A Lasting Legacy for Wendell Cruz ’91SVC
Whether it’s donating his resources or giving his time, Wendell Cruz ’91SVC wants to remain an active part of the St. John’s community.
“I value and appreciate not only the education I received from St. John’s, but the entire experience,” explained Cruz, who currently works as a Practicing Attorney for New York County Defenders. “I’ve been a longtime season-ticket holder for the Men’s Basketball team, but now my friends and I try to give back in other ways – attending alumni events, getting involved on campus and trying to help the next generation of students.”
To ensure that he’ll have a financial impact on the University he loves, Cruz became a member of The Loughin Society, St. John’s leadership giving society, allowing him to support student scholarships, academic programming, upgraded campus facilities, faculty research and more.
“Now that I’m in a position where I’m more established professionally, I want to make sure I give back and have an impact,” he said. “I just hope that other alumni will also do their part – if you valued and treasured your time here the way I did, then it’s only natural to help out. Alumni who don’t are really missing out.”
Cruz likes to attend events on campus to stay connect with fellow alumni, in addition to supporting the endeavors of today’s students. He recently attended the Annual Spring Concert and Great Lawn Summer Concert, and also serves as an ambassador for the St. John’s Alumni Recruitment Team (START), recruiting high-school seniors on behalf of St. John’s.
Now that I’m in a position where I’m more established professionally, I want to make sure I give back and have an impact."
“I participated in my first college fair as part of the START program, and it was a lot of fun,” he said. “Back when I was in college, I don’t think I took advantage of all the University offered, especially in regards to activities. So it’s important to make sure that prospective students know about all they can do here, and why they can benefit from attending SJU.”
Back when he was looking into colleges, Cruz determined that St. John’s was the logical choice. A Bronx, NY native, he had heard great things about SJU from members of his family and knew he wanted to remain in New York City to explore all that it had to offer.
“If you’re going to stay in the Big Apple, St. John’s is the school,” he said. “It ended up being a great decision, since Professor Oscar Holt ’73Ed, ’76GEd, ’79L – a fantastic faculty member – became one of my greatest mentors. Without a doubt, SJU had a huge impact on my professional ambitions and career.”
Cruz later attended Seton Hall University for law school, and he fondly recalls one story from that period of his life. He and a fellow law student, who had attended the University of North Carolina for his undergraduate degree, were discussing the legality of wills and estates.
“We were having this conversation, and I was rattling off things I’d learned in undergraduate, a class I took at St. John’s called Reading and Interpreting Documents,” Cruz remembered. “My friend stopped me and asked, ‘Where did you learn all this?’ And I said, ‘St. John’s,’ and I took a lot of pride in telling him that.”
Whether he’s attending events or contributing through The McCallen Society, Cruz certainly keeps his St. John’s connection strong, and he hopes to get other alumni more involved.
“It’d be great if my former classmates and old friends would also give back, and see how much they can benefit from doing so,” he said. “It’s a great community, and I’m so glad to still be involved.”