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At Rome Commencement, Graduates Look Forward to “Making a Difference”

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

With the conferral of 39 graduate degrees, St. John’s University celebrated the 21st annual Commencement Exercises at its international campus in Rome, Italy, on June 11.

Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., President of St. John’s, welcomed the graduates, their families, and members of the University community. “We are confident,” said Dr. Gempesaw, “that you, the Class of 2017, will make us all proud as you join our 179,000-strong alumni in making a difference in the world. We wish you the best of luck as you move on to new challenges and opportunities.”

Nicola Pedde, Ph.D. ’00G, a political analyst and Director of the Institute for Global Studies, delivered the Commencement Address. “It was a privilege to be a student at St. John’s,” he said. “I learned a lot and, most importantly, I felt empowered to free my spirit and to explore, to understand things from a different perspective, and to fly high with this new knowledge.”

The University, Dr. Pedde added, offered much more than a challenging curriculum. “There was something else,” he said, “that was guiding and motivational about my experience—[and that was] the Vincentian spirit, which has left a profound footprint in my soul.”

In addition, graduates heard from two of their own. Sr. Juliana Okeke, D.C. ’17G and Justin Smith ’17MBA both gave student addresses. “St. John’s has provided us with a unique opportunity to critically view the globalized world,” noted Sr. Juliana. “We’ve also learned to be in touch with social justice issues seen through the lens of Catholic social teaching.”  

Mr. Smith congratulated his fellow students on having persevered through the rigors of graduate study. “We’ve had many sleepless nights,” he said, “writing papers, studying for exams. But those days have come and gone, and now, on this beautiful Roman summer evening, we find ourselves celebrating together with master’s degrees in our hands.”