By Steve Vivona
St. John's University held its 134th annual Commencement
exercises May 15-16 on the Queens and Staten Island campuses.
Blessed with sunny skies and seasonable temperatures approximately
1,500 graduate and undergraduate students received their degrees at
the Queens ceremony and over 300 graduate and undergraduate
students received their degrees at the Staten Island ceremony.
Donald J. Harrington, C.M., President of St. John's, told the
graduates that thousands before them had gone out and made their
mark in the world, mentioning many of the luminaries who graduated
from St. John's, including Governor Hugh Carey and the late Ron
Brown, Secretary of Commerce for President Clinton, to name a
"They have left their mark. They have made the world a better
place and enhanced the lives of their fellow citizens," and Fr.
Harrington stressed, "We at St. John's seek to make a difference in
the world, to make the world a better place. And the lives of our
alums testify to that success."
Fr. Harrington told the graduates not to forget those who would
follow them. "For the rest of your lives you will carry the name
St. John's with you. Be proud of that name and as you
succeed, never forget the role that St. John's played in that
One of the many success stories coming out of Commencement was
that of Min Seo Park, a Master of Divinity student in the Graduate
Division of St. John's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, who
graduated at the Queens ceremony. Born in South Korea, he became
deaf at age two. Min Seo attended St. John's and completed his
studies with the help of a sign-language interpreter. Together they
attended classes, studied for exams and completed an extensive
research thesis process under the supervision of Reverend
Jean-Pierre Ruiz, Associate Professor of Theology and Religious
Upon receiving the degree of Master of Divinity in Ministerial
Studies from St. John's, Min Seo will return to South Korea and
begin the final stages of preparation for ordination to the
priesthood for the Archdiocese of Seoul, South Korea.
Commencement honorees included actor and activist Ron Silver,
who received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree, and Dr.
Adelaide Sanford, Vice Chancellor, New York State Board of Regents,
who received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Mr.
Silver was the Commencement speaker for the Queens ceremony.
Caroline Diamond Harrison, Publisher of The Staten Island
Advance, received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree and
delivered the Commencement address for the Staten Island ceremony.
She discussed the choices she made in her 20 years since graduation
and likened the sections of a newspaper to the components of life.
"The newspaper is a blueprint of the events and choices that lie
ahead for all of us," she observed.
Mrs. Harrison discussed the importance of choosing one's own
path and the rewards that come with hard work. She stressed the
importance and joy of family as well as holding on to friendships
made during these formative years. Most importantly she stressed
the idea of living the right way. "That means doing the right thing
and being charitable. I don't need to belabor this to you. After
all you are graduates of St. John's. Making the world a
better place for those around you is a core value here - the
"When an opportunity comes your way, grab it. Work hard, and
make the most of it. Value your family. Value your friends.
Give back to your community."