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High School Valedictorians Join Freshman Class

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Class of 2015 was St. John’s largest in seven years. As always, these talented freshmen included high school valedictorians from the New York City region and beyond. Each one reflects the University’s continuing popularity among young people who seek a quality education to prepare them for success in a changing world. Seven valedictorians share their stories here.

Daisy Alvarado ’19SJC

As a student at Adelanto High School, CA, Daisy Alvarado ’19C volunteered at a local hospital, where she witnessed the profound impact physicians can have on those in need. She decided to pursue medical school.

First, she enrolled at St. John’s University. “I was really impressed by the quality of the sciences here,” said the 20-year-old biology major. In addition to small classes and professors “who are totally focused on helping students succeed,” she noted, the biology program provides “great experience in the lab and the field.” An Ozanam Scholar, she also was impressed by the University’s Catholic and Vincentian mission. “St. John’s really cares about helping people who are less fortunate,” she said.

Joerenz Bolina ’19SJC

Growing up in Queens, NY, Joerenz Bolina ’19C had often visited St. John’s University. His elementary school teachers arranged trips to see plays there, and as a student at St. John’s Preparatory School, he also took part in service activities at the University.

“There was always something peaceful, something friendly about the campus and the people there,” he said. That atmosphere—and the chance to study physics—brought Bolina to the University after he graduated from high school. His parents, immigrants from the Philippines, encouraged his interest in the sciences from an early age. At St. John’s, he also pursues his interest in the performing arts and his commitment to service.

Gabriella Colangelo ’19CPS

Gabriella Colangelo ’19CPS became familiar with St. John’s University as an honor student at The Mary Louis Academy (TMLA), a Catholic high school in Jamaica, Queens. “Not only was the University physically close to TMLA,” she said, “but its values were similar, too.”

Though she chose to live at home while attending, she knew she still would be able to experience “the world beyond my neighborhood.” St. John’s New York location, she explained, provided access to a global center of the arts, business, and culture. At the same time, the campus offered “a traditional college atmosphere.” As a student in St. John’s five-year B.S. in computer science/M.B.A. program, she believes her professors will “help me make the right career choices.”

Jessica Ludizaca ’19SJC

Aside from her outstanding academic performance as a student at St. Joseph High School in Brooklyn, NY, Jessica Ludizaca ’19C also found time to help others by tutoring fellow students. The opportunity to achieve excellence in a dynamic academic environment with a commitment to service convinced the valedictorian to apply to St. John’s.

Today, she is a biology major at the University. “Students at St. John’s have a wonderful opportunity to use the most up-to-date equipment—and to study with really accomplished professors,” said Ludizaca, who hopes to become a pediatrician. As she looks forward to expanding her activities at the University, she enjoys “the comfortable environment, where everyone is incredibly approachable.”

Leanne Palisoc ’19SJC

Though physics major Leanne Palisoc ’19C could have attended college in her home state of Texas, the 2015 valedictorian of Loretto Academy High School in El Paso chose St. John’s  because of the University’s proximity to Manhattan and its Catholic and Vincentian values.

“I visited St. John’s campus, and it was just perfect,” said Palisoc. “Being part of a Catholic community is very important to me, so it was an easy choice.” A member of P.A.R.E. (Philippine Americans Reaching Everyone), Palisoc participated in International Coastal Cleanup Day during University Service Day and sings in the Voices of Victory Choir. Next semester, she plans to help with America Reads * America Serves.

Victoria Pilosi  ’19TCB

Victoria Pilosi ’19TCB grew up in nearby Bellerose, Queens, and first became involved in service as a Girl Scout, when she coached a team of autistic children in the Challenger Division of the local chapter of Little League Baseball. “Volunteering really is about doing the right thing,” she said. “If you needed help, you’d want someone to lend you a hand.”

A member of the National, Science, and Spanish Honor Societies in high school, the 2015 valedictorian of St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows, NY, is studying actuarial sciences at St. John’s. “The program has an outstanding reputation in the industry,” she said. “It’s such a supportive, welcoming environment.” The program, combined with the University’s alumni network and New York City location, should provide a decisive edge in her professional growth, she added.

Stephanie Rubio ’19SJC

Stephanie Rubio ’19C always wanted to teach. As a valedictorian at Tesoro High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, she realized her career would benefit from a college with a wide range of courses in education as well as history, her area of specialization. She chose St. John’s.

Today, Rubio said she also is benefiting from the University’s proximity to New York City and the close-knit atmosphere on campus—including Red Zone trips to support St. John’s teams. “I truly feel like a member of the campus community when I participate in these activities,” she said, adding that she is confident her St. John’s education will help her achieve her personal and professional goals.