November 06, 2009
Committed to giving every student a global education, St.
John’s University is providing an innovative study abroad
opportunity for commuter students on the Staten Island campus who
dream of enriching their academic experience with an international
Offered for the first time this spring, the Staten Island Commuter
Express Program allows commuter students to spend five weeks
studying abroad at the University’s campus in Rome, Italy. The
program is a joint venture between the University’s Office of
Global Studies and Staten Island Campus Vice-Provost Sharon Lynch
St. John’s debuts this program at a time when demand for its
dynamic Global Studies offerings is at a record high. Increased
enrollment forced the University to close its semester-long study
abroad programs for spring 2010 due to full capacity at the Rome
and Paris campuses. However, innovative opportunities are still
available for spring, including the Freshman Passport and Staten
Island Commuter Express programs.
According to Karl S. Rutter, Director of Recruitment in the Office
of Global Studies, the Commuter Express is a wonderful way for
commuter students at the Staten Island campus to enjoy a study
abroad experience within a regular semester.
“We really wanted to promote the opportunity for Staten Island
commuter students to go abroad,” said Mr. Rutter.
For interested students the application process for Commuter
Express is identical to the full semester program. Students must
complete their freshman year and have a 2.75 GPA, with written
approval from their dean.
The program, said Ms. Norton, reflects the University-wide focus on
preparing students for success in an increasingly global society.
“It’s great to see our students on Staten Island being offered this
wonderful experience,” she said. “So many students have the desire
to study abroad, but may be prohibited for a variety of reasons.
This is a great alternative and hopefully the first of many such
opportunities for our students here.”
Since the international segment lasts five weeks rather than the
whole semester, Mr. Rutter noted, the program amounts to “a
tremendous financial savings for the commuter student.” This is
possible, Mr. Rudder added, because students from the Sixth Year
Pharmacy program spend their first five weeks in Rome and then
return to Queens. “The result is a surplus of beds in Rome for ten
weeks,” he said, “which allows us the flexibility for maximum use
of the facility.”
Making Studying Abroad a Reality
During their five weeks on the Staten Island campus, students in
the program focus on the “Theology of St. Vincent de Paul.” Then
they will travel to Rome, where they will be “folded into” the
Queens and Staten Island students participating in the full
semester experience. As they meet new people in Rome, the bonds
they form with each other at Staten Island should remain
According to Mr. Rutter, “We will maximize the strengths of the
module format we pioneered with Discover the World. For those five
weeks we have the advantage of folding the commuter students into
the established Discover the World module.”
When the students arrive in Rome, they are fully immersed in the
study abroad experience. Their interaction with the other students
should inspire them to take a full semester abroad in the
While in Rome students are free to take Discover the World classes
such as Italian, Art and Architecture of Italy, International
Business or Religions of the World. There they enjoy the same
resources and opportunities as all the students in the Global
“They have opportunities to travel on weekends,” Mr. Rutter noted,
and a full range of service options is open to them as well.
Students can volunteer to teach English in a school or at Caritas,
a social service organization St. John’s has partnered with.
Another exciting option students have is the ability to take a
distance learning course throughout the semester. If they take only
one course in each module they can participate in a distance
learning course, which brings them to a full course load.
Upon returning to Staten Island students are free to take another
theology class, which would fulfill their requirement, do an
internship in their area of study, or work on an independent
“Sharon proposed a team project where returning students would work
with her on how to internationalize the Staten Island campus,” Mr.
Rutter said, adding that students could conduct research based on
their own five-week experience and poll their fellow students at
the same time.
Apply Now for this Great
Ultimately, the program is designed to provide an international
component for students from any major, Mr. Rutter noted.
“For example, Communications majors could take Introduction to
Communications in the first module,” explaining that the same
professor could accompany students to Rome for five weeks where
they would take Mass Communications: Italy, and focus on mass
communications in Europe. “Then they could take Mass Communications
in Modern Society when they return home.”
Easing the burden of the commuter student who wants to study abroad
is at the heart of this program, Mr. Rutter suggested. “It goes to
Dr. Pellow’s point of making Global Studies available to every
student, and the mission of the University to internationalize the
Staten Island campus.
“This is just one opportunity of many and another way that St.
John’s is being creative in presenting opportunities to their
students. That’s what it’s all about.”
Students must apply now. Please call the Office of Global Studies
on the Staten Island campus at (718) 390-4035.