Who she is: Assistant Dean for Student Support & Success, Fordham College at Rose Hill
What she does: She is working to boost student retention, provide students with meaningful academic counseling, and help them feel like Fordham is home.
How long at Fordham: Eleven years (A month and a half as assistant dean)
She remembers the lilt of bachata and salsa songs in the streets, the hydrants spouting water in the summertime, the graffiti that felt more like art than vandalism. She spent her childhood in the Bronx—a place that, after many years, still feels like home. And it was there, in the Bronx, that she found Fordham.
“I would drive by campus and see campus as a kid, but I didn’t know what it was,” said Christie-Belle Garcia, the new assistant dean for student support and success at Fordham College at Rose Hill. “And then years later, I came to Fordham. It was kind of foreshadowing, right?”
Garcia grew up in the Bedford Park neighborhood—a nine-minute walk from Fordham’s Rose Hill campus. She was raised by her mother, a NewYork-Presbyterian nutritionist, and her father, a sales representative in the milk industry. Garcia’s parents immigrated to the Bronx from the Dominican Republic in the ’70s. Her father, she said, showed her the value of networking and making meaningful connections with strangers.
“I learned that really early,” said Garcia. “That people matter. Relationships matter. And that everyone’s connected in some way, shape, or form.”
She decided to become a teacher. But as an education graduate student at Manhattanville College, Garcia didn’t take on a traditional teaching position. She started working as a counselor with the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) , a statewide program that helps underrepresented or economically disadvantaged students succeed in the STEM fields. Instead of following a standard curriculum in a …