When one asks what college I go to, I proudly answer with the force of the Orange blood pulsing through my body, “Syracuse University.” Syracuse is not just a school or a home away from home; it is a part of my family.
Let’s flashback to my childhood years, a trip down memory lane which features a rigorous rivalry and severe “basketball fandom” split in my family of seven that led to equally competitive games between the Villanova University and Syracuse University basketball teams. My parents eagerly began the recruitment of kids, half of the family becoming a Wildcat and the other half an Orange. My father graduated from Villanova University and my mother, Syracuse. My four siblings and I were raised to pick a side; there was neither indifference nor mutual cheering when it came to these two teams. My decision was always the easiest: Orange. Coming to the Syracuse University basketball games every year as a kid, especially being a part of the Big East, was an essential part of my growing up in the Orange environment. I was raised to bleed orange.
It all began with my mother, Heidi [Stein] Knafo, class of 1989, when Syracuse quickly became a permanent and everlasting imprint that would be passed on to the next generation. My mother came to the frigid north of Upstate New York beginning with a major in retail. Realizing her passions resided elsewhere, she did as many college students do: switched her major. She became quickly involved in her new area of study: social work. Whether it be the competitive football games, the infamous basketball games, celebrating at Varsity, or hanging at Faegans, my Mom embodied the quintessential Syracuse student. Post-graduation, she went on to work at what was then Chemical Bank in human resources for four years before settling down, getting married, and being hired for her greatest and most difficult job yet: a mother to five children.
When it came time to the oldest of the five children, Josh Knafo, class of 2016, to choose a school, it seemed only natural that the Syracuse influence quickly, quietly, yet strongly boiled to the surface. I remember accompanying Josh on his first “official” Syracuse visit as a prospective student; the look in his eyes, the comfort in his demeanor, and the satisfaction in his face immediately indicated that this was his school. Josh also knew, without hesitation, that Whitman would be his home within Syracuse. The features of the infrastructure, the warmth of the professors and the glittering excitement amongst the students made it an obvious choice. Without any second thoughts, Josh applied early decision, got in, and the rest is history. In a turn of events (and much to the satisfaction of my father), Josh is currently a 1L student at the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law; but don’t worry, he still cheers for the Orange!
As Josh was a freshman in Whitman, I was a senior in high school who already knew where her future years would lead: the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. My friends, teachers, and even guidance counselors would make fun of me for being so adamant about a Syracuse education and not giving any thought to alternative schools. I didn’t need to; I knew that I was meant to be a student in Whitman, to gain the best business education possible, and to make the most out of my years there. That is exactly what I did.
If it weren’t for the legacy that has paved the path of the Knafo name at Syracuse University, I honestly don’t know where I would have ended up, nor do I even want to think about that. All I know is that Whitman, and Syracuse University in general, creates everlasting memories not only at the school but also within immediate families. Knowing of my legacy here makes the treks through the feet of snow, the incomparable gusts of winds and the cardiac killing basketball team that much more enjoyable. I am so thankful for the experiences that I have had here and cannot wait to continue the legacy that my mother began.