At #SJUConnect, Students Learn New Paths to Success through Relationships
There were no notes, no PowerPoint presentations, and no book bags in sight. Instead, over 100 St. John’s student leaders gathered at the Queens campus on January 25 for a unique learning experience focusing on new and innovative ways to connect with fellow students and the University.
The event, #SJUConnect, brought the students to the D’Angelo Center to explore the virtues of communicating—without the devices and ordinary activities that have become all too common. The University’s Division of Student Affairs sponsored the initiative to create a campus-wide change through empowering student leaders.
“I’m so impressed by our students’ willingness to engage in the culture of ‘take care of each other’—the fundamental message of #SJUConnect,” said Kathryn Hutchinson, Ph.D., vice president for student affairs. “Our student leaders are advocates who realize their importance by acting as a resource to their peers, knowing and continuing the SJU legacy, and beginning their careers as young professionals.”
The event featured four sessions, including “Affiliation,” a historic timeline of the University’s legacy depicted through a photograph and memorabilia gallery; a Career Services three-part workshop that demonstrated a four-year success plan with tips on how students can prepare for their careers and create their own personal brand; “Bystander,” a Student Wellness initiative that encouraged students to intervene if they think someone is in harm’s way; and “Retention and Resources,” which taught attendees “what to say and how to say it” to a fellow student in crisis.
Students came to appreciate that not only do they have access to an intricate network of resources on campus, but that they are among the most powerful resources available to their peers. In one session, students were encouraged to write their personal missions on large placards. Messages included: “My mission is to assist anyone who reaches out to me in some way” and “I want to make SJU more than just a university to students, but to make it their home.”
The program culminated with a social hour, where 25 recent alumni networked with students while wearing new SJU lapel pins signifying how their connectedness on campus helped them achieve success as professionals.
After the evening, #SJUConnect was aflutter on social media. Students and alumni tweeted and posted messages, many noting that the experience had been worth the commute on a weekend. “#SJUConnect was incredible,” said Emily Bargabos ’14C, ’15G, who is pursuing a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree in government and politics. “As student leaders, we are used to attending conferences and training sessions, but this was uniquely engaging. We learned how to connect fellow students to the resources they need to be successful here at St. John's.”
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