College years are full of new experiences. But there are always a few that stand out above the rest. We asked members of the Class of 2019 to tell us about one special Fordham moment or memory that they’ll never forget.


ILaw graduate Tyler Crawford in brown jacketn the criminal defense clinic, we represented a parole applicant who’d been incarcerated for over 20 years. He’d been denied parole five times. We worked on his case all semester, and there were a lot of hard questions about how to represent him. I’ll never forget, the day after Christmas, we found out that his parole application had been approved. This man suddenly had a second lease on life. It was partly because of the work we were able to do. That moment sort of justified law school for me.


LALA KUMAKURA, FCRH ’19, B.A. in International Studies and Humanitarian Studies

Fordham College at Rose Hill graduate Lala Kumakura in a blazer on the Rose Hill campusSophomore year I was walking into the University Church for our first Global Outreach India meeting when I bumped into a few strangers who were also searching for the meeting space in the back. As we sat in a circle in the dimly lit room, I remember feeling excited and nervous. Today, those who were once strangers are my closest friends.




ELEANOR SMITH, GSE ’19, Ph.D. in School Psychology

School psychology doctoral graduate Eleanor SmithOn the day of the 2016 School Psych spring formal, several of my fellow grad students and I helped put last-minute decorations together. I will never forget the group of us gluing things together, drawing on posters, laughing and talking as we went. Later, walking down 60th Street, we laughed hysterically as we watched my friend Leeann try to manage at least 40 balloons! It was an incredible night. It was the first time I realized what a wonderful, supportive group of people I had around me amidst the stresses of grad school; they have become some of my dearest friends.


KYLE KILKENNY, FCLC ’19, B.S. in Political Science

Kyle Kilkenny, FCLC student, in ManhattanPope Francis came to the U.S. my first month at Fordham, and I won a contest for tickets to see him. I brought my brother Kris to Central Park, and we saw him in his white popemobile. There were cardboard cutouts of him all around campus, and I was like, “I’ve seen him in the flesh!” I think he just tries to remind us that we’re all part of the human race. As a queer Catholic, I see that he’s really elevated that acceptance. When I walk into sacred spaces like the University Church or the chapel in Lowenstein, it feels good to know that Francis cares about my humanity and sees me the way God sees me.



GSS graduate Allison Marino on a bench with snow on the groundMy first-year placement was for Legal Aid Society, and I had a client on Rikers Island. I had to take a bus over the bridge and another one to get to the jail. The meeting room was dark and claustrophobic. When I took the bus back toward civilization, the light blinded me and I was overcome with exhaustion. That’s when I realized I was a bridge between the people I’m serving and the entire outside world. The fact that it was a painful experience made me realize how seriously I need to take this work.


PIUS TO’OMAE, GRE ’19, M.A. in Pastoral Mental Health Counseling

GRE graduate Pius To'omaeComing from one of the tiny countries surrounded by ocean [the Solomon Islands], I find interacting with my classmates from other countries brings about unity among diverse cultural backgrounds and life experiences. We have Chinese priests in the program. We have priests from South America. We have priests from the Philippines—all over the world. This is for me the spirit of cura personalis—living memories I will bring home into the oceans. And like the dots on the cowry shells, they shine.


ERICA HARRELL, GABELLI ’19. B.S. in Public Accounting

Gabelli graduate Erica Harell sitting outside in ManhattanThe memory that stands out for me would be my experience on a Global Outreach trip to Rutledge, Tennessee. I got to learn more about the injustice that people face in rural areas rather than in urban areas. I also got to experience and be in solidarity with the community there, and I formed a strong bond with my Global Outreach teammates.




TYLER BROWN, PCS ’19, B.A. in Economics

PCS graduate Tyler Brown holding a graduation capI was master-at-arms for three and a half years in the Navy in nuclear weapons security. My best Fordham memory was the first time I walked onto the Rose Hill campus. It was like being in an oasis in the city. And just not seeing the bulletproof vests and the M16s every day really took me out of that militarized mindset. It definitely helped me clear my mind and focus on my schoolwork and the important tasks at hand.




GSAS doctoral graduate Esther Liberman CuencaMy greatest memory is really a series of moments with the Fordham students I’ve had the honor of teaching. I started out very inexperienced. It was through all of the years teaching undergraduate survey classes that I really learned what it is to be a teacher. Fordham students prepared me for my Ph.D. just as much as my adviser and my committee.




Gabelli MBA graduate Douglas Quimby Jr. I especially remember my first interview with the admissions committee. I had this really sweet goatee—at least I thought it was. I nailed the interview, but later I worried that I hadn’t put my best foot forward in terms of appearance. I got through the program, though, and I’ve realized that in the M.B.A. program, and Fordham in general, we don’t judge who you are off the bat, but we look at the potential of what you can be. We have a really unique culture; there are no judgments here.


NICOLETTE YEE, FCLC ’19, B.A. in English 

Sophomore year I was an orientation leader, and the best part was the last day of orientation. We had Dance Underneath the Stars, where we danced in the plaza with a DJ. It was nice clear night and the stars were out—at least from what you can see of stars in New York City. It was just having a great night before school started, a great opportunity to be a college kid before everything got crazy, before class started the next morning, before the first syllabus, before homework, or projects, just one last chance to let loose.

MANNA SAMUEL, GABELLI ‘19 M.S. in Accounting

Mena SamuelMy iconic Fordham moment was discovering my role in sustainability. I was studying accounting, and I was truly interested in the field, but was unclear about its larger purpose. An invitation to join Fordham’s pilot research program with SASB (Sustainability Accounting Standards Board) introduced me to an industry I never considered being a part of. It shed a new light on how I understood environmental, social, and corporate governance matters in public corporations and financial reporting, and for the first time, it gave me a clear picture of how my skill set and education could meet my desire to be impactful in a tangible way.


Yarelyn MenaMine has to be this year’s Fordham LALSA’s 33rd annual student and alumni awards dinner. I started at LALSA (Latin American Law Students Association) as a 1L, and this year I was president. When I got to speak, I looked out, and I saw all my mentors that I had from before law school, during law school, and everyone who’s helped me these past three years. It was weird and to know that it was over, but I was also being inducted into this alumni family at the same time.


Christine KellyCHRISTINE KELLY, GSAS, ’19, Ph.D. in History, and new assistant dean for student professional development at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

What will always be memorable to me is the opportunity I was given to innovate existing programing to enhance the everyday lives of graduate students, and help them enhance their career readiness. This was something that became available to me through administrative leadership at the university, and that demonstrates a great deal of compassion and care for the student body, and invites graduate students to serve their peers in meaningful and enduring ways.

Photos by Taylor Ha, Tom Stoelker, Patrick Verel, and contributed by Eleanor Smith and Claire Nunez