Johnnies Memories

"I remember it was my sophomore year at St. John's. I had applied for a new Women In Science Scholarship the school just adopted (Claire Boothe Luce Scholarship). I ended up winning the scholarship for my research in nuclear fusion. However, at that time also started applying to other schools to transfer to, as I found the department of physics & mathematics at SJU to be very small. The same week I got accepted to many schools such as Boston University, NYU, and even Columbia University. My decision was due within two weeks. I was split between leaving and staying. I asked God to help me make the decision. Then, a miracle happened. I was invited to a faculty party at the house of our school's former President,  Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D.. I RSVP'd as fast as I can, and was super excited to meet the President of St. John's (even though I was split among going or staying). When I got to the event, I handed Bobby a fruit basket I had picked up on my way to his house. Him and his wife thanked me full heartedly and ended up giving me a tour of their house and even spoke to me for a couple of hours about my research and how I got into physics in the first place. I had a ton of fun, but had to admit the fact that I was split among leaving the school or staying. Bobby then told me something which caused me to have a change of heart. He pulled me to the side and said to me "Whatever decision you make, just know, not only do I, but God stands fully behind you." A few weeks later I continued with my summer research of Nuclear physics. A couple months later, I began my junior year at St. John's as I ended up applying for not just another scholarship, but a Women In Science Scholarship, that took care of my full tuition for the next two years. Upon graduation, I received a full time position at a billion dollar company and even got into some of the best graduate programs. Fast forward to today, I am currently a Private Pilot & Plane Owner, hope to fly for the airlines one day. I would not be who I am today, if it weren't for St. John's and most importantly, if it weren't for the words of hope from President Conrado Gempesaw, Ph.D.. As SJU receives a new President, I welcome him with all the warmth and love St. John's has welcomed me with. And would just like to say: Not only do I, but God stands behind you."
— Noor Muzammal '19C


"I love all the class conversations, especially with Army and ROTC members about foreign policy. I like going to Debate Society meetings, even though I never competed."
— Patrick Romain, Class of 2021


"How lucky I was to finally attend SJU in 1971 after spending two years at a City University, where student strikes and thrown Molotov cocktails were daily occurrences. I saved my money from working in an A&P and finally got to go to a learning institution where I felt safe and comfortable. I had gone to a Catholic High School and knew SJU was the place I could thrive. I enrolled in the Government and Politics Department and met great professors like Dr. Frank Paul LeVeness, who truly cared about their students. I was offered internships, which became my visa to a career in government. In 1976, at the age of 25, I was offered a chance to become an Adjunct Instructor in the Government and Politics Department. It was a great opportunity and led me to meet Mario Cuomo, who taught at the Law School and was running for Mayor in 1977. My mother always said I signed up for the Cuomo army then and I was fortunate to become a Commissioner in one of his departments. I am always honored to be asked to speak at the Albany Alumni Day and I always say...All I am, I owe to St. John's" 
— Patricia Reilly '74C, '75G


 "Happy Birthday St. John's! It was not only a place to learn but a place where all respected each other and learned as a family. Pharmacy school was a great place to master your skills and all the faculty were there to help you succeed. Dr. Aisen for pharmacy calculations was a great example. He was hard but in the end after graduation I realized how great he was. I saw him while visiting one day and he said "looks like all your hard work paid off, I am proud of you." I was driving an Acura to pick up my wife and sister (both pharmacy alumni), in those days it was a new brand.
In all St. John's is a place which makes you feel you belong and the friends you make become life long and the education is of the highest standard."
— Vijay Chari, RPh '88P


"I had graduated from St. John's the first time in 1971 and then was in the military the following month (the Vietnam War and the draft were on). I came home in 1975 and my parents pressured me to go to graduate school, but I was not interested. I felt that I did not do well the first time and was not certain if college was really meant for me. But in 1976 my Irish born lady friend went back to Ireland and now there was a vacuum in my life. In May 1976 I went to the College of Business office Administration (now the Peter J. Tobin College of Business) and met with professor Thomas Stapleton for advice and to apply for the summer session. I was too late for the June session but not for the July one. So on July 12, 1976 I went to one of my core classes in St. Augustine Hall, and was very apprehensive that I got myself into a big mess. In that classroom were several students, only 4 of which were ladies. One was sitting in the front away from the other 3 and she really caught my eye – maybe she is right for me. I did try and get to know her but a classmate beat me to her. I also had her in my next core class in September but they split the class up. Finally on October 13, 1978 I was at an alumni singles dance, tending bar, when this young lady came into the hall. I took a break from behind the bar and started to talk to her, remembering her as the cute lady from Dr. McGowan’s class. This time we did click and we became boyfriend & girlfriend and got married the following year."
— William B. Fornaro '71CBA, '78MBA


"I was a second semester freshman and decided to apply for the New Student Executive Board. At the last minute, I got super nervous and spent two hours in my car before the 4pm interview with SJU juniors and seniors, deciding whether or not to go through with the interview. I did, and was appointed to a position on the executive board. This position literally changed my campus experience and ultimately I became VP of Student Government. 40 years later, I serve as one of the longest standing Vice President's of Student Affairs at the University of Miami."
— Dr. Patricia A. Whitely '80CBA


"In 1970 I was a junior in high school & making college plans. I knew it would not be possible for me to go away to college & therefore started to consider local colleges. I soon learned that St. John's University was celebrating it's 100th Anniversary and I was interested in a school with such a history. So in 1971 I became a freshman in the College of Business Administration. I had a wonderful experience and have many lifelong friends that I met in college, including my husband Steven of 43 years. Several years later my sister also decided on St. John's. Her husband was also an St John's alum along with his parents & brothers. My niece & nephew graduated from SJU, my older daughter is a graduate of the PA program , and my younger daughter is currently a student in CCPS. When my daughter graduates next May she will be the 14th person of our extended family to have attended our beloved St. John's."
— Irene Caccavallo '75CBA


"In 1986, I was blessed to have earned a Women's Basketball Scholarship to attend St. John's.  My first day on campus, a junior member of the basketball team was showing me around.  As we walked into Alumni Hall, she yelled across the gym, "Hey Lenny, I have a Jewish girl you're going to marry."  That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship that flourished into a wonderful relationship.  On August 10, 2021, with God's blessing we will celebrate our 30th anniversary."
— Nancy S. Kaplan '90SVC, '92MBA, '94PD, '00Ed.D.


"I was a very timid freshman at 17 years old coming from Newtown High School in Queens, NYC and I did not know anyone going to SJU. Many of my neighborhood friends had dropped out of HS and very few had aspirations to attend college. SJU was a magical place for me where I met many new and very different friends from what I was used to. I met another student who was from Egypt who tutored me in math while I helped him with English projects. We remained acquaintances until he passed away a few weeks ago. I have a philosophy that sometimes it only takes one friend to make things a little easier. I will always be grateful for the connection that I had made since I am not sure if I could have reached my educational endeavors without the friendship that we developed."

 — Laura Bellacicco '83CBA, '85MBA


"I would like to share a story about John Hogan and how he helped me discover the career path of school psychologist. I thought I wanted to become a teacher. After student teaching for a few months, I went to Dr. Hogan to confide teaching was not for me. After a long conversation he helped me see I am a school psychologist. Becoming a school psychologist was the best choice I ever made. I can honestly say I am one of those people who love what I do everyday. I can never learn enough, I always want more. 
Thank you Dr. Hogan for seeing in me what I could not see in myself."
— Darla Vigilante DiLorenzo '04C, '08G


"It was 1958, and had just graduated from The Power Memorial Academy, and while accepted at various colleges, St. John's University was closer to home and a bus trip away along Union Turnpike. The fear of entering that awesome sight on campus for the first time and entering St. John Hall was quite a feeling. I managed my way to the Registrar's Office and it all began...a journey to a degree and then switching from day school to night classes and working at the University since 1962. Yes, 58 years this past August and two vice presidencies in the areas of Student Enrollment and Financial Aid Services and then since 1994 as Vice President for Community Relations, an early partner in the then plans for on campus housing. SJU has been the core of my life in many ways!"
— Joseph Sciame '71Ed


"When I arrived at St. John's I had taken bookkeeping classes and was told that I would make a good accountant. I was not convinced so I pursued an Associates Degree in Business first to see how I liked the Accounting classes. The teacher was an adjunct professor who saw talent in me to be a good accountant and she pushed me to go on to the Bachelor's Program at St. John's and to take the CPA exam and become a CPA. Because of her caring and support and that of my family I am a successful CPA today and owe it to my family and a caring professor."
— Anthony Yandoli '86CBA


"SJU had a big impact on my life! I did my master's degree there, and all my professors were very supportive! After I graduated, I pursued my Ph.D. in hearing sciences at CUNY's Graduate Center, and I now I've returned to SJU as an adjunct assistant professor! Thank you SJU for making such a big difference in my life!"
— Shukrallah Abdelrazeg '06G


“In 2005, when I was in my senior year of college and was looking for graduate schools to attend, I visited St. John's University and fell in love with the campus. I ended up attending grad school in Texas, but I never forgot about the beautiful campus, wonderful people I met, and its core values. Three years ago I decided to return to school for a Ph.D. and when I searched online doctoral literacy programs, St. John's University was the first one in my results list. It felt God-sent: here was my second chance to attend St. John's! Despite being an online student living in Texas, I still feel connected to the university through the great faculty, outstanding librarians, active social media, and student organizations that I have been able to join. Even though I am not physically on campus, I very much feel like a member of the #SJUJohnnies family. Happy Anniversary to St. John's University!!”
Priscilla Delgado


“In September 1973 I turned 20 and drove to SJU for the first time since being separated from military service a couple of weeks prior. I had been accepted by SJU during my senior year at Msgr. McClancy High School. As I did with all my acceptances, I wrote to the colleges and universities asking them to hold my acceptance until sometime in 1973 when my active military service would be completed. The only school that responded to my letter was St. John's and I knew then that would be where I would attend. All of my correspondence was handled from overseas and through my parents. As it was during that time, I was eligible under the Vietnam Veterans Act for education benefits and had no idea where to go when I arrived on campus. While standing by myself in what I thought was the middle of nowhere, a short man puts his arm around my arm and says I looked lost. I told him I was and I asked if he could point me in the direction of the financial aid office. Before I realized it, with his arm around mine, he walked me across the campus. Upon entering the office a woman walks up to us, looks at me, and says, "From the look in your eyes you must be a veteran, do not worry, I'll help you get settled." I thanked the man who then shook my hand for a longer time than one would expect, looking directly at me. The woman from the financial aid office put her hand on my shoulder at the same time. This man then turned and as he walked out I asked the woman who he was and she told me it was Lou Carnesecca, the SJU basketball coach. So, my first experience at SJU was with two people who could not have been more caring. I knew when St. John's wrote me back a few years before that it was the right place for my education. All in all my entire experience could not have been better at St. John's where I prepared for a career in marketing and communications. Many years later there was an alumni luncheon for SJU graduates at JPM Chase where I was a VP in the Advertising and Marketing division. Mr. Carnesecca attended and I sat next to him. During our discussion I reminded him of that first day at SJU. He looks at me and says, "Wasn't your hair much longer?" We laughed and I will never know if he actually remembered that moment when my hair was much longer. But on the 150th anniversary of SJU and my 67 birthday, it is a memory I will never forget.”

Geoffrey Toole '77SVC


“St. John's has a reputation for changing lives. So it is no surprise that the University had a transformative impact for me and my family as well. As a student and an employee (an administrator and adjunct faculty member), I experienced many of my most meaningful, uplifting, and formative moments at St. John's. My graduate English studies helped to set me on a creative and intellectual path that continues to engage me; my colleagues in the Marketing Department, and throughout the University, were, and remain, people I love. In terms of faith, I always will cherish the hours I spent in the RCIA program under the guidance of Sister Pat. Today, I am proud to say that my St. John's connection extends to my children, both alumni of the University. Thank you, St. John's, for playing such a wonderful role in my life. Happy Birthday, alma mater!”
Barry Moskowitz '00G