Christine Schwall-Pecci has attended Jubilee before—her own fifth and her husband’s 10th—but this year she’ll be seeing Fordham’s annual alumni reunion through brand-new eyes.

“It’ll be the first time that my husband and I are bringing our daughter to the Fordham campus,” she said of Jubilee Weekend, to be held May 31 to June 2. The couple were married in the University Church in 2015 and welcomed a baby girl this spring. They’re among hundreds of alumni planning to return to campus for the festivities.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting up with some friends who also have kids—who will be bringing them to Fordham for the first time—because it’s just such a special place for us and we’re really looking forward to introducing them to it,” said Schwall-Pecci, a 2009 Fordham College at Rose Hill graduate.

Building a Skillset

Meeting her husband, Robert Pecci, GABELLI ’08, on campus isn’t the only reason Fordham holds a special place in the Long Island native’s heart. Rose Hill is also where she found faculty mentors. She majored in biology and minored in chemistry and sociology, which helped her build both the hard and soft skills needed to launch a successful career in health care communications, she said.

Working closely with professor Ipsita Banerjee, Ph.D., during her sophomore year, Schwall-Pecci researched nanotubes and protein hormones with the potential to advance drug delivery and the treatment of diabetes. She later earned a Clare Boothe Luce fellowship, which enabled her to conduct research in Germany the summer before her senior year. And after graduating from Fordham, she earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry.

A Sense of Belonging

She also found that Fordham’s Jesuit identity instilled in her—and other students—“a sense of belonging and wanting to give back, and feeling like you’re a part of a community that is responsible for helping better the world around you.”

That commitment to giving back is why she’s chosen a career path that enables her to promote better public health. As a senior vice president at BGB Group, she works to make complex scientific concepts and information accessible for patients. She’s also a longstanding volunteer with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She first began volunteering with the organization after her father died from cancer when she was a student at Fordham.

When her father was diagnosed, she “was overwhelmed and naive to the fact that anything bad could actually happen to him,” she recently wrote for BGB Group. Her mother felt “numb, in denial, confused, frustrated, overwhelmed, helpless, and hopeless,” Schwall-Pecci shared. It’s an experience that fuels her commitment to helping patients and their families process their diagnoses, ask the right questions, and make informed decisions about their health care.

Staying Connected with Her Fellow Rams

Following graduation, Schwall-Pecci was a member of the Young Alumni Committee, an advisory and programming board for graduates of the past 10 years. She’s past that 10-year cap now, but she’s stayed connected to Fordham however she can—participating in panels, mentoring students, and speaking at events. And her first impression of the Rose Hill campus still rings true.

Schwall-Pecci and her husband welcomed daughter Hunter Alana in January 2024.

“I just felt like the people who were going there, who had chosen to go to Fordham, had a similar kind of mindset and values as I had and were the kind of people that I wanted to surround myself with,” she said.

Fordham Five

What are you most passionate about?
Health education and access to quality medical care and information. Medicine is inherently defined by specialized language that may not be the easiest to digest, especially when you are newly diagnosed. I want everyone to feel empowered to make decisions with their care providers and ask informed questions.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Take what you do seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously! It’s all about enjoying the journey—be committed to what you are passionate about, but don’t worry about making mistakes or changing your mind along the way.

What’s your favorite place in New York City? In the world?
This is so hard—how do I choose? In NYC, it is honestly probably the Fordham campus in the Bronx, as cheesy as that sounds. That is where I met my husband and we got married, so it will always be one of my happy places. And in the world, it is likely Abisko, in the very north of Sweden, where I saw the northern lights!

Name a book that has had a lasting influence on you.
Probably The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee. It is a fascinating look at the evolution of our approach to understanding and treating cancer. It appeals to me both professionally and also personally, as I lost my dad to leukemia when I was a student at Fordham.

Who is the Fordham grad or professor you admire most?
There are too many to name, but Ipsita Banerjee, Ph.D., in the chemistry department was my research mentor while at Fordham. She is so passionate about the research she conducts and the students she mentors, which inspired me to commit myself to my own work and always put forward 110% in my studies.

Interested in hearing more of Schwall-Pecci’s story? Listen to her episode of the Fordham Footsteps podcast.