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2017 Gifts and Benefactors Ram Signpost

Scholarship Donors and Recipients

2021 Scholarship Donors and Recipients

Joseph M. McShane, S.J.

Dear Members of the Fordham Family,

Once again, we have arrived at spring, a season of renewal that coincides with some of the most cherished rites of the year at Fordham. Normally, we would be gathering for our annual reception honoring scholarship donors and celebrating their impact on the lives of our students. This gathering will resume in years to come, when the pandemic is behind us. In the meantime, we would like to give you some inkling of the impact of your generosity. Please take a few minutes to hear from some of our benefactors and scholarship recipients. Their messages are but a small sampling of the overflowing gratitude brought about by scholarships every year at Fordham.

Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President of Fordham University

Supporting Access for All

Watch a personal message from Valerie Irick Rainford, FCRH ’86, Fordham University trustee and benefactor of the Trustee Diversity Fund and the Rainford Scholarship Fund.

Read a Fordham News story about Valerie’s commitment to removing financial barriers for undergraduates and increasing diversity at Fordham.

I believe we each must do what we can from where we sit to make a difference in a young person’s life.


Messages of Gratitude from 2021 Scholarship Recipients

Samantha Barrett, GABELLI ’21
Scholarship: Joan and John E. Toffolon Jr. Presidential Endowed Scholarship

When I received notice of the scholarship...it immediately instilled in me a sense of responsibility. I instantly knew that someone believed in me.

Daniela Akoh, UPS Endowed Scholars Program Recipient.

Daniela Akoh, FCRH ’24
Scholarship: The UPS Endowed Scholars Program

“My ambition, my drive, and my passion, could only take me so far. There were matters out of my control that pushed my visions just out of reach. Your generous donation brought those visions to light, and I couldn’t be more thankful. I now live amongst those beautiful verdant plains, that stunning, Gothic architecture. I now take part in three of Fordham’s clubs (FLAVA, Ampersand, and Fordham Business Development Collaboratory), and have a brilliant time doing so. I’m now on a pathway to UX/UI Design, studying computer science with a minor in visual arts. I now have a gorgeous campus to read my favorite books, to write my novel. A dream I had visualized has now been realized, and not even a pandemic could obstruct it. This couldn’t be done without your help, and that means the world to me. I can do you proud, now. I know I can.”


Alia Benabdeljalil, Gabelli School of Business Undergraduate Scholarship and Starr Foundation Endowed Scholarship Recipient

Alia Benabdeljalil, GABELLI ’22
Scholarships: Gabelli School of Business Undergraduate Scholarship, Starr Foundation Endowed Scholarship

“With the rise of this pandemic, I have lost much of the stability I once took for granted. I found myself moving around housing arrangements and working in various environments while attempting to learn as much as I could and keep my grades high. While funding my education has been a challenge, knowing I had your support was a source of reassurance I am extremely grateful for during these uncertain times. Beyond this ability to continue my secondary education, your act of kindness has filled me with an immeasurable drive to succeed so that I can give back to a new generation of students in the future.”


Sabrina Zavarelli, Darlene Luccio Jordan, Esq., and Gerald R. Jordan Jr., Endowed Scholarship

Sabrina Zavarelli, FCRH ’22
Scholarship: Darlene Luccio Jordan, Esq., and Gerald R. Jordan Jr. Endowed Scholarship

“Your award has allowed me to make the most of my undergraduate years by alleviating financial stress and permitting my focus to be directed solely towards my classes, extracurricular activities, and future plans. I look to both of you as role models and hope that one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as you have helped me achieve mine.


Alban Celaj, The Brian and Kathleen MacLean Scholarship Fund and the Gach Family Endowed Scholarship Fund Recipient

Alban Celaj, GABELLI ’22
Scholarships: The Brian and Kathleen MacLean Scholarship Fund, The Gach Family Endowed Scholarship Fund

“I strongly appreciate the entire academic experience at Fordham along with the clubs, and without your generosity, this would have absolutely not been possible. As a low-income student from the Bronx and child of Yugoslavian immigrants without much opportunity, your generosity has allowed me to really get to open my eyes. It is not just the academics at Fordham that I value, it is the entire experience.”


Arbi Kumi, The Michael J. Passarelli, Jr. Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund Recipient

Arbi Kumi, FCLC ’21
Scholarship: The Michael J. Passarelli Jr. Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund

“As a pre-medical student who is also a psychology major, I am very much moved by people’s personal stories, especially with regard to their health and well-being and the obstacles they face in overcoming illness. I can only hope that, in trying to make the world a healthier and more loving space for individuals who face so much stigma—guided by the Jesuit values of cura personalis, men and women for others, and magis that Fordham has inculcated in me—I will honor Michael’s legacy and uphold the integrity of the Michael J. Passarelli Memorial Endowed Scholarship.”


Roscoe Garner, the Brendan C. Pfalzgraf Endowed Scholarship Fund Recipient

Roscoe Garner, FCRH ’21
Scholarship: The Brendan C. Pfalzgraf Endowed Scholarship Fund

“I remember thinking back to freshman year and not thinking I was good enough for any education beyond a bachelors, and I feel so lucky but also proud of everything I’ve been able to accomplish. And I also know that is in large part due to your generosity through the scholarship in honor of the late Brendan Pfalzgraf. Your scholarship has allowed me to have such a formative four years here at Fordham, and I am so grateful to be able to call this place home.”


Maya Giardina, The Biagio and Anna LaPila Endowed Scholarship Fund Recipient.

Maya Giardina, FCRH ’24
Scholarship: The Biagio and Anna LaPila Endowed Scholarship Fund

“Having grown up in Queens and attended Bronx High School of Science, I see Fordham as a place that links where I am from, to a network of people and ideas that are much larger than I ever imagined. Meeting my peers and professors from all over the globe and having the opportunity to learn from them has been a privilege, and I am humbled that it was offered to me. Thanks to your support, I hope that one day I might be able join the network of alumni and contribute to Fordham’s vast culture of learning and knowledge.”


Evonny Escoto-Betancour, The Francis J. Connolly Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund Recipient

Evonny Escoto-Betancout, FCRH ’14, GSS ’25
Scholarship: The Francis J. Connolly Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund

“As a Fordham University graduate, I am grounded in the Jesuit tradition of cura personalis and the tenet of magis on a daily basis. Cura personalis encourages one to care for the whole person, similarly to the core values of social work. If we do not think of people as a whole, we are doing a disservice in how we understand and support them. After taking Contemporary Social Welfare and Policy last fall, I came to understand the scope of social work practice and how transformative social workers can be within different societal institutions. I believe the skills, training, and perspective a social worker brings is incredibly necessary in education and I thank you for your support!”


Mai Fahmy, the Clare Boothe Luce Scholarship Fund Recipient.

Mai Fahmy, GSAS ‘28
Scholarship: The Clare Boothe Luce Scholarship Fund

Your contributions have allowed me to focus on my research, which is impacting some of the world’s most ecologically threatened habitats. For my dissertation, I am using blood-feeding terrestrial leeches to survey biodiversity. This method—known as iDNA (ingested DNA)—targets residual DNA in the bloodmeals of leeches to identify their hosts and thus the species composition of a sample area. This work will allow us to target some of the world’s most endangered species. With your help, I have been able to dedicate my time towards testing various methodologies to make this method as simple as possible—with the goal of making it an attractive option for conservation practitioners.”