Do You Recognize These Famous Fordham Alumni?

Whether you’re a fan of football, movies or music, you’re bound to know one of Fordham’s many celebrity alumni



Denzel Washington, FCLC ’77, is a two-time Academy Award winner, one for best supporting actor in “Glory,” and the other for best actor in “Training Day.”


The alumni on Fordham’s roster make history in more ways than one. Both Fordham’s Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses boast an extensive list of celebrity alumni that have impacted their respective industries for the better. 

Each of these alumni have walked in the same courtyards and used the same Lowenstein elevators as current students. 

Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington graduated from Fordham College at Lincoln Center in 1977 with his bachelor’s in drama and journalism and went on to become an Academy Award-winning actor in 2002. 

Throughout his journey at Fordham, Washington was involved in several Fordham Theatre mainstage productions, namely “Othello” and “The Jones.” His participation in Fordham’s productions led him to go on to become a leader on the big screen. 

Not only did Washington land himself two Academy Awards, but he has also been nominated for nine in total. His most recent nomination was for “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” which premiered in 2021. 

Del Rey has a plethora of unreleased music that is circulated on the internet — even one inspired by her Fordham journey titled “Fordham Road.”

Washington has had an extensive journey with Fordham, coming back occasionally to speak to aspiring student actors, and he has even created a scholarship under his name for Fordham Theatre students. 

His accomplishments do not stop there. Washington is also a philanthropist of late, working with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Fisher House Foundation, Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and Broadway Cares. 

Lana Del Rey

You may know her for her heartbreaking ballads or her iconic pop hits, but singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey used to walk the halls of Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) until she graduated in 2008. 

Del Rey took home a degree in philosophy from Fordham and released her first EP, titled “Kill Kill,” in the same year, under her birth name Elizabeth Grant. She went on to release her first major album under her current stage name Lana Del Rey in 2010 after signing a deal with 5 Points Records. Del Rey has a plethora of unreleased music that is circulated on the internet — even one inspired by her Fordham journey titled “Fordham Road.”

Del Rey grew up in New York and worked her way up from singing in clubs on the Lower East Side to becoming a six-time Grammy-nominated artist, a winner of the Brit International Female Solo Artist in 2013, and a recipient of two Echo Awards for best female artist rock/pop and best international newcomer. 

Del Rey is still releasing music, with her most recent album “Blue Banisters” (2021) having the same very personal sound that her fans know and love. 

Vince Lombardi

Fordham University’s Rose Hill campus is home to many D1 sports teams, including a football team with a long-standing history. 

Vincent T. Lombardi joined Fordham’s football team in 1933 and created an unforgettable legacy. After joining the team, it was clear to coaches what a talented team leader Lombardi was. 

After graduating from Fordham College in 1937 and coaching at the United States Military Academy at West Point, his drive and passion for football led him to become the head coach and general manager of the Green Bay Packers in 1959. 

Fordham has recognized Whaley as one of the most influential and important alumni to ever come out of the university.

During his nine years of coaching, the Packers were crowned Super Bowl Champions in 1966 and 1967. Lombardi was later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971 — one of the highest obtainable honors. Because of his accomplishments, Lombardi was also awarded one of Fordham’s highest honors for being an excellent teacher, the Insignis Medal. 

Lombardi’s legacy has also been recognized through the numerous trophies and fields named after him all over the country such as Lombardi Field in Old Bridge, New Jersey and the Super Bowl Lombardi Trophy.

Ruth Whitehead Whaley

Paving the way for Black women pre-dating the Civil Rights Movement, Ruth Whitehead Whaley was a Fordham scholar and the third Black woman to practice law in New York. 

Whaley entered Fordham Law School in 1920 and graduated in 1924 — she was the first Black woman to enroll in and graduate from Fordham Law School. This achievement and monumental moment for Black women did not stop there, as Whaley also became the first Black woman to practice law in the state of North Carolina in 1933. 

Fordham has recognized Whaley as one of the most influential and important alumni to ever come out of the university and has created several awards in her honor. At Fordham, members of the top 25% of each Law School class are recognized as Ruth Whitehead Whaley Scholars. 

Fordham’s Black Law Students Association also created an award in Whaley’s honor for alumni who have shown similar qualities to Whaley. Awards created in Whaley’s honor are not exclusive to Fordham, as Rutgers, Hofstra and several other New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania schools have also created awards under her name. 

The legacies of each of these Fordham alumni uniquely showcase Fordham’s versatility and honorability. From winning Academy Awards to paving the way for Black women’s rights, Fordham’s alumni have made their marks on history.