With just hours left as Fordham students, seniors in the Gabelli School of Business at Lincoln Center gathered on May 19 to receive prestigious honors.

The ceremony, which brought family and friends to the McNally Amphitheatre, featured awards for outstanding senior thesis; students admitted to honors societies; and the Dean’s Award, which was given to Hussein Chebli.

Chebli, a global finance and business economics major, was lauded by Vincent DeCola, S.J., assistant dean for the B.S. in Global Business, as “a quiet leader who leads by example, … hard work, and steady reliability, despite the challenges life can throw at you.”

The Global Citizen Award, which is given to an international student who has demonstrated a desire and ability to build bridges of acceptance and understanding in global business, was given to Jaeri Kim, who graduated with a concentration in global marketing with consumer insights. The faculty Cura Personalis award was presented to business law and ethics professors Mark Conrad, Ph.D., and Kenneth Davis, Ph.D.

A female student seated in a chair on stage, surrounded by three administrators
Kaitlyn Balis was presented the Alumni Chair Award, which honors an individual who lives out the Ignatian principles Fordham seeks to instill in its students.

Lerzan Aksoy, Ph.D., who was appointed dean of the Gabelli School in December, told students she had no doubt that they’d succeed professionally after having brought their best selves to their classwork.

“Most importantly, remember to give your best selves to those who love and support you regardless of your failings, because it is those relationships that will sustain you throughout your life’s journey,” she said.

She also issued a word of caution for when students do face failure and doubts–particularly when others may be succeeding by acting unethically. “It will seem all the more difficult when you see others abandoning decency and honesty for personal gain and financial gain,” she said.

“During those times, it is important to remember that there is no gain worthy of losing your soul. The good news is that if you don’t quit and you keep pushing forward while staying true to your values, you will win.”

Grace Oakley
Grace Oakley

Grace Oakley, a global finance and business economics major who was honored in March by the website Poets&Quants as one of the best and brightest students of the class of 2023, and who was honored as one of 13 finance scholars, was chosen to speak on behalf of the class.

Oakley, who is currently working as an analyst for Blackstone Financial Group, reflected on how she was asked what her dream job might be during a first-year orientation event in 2019. Her answer bore little similarity to what she ended up doing, which wasn’t surprising, she said, as many students’ identities change over four years.

But one thing that has not changed since 2019 was the emphasis on caring for one another.

This is what it means to embrace the ethos of Cura Personalis, she said.

“As we reflect on the difficulties we share, whether as trivial as the struggle of squeezing just one more person into a Lowenstein elevator to make it to class on time, or as monumental as world events of the pandemic, we can also appreciate the immense growth achieved through struggle, and acknowledge the vital role that every individual in the class of 2023 mutually played in molding each other during this time.”

A male student and his family pose for a selfie
Graduates and their families celebrated at a reception in the Platt Atrium after the ceremony.

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