Christina Iannitelli '11

“When I first arrived at St. John’s, I fell in love with the campus. — it is just beautiful,” said Christina Iannitelli ’11Ed, a former business major who transferred to The School of Education as a junior. “It’s become like a home to me.”

A commuter student originally from nearby Valley Stream, NY, Christina quickly settled into her new home away from home. Discussing her time on the Queens campus, she painted a picture of a tight-knit community, especially within The School of Education. “You have everything you need and the professors are always there for you,” she noted. “Here, I’m not just a number. I know my dean – I even have her on BlackBerry Messenger!”

Reflecting her commitment to excellence, Christina has been named a Dean’s Scholar, the highest academic honor in The School of Education. As a Dean’s Scholar, Christina acts as an ambassador for the University, representing The School of Education at major events. Dean’s Scholars must have a minimum of a 3.75 GPA. Christina is also a member of Kappa Delta Pi, the education honor society and a Fulbright Scholar nominee.

The 22-year-old senior has forged bonds with many faculty members, but none more influential to her than Dr. Mary Beth Schaeffer, Assistant Professor and Department of Curriculum and Instruction. “Dr. Schaeffer has a way of teaching that’s not just ‘lecture-lecture-lecture, homework-homework-essay.’ It’s active learning, not just note taking,” said Christina. “She’s also the one who got me interested in my passion for neurocognition” — an emerging specialty within education that studies how the brain affects our ability to learn.

Christina plans to further pursue neurocognition and ultimately follow in the footsteps of her professors at St. John’s. Using neurocognition as a foundation, she plans to stress to her students the importance of understanding their students. “As future teachers, college students need to understand their students developmentally, so they can create effective learning strategies for them.”

After taking some time off from school, she plans to pursue a graduate degree that will allow her to continue her neurocognition studies. “I would love to research the education systems in other countries from a neurocognitionist’s standpoint and find out why they’re so successful,” she said. “Then, I want to come back with strategies to fix what’s broken in the United States.”

Looking back on her years at St. John’s, she says that above all, the University primed her for success. “My professors prepared me beyond belief for teaching. They gave me the confidence to believe in myself. I go into that classroom and I know I can teach,” said Christina.

When asked about her student teaching experience in this, her final year of undergraduate studies, she added with a smile, “My cooperating teacher told me, ‘You’re a teacher already.’”