They might be too modest to celebrate themselves, but on May 20 at a ceremony at McNally Amphitheatre, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) students were tasked with doing just that–and with lifting each other up as well.

At the ceremony, the second of its kind since debuting last year, awards were given to honors students who’d completed a senior thesis, won prestigious fellowships, and been admitted to academic societies such as Phi Beta Kappa.

Laura Aurrichio speaking from a podium
FCLC Dean Laura Aurrichio

In her remarks, FCLC Dean Laura Aurrichio, Ph.D., noted that like them, she arrived in August 2019. And like them, it took her a while to get used to her new surroundings. By spring 2020, she felt truly ready to pull up her sleeves and get to work on long-term projects.

“Of course, the universe had other plans,” she said, noting that the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd made for stressful times. Nevertheless, students persevered.

“You might be too modest to celebrate yourselves, but I also know that you are all too kind, too supportive, and too community-focused not to celebrate your classmates.”

Awards were also given to students who excelled in disciplines ranging from the arts and sciences to the social sciences and the humanities–and student speakers from each field got up to speak.

‘Soul-shimmering’ clarity

Anna Nowalk, a theology/music double major who was admitted to the Phi Beta Kappa honors society, spoke about the humanities.

“Throughout my time at Fordham, I’ve brushed against potentially life-altering understandings of the Christian mission and have on occasion felt my soul shimmer as I saw with clarity for a moment how I might be called to it,” she said.

Fordham Theatre Student Honored with Alumni Chair

Amara McNeil seated in a chair
Amara McNeil was honored with the FCLC Alumni Chair Award.

Amara McNeil, an acting major and a founder of the BIPOC Theatre Alliance of Fordham, was honored with the FCLC Alumni Chair Award. Aurrichio expressed personal gratitude to McNeil for joining the inaugural cohort of the FCLC Student Advisory Group.

“I really just cannot say enough about how grateful I am to her for all the work that she has done and for her work in leaving this place much better than she found it,” she said.

Trystan Edwards, a theater and African and African American studies double major, implored his fellow graduates in his keynote address to live in what he called “the gray” areas of life.

“I was ready to set my future ablaze with fiery reds and opulent oranges, and I was ready to seize every opportunity and take the city by storm,” he said of his move to Manhattan.

When the pandemic interrupted everything in 2020, the gray returned, and it was here that Edwards discovered resilience.

“As we accept our awards tonight and our diplomas tomorrow beautifully bedecked in our rosy reds, bright blues, gorgeous greens, and yappy yellows, remember to leave room for the gray,” he said.

“It is the land of all possibilities, truth, and humanity.”

a view from above of people seated in the McNally Ampitheatre



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