When Manoj Ghayalod moved to the United States from India to study robotics engineering at the University of Cincinnati in the 1990s, he had an ‘in’ that helped him with the transition into college life: an Indian student association. While he didn’t have any family or friends here, the association’s president generously offered him a spot on the floor of his dorm room until he was able to find a place of his own.

In 2016, Ghayalod’s son Raj enrolled as an undergraduate at the Gabelli School of Business and found that Fordham lacked a similar support system. Raj’s mother, Pallavi Ghayalod, knew this was something she wanted to address.

Fordham’s Indian Association, which Pallavi founded, was officially launched at a reception on April 8 at the Gabelli School of Business on the Lincoln Center campus. Its goal is to create a strong network of support among current Fordham Indian students, Fordham alumni in India, and other members of the community in New York and across the United States.

“The Gabelli School wants to be a hub for global education,” said Donna Rapaccioli, dean of the Gabelli School of Business.

The Indian Association will work to celebrate the rich culture, history, and contributions of India and South Asia at Fordham. It will also help Fordham build stronger ties in India, spurring more interest and awareness of Fordham’s schools among students across the region.

“Fordham is seeking to create internationalists at the undergraduate and graduate level. We’re hoping that this initiative will bring the University closer to South Asia, and India in particular,” said Roger A. Milici, vice president for development and university relations.

Fordham undergraduates travel from 76 countries, and international students make up ten percent of the undergraduate student body. More than 100 students from India currently attend the University, and over 200 alumni hail from there. That network is key to recruiting prospective international students, who use social media and other online resources to decide whether they will attend an institution.

“When parents of international students find out that their child gets admitted to Fordham, they’re not thinking of the school. They are thinking of New York City, and things like, ‘Where is their kid going to live?’ Facebook is a great resource for parents to connect with other parents to figure out the answers to questions like this.” said Pallavi.  

Prospective students often speak to other admitted students, current students, and alumni via social media in order to determine where to enroll. “If I didn’t get to talk to Fordham Indian alumni about their experience, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable attending Fordham,” said Kapil Bashani, GABELLI ‘18, who spoke with three Fordham alumni via social media before making his decision to enroll in the global finance program.

Sris Chatterjee, Ph.D., professor and chair of global security analysis, finance, and business economics at the Gabelli School, and one of several faculty members who attended the reception, said the association was a critical addition to the University.

At this time, with what’s happening in India, and all across the globe, many cultures are finding it hard to come to terms with each other. But India is not just one culture, but a confluence of many cultures,” he said.

The Indian Association at Fordham seeks to unite people across those different cultures and to ease the transition for students studying at Fordham from overseas.

The association is planning to host a reception in India this July.

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