Manhattan’s only Pringle-shaped skyscraper was the setting of intense conversation and networking on Oct. 12, as Fordham students and alumni came together for the kickoff of the Fordham President’s Council’s fall leadership series.

The gathering, on the ground floor of the recently constructed Via, attracted roughly two dozen members of the President’s Council and students representing the Jesuit honor society Alpha Sigma Nu, Fordham Athletics, Founder’s Scholars, and those nominated by the deans of the three undergraduate schools.

They were there to learn lessons from, as Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, dubbed them, “wisdom figures.”

“This is when you become faculty,” he said, praising council members for the practical advice they shared with students who’ll be entering the job market in May.

“I like to say you’re the U.C.L.A crowd. You not only went to Fordham, but also to the University on the Corner of Lexington Avenue.”

Students and their mentors discussed topics such as discernment, finding common ground, and the importance of core values. Just as often though, conversations followed their own path.

Jack Agresta, GABELLI ’08, and James Viceconte, GABELLI ’85, found common ground immediately in game theory with Gabelli School seniors Patrick Goggins and Santiago Sordo-Palacios. Two tables over, Timothy Donahue, Esq., FCRH ’94, LAW ’97 and Edmond Blount, FCRH ’69, nodded knowingly as Nicholas Alemann, FCRH ’14, and Nicholas Belfanti, FCRH ’14, described how the friendship they formed as roommates for four years has continued, and how they’ve shared an apartment for three years in Manhattan.

It was an evening for making connections, sharing stories, and dispensing advice. Donahue explained that when he decided to leave the law field to break into banking, he struck out repeatedly—until he found himself chatting at a barbecue with a man wearing flip flops. Only after they’d chatted for three hours did he find out the man worked at JP Morgan Chase; he was hired the following week.

Kate Marinkovich, a senior at the Gabelli School, found the evening to be useful even though she already has plans after graduation. She’ll be attending the University of Mississippi, thanks to a sponsorship from the accounting firm KPMG, and she will join the company upon completion of her master’s degree.

“I may not do the same thing for the rest of my life, so it’s important to build these connections while I can,” she said.

Marinkovich struck up a conversation with Marie Napoli, Esq., a partner at the firm Napoli Shkolnik, who was attending with her husband Paul J. Napoli, Esq., GABELLI ’89, about having earned both a Juris Doctor in tax law as well as a Master of Laws degree. She said she planned to reach out to Napoli to ask how having the degrees affected her career.

“As an undergraduate, it’s very hard to know that,” she said.

Mark Smith, FCRH ’04, who was attending the event for the fourth time, said he mentors students because “what you give to the world you will receive back in some way.”

“The students always ask different questions, and the economy is changing every year. It helps me with my job on Wall Street to hear what kids are concerned with. Whether it’s easy for them find work or not tells you a little bit about our economic cycle,” he said.


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