March 11, 2011
John’s University hosted one of its Spring forums on Tuesday March
01, 2011, entitled, “Where Do I Fit In?” The event, envisioned by
Geraldine Castelli, Assistant Director of the University Freshman
Center and Melissa Mirabella, Associate Director of Transfer
Student Services, gave recently admitted, second semester freshman
and transfer students at St. John’s the opportunity to get together
and share their experiences.
Facilitated by Dr. Andrew Ferdinandi of the School of Education,
the event was very open and informal attracting some 45 students
who were able to discuss similar challenges that they all faced as
new members of the St. John’s University community. Stemming from
the “Listen & Lead: Hot Topics” series that was implemented by
Mary Pelkowski, Associate Dean of Student Engagement, Jodi Cox,
Director of Campus Life and Natalie Maio, Associate Director of
Leadership Development, in the aftermath of the Rutgers University
suicide incident, the importance of creating open and safe
environments for students to share and discuss their feelings
cannot be stressed enough.
At the forum, Dr. Ferdinandi stressed, "This event and others
like it, such as "Hot Topics" are meant to provide students a safe
and comfortable environment to talk about the issues that are
meaningful to them."
"In my experience with transfer students I recognize that they
are coming on our campus with different life experiences and
different expectations. Coordinating with the different departments
on campus such as Student Engagement will expose transfers to the
different opportunities that await them and assist them with their
transition to our University," stated Mirabella.
According to Castelli, speaking of incoming students, "Many of
these students may never even speak to anyone about their feelings
and concerns until they arrive at these discussions. It makes you
realize the emotional baggage each student is really carrying along
with them each day."
true testimony of the benefits of the “Where do I Fit in?” forums
are remarkable. According to Gabriel, a freshman from Brazil, "It
was really useful and made me realize that I just needed to stand
up and ‘grab the bull by the horns.’ The discussion was good in
many ways, plus I needed to expand my social network."
Castelli also stated that, "many students arrive and quickly
thrive very well in navigating around St. John’s but what we want
to do is reach out to the remaining students who may have not made
the immediate connection yet."
Sharing of her own experience while at St. John’s, Castelli
added, "As a commuter freshman student here at St. John's many
years ago, I learned how important it was to connect with faculty
members, join clubs and organizations on campus, study abroad, and
take ownership of my experience. This University is full of
wonderful people which are all here to assist you. Ask for
help when you need it; ask your advisors how you can get involved,
and take advantage of all the resources that are at your
The St. John’s community and its faculty, administration and
staff are encouraged to attend the next “Hot Topics” forum which
will be held on March 22 at 11 a.m. in Room 401 of the D’Angelo
Center and a second session at 3 p.m. in Room 410 of the D’Angelo
Center on the Queens campus.
"When our students are presented with a forum where their
opinions can be expressed, they come out and take part. We are
getting more students each time we hold an event and I am confident
that the trend will continue," added Dr. Ferdinandi of the upcoming
For more information contact St. John’s Office of Media
Relations at (718) 990-2451 or e-mail inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.