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St. John’s Strengthens Partnerships with Local Catholic High Schools

Friday, February 17, 2017

Mirtelle Mendoza ’20CPS has attended Catholic schools her entire life. A graduate of Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, NY, she came to St. John’s University for one main reason: to grow in her faith while experiencing a quality education.

“What I wanted,” she said, “was to go to college in an atmosphere that supports service and community. That’s what I found at St. John’s.”

Reflecting the University’s commitment to Catholic education at all levels, Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., President, hosted the Catholic High School Principals and Presidents Dinner at the Queens, NY, campus on December 1. Nearly 80 principals, presidents, and other Catholic high school leaders joined St. John’s administrators and students at the annual event.

The evening featured a keynote presentation by Paul Hamborg, President and Founder of Enrollment Research Associates, who discussed “Demographic Trends in High School and College Enrollment in the Northeast.” Voices of Victory, St. John’s Gospel choir, entertained the guests with Christmas carols. Addressing the attendees, Dr. Gempesaw evoked the University’s Catholic and Vincentian mission. “I firmly believe,” he said, “that those of us in education have the distinct opportunity to help alleviate income inequality and promote economic and social mobility.”

A college degree, Dr. Gempesaw said, “results in higher wages, better life opportunities, and greater community involvement.” However, he continued, a number of factors limit access to those advantages, including family income and social background.

Making a quality Catholic education attainable for all students is part of St. John’s mission.

Another priority at the University, said Dr. Gempesaw, is student retention, which has risen by five points over the last two years.

Retaining students increases their chances of graduating. Ensuring student success is one of four strategic priorities that offer a blueprint for St. John’s future initiatives.

Among the nation’s top Catholic universities, St. John’s accepts the highest percentage of students who receive Pell Grants, aid that is awarded directly to financially needy undergraduates. In addition, the University provided nearly $200 million in financial assistance to more than 92 percent of its students. This year, Dr. Gempesaw added, the University enrolled the largest freshman class of any Catholic institution in the country.

Mirtelle is one of several members of St. John’s Catholic Scholars Program who shared their educational experience at the dinner. The program offers Catholic high school graduates $5,000 in scholarship funds annually. Recipients are part of a multidisciplinary community of future leaders who join professors and campus ministers in monthly meetings, lectures, courses, and prayer experiences that integrate faith, reason, and service.

Along with their shared mission, Dr. Gempesaw said, the Catholic schools represented at the dinner help St. John’s to strengthen a key strategic priority— enhancing community partnerships. “When you send your students to us,” he said, “it is really our objective, our mission, and our commitment to help them so that they will be successful.”