham Satin Dolls, Lauren Winn has been an active member since day one. “I joined Satin Dolls the first week of my freshman year and it will be part of [my life] until my last week of my senior year”, Winn remarks. When she joined Satin Dolls four years ago, she was a freshman just trying to make friends, but she got so much more; “a safe haven made up of fifteen girls.” Satin Dolls holds a dear spot in Winn’s heart, not only due to the amazing bonds she has made, but also since it gave her the opportunity to continue singing. “Satin Dolls has been a great bundle of friends and my passion,” Winn said.
Alongside President of Satin Dolls, Winn is also a writer for HerCampus, interns at NBCUniversal, and co-anchors for Fordham’s Nightly News. Her two passions of journalism and singing, although different, are both inspired by the same thing: connecting with others.
In order to exceed one’s own expectations, Winn advises underclassmen to take a risk. “I never wanted to [take a risk] until I got here… but I’ve come to the conclusion that having a high risk high reward mindset is the best thing ever. Even if it’s nerve racking, it’s totally worth it.”
GSB ‘19, Business Administration (Finance and Marketing concentration) with a Minor in Global Business
Stella Kovoros, following in her sister's footsteps, is on the e-board of Fordham’s Greek Club. Through community service and cultural events, the Greek Club promotes actively engaging in one’s own roots. “I’m surprised there aren’t more cultural clubs on campus”, Kovoros reflects, “Coming from home and being so close to your culture then coming to college can be a tough transition, but the Greek Club helps everyone feel included and represented."
Kovoros stresses the importance of cultural engagement not only at Fordham, but also abroad. Kovoros has grown up going to Greece every summer, and this year she will be returning again to volunteer at an Ionian village to help high-schoolers get back to their roots using fellowship and faith.
Both at Fordham and abroad, Kovoros emphasizes the fact that, “It’s easy to get lost and lose a sense of identity. Because of this, it's important to be proud of your roots and traditions." No matter what background you may come from, Kovoros encourages you to celebrate it and to share it with your community.