Wagner College senior Gary Giordano of Princes Bay, Staten Island, a history and education major, has won a James Madison Fellowship to support his graduate studies this fall at Columbia University’s Teachers College.
Giordano has been doing his student teaching this year with 4th and 5th graders at Staten Island’s Petrides School.
“I had been thinking about pursuing a graduate program in public policy,” Giordano said, “but after the death of Nelson Mandela in December, I taught a few lessons about his life, and they went very well. I liked it, and I seemed to have a natural facility for it, and it made me think about a different path.”
The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation offers $24,000 James Madison Graduate Fellowships to individuals desiring to become outstanding teachers of the American Constitution at the secondary school level.
“Geoffrey Hempill, director of the Center for Academic and Career Engagement, had a flyer for the Madison Fellowship posted outside his office for the longest time,” Giordano said. “I had been walking by it for months. Then, one day, I finally decided to stop in and ask him about it.”
The Madison Fellowship is highly competitive, with only one grant awarded per state each year. Giordano is New York State’s 2014 fellowship winner.
“In June, I will go down to D.C. to spend a month at Georgetown University with the other Madison Fellowship winners studying the U.S. Constitution,” Giordano said.
Gary Giordano has been a campus leader throughout his college career, and his service contributions have earned him two highly competitive awards.
As a freshman senator in the Student Government Association, Giordano won the Leader On The Horizon Award, given to recognize a student who shows promise as a leader on campus.
Giordano also won Wagner College’s Vincent Monterosso ’63 Memorial Scholarship, given “in recognition of a … strong commitment to public service.”
He has continued to serve in the SGA throughout his college career.
After Hurricane Sandy struck Staten Island, Giordano helped mobilize student volunteers for a relief effort that became known as Wagner Cares, which he led as president.
Gary Giordano has also been a standout scholar in both his major departments.
In 2013, Giordano was singled out for recognition by the Education Department with its “5 Cs” Award, which is given to the education major who best personifies “care for others, curiosity, competence, commitment and community orientation.”
“In addition, his intellectual development over 4 years as a history major has been significant,” wrote History Department chair Lori Weintrob in her nominating letter for the James Madison Fellowship. “In my film course, he wrote about the intersection of culture and politics in 1920s Germany in a paper on ‘Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis”: Science Fiction in Weimar Germany.’ In other courses he has written papers on ambitious topics in New York City history, the Tiananmen Square protests and the Patriot Act. His interest in understanding democracy and how it functions and malfunctions is very strong. His senior thesis examined the evolution of the American liberal arts college and its mission of democratic education in the face of expanded roles for women, immigrants and minorities.”
The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to encourage outstanding current and future secondary school teachers of American history, American government and social studies in grades 7 through 12 to undertake graduate study of the roots, framing, principles and development of the Constitution of the United States. The Foundation thus permanently commemorates the bicentennial of the Constitution and honors James Madison, fourth President of the United States and generally acknowledged “Father of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.” For more information, visit the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation website.