On the eve of the University-wide Commencement videocast, following a week of diploma ceremonies at Rose Hill, Fordham took some time to honor some special members of its Ramily with the Legacy and Parents’ Leadership Council Virtual Toast.

The May 21 event, hosted by the Fordham University Alumni Association (FUAA), recognized alumni with a graduating senior in the Class of 2021, along with members of the Parents’ Leadership Council (PLC) and their graduating students.

Matthew Burns, associate director for young alumni and student engagement, and Kathryn Mandalakis, assistant director of the Fordham Fund, kicked off the virtual event. Mandalakis thanked the council members for making Fordham “a real family affair,” and fondly remembered her own graduation in 2019.

Robert Garver, Margaret Garver, Carmen Garver
Robert, Margaret, and Carmen Garver

“It has been two years, almost to the day, since I was attending my own PLC and legacy family reception, as my dad is an alumnus himself,” she said. “It feels really special to be here with you all and celebrate your graduates and celebrate the long maroon line with your legacy.”

During the event, two families reflected on their time at the University and on what it means to share an alma mater, with the graduates interviewing their parents.

Anthony Quartell, FCRH ’64, whose daughter Olivia Quartell, FCRH ’21, served as president of United Student Government and a mentee in the Fordham Mentoring Program, said that after his family moved near the Bronx campus, his father suggested he enroll at Fordham to learn about religion.

“I had no idea who Ignatius Loyola was,” he said, noting that he had attended public schools, including Bronx High School of Science, but the Jesuits at Fordham taught him “a whole lot more [than religion]. They taught me how to think.”

Olivia said Fordham wasn’t initially one of her more “obvious” picks, but her experiences at the University were nothing short of a gift.

“I think it’s funny that a lot of people who found such a home here didn’t necessarily seek it, [but]it was definitely something that Fordham gave to them. … It just naturally kind of comes from being in this place.”

Katherine Beshar, FCLC ’21, who writes for The Observer, the student newspaper based on the University’s Lincoln Center campus, transferred to Fordham during her junior year due to a sports injury, but she echoed Olivia Quartell’s sentiment. She said “home” is a fitting word for what the University has given her.

Joseph Ronsivalle, Mary Ronsivalle, Karen Ronsivalle
Joseph, Mary, and Karen (front) Ronsivalle

She asked her mother, Maureen Beshar, FCLC ’86, about her own undergraduate experience. Like her mother, Katherine was a commuter student. Maureen commuted from Brooklyn and initially worked two part-time jobs before pivoting to night school so that she could work full time.

Maureen, who is now a member of the Fordham President’s Council, said she continued to experience Fordham’s sense of community, maybe even more so, after graduating. “The Fordham experience [is]really now just beginning,” she said. “There’s so many different ways you can stay involved as your life changes and … as you go forward in life. You can go back home [to Fordham], because I think you’ll always find some way to be involved.”

John Pettenati, FCRH ’81, chair of the FUAA, formally welcomed graduates into the alumni community and urged them to stay involved, to “give your time, your treasure, and your talent back to the school. It is so important for [others to be]inspired by all of you.”

A recorded toast from Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, brought the event home.

“My dear friends, we gather to toast you on your impending graduation that has special meaning for you and for your parents because by graduating you have not only followed in their footsteps, you have become men and women whose lives have a shared experience—an experience that makes you even closer than you were before,” he said. “You and your parents are both Rams.”