Stay curious. Attack life.

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 9.39.30 PM (2)This is it: Fordham Daily’s last post! Breathe a sigh of relief, shed a tear — I’ll be doing both.

I’ll always remember what my dad, a proud Fordham grad with a philosophy degree, told me just before we parted ways in front of Queen’s Court — the building he had inhabited some 30 years earlier — on a humid day in August 2011.

“Attack life,” he said, encouraging me to take risks and submerge myself in the unique culture of Rose Hill: new relationships, academic challenges and opportunities that had the potential to shape the direction of my life for years to come.

Blunt, but profound, it’s an important coming-of-age sentiment that too often gets lost among students entrenched by either a range of social pressures or overwrought calculations propelled by naive assumptions. Jump in, the water’s fine! Try it out; if you don’t like it, pivot to something else. Now’s the time! After all, you only get four years here — you might as well make them count.

While it will of course be hard to part ways with the beauty of Keating Hall’s shadow on Eddie’s Parade and the professors who have made a significant impact on my young life, the hardest part of leaving will be saying goodbye to the home I have spent four years developing here. From the outside, this campus is a factory, a revolving door of 20-somethings constantly shuffling in and out. But from the inside, it’s a lifestyle: a home, a place of work, a network of friends, dinner-table debates and late-night venting sessions.

Fordham will always be home, and for that I am grateful.

For better or worse, I came to campus knowing exactly what I wanted: journalism.

I wanted to analyze it, read it, watch it, listen to it, meet the people who created it and maybe even make some of my own. As I would discover over the course of several years, reporting on the campus where you live and study can be the easiest endeavor in the world. Stories abound everywhere, and sources are as far as a neighbor’s door or the cafeteria.

But stepping outside the bubble to tell stories that carry lasting significance — the ones that highlight misconduct or shortfalls, the ones that hold people to account and call upon administrators and students leaders to answer tough questions — is almost impossible. The sacrifice is great and the reward often rests at personal satisfaction.

While some have nobly served Fordham by becoming USG representatives, CAB programmers, RAs, retreat leaders or tutors, I knew that asking questions and then sharing those answers would be my greatest contribution to campus. While much of what I’ve written has been perceived as critical of the University, everything I’ve done has been to serve the student body and help make Fordham the best it possibly can be.

I have no axe to grind, no personal vendetta to fulfill. I’m not a radical or even an activist. Holding higher powers to account, seeking to mend injustice and giving voice to the voiceless are among the principals I’ve taken away from four years of Jesuit education here (and four years prior at a Jesuit high school). I hope I’ve made some difference.

Thank you to Rev. Joseph McShane, S.J., and all of Fordham’s administrators for allowing me to stay enrolled here, by the way. I have found most administrators and staff really care and are rooting for students — I hope their work is never taken for granted.

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After spending two years at The Fordham Ram — I was named news editor as a freshman and editor-in-chief as a sophomore — I had the crazy idea to start this website. With no staff, no budget and no plan, Fordham Daily launched from my Walsh dorm room in February 2014.

Since then, I — and my friend John Bonazzo, also a senior (without whom this would not exist) — published 228 posts, attracting over 200,000 page views, 1,798 Facebook “fans” and 1,464 Twitter followers. I’ll always be grateful to my roommates and my mom, the earliest adopters of this blog. 

As I look back at my time at Fordham, these are the stories I am most proud of bringing to light:

I would like to thank to particularly thank the RAs, students, parents, alumni and administrators who have sent me messages of support and encouragement after reading my recent report, “RAs SPEAK OUT: ResLife has become mismanaged workplace.” Since publishing it on April 27, the article has been viewed at least 45,000 times, sparking conversation — and hopefully change — on campus and off like I have never seen before.

While the report shed an embarrassing light, my goal wasn’t to smear, but to educate and to make better. Students always deserve to have their voices heard — even the ones who work for the University. Stick up for each other and have the courage to make yourself heard. I have found that if you chase the truth long enough, eventually it will chase you back. There is much left to say.

“More than finding the right job or city or spouse – I’m scared of losing this web we’re in. This elusive, indefinable, opposite of loneliness. This feeling I feel right now.

But let us get one thing straight: the best years of our lives are not behind us. They’re part of us and they are set for repetition as we grow up and move to New York and away from New York and wish we did or didn’t live in New York. I plan on having parties when I’m 30. I plan on having fun when I’m old. Any notion of THE BEST years comes from clichéd ‘should haves…’ ‘if I’d…’ ‘wish I’d…'”

I’ve been thinking about these words as I pack up the last of my dorm room knickknacks and prepare to start a new job at The New York Post

The above passage is an excerpt from a column, titled “The Opposite of Loneliness,” that Marina Keegan wrote for The Yale Daily News shortly before she graduated in 2012. She was a gifted writer with a bright future ahead. Five days after graduation she died in a car accident. It was a voice we lost too soon.

I’d like to dedicate this blog to Marina’s memory and to the memory of the late New York Times columnist David Carr who inspired me to write in the first place.

Thanks for the advice, Dad. I couldn’t be prouder to walk in your footsteps as a third-generation Ram. If in 25 years or so I’m lucky enough to be back at Queen’s Court to drop off my son or daughter, I’ll know just what to say.

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