As a high school senior in Garden Grove, California, Cindy Vojtech, Ph.D., was leaning toward Fordham because it checked all the boxes—a Catholic university, small classes, a strong business program, NCAA Division I status, and the opportunity to go away for college.

And then came the news of the full scholarship she had been awarded. Learning about it in February of senior year, she was overjoyed, but also momentarily anxious—as in, “did I hear that right?” she joked.

It was a gift with far-reaching effects, said Vojtech, who graduated from the Gabelli School of Business as valedictorian in 2000. Her Fordham experiences set her on a trajectory of opportunities, including investment banking experience in New York, that led to her current role as a principal economist with the Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C.—her dream job, she said, in part because of its public service mission that resonates with Fordham’s ethos of being a person for others.

And that ethos, of course, is reflected in the act of creating a scholarship like the one she received. “Your heart overflows when you know that someone is so willing to do that and provide that opportunity to students. It’s such a beautiful thing,” she said.

Today, she is acting on that gratitude, contributing to the University’s $350 million fundraising campaign, Cura Personalis | For Every Fordham Student, in a way that will bring future students the same kind of joy she experienced—while also advancing the cause of diversity in the world of business.

A Benefactor and Friend

Vojtech was the first recipient of an endowed scholarship created by John E. Toffolon Jr., GABELLI ’73, ’77, who died in April, and his wife, Joan Toffolon, GABELLI ’77. (See related story.) They created it in 1995 for students in the Gabelli School, and included a preference for women to help address the gender imbalance in business. Vojtech became friends with John Toffolon, meeting with him periodically, and saw his enthusiasm for the scholarship and the impact it would have.

Vojtech drew inspiration from his generosity, and has long given to various causes and institutions, including Fordham. When she received a financial cushion following her uncle’s passing, she decided this year to move forward with something she had long thought of doing: creating the Vojtech Family Scholarship to help students at the Gabelli School meet the cost of attending the University.

When fully established, it will be awarded with a preference for first-generation college students, economically disadvantaged students, or those who come from underrepresented groups.

She doubts she would have come to Fordham if the Toffolons’ scholarship hadn’t made the costs more bearable. With her own gift, she hopes to support those coming from backgrounds less affluent than hers.

She noted that, over and over, studies have found diversity in business is good for business. “You want the diversity in the room because you get better ideas, you get better brainstorming,” Vojtech said. “It’s easier to fall into groupthink if you have people from the exact same lived experiences, exact same perspectives.”

Vojtech also gives back to the University as a member of its President’s Council, a group of accomplished alumni who contribute to students’ education. She was active in Campus Ministry at Fordham and in Fordham athletics, earning a place in the Fordham Athletics Hall of Fame for her achievements on the volleyball team and rowing team, and still feels connected to the University’s distinctive community—something that played into her decision to create a scholarship.

“It’s just a testament to the culture of Fordham and wanting to give back, wanting to pay it forward, being a person for others,” she said. “That’s what I think of when I think of Fordham.”


Chris Gosier is research news director for Fordham Now. He can be reached at (646) 312-8267 or [email protected].