By Joanna Klimaski
Above, Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, greets new arrivals on campus; below right, sophomore Elle Crane dons Ram horns to welcome freshmen and help them move their belongings in.
Photos by Bruce Gilbert
VIDEO: Freshmen take the Plunge
To watch the video, go to www.fordham.edu/urbanplunge
With packed cars and anxious families, the Class of 2017 made its entrance on Fordham’s campuses on Aug. 25. But thanks to dozens of veteran student and staff volunteers, the day went off without a hitch for the hundreds of new resident students, who arrived from as near as Queens and as far as Azerbaijan.
At Fordham’s Rose Hill campus, perfect weather and a reassuring band of greeters kept freshmen nerves at bay. By 7:30 a.m., Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, and other administrators were stationed at the entrance to welcome families.
Father McShane flagged down cars to offer passengers water bottles and words of welcome.
“You’re moving into Alumni South?” he asked a student arriving from Pennsylvania. “Do you have a fan? Good—you’ll need it.”
The jovial warning was followed by his reassurance that everyone would be well taken care of. “When you get to the dorms, let the student leaders handle everything,” he said.
At Martyrs’ Court, Loschert Hall, and the other freshmen dorms, families received a boisterous reception from New Student Orientation (NSO) leaders, who had volunteered to move students into their dorm rooms.
Rose Hill sophomore Elle Crane donned a bonnet with ram horns for the occasion, hoping that a crazy hat might soothe especially nervous newcomers.
“I just want to make sure that when the freshmen come, they know that the people who are moving them in have found a community here and love this place,” she said.
NSO leaders also made a point of welcoming new freshmen on a first-name basis, and newcomers found the personalized welcome a memorable feature.
“My mom was holding it together pretty well, until she heard them shout my name—then she burst into tears,” said Conner Raggo, who had driven with his parents from White Plains, N.Y. that morning.
Though anxiety was unavoidable, the day’s expert orchestration was a relief to parents with sedans and SUVs filled to capacity.
“Everyone is so friendly and helpful,” said Cleveland native Karen Kruse, mother of incoming freshman Kyle. “We must’ve been asked 100 times if we have any questions or need any help.”
Inside the dorms, while NSO leaders deposited books, tubs of clothing, and miscellany into the rooms, the new students were meeting their roommates. Some had already connected with one another over Facebook to divvy up bringing the large appliances, such as refrigerators and televisions.
For two families, such planning ahead was essential. Jackie Ramos, of Long Beach, Calif., had met her roommate, Courtney Acito, through their Fordham rowing coach. To help Ramos make the cross-country move, Acito’s family invited the Ramoses to their Cherry Hill, N.J., home a few days before move-in to shop for supplies they couldn’t fly with.
New roommates Courtney Acito, left, and Jackie Ramos, right, met through their rowing coach.
Photo by Bruce Gilbert
“We’ve melded our families—East Coast and West Coast,” said Acito’s father, Frank.
Fordham welcomed 1,963 students to the Class of 2017, with 1,505 of those students at Rose Hill and 458 at Lincoln Center. The University made just over 17,000 offers to 36,000 high school applicants, an acceptance rate of 47 percent.
“This was our 22nd consecutive year of application growth,” said John W. Buckley, associate vice president for undergraduate enrollment.
The freshman class has a mean score of 1268 on the SAT and ACT and a mean high school GPA of 3.6. Consequently, 199 students were accepted as presidential, dean’s, and semifinalist scholars.
Members of the new class hail from 43 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. A notable difference between this class and last year’s is the number of international students who have enrolled—a total of 136, up from last year’s 87 students. Buckley said it has been one of Fordham’s priorities to develop that cohort.
“We now have two dedicated members of the team working specifically on international recruitment, and I think we’ll see even greater diversity going forward in terms of where students are coming from.”
At the Fordham College at Lincoln Center campus, incoming freshmen were greeted by orientation leaders armed with large cardboard moving boxes and hearty cheers of welcome.
Therese Meily, from Toms River, N.J., was excited by the prospect of exploring her new home with roommate Emily Rubino, of Towaco, N.J.
“I’m from the suburbs of New Jersey, so [the city] is going to be very different,” said Meily.
Meily and Rubino moved in a few days early for the Urban Plunge program, which introduced 125 new freshmen to community development in culturally diverse neighborhoods (see video below.) For Rubino, Urban Plunge was an ideal opportunity for a humanitarian background.
“I’m interested in global nonprofit organizations, so this was an excellent gateway,” she said.
On the third floor of McMahon Hall, San Diego, Calif., resident Brilynn Rakes and her mother, Deborah Rakes, beamed at the new surroundings.
Even though this was Deborah Rakes’ fourth time moving a daughter to college, both mother and daughter said the move has been emotional. Brilynn was one of just 25 students selected from 400 applicants for the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. in Dance program. As she is both legally blind and colorblind, she faces special challenges.
“Everything with dance is all about balance so when you can’t see five feet in front of you, dancing can be very difficult,” said Rakes. “Most dancers rely on their vision 100 percent of the time, but I have to move from how I feel.”
Rakes said that being in a big city environment puts most necessities “at my fingertips.”
“I think everything’s going to work out really well,” she said.
(Angie Chen contributed to this report.)