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SJU President Welcomes Visiting Fulbrights to University's Intensive English Program

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Emphasizing the transformative power of a global education, Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., president of St. John’s, personally welcomed 38 visiting Fulbright scholars from 25 countries during a special reception on July 31 at the new location of the University’s Manhattan campus.

The Fulbright recipients are here for three weeks to strengthen their English-language skills and knowledge of US culture through The Language Connection (TLC) at St. John’s. They will go on to pursue their master’s and doctoral studies at institutions across the country. According to Dr. Pamela Fairman, Director of TLC, this is the third year in a row that TLC’s English for Graduate Studies Program has been chosen by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the US Department of State to host the visiting Fulbright students.

“Today we celebrate the impact of being a global university,” observed Dr. Gempesaw, who stressed the success that past Fulbright recipients have had throughout the world in the arenas of government, education, and the academic disciplines.

“St. John’s University has a very long history,” he continued. “We’re now starting our 145th year, and we are one of only eight universities throughout the country selected to provide you with your English language studies—and the only one in New York City.”

Dr. Gempesaw also spoke of the vital role that education plays in everyone’s life—including his own. “It will transform your life, and with it you can transform the lives of others. I stand here before you as an example of someone who went through that process many years ago. I implore you to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Prior to the reception, the Fulbrighters attended a presentation by Martha Hirst, executive vice president, chief operating officer, and treasurer at St. John’s. Relaying her own experience working with four former New York City mayors during her municipal career, Hirst discussed the qualities that inform an effective leader—and the power those characteristics have to motivate others.

“The best leaders have a vision,” Hirst told the students, adding that capable leaders know how to assemble a great team. “The best leaders I know inspire others and collaborate. You can’t lead by yourself.”

Hirst went on to observe that the Fulbrighters are already seen as potential leaders. “At this juncture,” she advised, “it’s a good idea for you to observe leaders around you so you can learn from them.”

Muhammed Rafi Siddiq, a student from Afghanistan who will pursue a master’s in linguistics at the School for International Training in Vermont, said he felt very welcome at St. John’s. “The Fulbright program is not just about studying,” he noted. “It’s a cultural exchange program. At St. John’s, we’re learning about American culture while we represent our own culture. New York is a great city and St. John’s is a great university.”

This program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs as part of its flagship Fulbright Program.