When Tracy O’Neill, FCRH ’87, and PAR ’15, attended a Summer Send-Off in Atlanta in the weeks before her son Ryan Begley headed to Fordham, she said she came away with one very strong—and reassuring—message.

“It’s going to be OK,” O’Neill laughed.

Even though O’Neill and her husband, Terry Begley, GSB ’86, are Fordham alumni, she said the Summer Send-Offs, regional events hosted by Fordham alumni and parents to welcome students and their families, helped reassure her that her son would be able to successfully make the move from their Charlotte, N.C., home to the big city.

“Especially when you live so far away, as we do, it was so important to know what type of environment he was going into,” she said.

Kitty and Thomas Wynne, PAR ’13, hosted the Connecticut Send-Off for the second time on June 24. Kitty said the group of students and parents who attended were enthusiastic, collegial, and ready to hit the ground running.

“It’s going be a good crew,” she said. “If these are the kind of students Fordham’s attracting, they’re in great shape.”

One of the main objectives of the send-offs is to help students make Fordham connections in their home communities before arriving on campus. Wynne said students talk about sharing rides home and build the courage to start making new friends.

But the connections can be just as powerful for parents, she said. Wynne said she stays in touch with parents she met at last year’s event, offering lodging recommendations for campus events, and helping put their minds at ease.

“It’s nice on my end that I was able to be a lifeline if needed,” Kitty Wynne said.

Bob and Ellen Kelly, PAR ’11 and ’13, three-time hosts of a Summer Send-Off in Rumson, N.J, said their party, which features Italian catering, tends to inspire a very practical line of questioning from parents.

“We give out a lot of advice about restaurants on Arthur Avenue,” said Ellen Kelly. “We’re like their local Zagat guide.”

Kelly’s sons Nick, FCRH ’11, and Ben, a rising senior in the Gabelli School of Business, both attended the event to field student questions. Kelly said both parents and students shared a deep interest in internships and career opportunities, questions her sons were well equipped to answer. Nick is now working at CBS in Manhattan, while Ben continues school.

She said that the parents she met were pleased to hear about her sons’ career experiences both during and after life at Fordham.

“They’re really pleased to learn about the way that Fordham is so hands-on, and from day one,” Kelly said. “The integration of Career Services is important to everybody.”

Though there are only a few incoming freshman from the Carolinas area, Tracy O’Neill said she and her family will be reaching out individually to welcome the parents as well as introduce her son Ryan to the incoming students.

O’Neill said she has consistently been surprised by the warmth and generosity of the Fordham family and wants to share that message with others. When her son was sick during his first year at Fordham, O’Neill said she received a call at home from the local pharmacy, assuring her they would deliver her son’s medication and that he would be OK.

“We discovered the same thing everyone says over and over about Fordham—there’s such a feeling of family,” O’Neill said.

If you are interested in hosting a Summer Send-Off in your community, contact Alex Morr, assistant director for the parent fund, at [email protected] for more information.

by Jennifer Spencer