October 21, 2009
spring, 29 new members were inducted into St. John’s University’s
President’s Society. This most prestigious organization is made up
of students whose scholarship, integrity and maturity are
accompanied by leadership skills demonstrated by their significant
contribution to the extracurricular life at St. John’s.
Founded in 1968 to showcase the “best and brightest” among the
student body during a tumultuous time when the national perception
of college students was vastly negative, the President’s Society
still represents all that is best in St. John’s students.
The new Society members — 19 female and 10 male — are now
considered staff in the office of University President Rev. Donald
J. Harrington, C.M. During the upcoming year, they will typically
attend 15-20 presidential functions, acting as hosts for honored
guests who might include world or national leaders, Board members,
industry titans, and St. John’s alumni and friends.
Interested students apply for membership in the Society in their
third year and serve during their fourth year. Three equally
important criteria are considered: academic achievement (generally
a 3.5 grade average); a comprehensive knowledge of the University
and an ability to articulate it fluently; and sustained leadership
within the University that includes service both on and off St.
John’s campuses. Members are selected by a committee of University
administrators after an intensive application and interview
We invite you to meet Christina Zaccarelli, ’10
St. John’s “Opens Up New Worlds”
In her first semester at St. John’s University, Christina
Zaccarelli watched as her roommates did the “St. John’s thing,”
hurrying from one campus activity to another. “I was still a little
worried about getting overwhelmed,” she recalled, “so at first, I
only went to class.”
But Christina was never the type to sit back. In her second
semester, she joined the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. Soon
she was serving others through Habitat for Humanity, raising funds
for cancer research and leading cheers for St. John’s teams as
chairperson of Red Zone, the School Spirit Committee.
“I’ve always believed in being busy, meeting people and helping
out,” said the 21-year-old Las Vegas native. “If I see there’s
something that needs to be done, I’ll get involved and do
Thanks to that spirit of leadership and service — twin pillars of
the University’s Vincentian mission — Christina won election as
this year’s Vice President of Student Government. She also earned
the highest honor available at St. John’s: admission to the
President’s Society, whose members serve as the University’s
“ambassadors” at major on- and off-campus events.
“I was shocked to find out I’d gotten in,” Christina said. “So many
outstanding students try for it.” She knew it was real when she
received the tell-tale “giant envelope” with two letters last
spring — one congratulating her and the other outlining a training
schedule that ranged from formal dinner etiquette to assisting
event guests with academic robes.
The achievement, said Christina, complements an undergraduate
career that has “opened up new worlds” for her. “One opportunity
leads to another,” she said. “If you do something well, someone’s
going to ask you to try something else. There’s always a new
New experiences are part of the reason Christina came to St.
John’s. She grew up on a cul-de-sac in an area of Las Vegas that
“feels more like a small town than part of a big city.”
Home-schooled for much of her childhood, Christina attended high
school at Calvary Chapel Christian School, a small,
church-affiliated institution where she played softball, managed
that team and women’s basketball, served as yearbook editor and
became Student Council President.
Three main factors influenced her decision to apply to St. John’s:
family, location and values. “My parents are originally from New
York,” said Christina — her father from Brooklyn, her mother from
Queens. “We still have relatives I visit in Queens,” she added. The
prospect of going to college in a capital of world business and
culture was especially exciting.
Christina also thought St. John’s mission as a Catholic and
Vincentian university would enhance her education. “I liked that it
was a Catholic university,” she said. “Most of the colleges I
applied to were private schools with some spiritual aspect to them.
I think it adds a perspective you just don’t find at a more secular
A visit to the Queens campus for Accepted Students Day was the
deciding factor. On her way to a classroom in St. John’s Hall, the
oldest building on campus, Christina climbed the main stairwell,
which has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Great Lawn. “I
saw all that grass, all those students, and I thought, ‘this is
nice. I can really see myself here.’”
Since then, Christina has enjoyed strengthening her leadership
skills while helping others. On the Executive Board of the
Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, she was the club publicist.
Through Habitat for Humanity, she served at Ronald McDonald House,
which accommodates families of children receiving critical medical
treatment. As chairperson of Red Zone, she sparked “Red Storm
Fever” for the University’s athletic teams. She even spent a
semester as a Resident Assistant.
Those activities led to Christina’s present position as Vice
President of Student Government. Overseeing 10 different
committees, Christina actually began planning the year’s activities
this past summer. “We begin months ahead of schedule,” she said.
“Things have to be in place because a lot of people depend on
Of all Christina’s experiences assisting others, one of the most
memorable occurred off-campus. Through the University’s “midnight
runs,” Christina helped distribute food to homeless people around
the city. One night a woman shared her story: she had been a nurse
but “lost everything” when her husband divorced her. The story had
a special impact because Christina’s mother is a nurse. “This
wasn’t someone who didn’t have an education, or didn’t want to work
— this was someone with a terrible situation.”
Learning about the city and its people is part of the entire
academic experience at St. John’s, Christina observed. In Discover New
York, a core class that makes the city a “living textbook,” she
became familiar with the city’s neighborhoods and subway system.
“At first it was culture shock. But since then, I’ve really made
the city my own.”
A member of Beta Alpha Psi, the honor society for
Accounting majors, Christina combines her math talent with an
interest in law and investigative work. With plans to become a
Certified Public Accountant, she is deeply interested in forensic
accounting and business law. “I’ve taken a lot of business law
electives,” she said. “The courses are fascinating, and the
professor (Anthony M. Sabino, J.D.) is great.”
Even accounting provides opportunities to serve, she added. For
example, she volunteered at an accounting camp for high school
seniors. Organized by the New York State Society of Certified
Public Accountants (two of her professors are active in the
society), the camp brought the students to the Queens campus to
learn more about the profession.
With class work, Student Government and the President’s Society,
Christina expects her senior year to be hectic. Yet she still hopes
to squeeze in another activity — joining one of the University’s
service “plunges” in another city. “No matter how much you think
you’ve done,” she said, “you can always do something more to
improve things for other people.”
We invite you to visit our Admissions pages to
learn more about the St. John’s experience.