A Graduation Message from a Departing Senior – The Fordham Ram

As graduation nears, I and many other seniors face the ever-present theme of change. The transition from Fordham University to the “real world” is a phenomenon that intimidates many people, myself included. Conversations around graduation tend to be pessimistic and focused on ending an era rather than starting a new one.

With the theme of change in mind, walking around campus and New York City over the past few weeks, it has been hard not to notice the changes around us. On campus, I see the changes from the start of the Class of 2024 at this school to today. In early 2020, the McShane Campus Center was known as “McGinley” and was under construction. Students walked through scaffolding to enter and half of the building was completely closed off. Ram Fit was half its current size and you entered it by mail. Today, McShane’s is a gleaming new building waiting in a new market.

The start of the Class of 2024 at Fordham has been filled with COVID-19 precautions. No in-person classes, masks required everywhere, students not allowed in a residence hall where they didn’t live, mandatory quarantine, etc. Despite the weather, social gatherings were held outside at Eddie’s, and finding an outdoor table was a hot commodity. Thinking back to the beginning of our college experience, it’s shocking how far the restrictions have gone and how far the world has progressed.

Fordham’s administration has changed. In 2022, President Tania Tetlow marked changes in Fordham’s history of all Jesuit presidents. As with any change in leadership, Tetlow leadership has changed campus culture and protocols.

In the Fordham neighborhood, the Class of 2024 has seen businesses come and go. While many of Arthur Avenue’s staples have remained strong, new restaurants, businesses and buildings are springing up, changing the appearance of the street.

New York City as a whole is constantly changing. From my perspective, I have seen the city struggle with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Things were shut down in 2020 (like the rest of the world). The restaurants on Arthur Avenue were open-air, the subways were empty and the city was quieter. Now it’s vibrant and full of life.

As for the Class of 2024, everyone I’ve spoken to in recent weeks has talked about their transformation at Fordham. People talked about changing majors and, therefore, career paths. Some said they joined a club they didn’t know and it changed their lives. Others said they came out of their shells at college and met their best friends. People have completed impressive internships, made connections, and entered their chosen industries. Most importantly, students have grown, evolved, and become different versions of those who first arrived on campus in August 2020.

For my part, I arrived on campus terrified. I didn’t know anyone and I was counting the days until I could go home to my family. Today, I made better friends and changed my career path. These changes, which I’m glad happened, wouldn’t have been possible without being a little uncomfortable in a new environment.

It is important to reflect on the changes that have already occurred because they provide hope for changes to come. The next era of life will be stressful. Many things will change, and many of them may be difficult to manage. But, as with Fordham in 2020, these changes can also be positive. Like going to college, changes can force a person to grow and evolve.

Graduation and the next few years have been a constant source of conversation between my close friends and I over the past few weeks. These conversations are often bittersweet, but we talk about the changes we have already experienced. Whether these changes are physical in the space around us or more personal and internal changes, they all contribute to the people we are today. So, as we leave Fordham and enter a new phase of life, I encourage everyone to view these next few years as a positive time to become better, stronger individuals. Leaving Fordham is sad, but it’s also exciting and the start of a new chapter – and moving forward, adopting this attitude can help us harness all that this new phase of life has to offer.