Pascal Desroches ’86CBA

Pascal Desroches ’86CBA Knows that True Success Includes Reaching Out to Others

Pascal Desroches ’86CBA readily acknowledges that his time at St. John’s University transformed him in ways that went well beyond the classroom. Being part of the University community allowed him to develop a lifelong sense of personal and professional self-confidence, coupled with a recognition of the importance of making a difference for others, that has remained with him throughout his life.

“One of the things St. John’s teaches us is that being successful isn’t about where you came from,” he said. “I’m the product of an immigrant family, and I was able to succeed because of the excellent opportunities that the University provides for every student. And it wasn’t just me. My brother graduated from St. John’s and went on to become a successful physician and my sister, a St. John’s alumna, is a well-respected attorney. The University offered each of us the means to grow as persons and have great careers.” 

Desroches has fond memories of his student days on campus. He enjoyed the intellectual stimulation that his classes provided, and shared his knowledge with others by working as a student tutor within the Work-Study Program. And like so many of his peers, he was a huge fan of the legendary Men’s Basketball team that dominated the college courts during the mid-80s.

“Back when I was a student, St. John’s was largely a commuter school,” he recalled, “and like so many New Yorkers, we were great fans of the basketball program. That was back in the years when Chris Mullin, Walter Berry and Mark Jackson were part of our Final Four team. I had season tickets, and got to as many games as I possibly could.”

By the time he was ready to graduate, Desroches was on his way to what would become an outstanding business career. He had been recruited on campus by Peat Marwick as an Assistant Accountant, and from that first job began a steady rise to his current position of Senior Vice President and Controller at Time Warner, Inc.

As someone who has always enjoyed interacting with others, he has a passion for his profession that goes well beyond the numbers in a profit and loss report.

“What’s terrific about my job is that every day I have the opportunity to work with really gifted and passionate people,” he said. “My colleagues are some of the most talented professionals in their position, and they really care about what they do. I also love that I get to work with some of the leading media companies in the world. If you think about our brands, like HBO, CNN, Time magazine and Fortune magazine, they are some of the most important outlets when it comes to informing and entertaining people.”

Embracing the commitment to service that began with his family and was nurtured at St. John’s, this outgoing alumnus shares his time and talents with a variety of organizations that provide educational and familial support for young people. He currently serves as Treasurer of Prep for Prep, an organization that identifies New York City’s most promising students of color and prepares them for placement at independent schools in the city and boarding schools throughout the Northeast. Once placed, the students receive the support necessary to ensure their academic accomplishment and personal growth.

“I’ve been involved with Prep for Prep for about six years,” he noted, “and the success of these students in college has been extraordinary. We’ve had Rhodes Scholars, Fulbright Scholars and White House Fellows come through that program. It’s great to see those kids getting the chance that they deserve.”

He is also a member of the Board of Directors of New Alternatives for Children, a social service agency that provides much needed medical services, counseling and financial support to children with severe physical and emotional challenges. The goal of the organization is for children with special needs to spend as much time as possible with their families rather than living in institutions.

Even though more than a quarter century has passed since his graduation, Desroches’ connection to St. John’s remains strong. He is a member of the Board of Advisors of The Peter J. Tobin College of Business and supports the University financially through his membership in The Loughlin Society. He believes that the best way to show his appreciation for what was done for him is by helping to ensure that current and future students will enjoy similar opportunities.

“The University put me in a position to be successful,” he acknowledged, “and as a result, I believe that I have an obligation to give back. St. John’s always taught us that we were expected to help others and that we should always remember what was done for us. They provided me with much needed financial aid when I was a student, and without it there would have been no way for me to go to college. I’ve always believed that none of us gets to where we are without someone helping us, and as a result it’s important for us to try to make a difference for others, however we can. Between what my family taught me and the values I learned at St. John’s, that commitment will be with me forever.”

And the affection is mutual. Reflecting its pride in the accomplishments and respect for the caring and compassion of this exceptional alumnus, in 2011 St. John’s presented him with the Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award.