As a Marine, Gabriel Tortora, PCS ’22, teased meaning out of ISIS communications in Syria, where he served as a signals intelligence analyst as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Now a civilian, he looks for meaningful patterns in the operations of businesses large and small as a credit analyst for Santander Bank.

Tortora started at Santander as a summer intern when he was an economics student at Fordham’s School of Professional and Continuing Studies. He began his academic journey after success in the armed forces—his service was capped with the conferral of a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal under Combat Conditions in 2019. Today he credits Fordhamand the military community he found therewith setting him on the path to a new kind of success.

When you left the Marines, how did you decide to come to Fordham?

I wanted to go to a good four-year institution and use my non-traditional path as a way to set myself apart. The folks at PCS understood that. I was calling NYU, George Washington University, and a few other D.C. schools and really wasn’t getting a lot of help. Fordham has the name, and it’s in New York, which is not too far from where I grew up in Nutley, New Jersey. One day, I got a call at 5:30 in the morning, California time: it was PCS.

How challenging was it to transition from Marine to student?

The most difficult part is losing that sense of community and purpose when you’re just getting out. It’s hard sitting in the classroom at 25 with much younger students when you have a completely different worldview and experience. Then you pair that with the fact that I haven’t done typical school work since high school.

Having the veterans community at Fordham was really beneficial because you relate to people who’ve been through similar things.

How did your internship in the summer of 2021 with Santander Bank come about?

It all starts with the community that Matt Butler and the Student Veterans of America at Fordham have built. It’s about helping build each other up professionally and academically. So, doing resume workshops right away, doing seminars here and there for interview prep or networking events. I found that there’s a veteran network in finance in New York City. Someone pointed me to an internship, and that was that.

Did you encounter any surprises along the way?

This is going to sound weird, but I’m surprised at how proud I am that I went to Fordham. I went in with the expectations to just finish my degree and start my career, but my experiences there have led me to be extremely proud to have gone to the school.

I know a lot of veterans who are just like, “I show up to class and go home and do my own thing.’ I have friends who were at my wedding whom I met at Fordham.


Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham Now. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.