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SJU Hosts Students, Parents, and Siblings at Family Weekend

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

He began his freshman year a little over a month ago, but John Kamen, Jr. ’20CPS is still amazed by the way St. John’s University helps students—and parents—to feel at home. This year’s Family Weekend, he said, is a perfect example.

“How many colleges would offer you something like this?” John asked, as he watched hundreds of other students, and their families, enjoying the inflatable rides, games, and delicious foods that turned the gymnasium floor of Taffner Field House, at the Queens, NY, campus, into a giant carnival.

His dad, John Kamen, Sr., agreed. Though rain forced the festivities from the Great Lawn, the mood remained bright. “The University’s beautiful—despite the weather,” he said. “I’m so glad that St. John’s gave parents a really enjoyable occasion to visit with our children.”

Seeing Campus Life in Action

The carnival was just one of the many activities offered at St. John’s 2016 Family Weekend, October 7–9. Nearly 2,500 parents, grandparents, brothers, and sisters came from as far away as California, Maryland, and the Midwest to join their students on campus. The event displays the strong sense of community that infuses life and learning at the University.

“Families look forward to the opportunity to meet and interact with the people and activities that have become an important part of their sons’ and daughters’ lives,” said Kathryn T. Hutchinson, Ph.D., Vice President for Student Affairs. “I’m grateful to all who participated this year–we truly felt the St. John’s spirit throughout the weekend!”

The festivities began early Friday evening at Java Johnnie’s Coffeehouse in the D’Angelo Center (DAC), where guests enjoyed hot beverages and student performances. Meanwhile, at Carnesecca Arena, the Women’s Volleyball team played Marquette University in a BIG EAST match. Later, the University’s Chappell Players presented the timeless musical Godspell in the Little Theatre.

A Fresh Perspective for Parents

“For many parents, this is the first time they’re seeing the campus this way,” said Brian Fausto ’14CPS, ’16G, Coordinator of Student Development. “Some may have visited for Orientation, but Family Weekend offers a truly unique opportunity for parents to see exactly what St. John’s offers outside the classroom.”

On Saturday morning, hundreds of students, parents, and family members came together in Montgoris Dining Hall for an informational luncheon hosted by Dr. Hutchinson. “This is so St. John’s,” Nicholas Uzzell '20TCB, a marketing major from Columbia, MD, said at the luncheon. “It’s so welcoming—I’m just as excited about being here as I was on my first day.”

Family Weekend also gave students and their parents a chance to learn about St. John’s focus on studying abroad. Prospective world travelers were welcomed at an Office of Global Studies’ session in the DAC. “I’m really interested in the different options,” said Fatima Sajjad '20CPS. Her parents made the seven-hour drive to New York from Cleveland, OH.

 On Saturday, the DAC also played host to a number of faculty presentations. Topics ranged from preparing undergraduates for career success to life in New York in the 1920s. The discussions complemented the festivities in Taffner Field House, where students and their families took part in games of chance, face paintings, a pumpkin patch, and a variety of rides.

Celebrating the Fabric of University Life

The weekend ended on Sunday morning as families joined students in a Community Mass at St. Thomas More Church and an encore performance of Godspell.

“This is one weekend when everything slows down,” said Yougnand (Yougi) Paul ’17TCB, ’18M.S. Yougi, a New Student Orientation Leader, was among the students who helped out with the activities. “Everyone gets to hang out with their families, the people we love, care for, and miss.”

The Staten Island campus of St. John’s will host its own Family Weekend, October 29–30, including a Family Carnival, petting zoo, and a haunted house for Halloween.