Ariana Allensworth (left) watches a History Makers presentation. Photo by Gina Vergel

Fifteen Bronx-area high school students ensured that the borough’s history was told on July 30 as they presented their original historical research to an audience of family, University faculty and staff at Fordham’s Rose Hill campus.

The teens spent the summer participating in History Makers, a six-week program that is a collaboration between Fordham’s Community Service Program and the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), a nonprofit settlement house that runs a youth enrichment program for college-bound teenagers in the Bronx. The program teaches Bronx high school students how to perform professional-level historical research in the city’s archives, libraries and museums. Participants worked in University classrooms and the library and spent the last week living on campus in a residence hall, giving them the full college experience.

Now in its fourth year, History Makers is funded by a $240,000 grant provided by The Teagle Foundation through its College-Community Connections program, which supports partnerships between community based organizations in New York City and area colleges and universities.

“I feel like we probably do the easiest thing – provide the funds so that the program can happen,” said Cheryl Ching, program officer for The Teagle Foundation, “but all the hard work and all the credit goes to the History Makers and to the staff at Fordham and CAB. We’ve had the privilege throughout the last four years to support this partnership between Fordham and CAB and it’s been fantastic.”

Sandra Lobo-Jost (FCRH ’97), director of Fordham’s community service program, said despite it being History Makers’ fourth year, there was something “different and special” about this summer’s program.

“Our partnership with CAB helped to create one of the best programs I’ve seen so far,” she said. “Our collaborative relationship with CAB has been at the heart of this project. Thanks to their efforts, we had one of the most impressive groups of scholars during this program. I’m extremely proud of the services that Fordham University has provided our scholars this year. I’m looking forward already to having the scholars back during the academic year.”

Choir Academy of Harlem junior Kerricia Griffith, 16, has always wanted to apply for college. She feels even more prepared now with two years of the Fordham’s History Makers summer program under her belt.

“It is a lot of work to conduct college level research but now I know I can handle it if I apply myself,” said Griffith, just minutes before joining fellow students in presenting their research on “Afro-Latino Music in the Bronx.” “I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished here.”

Griffith said her group used databases, library archives and personal interviews to research the “second-wave” of Afro-Latino music such as bachata, merengue, bomba and plena.

Students are guided by faculty from Fordham and other universities as they pick a research topic. They are then helped by college mentors, such as recent Fordham graduate Ariana Allensworth (FCRH ’09).

“It was a great experience for me because I am currently applying for jobs in youth empowerment,” Allensworth said. “They were a great group and it was a lot of fun.”

The curriculum for the program typically goes beyond subjects that are covered in high school or college textbooks. Allensworth’s group, for example, researched the “Public Housing Experience in the Bronx.” Other topics included “Environmental Racism in the Bronx” and “Images of the Bronx According to Film.”

The program director for this past summer’s program was Stephanie Crane (FCRH ’09), who has participated in the program since the summer of her freshmen year at Fordham.

“I cannot say enough things about this group. We’re very proud of them,” Crane said. “And [their research]is their history.”


Gina Vergel is Senior Director of Communications. She oversees the digital news coverage, public relations, and social media for the university. Before joining Fordham in 2007, Gina worked as a reporter for the Home News Tribune, and The Ridgewood News, where she won Society of Professional Journalist (New Jersey chapter) awards for breaking news and feature writing, respectively. She can be reached at [email protected] or (646) 579-9957.