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From Marine to Credit Analyst: A Q&A with PCS Grad Gabriel Totora


After five years of serving in the United States Marines, Gabriel Tortora found himself starting over. He enrolled in Fordham’s School of Professional and Continuing Studies and graduated with a bachelor’s in economics in December 2022. While at Fordham, he did an internship at Santander Bank, where he’s currently working full-time as a credit analyst.

When you left the Marines, how did you decide to come to Fordham?

I wanted to go to a good four-year institution and use my non-traditional path as a way to set myself apart. It was a super easy process for me because the folks at PCS understood that. I was calling NYU, George Washington University, and a few other DC schools and really wasn’t getting a lot of help. Fordham just has the name, and it’s in New York, which is not too far from where I grew up in Nutley, New Jersey. One day I got a call at 5:30 in the morning, California time: it was PCS.

How challenging was it to transition from soldier to student?

The most difficult part is losing that sense of community and purpose when you’re just getting out. It’s hard sitting in the classroom at 25 with much younger students when you have a completely different worldview and experience outside of the small bubble of just going to school. Then you pair that with the fact that I haven’t done typical school work since high school.

Having the veterans community at Fordham was really beneficial because you relate to people who’ve been through similar things. You learn how to build your purpose around whatever you want to do.

How did your internship in the summer of 2021 with Santander Bank come about?

It all starts with the community that Matt Butler and the Student Veterans of America at Fordham have built. It’s not just ‘we’re here just to hang out,’ but about helping build each other up professionally and academically. It’s a culture of, ‘What are you doing to get a good job, not just get a degree?’ So, doing resume workshops right away, doing seminars here and there for interview prep or networking events.

I immediately got into networking mode. Every few days, I was talking to someone new, and I found that there’s this veteran network in finance in New York City. Someone pointed me to an internship, and that was that.

Is there anything that you encountered along your path to your degree that surprised you?

This is going to sound weird, but I’m surprised at how proud I am that I went to Fordham. I went in with the expectations to just finish my degree, get a piece of paper, and start my career, but my experiences there have led me to be extremely proud to have gone to the school.

The coolest thing is they called me while I was still in the Marine Corps, and they wanted me there. I know a lot of veterans who are just like, ‘I show up to class and go home and do my own thing.’ I have friends who were at my wedding whom I met at Fordham. I’m just super proud to have gone here.


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