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University Mission Celebrated with Local Catholic High School Leaders

Student Speaker at the Local Catholic High School Leader Dinner.
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

In what has become an annual fall tradition on the Queens, NY, campus, St. John’s University hosted local Catholic high school principals, guidance counselors, and senior University administrators for an appreciation dinner and discussion of shared issues and ideas in secondary and higher education.

Held on November 29 at the newly renovated home of The Peter J. Tobin College of Business, Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., President of St. John’s, welcomed representatives from 10 Catholic high schools from throughout New York City and Nassau County.

“Tonight we come together in faith and fellowship to celebrate our ongoing and productive relationship and our shared mission to transform the lives of the students who together we all seek to serve,” said Dr. Gempesaw.

The purpose of the networking event is to connect high school administrators with the academic leadership at St. John’s, as well as students who graduated from local Catholic schools who are now enrolled at the University. Current students from the Catholic Scholars Program met with academic deans and senior University personnel, and reconnected with administrators from their own respective high schools. 

The high schools represented at the dinner include All Hallows High School, Archbishop Molloy High School, Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, Cardinal Hayes High School, Holy Cross High School, Kellenberg Memorial High School, Sacred Heart Academy, St. Edmund Preparatory High School, St. Francis Preparatory School, and St. John’s Preparatory School.

One dinner attendee and a featured speaker at the event was third-year student Matthew Chan, a Management major from The Peter J. Tobin College of Business. Matthew, who attended Xavier High School in Manhattan before enrolling at St. John’s, is now a Catholic Scholar and a student leader active in Campus Ministry and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.   

“When I graduated from Xavier, I told myself I wanted to continue practicing and expanding my faith in college,” said Matthew. “From that moment, I immediately knew St. John’s University and the Catholic Scholars Program were going to be my new home. As a Catholic Scholar, I have had countless opportunities to live my Catholic faith through leadership, prayer, and academic excellence. I am part of a community of Catholic leaders who join professors and campus ministers in monthly meetings, lectures, courses, and prayer experiences that combine faith and service.”

Mary Beth Labate, President of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York, also addressed the audience with a presentation entitled, “What High School Principals Need to Know about the Role and Contribution of New York State’s Private Colleges and Universities.” 

Ms. Labate made a strong case for the value of private colleges in New York. She shared data and analysis on how statewide private colleges and universities educate students of all socioeconomic backgrounds, and do so with generous institutional student financial aid. They provide more than just a degree; a vibrant alumni community is also offered. 

Sharing her own personal experience in Catholic education and recounting her college search process, Ms. Labate stressed the theme of college as a time for transformation. “Think about the life-changing force that you are for the students you serve,” she said. “For all of you, and for the diverse independent sector schools throughout New York, your work, our work, is not just a job, but a mission,” Ms. Labate said, “and nowhere is that mission more present than right here at St. John’s.”

Reflecting on the dinner and the overall success of the evening, Dr. Gempesaw observed, “It is my hope that this annual dinner will further enhance our collaboration as committed partners in providing a quality Catholic education to our young students.”