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Undergraduate | Aug 13, 2020 |

Students Staying Connected with Innovative New Programs Ahead of the Fall

Summer is quickly drawing to a close, but the Gabelli School of Business has been preparing for the return of students for the start of the fall semester with the Upperclass Summer Engagement Experience. In previous summers, returning students received a summer reading assignment designated by class year. This year, to engage students even further, a more interactive approach was taken to that assignment. 

The Upperclass Summer Engagement Experience brought in four faculty members to serve as leaders for the program – Sophia Town, Genevieve O’Connor, Mario DiFiore, and Bozena Mierzejewska – to create a program for students that includes a requirement to engage with digital content (i.e., videos, TedTalks, podcasts, etc.) and sessions related to each faculty member’s specialty research area. 

This opportunity allowed students to remain connected to the Gabelli School of Business throughout the summer months. “The summer engagement program was a meaningful measure to strengthen our bond with our students. Through this program, students were able to reconnect with each other, faculty, and Fordham in a relaxed personalized setting. After our meeting it reaffirmed my belief that we are a family that genuinely cares about each other, our community, and our school,” said Genevieve O’Connor, assistant professor of Marketing.

Virtual Simulations 

Assistant Dean and Senior Advisor Mario DiFiore designed a 90-minute investment trading simulation with real time data feeds on the Stock Trak Trading Simulation through Zoom. Not your typical classroom lecture experience, DiFiore provided students with the opportunity to “swap stories, research securities and execute trades in a fast paced, lively, enjoyable and in some cases, humorous environment.” 

At Fordham’s Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses students would normally learn with high-tech, polished trading rooms, Bloomberg data terminals, state-of-the-art trading desks, and live stock tickers. Just like that experience, but from the comfort of their own home, the students were able to compete against hundreds of their classmates, identify their own cognitive and behavioral markers and gain valuable insights into their decision making skills. But unlike their previous classroom experience, all of this was completed virtually.

“We used to say that necessity is the mother of invention, and indeed, we’re seeing a good amount of that innovation in the new Summer Engagement Experience,” said DiFiore.

Mindfulness While Remote

Professor Sophia Town led a workshop on mindful leadership which provided students with strategies for practicing wise and compassionate leadership, particularly in the face of complexity. Town said she was very impressed by the students’ level of engagement with the workshop. ”Not only did students ask deep questions and share valuable examples from their own lives, but they also requested follow-up resources to continue their learning journey. This is the type of engagement and participation that truly enlivens our learning spaces. I found this summer program to be a wholly rewarding experience, and I am grateful to have been involved.” 

Resilience Through Tough Times

Associate Professor and Area Chair of the Communications and Media Management Area Bozena Mierzejewska led three groups of students in a workshop on resilience, ways to build it, and how to develop personal strategies for coping with challenges. The students engaged with pre-work: a TED Talk and a writing assignment reflecting on their personal role models. Over 100 students participated in the online workshop where they worked in teams and prepared personal resiliency strategies, shared tips with each other and provided feedback. 

The students were able to take away ideas about how to approach resiliency, take care of themselves, successfully communicate and how to move forward in difficult situations. The students will be able to apply these ideas in the coming school year to make the most of any difficult situation they may encounter.

Continuing the Engagement Experience

In addition to the sessions led by professors, we offered optional sessions for students as a part of this experience that included a career prep session with the office of personal and professional development (PPD). The students also learned asynchronous mindfulness and stress management tools to prepare them for the fall and the coming years.

While this upperclass engagement experience is virtual, the sessions are extremely interactive and have allowed the students to further themselves and their education during this time when normalcy can seem so distant. Mierzejewska concluded that the experience gave the students a sense of what online classes might look like so they can be prepared and excited for the upcoming semester. “I think that summer engagement is a great opportunity for them to stay connected with the school, be in touch with peers and maybe even get to know somebody new.”

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