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Legacy Families Celebrate Graduates

Legacy Families Celebrate Graduates

By Miles Doyle, FCRH '01

Before sending her son, James Conmy, CBA ’08, off into the world, Joan Conmy makes a few last-minute adjustments, as her husband, James Conmy, FCRH ’74, offers his son a steady shoulder during the Office of Alumni Relations' annual pre-commencement legacy breakfast in the William D. Walsh Family Library. Photo by Bruce Gilbert.
Prior to the start of the University’s 163rd annual Commencement on May 17, the Office of Alumni Relations hosted a reception in the William D. Walsh Family Library for Fordham alumni with family members in this year’s graduating class. Over mimosas and bagels, more than 80 family members swapped stories about their alma mater and toasted the success of their sons and daughters—and, in a few cases, their grandchildren.

William Ahearn, FCRH ’79 and GSAS ’82, was one of the alumni on hand. He attended the reception while his daughter, Caitlin, a philosophy major, prepared for the ceremony.
“It’s great to come back here for [Caitlin’s] graduation,” he said. “It’s going to be a pretty emotional day.”  

Ahearn said his daughter’s decision to attend Fordham meant a great deal to him and his family.

“Jesuit education has always been in the family,” he explained. “It’s a nice thing [for Caitlin] to carry on, and it’s nice for her to come and experience the same things with the Jesuits that her family has experienced.”

Legacy alumni were also invited to march in the commencement procession. Two alumni in particular, Michael Byrnes, CBA ’78, and James Conmy, FCRH ’74, acted as alumni banner bearer and marshal for the ceremony, respectively. Both attended the morning reception.

Conmy, donning a ceremonial sash for commencement, said Fordham was like a second home for his son, James, a marketing major in the College of Business Administration, because of the number of times he brought the family up to Rose Hill from their home in Philadelphia. 

“He’s always liked Fordham,” Conmy said. “It’s a place he’s always felt comfortable.”

Conmy’s wife, Joan, said one of the family’s first photographs of James was taken on Edwards Parade.

“We loved him loving it,” she said. “We’re going to miss coming up here so often.”

While Conmy and other alumni anticipated their children’s graduation, Eileen Francesconi (née Hoey), UGE ’53, who was voted “Miss Fordham” by her senior class, was on hand to celebrate the graduation of her grandson, Chris Putrino, who received a degree in communications and media studies with a minor in Spanish from Fordham College at Lincoln Center. Francesconi, who retired from a 30-year career as a teacher and administrator in 1990, said she was as excited for her grandson’s graduation as she was for her own.

“I have goose bumps,” she said. “This is a wonderful day.”

Several members of the Class of 2008 made it to Walsh Library to share in the early morning festivities.

Michael Zablauskas, a sociology major and history minor, said he transferred to Fordham in 2003 largely because his mother, Deidre, UGE ’71 and GSE ’75, and father, Richard Zablauskas, FCLC ’75, always spoke fondly of their time at Fordham.

“I’m about to start a new period in my life,” Zablauskas said. “It’s great to have my parents here for this.”

His father agreed.

“For [Michael] to graduate from the same school we did is spectacular,” Michael Zablauskas said. “This is big time for us.”

—Miles Doyle, FCRH '01, is the associate editor of FORDHAM magazine.

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