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For New St. John's Students, a Joyous Weeklong Greeting

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

In an event combining the pomp and pageantry of commencement exercises with the enthusiasm of a pep rally, more than 1,700 new St. John's University students received a festive welcome from administrators, faculty and classmates during the annual New Student Convocation held Tuesday, September 3, in a packed Carnesecca Arena at the Queens, NY, campus.

The Convocation is the capstone event of the Week of Welcome (WOW), during which freshmen and transfer students across all three New York metropolitan campuses experience their first taste of life at St. John's.

View the photo gallery from Week of Welcome

The Staten Island campus held its own Convocation for new students on the same day. They were welcomed at the Campus Center by Jerrold Ross, Ph.D., Dean of The School of Education and Academic Vice President of the Staten Island campus.

At Carnesecca Arena, Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., Interim President of St. John’s, told students that they shared something in common with him. “We are both beginning new chapters in our lives—I, as the proud new St. John’s President, and you, as proud new St. John’s students,” he said. “Together, we will discover the exciting challenges and opportunities that await us at this great University.”

Joining an “Extraordinary” Community

On the Queens campus, Robert Mangione, Ed.D., R.Ph., Provost of St. John's, spoke of the many distinguishing characteristics of a St. John's education, including the commitment to service that is rooted in the Catholic and Vincentian tradition. “Your lives will change forever as you become part of this extraordinary University community,” he said. “From the very first moment of your very first class, you will know that you are part of something that is greater than any individual.”

At Staten Island, Ross emphasized the advantages to studying at the close-knit campus. “You will find interdisciplinary courses here that are among the hallmarks of your education,” he said. “They will heighten your imagination and make the connections between fields that now rely on one another, making each of them that much more exciting.”

The reception they received was a fitting introduction to life at St. John’s, said Kathryn T. Hutchinson, Ph.D., Vice President for Student Affairs. “The beginning of the academic year is a special time for everyone,” she observed. “The events of WOW help students to quickly engage with the campus community by providing the opportunity to interact with peers, faculty and University administrators. Our new freshmen begin to experience the rich traditions of this great institution.”

For students at the Queens campus, the warmth of Convocation continued at an Academic Fair held immediately afterward. “Everyone was great,” said Alessandra Grossi ’17CPS, a criminal justice major specializing in forensic psychology. “The atmosphere at the Convocation was amazing, and I never expected there to be so many events and activities to make us feel comfortable here.”

Dominic Gierber ’17CPS, a communication arts major from Virginia who has been accepted into the Ozanam Scholars Program, noted that he has already connected with his roommates. “St. John’s is going to be my home away from home for the next four years,” he said. “I can't wait to get started.”

At the Staten Island campus, students and faculty joined in a meet-and-greet brunch. Later, a service “round robin” showcased various campus-supported charities. "We had a table for Relay for Life, Making Strides, Give Kids the World and Project Homefront,” said Audra Goodman, Associate Director of Student and Resident Life. When students visited each station, they received information about that group and had the opportunity to do a small piece of service related to its cause. Students finished the day with a boat cruise around Manhattan.

A World of Welcome

The entire Week of Welcome offered an array of activities introducing students to their new living and learning environment.

“Week of WOW illustrates just how committed St. John’s is to creating a vibrant campus community,” explained Mary Pelkowski, Associate Dean for Student Engagement in the Division of Student Affairs. “Our goal is to demonstrate that the University offers the best student experience inside and outside the classroom. This is a perfect starting point.”

Pelkowski added, “This year, we enhanced and extended the Week of Welcome to include events and programs covering all aspects of campus life.” The full slate of activities includes a Twilight Carnival, a 5K Fun Run and a Movie Night, as well as service activities to benefit victims of Superstorm Sandy.

Mary Rizzo ’14CPS, President of the Student Programming Board, stressed the important role the week plays in acclimating new students to the University: “It allows St. John's to introduce the newest members of our community to all the amazing opportunities—academic and social—that they’ll experience with us.”