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Vincentian Values Celebrated at St. John’s Commencement Exercises

Monday, May 22, 2017

St. John’s University conferred more than 2,200 undergraduate degrees at its Staten Island and Queens, NY, campuses, on May 20 and 21, as leaders from business and the Church congratulated students during Commencement Exercises marking the institution’s 147th academic year.

On Sunday, May 21, more than 2,000 graduating seniors received bachelor’s degrees during exercises on the Great Lawn of the Queens campus. His Eminence Peter Kodwo Appiah Cardinal Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, delivered the Commencement Address. He also received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

At the Staten Island campus on Saturday, May 20, the University conferred degrees on more than 200 undergraduates. Lois T. Nicotra ’77NDC, ’83GEd, Chairman/Owner of The Nicotra Group LLC, addressed the students and their families.

Throughout the preceding week, the University conferred more than 1,400 graduate degrees in its schools and colleges: St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, The School of Education, The Peter J. Tobin College of Business, the College of Professional Studies, and the College of Pharmacy and Health

Turning Achievements into Accomplishments

“Here at St. John’s, we change hopes and aspirations into achievements and accomplishments,” said Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., President of St. John’s University, during his welcoming remarks. “Today, because of your hard work and perseverance, we celebrate your achievements that will hopefully serve as the foundation for the next stage of your careers.”

An honorary Doctor of Commercial Science Degree was conferred upon Paul M. Carroll ’69CBA, ’71MBA, ’79APC, Retired Banker and Member of St. John’s Board of Trustees. During his remarks, he encouraged graduates to continue supporting St. John’s efforts to serve students from around the world.

In his Commencement Address, Cardinal Turkson told graduates and their families that the Mission Statement of St. John’s University “offers six rules of life which we would do well to hold on to as we move from here into the world: truth, love, respect, opportunity, excellence, and service.”

Cardinal Turkson also discussed individual responsibility for others as he touched upon homelessness on a global scale. “It is a phenomenon which has become global because a pervasive culture of indifference is gradually replacing our sense of neighborliness and belonging as members of the one human family,” he said. “Our incontrovertible belief in the dignity of every human person is fast waning, and sitting in its place an ugly attitude that every life is dispensable, except our own.”

The observations moved listeners. “We live in a world that tells us it’s everyone for themselves,” said JohnAnthony DiMaria ’17CPS, a President’s Society member and the Queens Commencement student speaker. “Through the opportunities St. John’s has given the Class of 2017, we have become the opposite of what the world tells us to be. I am so grateful to have written my story right here at St. John’s University with each of you, my fellow great adventurers.”

See NET-TV’s coverage, highlighting St. John’s Catholic and Vincentian focus on service and success.

Their Second Home

During remarks at the Staten Island campus, Ms. Nicotra observed, “I found my purpose at St. John's. I eventually made career changes from teacher to businesswoman to hotelier to philanthropist. Through it all, I always remembered the strong values I learned here at St. John's.”

Staten Island Commencement student speaker James McKeon ’17Ed discussed the benefits of a small campus community. “The professors took note of us,” he said. “The clubs and organizations that we were encouraged to join not only welcomed us, but gave us an opportunity to grow as leaders and as individuals.”

Graduates reflected on the impact St. John’s had on them. “When I was a senior in high school, St. John's was not initially on my radar,” recalled Kezia Harris ’17TCB. “That changed when I visited the campus, and I immediately knew that this is where I was supposed to be. I am proud of the person that I have become.”

“My experience at the Staten Island campus has transformed me into the person I am today,” stressed Danielle DiCanio ’17C. “I took full advantage of everything offered, and became extremely involved. I consider the Staten Island campus my second home.”

“My time at St. John's was definitely pivotal,” noted Jules Fernandes ’17C, a native of Dubai. “I’ve been privileged to meet great people—students and faculty alike—who helped me realize the American dream.”


Queens Undergraduate Ceremony
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Staten Island Ceremony
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View Photos from Graduate Ceremonies
St. John's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Graduate Ceremony
The School of Education Graduate Ceremony
The Peter J. Tobin College of Business Graduate Ceremony
College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Graduate Ceremony
College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Ph.D. and Master Robing Ceremony
College of Professional Studies Graduate Ceremony