Family's Fordham Legacy Continues Beyond Graduation
by Jennifer Spencer
The Moccia family on Edwards Parade after 2012 Commencement. From left, John, Stephen, Jeanne, and William.
It's no surprise people often refer to the Fordham community as "the Fordham family." The warm community, caring faculty, and lifelong connection of engaged alumni all cause Fordham to become a second family to many.
Blood families often have deep Fordham ties, as well. Legacies are nothing out of the ordinary; fathers and sons, brothers and sisters often convene at Fordham over the years.
That sense of legacy runs especially deep for Stephen Moccia, FCRH '12. His older brother William graduated from Fordham in 2009. Father John, GSB '76, and mother Jeanne, FCRH '76 and GSAS '78, met as students at Fordham College at Rose Hill, marrying in the University Church in 1985.
Jeanne grew up "10 minutes from the gate of Fordham." All of her four siblings attended. Her father, Stephen's grandfather, was a graduate of Fordham Law.
Though it could quite justifiably be said that Fordham is indeed in his blood, Stephen said what made his college experience so great was jumping in with both feet and making it his own.
"My whole family went to Fordham," Stephen said. "There's a strong connection that goes back even before I was there, but having my own unique opportunities made it even more special."
John, GSB '76, and Jeanne, FCRH '76 and GSAS '78, exiting the University Church after their wedding in 1985.
John and Jeanne said the Fordham University their sons graduated from is a very different place from the Fordham they attended in the 1970s. John, like many students at the time, commuted to campus, making the drive from his childhood home in Manhattan's West Village to the Bronx each day.
John said the Fordham experience his sons have had shows how the University has grown and adapted over time.
"When I was at Fordham, there wasn't as much hanging around for extra curricular activities. You'd go to the gym, and play basketball, and throw the football around," he said.
"But the boys both lived on campus, and were on The Ram. They got to socialize a lot more, and be much more involved. It shows growth with the times," he said.
William and Stephen also both participated in the University Honors Program. John said the integrated academic approach and access to some of the country's best faculty was a significant factor in his sons' decisions to continue their family's Fordham tradition.
"There's a great thought process behind how the University's approaching the education for the students today," he said.
Though both the campus and the family have grown and changed much over the years, John said Fordham continues to be a significant part of the Moccia family's life. Basketball season tickets have kept John on campus for more than 40 years.
"I just finished my 40th year of Fordham basketball, and I've only missed only six home games in all that time," he said. "While the boys were there, they'd come over on a Tuesday night, we'd go to Arthur Avenue, and have a quick dinner."
Stephen was involved with a variety of activities, in and out of the classroom. In addition to the Honors program, Stephen also worked on the campus newspaper The Ram and as a photographer for the Office of Development and Alumni Relations.
His student involvement and leadership opportunities helped him land a job after Fordham. Stephen began work just two weeks after graduation in the cybercrime identity theft bureau of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.
Stephen said his biggest advice to current students would be to waste no time exploring all that Fordham has to offer.
"From the beginning, ask a lot of questions. Get involved. Learn how things work. Don't wait," Stephen said.
"My attitude was, 'Go for everything, and try as much as possible,'" he said. "If you try something and don't like it, that's fine, but expose yourself to things early so you have a chance to see how Fordham works."
Though the family's time of having students on campus has come to a close, at least for now, their connection as alumni runs deep. Though John said they will miss the opportunity to attend this year's Family Weekend, they plan to be at Homecoming in September.
"It's interesting because now, with Stephen gone, it's back to being our alma mater. The occasions for us to be up there are a lot less, which will be an adjustment period," John said.
The Moccias also frequently gather with friends from their Fordham days to reconnect and reminisce.
"I'm the unofficial PR person amongst our classmates, -- the ringleader who get people together for Homecoming, barbeques, and events," Jeanne said.
Jeanne also volunteers on Fordham's campus at Murray Weigel Hall, which serves as the infirmary building for the Jesuits of the New York Province.
The Moccias first started visiting Murray Weigel Hall when John's college guidance counselor moved in. Jeanne also had the opportunity to spend time with Fr. Robert Dobbins, S.J., the priest who married the Moccias, through her volunteer work.
Whether through their involvement on campus or simply a stroll through the neighborhood, Jeanne said she has always found a sense of peace in the beauty of Rose Hill.
"I really delight in every time I set foot on campus. People refer to it as an oasis in the Bronx, and that's exactly what it is. When my dad was sick, I would walk over to campus, and there was such a sense of serenity," she said.