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New Students Find a Home at St. John’s

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Touring St. John’s University’s Queens campus for New Student Orientation, Melissa Komlo ’21Ed paused to reflect on the experience. “It really is great,” she said. “I’m meeting other students and learning about my beautiful new home.”

Melissa is one of more than 3,000 incoming freshmen taking part in New Student Orientation this summer. The program consists of two-day sessions held at the Queens and Staten Island campuses throughout June, July, and August. Professors, administrators, and current students answer questions, offer advice, and share their experiences with the Class of 2021.

During the two days, each freshman joins a peer group headed by an Orientation Leader (OL)—a St. John’s student who guides them in community-building activities. Informational programs include campus safety, navigating freshman year, academic success, and spirituality.

The ultimate goal of Orientation is “for freshmen to realize they have a home here,” said Brian Fausto ’14CPS, ’16G, Assistant Director of Student Development. “They’re just out of high school,” he said. “They may feel nervous and alone, but in just two days you see how comfortable they become.”

Orientation Leaders play a vital role in the process. “They’re hardworking and selfless,” said Mr. Fausto. “They want these young people to have the best possible experience. When I see the OLs going out of their way—helping the quieter kids engage with the group, for example—that’s what I love.”

For Andrew Strenge ’18Ed, serving as an OL at the Queens campus is a way of giving back. “When I was a freshman,” he said, “I had great Orientation Leaders. Now that I’m preparing to leave St. John’s, I want these kids to learn from my own experiences.”

As they followed their OLs across campus, from one activity to another, freshmen testified to the program’s value. “I can already tell I’m going to love it here,” said Amanda Hardardt ’21Ed. “Everyone here makes you feel like you belong.”