Janet Catenacci ’84CBA, ’86MBA
There’s no question that the 1980s was an exciting decade for St. John’s University, and Janet Catenacci ’84CBA, ’86MBA had a front-row seat – literally.
“I remember 1985 like it was yesterday,” she recalled. “ Then-President Ronald Reagan spoke on campus, and I sat at the front, which was thrilling. Our Men’s Basketball team was in the middle of one of its most famous NCAA runs, so you could only imagine how off-the-charts exciting things were on campus. The President even received a Lou Carnesecca ’50C, ’60GEd, ’00HON replica sweater – now that’s something I’ll never forget.”
And over 25 years later, Catenacci still cherishes those student days, looking back fondly on the education she received, an education that helped her become an accomplished businesswoman and a successful mother of four. No matter what project she tackles, Catenacci always credits her time at St. John’s with helping her thrive.
“During my time as a graduate student, I worked directly with some very accomplished professors, individuals with many years of real-world experience,” she said. “I was fortunate that a few of my articles were co-published with them. So, when I graduated in 1986, I found a job pretty quickly in Marketing at J.P. Morgan, and I enjoyed six great years there.”
In 1992, Catenacci left J.P. Morgan to stay at home and focus on raising her children. As she made the transition, she couldn’t help but notice that her St. John’s education helped her just as much at home as in the office.
“Being a ‘mom’ is a valuable, valuable experience,” she explained. “In many ways, you end up managing your home like you’d manage any sort of business. I’ve got a great partnership with my husband and I give valuable advice to my children, based largely on my experiences from St. John’s. You can’t overstate the importance of being a mother, and I can’t overstate how much my college education helped me along the way.”
In fact, the University is a family affair for Catenacci, as her three sisters all graduated from St. John’s College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions (now the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences). Looking back, she is especially appreciative of how St. John’s prepared her and her sisters with being successful females in a professional world that was still male-dominated.
“It’s all about confidence,” she noted, “and St. John’s teaches you how to be assertive and sure of yourself. Also, the mentorship component – meeting professors who have a real impact on you – helps to emphasize that all the more. You’re treated like an individual at St. John’s, regardless of gender, race or religion, and that makes for a wonderful community.”
Today, Catenacci participates in non-profits whenever possible, living by the Vincentian mission to help those in need. One of these not-for-profits is Eurica Media Lab, an initiative founded by Catenacci’s cousin which strives to bring young adults from across the globe together, helping them break into the Film industry and get experience under their belts.
“We bring kids together from France, from Algeria, from New York – all over the world – and we assist them in producing a film,” Catenacci explained. “This program allows young people from various different cultures to communicate with one another through film, and it’s a very powerful experience for them.”
Through it all, Catenacci has remained an active member of the St. John’s community and attended a Men’s Basketball Pre-game Reception earlier in the year, allowing her to catch up with friends and meet one of her St. John’s idols, former Head Coach Lou Carnesecca.
“Just like in 1985, there’s so much school spirit,” she said. “To meet Coach – now that was something. He was such a big part of my college experience, and what I always felt about the ’80s is still true today: it’s an honor and a thrill to be part of this great community.”