Fall Convocations Welcome New Students and Faculty
More than 3,000 new and transfer students enjoyed an enthusiastic welcome to St. John’s University, led by Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., President, during the New Student Convocation, held in Carnesecca Arena on August 30. An annual tradition at St. John’s, the Convocation marks the beginning of a new academic year, while also celebrating the launch of a journey that will be bookended in four years with similar pomp and circumstance at Commencement.
In his welcoming remarks to Queens and Staten Island students, Dr. Gempesaw noted that the Class of 2020 has the distinction of graduating in the same year that St. John’s University will celebrate its 150th anniversary. “You have been selected from more than 28,000 applicants based on your accomplishments and your potential to perpetuate the University’s Catholic and Vincentian mission of academic excellence, faith, and commitment to service.”
“Although you have spent your high school years preparing and have enjoyed great success, it may still be a challenge for you to fully grasp what it truly means to be a successful college student,” observed Robert Mangione, Ed.D., R.Ph., Provost. “This is why your new student orientation program was so important, and why today is equally significant. These activities will help you to achieve the best start that you can, as they have helped you construct a strong foundation upon which to build your college career.”
He added, “Tomorrow your lives will change forever as you become part of this extraordinary University community. From the very first moment of your very first class you will know that you are part of something that is greater than any individual. You will know that you are part of a great University—a University that is proud of its rich academic tradition, a University that is committed to discovering new ways to serve contemporary society, and a University with a crystal clear and bright vision for the future.”
Wes Moore, author of this year’s freshmen reading book, The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, delivered the Convocation address. Author of two New York Times bestselling books, and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, his message to students was one directly in line with the University’s Catholic and Vincentian mission. “The most important question that you will be asked is not, ‘What was your major?’ but, ‘Who did you choose to fight for?’ Who did you choose to advocate for when it wasn’t politically correct or expedient, but you did because you felt it was the right thing to do? Who is it that you will choose to advocate for? That is the question that will define you. The answer always should be, ‘I fought for the others.’”
The annual Faculty Convocation was held the same day at Taffner Field House on the Queens campus. In his remarks, Dr. Gempesaw said faculty serve an essential role in the life of the University. “We recognize the importance of our faculty, past and present, who have dedicated so much of their lives to educating our students, and welcome new faculty who will continue that tradition.”
During the Faculty Convocation, Judith A. Ryder, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology in St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, was presented with the Academic Service-Learning Faculty Award by Rev. Bernard M. Tracey, C.M., M.Div., Executive Vice President for Mission.
The faculty speaker at the Convocation was Joan P. Ball, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Marketing, The Peter J. Tobin College of Business. She observed, “St. John’s has amazing facilities, incredible sports teams, and world-recognized faculty. But as I opened up to the St. John’s mission and became a part of the St. John’s community, it became increasingly clear: It isn’t what St. John’s does that is different. It’s who St. John’s is.”
At the New Student Convocation, several freshmen expressed their gratitude for the welcome they received. Michael Boyce ’20CPS, a Criminal Justice major, said, "I appreciate the Catholic values that this school represents, and I loved all the programs that I saw when I came for open house. Orientation was a blast. I look forward to making a lot of great memories."
Alicia Villafana ’20TCB, currently undecided, observed, "I chose St. John’s because of its reputable programs, especially in business; its proximity to New York City for internship opportunities; and the school spirit (I used to be a cheerleader so that's something important to me); and lastly, the diversity. Attending one of the most diverse college campuses in the country was crucial to me. Embracing and understanding other cultures is a critical element for success.”