Every week, Andres Cintron takes a bus and subway across the Bronx to All Hallows High School, where he co-teaches a class. The goal? To prepare students to succeed in a place like Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business, where he is a sophomore.

He always looks forward to it. “They’re very engaged, and it’s fun to answer questions about my experience … as a business student and somebody who’s immersing into the corporate world,” he said.

Cintron is one of several Gabelli students involved in a program that seeks, among other things, to increase diversity at the Gabelli School by attracting more students from underrepresented groups. Dubbed the Corporate Communications High School Pipeline Program, it’s a way of engaging with Fordham’s New York City community and giving students an opportunity to serve and learn from others, in keeping with the University’s Jesuit mission.

It operates mostly at Catholic high schools. Cintron, a student co-director of the pipeline program, took part in it himself while attending one of those high schools, Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx. That makes his teaching especially rewarding, he said. “The program, honestly, gave me the confidence that I would succeed in business, so it’s nice to be able to spread that confidence to other students.”

Because of its potential for enhancing diversity at Fordham by attracting more students from the Bronx, one of the most diverse areas in the United States, “I’m really proud to be part of the program,” Cintron said.

Helping more students from underrepresented communities come to Fordham is one goal of the University’s current $350 million fundraising campaign, Cura Personalis | For Every Fordham Student. To advance this effort, donors have been contributing to the recently established Gabelli Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Scholarship Fund for academically strong students who, like Cintron, came through the pipeline program.

Creating a High School to University Pipeline

Founded five years ago, the pipeline program prepares students for business school through mentoring, corporate site visits, a class on the Fordham campus, and a pitch proposal competition. Working in teams, students at each school devise a strategy for addressing an issue of diversity, equity, and inclusion that arose in a Fortune 500 company. The winning strategy is chosen by a panel of judges drawn from industry.

The class taught by Cintron and other students helps the high schoolers prepare for this competition. Cintron’s fellow student co-director, Luz Perez-Arias, said it’s “amazing” to teach the class because of the students’ eagerness and the research, public speaking, and presentation skills they’re learning. She came through the pipeline program herself as a student at Aquinas High School, which has since closed.

“When these kids learn these skills, they’re going to appreciate it so much when they go to college, because this is something that I’m doing now” as a Gabelli School sophomore, she said. “I know that they’re going to make use out of it, and that makes me happy.”

Cintron and Perez-Arias are recipients of the Gabelli diversity scholarship. It has several contributors, including two lead donors who, as it happens, know what it’s like to be part of an underrepresented group themselves.

Benefactors with Bronx Roots

Eileen Walsh, GABELLI ’76, and Mary Ann Bartels, GABELLI ’85, GSAS ’92, both became supporters of the scholarship via Fordham’s giving circles, a form of participatory philanthropy that grew out of the University’s annual Women’s Summit, for which Bartels has been a keynote speaker.

They were both drawn to support the scholarship because of their own stories. Walsh, a Bronx native and daughter of Irish immigrants, graduated from the Bronx’s Academy of Mt. St. Ursula, now one of the pipeline schools. After graduating from the Gabelli School, she secured a “Big 8” accounting firm job at a time when such a thing was unusual for women.

“I do give credit to Fordham and the Gabelli School for helping me succeed,” she said, “in a very serious position that not many women had at the time.”

She serves as a judge for the pitch competition at the Academy of Mt. St. Ursula and calls it “magical” to see how the students grow through the program.

“They are way ahead of the game,” said Walsh, a retired audit partner at KPMG and member of the Gabelli School advisory board’s executive committee. “They have an idea of what business is, they have an idea of what successful companies are, they have an idea of how poorly and how well the companies may have done because of what they did or didn’t do—and they can give a presentation that will knock your socks off. They effectively know how to work as a team, which in business is huge.”

Bartels also grew up in the Bronx, on City Island. A self-described “risk student,” she was accepted with the help of a strong recommendation from a neighbor who worked at Fordham. “Fordham took a chance on me,” said Bartels, chief investment strategist at Sanctuary Wealth, who believes she would not have had a successful Wall Street career without the help of the University’s faculty and administrators.

She has been giving back to the University for years—as a donor and a member of advisory boards and the President’s Council. The Gabelli scholarship fund caught her interest because she’s well aware of the community it serves. “It’s part of the area that I grew up in, so it really touched my heart,” she said. “To be able to give back to other people in the community that have gifts and talents and can go to, really, an elite institution to further their ability and skillset and interest really appealed to me.”

Cultivating Diversity in Business

There’s “a huge pedagogical imperative” to having greater diversity among Gabelli School students, said Clarence E. Ball III, the school’s director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, who founded and still directs the pipeline program. “Learning outcomes for all students—at the Gabelli School and at the high schools—are increased when they have access to a diverse range of human perspectives,” he said.

Ultimately, businesses need greater diversity in their ranks as they seek to be more socially responsible, he said. “If you want to be an agent for change in society, you need all perspectives of the society in order to be an agent of that change.”

To inquire about giving to any area of the University, please contact Michael Boyd, senior associate vice president for development and university relations, at 212-636-6525 or [email protected]. Learn more about Cura Personalis | For Every Fordham Student, a campaign to reinvest in every aspect of the Fordham student experience.


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