Two graduating students have made community-engaged learning their priority in the Bronx and beyond: Ellie Bauer, GSAS ’22, a graduate student from Minnesota who recently accepted a job in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Benjamin Medeiros, FCRH ’22, a Rhode Island native who will return to Fordham this fall to pursue his Ph.D. at the Graduate School of Education. 

“We Fordham students have a privilege and also a responsibility to work with community-based organizations to help make the Bronx a better place—and that’s true of any community you live in,” said Medeiros.

Nutrition and Affordable Housing for Families

When Ellie Bauer walks across the commencement stage this spring, she’ll have earned two master’s degrees: one in economics and another in international political economy and development (IPED).

In 2020, she entered Fordham as a Peace Corps Coverdell Fellow, a fellowship for recently returned Peace Corps volunteers. She had volunteered in Ethiopia, where she taught nutrition classes to middle school students and helped families reach their nutritional goals. As part of her fellowship at Fordham, she served as a volunteer coordinator at the University Neighborhood Housing Program (UNHP), a nonprofit that creates and improves affordable housing for residents in the Northwest Bronx. Over the past two years, she managed volunteers and interns and helped clients complete their affordable housing applications. She also worked with a team to implement a new virtual tax assistance program for low-income residents. 

“I grew up in a town of 2,000 people, where we all knew each other and shared a certain culture. Moving somewhere for a job or school provides you with a different community to live with, and it’s important to learn more about that community,” Bauer said.  

Thanks to her Presidential Management Fellowship—a program that matches outstanding graduate students with federal opportunities—she will move to Chicago and become a program specialist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, where she will support WIC, a supplemental nutrition program for low- to middle-income families.

Bauer said she is grateful for her mentors in Fordham’s IPED program, who ensured that Bauer and her classmates got to know each other during the pandemic and secured funding for their unpaid internships and language training. 

“I feel very lucky to have found the IPED program and the directors who make it so great,” she said. 

Listening to Men Experiencing Homelessness

Benjamin Medeiros is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Fordham College at Rose Hill. In his first year at Fordham, he tutored elementary students and tended to a community garden in the Bronx. Over the past year, he has worked to dismantle stereotypes about the homeless population with his classmates through Fordham’s Engaged Leaders Fellowship, offered by the Center for Community Engaged Learning. His team interviewed men living at a Manhattan shelter about their lives and surveyed more than 100 Fordham students about their perceptions of the homeless community. 

At the end of May, he will fly to Mississippi through Global Outreach, a Fordham service and cultural immersion program. For one week, Medeiros will serve as a counselor at a sleepaway camp for foster children from low-income backgrounds. This fall, he will return to Fordham to pursue his Ph.D. in counseling psychology

“Being a counseling psychologist is essentially being a community-engaged learner. You interact with a community and learn from the people that you work with,” said Medeiros, who hopes to someday counsel clients at a correctional facility in New York. 

“My experiences at Fordham have taught me how to appreciate the people in the larger community, especially in marginalized corners of that community,” said Medeiros, “and how to use my skill set and voice to make that community better.”

A man and woman smile in front of pink cherry blossom trees.
Medeiros and Bauer in front of Walsh Library

Taylor is a visual storytelling strategist in Fordham University's marketing and communications department, where she documents University life through photography and video. Since joining Fordham in 2018, she has served as a writer, photographer, videographer, and social media manager, dividing her time between University Marketing and Communications and the Office of the President. She earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from Stony Brook University's School of Communication and Journalism and her master's degree in public media from Fordham University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Her work has appeared on NPR, NBC New York, and amNewYork METRO.