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This 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 process.
We invite you meet Deana Guarella, 2009-10 President’s Society member.
Growing as a Student and a Person: Deana Guarella ‘10
The letter came this spring, telling Deana Guarella that she had achieved a cherished goal — induction into the President’s Society at St. John’s University, the highest honor for undergraduates who exemplify St. John’s values of excellence, leadership and service.
“I was ecstatic,” said Deana, a 20-year-old education major at the Staten Island campus. “My Dad gave me a thumb’s up, and my Mom cried.”
The President’s Society is St. John’s preeminent honor society. Highly selective, it recognizes outstanding scholarship, integrity, maturity and contributions to extracurricular life. Participating in major University events, inductees serve as “ambassadors” of St. John’s President.
Deana is among 29 students selected to spend their senior year as members of the 2009-10 President’s Society. In the spring of their junior year, aspiring members attend an informational luncheon, complete an application and are interviewed by a selection committee.
Role Models for a University
For Deana, joining the President’s Society fulfills a long-time dream: “When I was a freshman, I made friends with students on the President’s Society. I saw them as positive role models who represent all the values and opportunities St. John’s stands for.”
Ample opportunities are what originally drew the Staten Island native to St. John’s. Deana was a senior at Susan Wagner High School when she first toured the Staten Island campus, one St. John’s three residential, New York City campuses.
“I could see myself spending my entire college career here,” said Deana. “It’s an intimate environment where everyone has a chance to get involved.”
These opportunities are rooted in St. John’s mission as a Catholic university in the Vincentian tradition. Founded in 1870, St. John’s encourages students to use their knowledge and talents to help improve our global society. “It’s part of the St. John’s spirit,” Deana explained.
Excellence In and Out of the Classroom
Deana embraced this spirit early by joining St. John’s chapter of Delta Epsilon Beta.
Through the sorority, Deana contributed to student life as well as causes beyond the campus.
Today, she is the chapter’s secretary for alumnae affairs and the campus’s Greek Council President. She also participates in the Vincentian Initiative to Advance Leadership (VITAL), a unique St. John’s offering that combines academics with reflection on spiritual values.
Deana continued to serve by volunteering at local soup kitchens and distributing food and clothing during “midnight runs” across the city. But her most engaging experiences came from St. John’s popular “service plunges” during winter and spring breaks.
She took her first plunge as a sophomore, spending winter break in New Orleans, restoring homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina. For her second plunge this past spring, she volunteered in Florida at Give Kids the World Village, a non-profit resort for ailing children and their families.
Like service, academic excellence is essential for President’s Society members. With a 3.75 index, Deana has taken courses that build confidence as well as knowledge. “It’s the way classes are taught here,” she explained. “Professors are very supportive — they motivate you to learn.”
Preparing her to teach, Deana’s education courses have featured field work at local public schools. Enhancing her understanding of the world are Discover New York, a core course using the city as a “living classroom,” and St. John’s focus on study abroad, which allowed Deana to study Italian language and art during a semester at the University’s campus in Rome, Italy.
All About Opportunity
For Deana, all these experiences prepared her for the leadership role she plays as a member of the President’s Society.
“St. John’s is all about opportunity,” she said. “Between academics, extracurricular activities, study abroad, it’s a whirlwind of things to do. I tell people all the time—it’s a college experience unlike any other.”
We invite you to visit our admission pages, so you can learn more about the St. John’s experience.