Thank you Dr. Upton.
An invigorating academic experience, one semester abroad, life-long
friendships and two international service plunges. Just a few
of the opportunities I have St. John’s to thank for!
Good evening, everyone.
My name is Pedro Gomez and I am a senior marketing major in St.
John’s The Peter J. Tobin College of Business. I am here
tonight to tell you about my college search process, my experience
at St. John’s and what I believe makes St. John’s such an
At about this time four years ago, I was busy sorting through
all of the college view books, going to college fairs, and stopping
into my high school guidance counselor’s office almost
everyday. I constantly asked myself all the same questions
that undoubtedly run through every potential college student’s mind
– How far away from home do I want to go? What should I major
in? Can I afford this school?
There were a few things I did know that I wanted out of my college
experience: top-quality academics, the chance to finally move to a
major city, and the opportunity to grow spiritually at a Catholic
I remember my first visit to St. John’s. I took the day off
from school and drove up from New Jersey with my parents. During my
visit, I asked the student ambassadors about their experiences;
each of them spoke so highly about St. John’s. They also
stressed that St. John’s was a place of opportunities – a place
where, if I wanted to, I could leave my mark.
That day, I left with a greater sense of what my college experience
would be like if I chose St. John’s. I couldn’t stop thinking
about the possibility of living in “the city that never sleeps” –
Broadway shows, lazy days in Central Park, and dinners with friends
in the city. I also thought about my life on campus – living
in the residence halls, late night study groups in the library,
attending Mass at St. Thomas More Church, and the excitement of
cheering on the Red Storm!
Something that struck me was how many different types of people I
saw throughout my visit. I loved thinking that my classroom
would become a reflection of the world, a place where so many
different views could come together. St. John’s felt “real.”
Not privileged or stuffy, but exactly what I will experience after
I graduate and embark upon my career.
After that visit, I knew St. John’s was the school for me. I
had never been this excited after a college visit.
As a first generation college student, I knew how important this
entire process was for my parents. I also knew that without
financial assistance, college might not be a reality. Of all
of the universities that accepted me, St. John’s offered the most
generous financial aid package. That, and the free laptop, sealed
During my freshman year I remember attending the activities fair on
the Great Lawn. Over 150 student clubs and organizations were
represented. It was there that I first felt the pride and
excitement of being a St. John’s student. There were red and white
balloons everywhere, and in the background I could hear the pep
band playing as the cheerleaders shouted out “We are…St.
John’s”. I wanted to feel that same energy and enthusiasm all
throughout my time here - I wanted to become connected to MY
I left the fair with so much stuff – backpacks, magnets, pens,
candy, key chains, and t-shirts. But, most importantly, I left the
fair knowing that I had opened the doors to the opportunities that
first drew me into St. John’s. I signed up for the Student
Ambassadors, Student Government, and the St. Vincent de Paul
Society – an organization that looks at ways to respond to the
spiritual and physical needs of our society through service.
While I became very active in all of the organizations I joined, my
interest in the St. Vincent de Paul Society allowed me to become an
executive board member after just one year. This organization
helped me understand that as a Vincentian University, St. John’s
wants to instill in its students a concern for those who are
marginalized in our society. Through the organization, I was
able to respond directly to the needs of my local New York City
community. We made hundreds of sandwiches that we distributed
to the homeless men and women living on the streets of Manhattan,
we visited the elderly living in nursing homes, and we even got the
chance to appear in an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home
For the past two summers I’ve also had the opportunity to be a part
of a group of students that traveled to Lourdes, France on an
international service plunge. There, I assisted the thousands
of sick men and women who made the pilgrimage in search of peace
and healing. My work there was so physically exhausting but
spiritually invigorating! I was inspired by those who had
given up their entire lives to serve the sick and the dying.
It was Vincentian charisma in action!
Five months ago I returned from an incredible study abroad
experience where I lived and studied in Rome, Italy; Paris, France;
and Salamanca, Spain! I had always wanted to travel to Europe
and St. John’s made it a possibility through a number of grants and
While in Europe, I studied at the University’s very own Rome and
Paris campuses! It was so cool to see a piece of St. John’s
in these cities that are so rich in history. My classes were
small, which allowed me to establish great relationships with my
professors. They wanted to connect what we were learning in
the classroom to what was going on around the city. Some days
we even had class in cafes and plazas!
Having classes Monday through Thursday freed up the weekends for
travel, which gave me the time to explore ten other
countries! I visited Morocco, the Czech Republic, and
Portugal among others. Traveling on a budget made things very
Being exposed to so many different things allowed me to learn so
much about myself; there was never a dull moment. I was so
intrigued by the history and culture of the countries that I
visited – they became an extension of the classroom.
After my return from studying abroad, my life on campus picked up
right where I had left it. All of the leadership
opportunities that I had taken advantage of were still there.
I especially loved getting back to the excitement of athletic
events on campus! Currently, I have just finished working on
the University’s annual winter carnival celebration – an event
where the entire University community comes together for horse and
carriage rides around the Great Lawn, the University tree lighting
ceremony, and the fireworks show.
As I look to graduate I can’t help but think about the
opportunities that lie ahead. St. John’s has provided me with the
tools to succeed and, most importantly, it has instilled in me a
notion that these tools are to be shared with those who are less
fortunate. I am leaving St. John's University confident,
well-traveled, well-educated, passionate about life, and ready to
change the world.
I know that none of this would have been possible without the
generosity of our wonderful donors, especially the members of The
Loughlin Society. Without your support I would never have
been able to attend St. John’s in the first place, and I would
never have been able to participate in the wonderful things that
are so unique to the St. John’s experience.
I stand here tonight speaking not just for myself but for the
thousands of other St. John’s students like me. Their stories
are as individual as they are, but they all have one thing in
common. It is the support of people like you that allows our
stories to be told, because it is your support that makes the
experiences that ultimately creates those stories a reality.
I know that the possibilities are endless. I will join the
ranks of many successful alumni who have contributed so much to our
society. And I will do so with a sense of pride in my
University, a lifelong commitment to the Vincentian ideals of
caring and compassion for others, and a determination to carry the
St. John’s message wherever life takes me.
My success will be your success, and my concern for others will
always be an extension of your concern for me. Thank you so