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Jubilarians Celebrate 50 Years in the St. John's Family

Monday, June 3, 2013

Fifty years is a long time. But for the members of the Class of 1963, those years seemed to pass in the blink of an eye, especially when they were reminiscing and sharing memories with their fellow alumni at The Jubilarian Society Dinner.

Many embraced the milestone of their 50th Anniversary by contributing generously to a Class Gift that will ultimately be used to endow a scholarship for future St. John’s students. They have already raised over $48,000, and according to Class Chairperson James J. Reilly ’63CBA, expect to reach the $50,000 needed to establish the scholarship in the near future.

“This will be the first time that a Class Gift was able to endow a scholarship,” he said, “and that’s a really nice legacy for the Class of 1963, something I’m very happy to be a part of. I went to night school on Schermerhorn Street, and I got a good Catholic and professional education at St. John’s. The Vincentians gave us all a sense of the importance of the value of reaching out to those in need, and those values have stayed with me throughout my life. St. John’s mission made a big impact on me, and I’m glad to see that those ideals are as strong today as they were when I was a student. St. John’s is a great institution, and if I can help in any way, I’m happy to do so.”

The Jubilarian Society is reserved for alumni who are celebrating or have already celebrated the 50th Anniversary of their graduation from St. John’s. Although their lives have taken them in many different directions after graduation, the opportunity to reconnect with their former friends and classmates brought them all back home to St. John’s.

“It was a dream come true for me when I graduated from St. John’s,” remarked Alan J. Thompson ’63UC. “I was working during the day and going to school at night, which wasn’t easy, but it was definitely worth it. The University gave me a great education, and it served me well over the years. After graduating from the Schermerhorn Street campus I enjoyed a successful career in the insurance industry. When I retired in 2003 I took up sculpting, something I had always wanted to do. St. John’s encouraged us to try new things, and I guess that has stayed with me even after all these years.’

Not surprisingly, the University has changed dramatically since the Jubilarians were students. For many who went to school on Lewis Avenue or Schermerhorn Street, this was their first time on the Queens campus. And even those who attended the Queens campus but had not been back since graduation marveled at what the University had become during those intervening years.

“When I was a student there were only two academic buildings on campus – St. John Hall and St. Albert Hall,” recalled Claire Sullivan ’63Ed. “This is my first time back at St. John’s since I graduated, and it seems like only yesterday that we were going to class and trying to figure out what our future would be like. This anniversary celebration is such a nice thing for St. John’s and for us graduates. I have to try to come back more often in the future.”

For John (’52C, ’63G) and Gloria Mihalik ’58G, ’63Ph.D. their attachment to the University goes well beyond the degrees that they earned so many years ago. They met at St. John’s when both were studying Microbiology in the Graduate Division of St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and this year are celebrating both the 50th Anniversary of their graduation and their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

“This is our first time back in 50 years, and what changes we’ve seen,” said Gloria. “I would never have believed that the University could change so much if I didn’t see it for myself. There are so many people from our class here tonight, and it’s great to hear them tell about where their lives and careers have taken them since we were students. Even though we’ve all gone our separate ways, we all share the same connection to St. John’s. It’s what keeps us together, and why we’re all here tonight for this special celebration. John and I left the University with much more than our academic degrees. We left with a loving spouse and have shared each other’s life for the past 50 years.”

The years since their arrival at St. John’s have been equally fulfilling for Bart (’63CBA) and Virginia Frazzitta ’63CBA.  They met during the first day of Freshman Orientation on the Schermerhorn Street campus, got engaged at the end of their Senior year, and were married a few months after graduation. They have carried the St. John’s spirit within them ever since.

“My memories of the years I spent at the University are absolutely wonderful,” he acknowledged. “I was awarded a baseball scholarship and played for two great coaches. Lou Carnesecca ’50C, ’60GEd, ’00HON was the Freshman Coach and Jack Kaiser ’49C was my Varsity Coach. Those were great years for both Virginia and I, and St. John’s is still important to both of us. Two of our daughters went to the University, so we’re a real St. John’s family. I feel that the Vincentian education is based on values that are important to all of us. Tonight, as I look back over five decades, I can’t believe that the time has passed so quickly. Now that we’re officially Jubilarians, I guess that makes us senior members of the St. John’s family. And what an honor that is!”