July 09, 2007
Staten Island Campus
St. John’s student Audree Maldonado has just completed an
eventful sophomore year at the University’s Staten Island campus.
She participated in the Discover The
World study abroad program which took her on a 15-week academic
excursion to Spain, France and Italy and, upon her return, found
herself interviewing among elite company as one of 20 finalists
(from more than 900 candidates) for the prestigious 2007 Pickering
Foreign Affairs Fellowship.
The fellowship, administered by the Woodrow Wilson National
Fellowship Foundation (WWNFF) and funded by the U.S. Department of
State, narrowed the field down to 10 eventual award winners. And,
although Maldonado did not finish among the Top 10, she had (in her
own mind and in the University’s eyes) solidified her place as one
of the best and brightest sophomore students in the nation.
The entire process was a whirlwind for Maldonado which made the
experience even more exciting. Her application for the Pickering
Fellowship was well received and organizers contacted her with the
good news while she was in Paris. They immediately flew her to
Arlington, VA for a personal interview and exam just three days
after she returned from her studies in Europe. The quick turnaround
had her very nervous and feeling unprepared. But a luncheon with
Sr. Joan Mahoney, CND (Director of Campus Ministry for St. John’s
University’s Staten Island campus) put her mind at ease just hours
before her trip.
“Sr. Joan (Mahoney) said, ‘Audree – you’ve been selected because
they see talent and they know that you’re something special so try
to find comfort in that and do the best you can,’” Maldonado noted.
“I took her words to heart and thought – ‘OK, that’s true – they
had to see something in my application,’ so I ran out and bought a
brand new suit and shoes and was on my way.”
The honor has since validated her hard work and place among a
select group of her peers which has not gone unnoticed by the
“When I realized who I was sitting amongst (mostly Ivy League
students from Harvard, Yale and Princeton, etc.) it was a little
overwhelming,” Maldonado admitted. “But I love St. John’s and I was
proud to represent the University. I stood up with everyone else
and introduced myself as proud as I could and said, ‘I’m Audree and
I’m from St. John’s University,’ and that felt good.
It put me at ease and the students were very nice but I felt that I
was just as good as they were and I didn’t need the Ivy League
title to prove that.”
Maldonado knows what she wants and goes after it. That is a
testament to her upbringing, being one of six children (the first
female in her family to go to college) who hail from Brooklyn, NY,
and a graduate from Murray Bertram High School. She is studying
Criminal Justice in the College of Professional Studies at St.
John’s, and is considered a Very High Need (VHN) student because of
her financial plight. And, with her mother and father suffering
from disabilities and unable to work, she was faced with a tough
decision based on financial need and the proximity of a college
near her home.
As a VHN student, she receives assistance through grants and
scholarship monies to offset most of her college finances which
gave her the opportunity to live out her dream to go to
college. Maldonado pays off the remainder of her tuition as a
work study student in the Staten Island Office of Financial
“Audree has the talent and desire to be a catalyst in whatever
path she chooses to pursue,” said Sharon Norton, Vice Provost of
St. John’s Staten Island campus. “This wonderful tribute represents
the hard work and dedication that Audree has strived to achieve at
St. John’s and we’re very proud of her accomplishments.”
So what’s next for the talented and soon to be junior at St.
John’s? She has an endless array of opportunities and challenges
that await her as she moves into the second half of her college
career at St. John’s, but she remains focused always looking at the
bigger picture for her and her family.
“At a very young age I’ve accepted the fact that I will be the
one the family goes to and looks up to (especially my younger
siblings) to follow in my footsteps. But that comes with a lot of
hard work. When I’m tired and overworked I find comfort in knowing
that one day in the future I’ll be able to provide everything that
my family needs and more,” Maldonado admitted. “That’s what keeps
me going and motivates me to succeed.”
St. John’s University’s own Audree Maldonado is an extraordinary
young woman who may have finished out of the running for the 2007
Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship, but she is running well ahead
of the pack when it comes to the game of life.
For more information contact Dominic Scianna, Director of Media
Relations at St. John’s University by calling (718) 990-6185 or
e-mail inquiries to email@example.com.
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