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Future Early Childhood/Childhood Education Teachers Awarded Valerie A. Rowe Scholarships

On October 19, 2021, Fordham University president Father Joseph McShane, S.J., Valerie Rowe, Ph.D., and Fordham Graduation School of Education dean José Luis Alvarado, Ph.D., gathered with faculty, staff and families to award the 2021 Valerie A Rowe Scholarships to three future early childhood/childhood education teachers. The scholarships provide merit-based aid to full-time students in these programs who demonstrate academic excellence and commitment to cura personalis. The programs center on teaching educators how to value, educate, and serve all children in inclusive learning environments; to be teachers who understand the intricacies of race, religion, sexuality, and socioeconomic status; and to recognize children’s individual strengths and needs, including the community cultural wealth they bring with them and the systemic challenges and opportunities that impact their experiences in schools and the community.

The first Rowe scholarship recipient, Michael Benton, was introduced by curriculum and teaching associate professor Molly Ness, Ph.D. As he accepted the scholarship, Benton stated, “I am very grateful and honored to be a recipient of the Valerie A. Rowe Scholarship. I am eager to begin my career as an educator and pay forward the kindness and dedication that my teachers have shown me. As a child, school was a major cause of anxiety for me. I struggled to find my footing within the classroom and could never sit still for the duration of a lesson. It wasn’t until high school that I truly felt academically on par with my peers. I learned to love education while attending a science-magnet school, and experienced active hands-on learning for the first time. Here at Fordham GSE, I was able to move around while I learned and applied knowledge in a controlled academic setting. It was also here where I developed a passion for teaching and helping those who struggle in the classroom, much like I did. I am currently student teaching at P.S. 71, the Rose E. Scala School, in a 1st grade classroom, and learning new things every day. I am proud to be a part of Fordham’s Graduate School of Education and this scholarship is helping my dream become reality.”

The second Rowe scholarship recipient, Cristina Perez, attended the scholarship presentation ceremony via Zoom, and was introduced by curriculum and teaching professor Chun Zhang, Ph.D. Perez began with a simple declaration, “ I am so unbelievably grateful.” She added, “I am honored to be recognized for my potential as an extraordinary teacher. Ever since I was a kid, teaching was the only thing I could ever see myself doing, and I get so excited at the thought of leading my own classroom next year. I am so thankful to both my high school teachers and college professors, who have shown their faith in me to be an excellent teacher. I hope I can not only meet their expectations, but also exceed them.”

Zhang also introduced the third Rowe Scholarship recipient, Kimberly Schwartz, who expressed her gratitude for receiving the scholarship: “One of my biggest worries for the past year has been the financial burden of living in New York City while taking classes and teaching; I was taking out a lot of loans to be able to make rent and buy food in addition to paying tuition. This scholarship has truly lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. It provides me with enough financial help that I can significantly lessen my loans. I always work really hard to build relationships with my professors and earn good grades in my courses. It makes me feel accomplished to know my hard work has been acknowledged and noticed. Thank you again for providing me this opportunity, which has absolutely made a huge difference in my life.”

The scholarship’s namesake, Valerie Rowe, Ph.D., attended the presentation, as well. She stated, “It is wonderful to see all the recipients who are receiving the scholarships and understand who they are. Congratulations on this award and all your hard work. Faculty who believe you will be outstanding teachers chose you. You have the talent to be in the classroom and exhibit good foundations for your success. When you leave here, you will have a much broader experience and you will impact many lives.”

Father Joseph M. McShane, S.J., Fordham’s president, noted: “When Valerie established these scholarships, she did it with noble purpose. She had the clarity and vision to invest in the future, in faith, and in teachers. Valerie and her husband Jack have always wanted to meet the students they were helping. They wanted to touch the hearts of these scholars, and her faith in them inspires students to succeed.”

Dean Alvarado then concluded the remarks with one simple statement, “Go forth and make us proud.”


Valerie A. Rowe earned her doctorate at Fordham and was a clinical associate professor at GSE in the Division of Curriculum and Teaching from 1999 to 2009.  She has continued to support GSE and education in New York City. In 2010, she and her husband made a $530,000 gift to the University to establish an endowed scholarship at GSE. It is one of the largest gifts ever received by the school in its 95-year history.


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