Skip to main content

Devin D’Agostino, FCRH ’20, Speech for Founder's 2020

“Everyone goes through their dinosaur phase…I never got out of it,” I explained to my adviser during my first year at Fordham. She paused for a moment and responded, “That’s great that you want to study dinosaurs, but then why the heck are you at Fordham?”

Although definitely not what I wanted to hear, it was a reasonable question: “Why is the prospective paleontologist at a Jesuit university on an island where the only place to find your own fossil is in a display case at a Sotheby’s auction?”

At the time, I explained how there are no colleges that provide a bachelor’s degree in paleontology and that a degree in biology would be sufficient for my career aspirations. Although these answers satisfied my adviser, suddenly I was unsure—was I making a mistake?

For the first time in my life, I doubted dinosaurs. Suddenly my image of the paleontologist became less of Dr. Grant from Jurassic Park…and more of Ross from Friends. It was in this crisis of faith that I made the decision to switch to more “realistic” and “accessible” majors, like neuroscience and philosophy.

And yet, strangely enough, I was suddenly encountering dinosaurs everywhere: in Ancient Literature…a picture of the Corinthian helmet clarified to me how the dome-headed Corthyosaurus got its name. In Philosophy of Human Nature…a reading on Plato’s concept of the forms provided to me a method of distinguishing between species in early Archosaurs. In Biopsychology…a lesson on localization in the brain revealed to me how scientists determine the sensory capacities of Tyrannosaurus rex.

That is the magic of a Fordham education: With its multidisciplinary focus and emphasis on exploration, Fordham encourages us to find the unity in all things—a unity that comes from our pursuit of knowledge. Whether it be finance, medieval literature, or dinosaurs…our passions create the unity. Not only does a Fordham education prepare you with the necessary tools to exceed in whatever you pursue—it also provides you with a richer understanding of your interests and the world as a whole.

This dinner celebrates the successful close of Fordham’s Faith & Hope | The Campaign for Financial Aid. More than $175 million was raised in support of scholarships and financial aid—in celebration of Fordham’s 175th anniversary. This gift—your gift—has supported our opportunity to access all that Fordham has to offer.

Your faith in our success has motivated us to pursue every advantage Fordham has to offer. Your hope for our future has encouraged us to use our gift to incite positive change. Faith and hope not only inspire us to take action…they are consequences of the action we take. Having said all of that, I have decided dinosaurs will have to wait a little longer. Besides allowing me to rediscover my passion, Fordham has instilled in me the imperative of service—not only for others—but for the betterment of self. Therefore, I have accepted an offer from Teach for America to work as a science educator in an underserved school district in New York City.

Your gift has motivated me and my fellow Founder’s Scholars to work harder…to make the most of our college experience…and to see the world and society in a new light. Your care and support have allowed us to focus on learning and exploration in the capital of the world. Without your help, many of us would not be here, at this school we call home…and we will always be grateful. Thank you for your faith…thank you for your hope…and thank you for allowing me to discover why the heck I am at Fordham.