St. John’s Recognizes Outstanding Alumni at Annual Convocation

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

One of the hallmarks of any great educational institution is the success achieved by its graduates. At St. John’s University, that success is reflected in the Annual Alumni Convocation, a prestigious event in which a group of the University’s most notable alumni are honored for their exceptional personal and professional achievements.

This year’s honorees and their awards included:

President’s Medal

Most Rev. Robert J. Brennan ’84C
Dominic A. Camera ’64C

Pietas Medal

Gloria F. Henn  ’64Ed, ’65GEd
Linda S. Sanford ’74Ed, ’98HON

Heritage Circle

Patricia A. Castel ’74Ed, ’77L, ’04HON
Lewis Rice, Jr. ’74SVC

Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award

Philip R. Boudjouk ’64C
Cesar J. Claro ’89SVC
Sr. Elizabeth A. Hill, C.S.J. ’78L
Gerard R. Kelly ’89CBA
Joseph J. Larkin ’64CBA, ’82HON
Frank L. Teixeira ’89CBA
Frederick J. Turk ’64CBA
Mary E. Van Sise ’74C

Read their citations »

“We’re recognizing these honorees because of what they have given to St. John’s,” noted St. John’s University President Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., S.T.D. “They have accomplished much, and have never forgotten that St. John’s is where they started. We want to acknowledge that, so tonight we’re taking a moment to let them know that they are important to us.”

For Dominic Camera, receiving the President’s Medal is the most recent in a long line of connections between this generous alumnus and the university he loves. A member of both The Loughlin Society and The McCallen Society, and a former member of the University’s Board of Governors, he was honored in 1999 with the Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award and, with his wife Catherine ’65CBA, received the Fidelitas Award in 2005.

On an emotional level, this recognition was particularly meaningful for him.

“Fifty years after graduating from St. John’s I’m receiving the President’s Medal, and that’s very special to me,” he said. “It’s especially poignant because the award is being presented in St. Thomas More Church. My parents’ names and my wife’s parents’ names are on the wall of the church, and seeing those names brings back wonderful memories. I was the first person in my family to go to college, so giving back to St. John’s is a way for me to show my appreciation for what the University did for me. It’s a pleasure and a privilege for me to give back to St. John’s, and it’s wonderful to know that this award means that I’m helping to make a difference for others.”

Looking back on his time at St. John’s, Gerard Kelly recalls that he originally decided to enroll at the University because he had been recruited to play baseball. His high school coach was Jack Curran ’52C, an outstanding alumnus who convinced Kelly that St. John’s would be the best place for him to get a great education while playing baseball at the Division I level. The young man took Curran’s advice, and a quarter-century after his graduation, acknowledges that the decision to come to St. John’s has had a lasting impact on his life.

“I started at St. John’s when I was 18 years old.,” he recalled. “So much of what I’ve attained in life I’ve gotten through my connections with St. John’s alumni. They’ve helped me in my businesses. They’ve helped me and mentored me my whole life and I hope to do the same for the younger guys coming through. Receiving this award is an honor, because it’s an acknowledgement that I’ve tried to live my life in a way that reflects positively on the University and its Vincentian ideals. To the extent that I’ve succeeded, that’s very humbling for me.”

St. John’s Vincentian ideals of service to others are also reflected in the life of Sr. Elizabeth A. Hill, C.S.J. In addition to her 17 years as President of St. Joseph’s College, she has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of the under-served, particularly the immigrant and minority populations of the Catholic Dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre. 

When this energetic nun realized that a law degree would enhance her effectiveness as an advocate for those in need, enrolling at St. John’s was simply a matter of family tradition.

“My mother and father met here and were both graduates of St. John’s School of Law,” she said.  “My dad was in the first class and my mother was in the second. I’m very honored to be an alumna of St. John’s, and to be recognized with this wonderful award as someone who has been a part of this prestigious university is very meaningful. I’m very happy to be here, and I’ll always be proud to be a part of the St. John’s family.”