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Fall Convocations Mark the Beginning of New Academic Year

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., president of St. John’s, led the University community in an enthusiastic welcome for more than 3,000 freshmen and transfer students at this fall’s New Student Convocation, held at the Queens and Staten Island, NY, campuses on September 1.

At the Queens campus, Red Storm cheerleaders and the Voices of Victory singers greeted the entering class in Carnesecca Arena. Addressing the students, Dr. Gempesaw described three essential components to a university’s success: a beautiful campus, top faculty, and excellent students. “You—our Class of 2019—have been admitted to St. John’s because of your outstanding academic credentials,” he stressed.

Dr. Gempesaw also noted that this incoming class was the largest freshman cohort at any Catholic university in the United States. “You have been given this privilege and responsibility to be part of this great University,” he said, “but you have to work hard to achieve your career goals. As many of you will hear me say often, doing our best is a way of life.”

During his welcoming remarks, Robert Mangione, Ed.D., R.Ph., provost, stressed that the Vincentian values upon which the University was founded will permeate every aspect of the students’ St. John’s experience.

“Perhaps the greatest example of learning through service is realized with St. John’s academic service-learning opportunities,” Mangione observed. “While it’s true that your participation in academic service-learning will make a difference in the lives of the people you touch, it will also make a difference in the life that you live.”

The Staten Island campus welcomed 167 new students at a separate convocation held the same day at its Campus Center. Dr. Gempesaw was on hand there as well to welcome the incoming class, along with James O’Keefe, Ph.D., vice provost.

The University’s annual Faculty Convocation took place later that day at the Taffner Field House at the Queens campus. As he welcomed new professors and honored longtime faculty members, Dr. Gempesaw noted, “The excellence of a university starts with its faculty, staff, and administrators.”

 “Faculty members,” he continued, “play a special role in the life of a university. You have been selected because of your potential to help our University achieve its goal of preparing our students for today’s global society.”

During the Faculty Convocation, Niall C. Hegarty, Ed.D., assistant professor in The Peter J. Tobin College of Business, was presented with the Academic Service-Learning Faculty Award by Rev. Bernard M. Tracey, C.M., executive vice president for mission.

The New Student Convocation is one of a series of month-long events known as the Red Carpet Welcome, which serves as an opportunity for students to acclimate themselves to campus life, and consists of activity fairs, athletic events, involvement opportunities, and social events.

“The Convocation is a time-honored tradition, a wonderful ceremony that inducts new students into the academic life of St. John’s University,” observed Kathryn Hutchinson, Ph.D., vice president for student affairs.

Addressing freshmen at the Queens convocation, student speaker Ridge McKnight ’16CPS stressed that the St. John’s community is like a family. “That family is made up of some of the most elite professors, administrators, and students from all over the globe. Just like your family at home, the St. John’s family is here to support you, help you out when you need that extra boost, and be there for the greatest moments of your life.”

“In addition to learning how to do good in the world, the next four years will prepare you to succeed in your professional career—no matter what you choose to do. St. John’s wastes little time in making sure you have all the tools you need at your disposal to succeed,” said James McKeon ’17Ed, student speaker for the Staten Island convocation.

“The community atmosphere has been my favorite part (of the Red Carpet Welcome),” observed Gabriella Amaya ’19CPS, a legal studies major originally from Long Island. “I love the people, and I’m so excited to start classes." She added that being part of a faith-based community enhances the experience. “Whenever I struggle,” she said, “I have something to fall back on.”