Jesuit education is a tie that binds. It can bring together people from six different continents who may have very little in common outside of their shared educational experience. It is a gift that keeps paying dividends throughout one’s life and an experience many hope to pass along to their children. This can be said for Joe and AnitaRose Dziwura P ’13, ‘16, ’19 – two people who grew up in different parts of the United States and were brought together on the Rose Hill Campus. They are now passing along the gift of Jesuit education to their sons and through their contributions to the Fordham Prep Annual Fund to other young men who may not be able to afford a Jesuit education.
Joe Dziwura grew up in Michigan and attended Campion Jesuit High School, a Jesuit boarding school for boys in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. When Campion closed in 1975, Joe traveled further west and finished his high school education at Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, California. The experience at both schools, especially his interactions with the Jesuits, left an indelible impact on Joe.
“Many of the lay teachers, Jesuit priests and brothers, and the Jesuit scholastics I had as teachers or interacted with at both Campion and Bellarmine made a huge impact on me and my formation,” says Dziwura. I’ve stayed in contact with many of my high school teachers and the Jesuits throughout the years. I’ve become great friends with the teachers and Jesuits I stayed in touch with. They were and still are a tremendous influence on me and my high school friends.”
A Queens native, AnitaRose attended Fordham University after high school. Joe met Anita during graduate school in the Economics department at Fordham. After getting married, the Dziwuras lived initially in Brooklyn and then settled in Larchmont where they have raised their three sons.
When the Dziwuras’ eldest son, Joey ’13, was in the 8th grade, the family started looking at high schools. Joey had been in public schools his entire educational life at that point, but the family wanted a change. The desire to look for something different led Joe and AnitaRose to their Jesuit roots and Fordham Prep.
“Joey went to visit Fordham Prep and decided that was where he wanted to be. He really enjoyed it. In fact, all of my sons have really enjoyed their Fordham Prep experience,” says AnitaRose.
“We gave all three boys the opportunity to choose where they went to high school, but from the time they were young, we emphasized that Jesuit education was important to our family. That nudged them a little bit,” adds Joe.
All three sons were very involved during their time at Fordham Prep. They play classical violin, and have participated in various musical groups and events at Fordham Prep. Joey ran track during his four years at Fordham Prep. He went on to attend Lehigh University where he majored in mechanical and minored in electrical engineering. He currently works as a project manager in real estate and construction development in Manhattan.
Middle son, James ’16, currently attends Boston College, where he is studying economics and Russian. “James says his four years of Latin have really helped him study Russian,” says AnitaRose. He played four years of hockey and was part of the Bluegrass Club and the Italian Club.
Their youngest son, John ’19, has been part of the Fordham Prep soccer program since his freshman year. He is also the webmaster of the Key Club. “Our three sons have really enjoyed being on sports team and the clubs at Fordham Prep,” Joe states.
With the experience their sons have had at Fordham Prep, the Dziwuras felt it was only natural to give back to the school through the Fordham Prep Annual Fund. They have contributed every year since Joey’s freshman year in 2009.
AnitaRose explains: “It is very important to give back. Both of us did not come from wealthy or privileged backgrounds. We worked hard and appreciated the Jesuit education we received. We have also emphasized the importance of education to our sons, and we want to help others have that same experience.”
Joe agrees. “Regarding the Jesuits and education, I can’t even begin to speak about how much I have received from them, starting from my time at Campion. The friendships and bonds I had made 40 years ago cannot be replicated for replaced. I keep in touch with my classmates and the Jesuits from my schools. The Jesuits and faculty are friends of mine and the relationship goes back decades. I still make a point to talk to and visit with my former high school teachers and Jesuits that I met in high school because of the relationship we had then. The Jesuits were unselfish and generous with their time, so giving back to Jesuit education is very important to me and my wife.”
“The Fordham Prep teachers and the campus ministry departments were instrumental in forming my sons into good young men,” Anita mentions. “The teachers have set an excellent example by teaching boys to become responsible men with a purpose and sense of integrity. Character development is so important when talking about giving back.”
“And this goes back to instilling Ignatian pedagogy and tradition into the faculty. The lay faculty have to do the job the Jesuits once did,” adds Joe.
“When I go to Fordham Prep and I see the teachers and the relationships they have with students, it reminds me of the young Jesuits who taught me in high school. Because of that, I have a very strong bond with Fordham Prep just as I do with my high schools. I see my kids establishing the same bonds,” Joe says.
“Academically, Fordham Prep has prepared my sons extremely well. When Joey was a freshman at Lehigh, he helped his classmates in math and science, and it struck me that the background and the education he received at Fordham Prep allowed him to tutor other engineering students.” For the Dziwuras, their Fordham Prep experience has given them and their sons much in faith, scholarship and service. In their minds, giving back is the least they can do.
“Fordham Prep has been a formative mechanism for every boy who attends the school. High school years are so important, and it makes an impact on their character for the rest of their lives. High school is when you start thinking about the more important matters in life. You want to have kids in a good place during those years, and in a place that wants the best for them,” Joe states.
The Dziwuras end with this: “It’s important to provide opportunity for current as well as future Fordham Prep students. We owe a lot to the Jesuits and the Jesuit community.”