September 09, 2009
Meet Rebecca Beliard ’10,
President’s Society Member
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.
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
Helping “just one person” can make a
difference: Rebecca Beliard ‘10
Nineteen-year old senior Rebecca Beliard’s academic, service and
leadership achievements paint a portrait of what it takes to become
a President’s Society member.
Before she actually applied to St. John’s, Rebecca already knew
that she wanted to make “a direct impact” on peoples’ lives.
Not only has the University given her countless opportunities to
deepen that commitment, but it also has provided leadership
training programs to prepare her to become a 21st century
Whether through service in St. John’s Bread and Life soup kitchen,
painting and scraping houses for New Orleans’ Katrina victims or
volunteering in the “Keep A Child Alive” program with the African
Student Association, “St. John’s has opened my eyes. I now realize
that helping just one person can make a difference,” Rebecca
The Right Place
As the kind of person who asks a lot of questions and needs a
certain level of comfort, Rebecca was relieved to discover that,
even as an applicant, the Freshman Center never hesitated to answer
her queries. “From the very beginning, St. John’s struck me as
student-centered university,” she stated.
Impressed by the University’s commitment to its students, Rebecca
dedicated herself to showing the same spirit in return. For
example, she became an Orientation Leader, serving as a liaison
between St. John’s and entering students. “This experience was a
great networking opportunity — and a quick course in
professionalism,” she said.
Seeking to fine-tune that professionalism, Rebecca signed on for
such leadership positions as Student Ambassador and Residence
Assistant, both requiring her to serve as a role model for either
prospective or current students.
“Serving other students helped me build up my confidence,” she
said. She also enlisted in VITAL (the Vincentian Initiative to
Advance Leadership) — a four-year intensive leadership training
program that integrates community service.
Through the President’s Society, Rebecca continues to serve as a
student role model. She was accepted to St. John’s top honor
society last March, along with 28 other outstanding student
As a member, Rebecca acts as an ambassador representing St. John’s
at major University events with professional leaders, alumni and
friends. “The President’s Society is helping me prepare for the
real world by teaching me where the boundaries lie between personal
and professional relationships,” she noted.
“St. John’s turned out to have been the right place for me,” said
Rebecca. “I am precisely where I should be.”
Rebecca’s leadership growth and her increasing professionalism were
aided by the supportive relationships she has enjoyed with her
In particular, she singles out Professors Romero Scott and Julie
“Professor Scott’s course in abnormal psychology was so interesting
that I ended up being a psychology minor,” said Rebecca. “He gave
me confidence when I most needed it and he gave me
She added, “Professor Julie Freudenheim’s course in penal law was
so thorough and on-point. She treated us with the kind of care I
associate with a Vincentian and Catholic university and, at my
request, even met with me before finals to calm me down.”
Following the Legal Track
Before she entered St. John’s, the
Legal Studies major had set her sights on going to law school.
So the University’s nationally recognized School of Law was a big
She joined the Legal Society, where she served as newsletter
editor-in-chief and where she will be vice president in her senior
year. On the academic front, Rebecca was accepted in the elite
Ronald H. Brown Summer Pre-Law Prep program.
Through the program, Rebecca has learned first-hand about the
criminal justice system. She still marvels at the time she
was allowed to shadow a defense team while also getting a seat on
the bench next to the judge at a case being tried at Queens
Criminal Supreme Court.
Returning to Her Cultural Roots
As committed as Rebecca is to making a direct impact on peoples’
lives, she is equally committed to developing herself
professionally. Making it a rule never to waste resources, she has
found a cornucopia of extracurricular options at St. John’s,
including rediscovering her family’s Haitian roots as COO of the
Haitian Society and as a member of the Caribbean Student
Association’s dance troupe.
“The variety and quality of my undergraduate experiences have
helped me understand a basic truth: that to whom much is given,
much is expected,” she summed up. “That is the most important thing
I have learned from my St. John’s experience.”
We invite you to visit our Admission pages to
learn more about the St. John’s experience.