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Virtue of Service Highlighted at SJU Commencement Ceremonies

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

More than 4,000 students who earned their graduate and undergraduate degrees this past spring during Commencement Exercises at St. John’s three residential campuses are now part of the University’s 178,000 strong SJU alumni network.

Marking its 146th academic year, St. John’s held Commencement Exercises at its Queens and Staten Island (NY) campuses in May and two graduate ceremonies in June for St. John’s School of Law and the Rome, Italy, campus. At each event, keynote speakers said the ceremonies drew extra significance from the Vincentian order’s 200th Anniversary in the United States.

At the Queens campus, the University awarded 2,146 bachelor’s and 1,440 master’s or doctoral degrees, in addition to advanced certificates. St. John’s School of Law conferred 279 degrees. Students at the Staten Island campus received 158 undergraduate and 28 graduate degrees. In Rome, the University granted 21 graduate degrees.

“Remember to say thank you to your parents, grandparents, guardians, and other family members,” Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., President of St. John’s, urged graduates at the Queens campus Commencement on Sunday, May 22. “Thank your professors, mentors, and advisors. They have played a very important part in your lives in the past four to six years.”

Dr. Gempesaw also highlighted the graduating seniors’ academic achievements. He noted, for example, that 664 students were graduating with honors: 151 summa cum laude, 231 magna cum laude, and 282 cum laude, with 13 students earning a perfect 4.0 GPA. In addition, the oldest graduate was 61 years old, while the two youngest graduates were 19.

Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., and Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Ph.D., D.D.

Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Ph.D., D.D., Bishop of Brooklyn, served as keynote speaker. He urged the new graduates to follow the values espoused in their Vincentian education by using their knowledge and skills to serve our society’s underprivileged citizens.

Joseph C. O’Connor ’82CBA, a member of the Board of Trustees who received an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree, spoke about the impact St. John’s has had on him and his family. “Whatever I’ve been lucky enough to achieve thus far in my life,” he said, “my faith and my family have been my guiding light and the very backbone of my existence. For me, St. John’s has been a palpable extension of my faith and my family.”

Rosanna Scotto

The Staten Island campus held graduation exercises on Saturday, May 21. Rosanna Scotto, host of Fox 5’s Good Day New York, delivered the Commencement Address. Ms. Scotto urged students to always embrace the University’s mission. “Just a handful of people can make a difference,” she said, paraphrasing St. Vincent. “Consider what you can do: as college graduates, you can fix the programs that don’t work, and find new ways to help.”

Throughout the preceding week, graduate degrees were conferred at individual college and school ceremonies in Carnesecca Arena.

Randall T. Eng.

More than 3,000 guests attended graduation ceremonies at St. John’s School of Law on Sunday, June 5. The Honorable Randall T. Eng ’72L received an honorary Doctor of Laws and addressed the assembled guests. Appointed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in 2012, Judge Eng became the first Asian American to serve as presiding justice of an Appellate Division in New York State.

Commencement at the Rome campus marked the University’s 20th anniversary in the Eternal City. In his welcoming remarks, Robert Mangione, Ed.D., R.Ph., Provost, referred to the bicentennial of the Vincentians’ journey from Europe to America. “One can only imagine what they thought,” he said, “as they crossed the Atlantic Ocean. It’s likely that they never dreamt of the profound impact they would have on each of our lives.”

Like them, Dr. Mangione continued, St. John’s graduates at the Rome campus can “bring hope and love to all you encounter, one person at a time.” He encouraged them to use their gifts and talents to “make the world a better place.”