Denis Haxhija, Manhattan College alum from the Bronx, New York City. BROWN HARRIS STEVENS/COURTESY
By Lauren Raziano, Multimedia Editor
Upon graduation from Manhattan College, many alumni stay in the Bronx and continue to keep up their involvement with MC.
Founded in 1869, the Alumni Society at MC is the oldest Catholic alumni association in the country with a rich heritage and a vast professional network.
According to manhattan.edu, “The Alumni Society can provide invaluable networking opportunities. Many of our bright and talented graduates quickly find themselves in influential leadership positions, looking for employees or able to offer meaningful letters of recommendation.”
Many alumni were born in the Bronx and chose to pursue their careers close to home as a way of staying connected with the community they grew up in.
Recent marketing major and real estate minor graduate Dennis Haxhija ‘23, calls himself a “true Bronxite” and wrote to The Quadrangle about how he stays connected with his alma mater and the Bronx community.
“Manhattan College was always a pivotal institution and a special place for many of my friends, relatives, and neighbors, so it was a no-brainer for me to choose MC,” Haxhija wrote. “Although I just graduated this past May, I truly had such a special experience that I know I have to stay connected as much as possible. I have also seen firsthand how so many alumni from various years are tied with the school community in so many ways, which has always been very inspiring.”
Haxhija gives back to the Bronx community with other MC alumni through the Riverdale Main Streets Alliance. The alliance is a non-profit organization that was created to encourage the economic progress of local businesses and maintain the aesthetics of local neighborhoods.
“I serve on their Board as Secretary,” Haxhija wrote. “Some of my fellow board members are Manhattan College alumni too, such as Giordana Avila, Damian McShane (uncle of associate director of career counseling Megan McShane), and Christopher Rizzo.”
Earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Manhattan College, Megan McShane ’13, ’17, worked in the Bronx as a college counselor and school counselor after graduation.
“I worked at a high school in the Bronx after completing my graduate degree, which was most meaningful to me,” McShane wrote in an email to The Quadrangle. “I worked as a school counselor and helped high students through their college application process. During graduate school, I also volunteered in the Bronx often in my free time at Concourse House and Brilla Charter School.”
McShane is now the associate director for the Center for Career Development (CCD) and encourages all alumni to develop a strong network with fellow Jaspers. She also highlighted the mentor program at MC, offered through the CCD, as a prime example of keeping connections alive between students and alumni.
“Before coming back to MC, every job I had I was able to get because of an alum or a professor from Manhattan College,” McShane wrote.“Maintain connections with fellow Jaspers and utilize the network that you have. I also think it’s important to give back and help current students once you’ve graduated.”
Psychology major and Spanish minor graduate Itzel Flores ‘22 came to MC as a first-generation student and knew pursuing higher education was her passion. During her time at Manhattan College, she held a work-study position as an afterschool tutor, which helped her to get to know other local students better.
“Reflecting on my journey from being a student at Manhattan College to an active alumni member I would advise current students to get involved in any opportunity that is offered to them,” Flores wrote in an email to The Quadrangle. “I was able to get the opportunity to work for the Non-Credit Program Office as After School Tutor and Office Assistant. All which gave me leadership and management skills that are currently of great help.”
Growing up in a Spanish-speaking household, Flores is passionate about using her degree to connect with the local Spanish community.
“I would also advise current students to take language courses,” Flores wrote. “I personally took Spanish in order to refine my comprehension and learn more about the history…I am able to have better communication with those around me.”
Around graduation, Flores utilized her MC network to find a position that would allow her to stay close to home and also give back to the community.
“I realized many jobs required higher education and got discouraged,” Itzel wrote. “It wasn’t until I was able to find a position as [a] psychology assistant at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the East Bronx that I realized I did not have to go far to pursue a job. I am able to use the knowledge I learned at Manhattan College for a greater purpose. I am able to work with a community that I can relate with and comprehend.”
Flores recently was a participant in the psychology alumni panel and is grateful that she was able to share her advice to current students.
“I am a recent graduate from Manhattan College and I am still looking for opportunities to give back to Manhattan College. However I did participate in a recent Psychology Alumni Panel where I was able to share my experience at Manhattan College and how that is shaping my post-graduate career,” Flores wrote.
Alumni also play a pivotal role in supporting college initiatives and fundraising efforts, contributing to the ongoing growth and success of the institution.
Debra O. Reich, director of annual giving, enjoys staying connected to alumni and encourages graduates to financially support their alma mater.
“Making gifts to the Fund for Manhattan, allows us to be nimble in how we use these gifts based on our current needs, such as providing scholarships and financial assistance to our students, enhancing student activities and making campus improvements,” Reich wrote in an email to The Quadrangle.
Manhattan College also has regional chapters in cities and states across the US so that alumni can connect and give back wherever they are. The Giving Days and Annual Fund allow alumni to donate to funds that address the gap between tuition and the extraneous expenses providing financial aid, enriching student services and activities and enhancing academic programs and facilities.
“I am always open to hearing from our alumni, students, parents and broader community members about ideas or opportunities to increase support,” Reich wrote. “I am in the process of launching a Student Philanthropy Club and welcome all to participate.”
Beyond the college walls, the alumni from Manhattan College exhibit a strong dedication to supporting the local community, particularly in the Bronx. The bond between Manhattan College alumni and their alma mater extends far beyond graduation, fostering a vibrant and interconnected community.