More than 40 graduate degrees were conferred at the 22nd annual Commencement Exercises for St. John’s University’s international campus located in Rome, Italy. Irena Loloci ’09G, Policy and Programme Consultant, United Nations World Food Programme, gave the Commencement Address at the June 10 ceremony.
Delivering welcoming remarks was Rev. Bernard M. Tracey, C.M., Executive Vice President for Mission. “The University community takes pride in your accomplishments while at St. John’s and the steps that you will now take toward continued success in your future endeavors,” observed Fr. Tracey.
“It is a tremendous responsibility you now have,” Fr. Tracey observed. “You are called upon to be outstanding in your careers and care for those who have not been given the same opportunities in their lives that you have received…Allow yourselves to be challenged and not satisfied with the status quo.”
Fr. Tracey told graduates that each of them has the capacity to make a difference. “Be that person who has an impact on the world. Be true to the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul, whose mission was to meet the needs of the disadvantaged people in 17th-century France. With your Vincentian education from St. John’s, become the men and women of today who serve those in need.”
During her address, Ms. Loloci encouraged graduates to embrace the unknown, and to see rejections as opportunities, “which at times we must carve out for ourselves.” Her time at St. John’s, she noted, was an investment in her future. “I knew I needed to be patient and that the returns on this investment would come later.”
Shortly after graduation, she began an unpaid internship at the United Nations World Food Programme in Rome. Her first assignment was in the Philippines, where she worked with local agencies on disaster preparedness. She has since served in Egypt, Ukraine, Liberia, Afghanistan, and Armenia.
“In all my experiences in these countries, I learned that our social fabric goes way beyond Twitter and Facebook,” Ms. Loloci stressed.
“Our collective human fabric is resilient. And ultimately we care not only about our own stories, but also the stories of others around us. We are not as different as we seem. Borders can divide countries, but not humanity.”
She added, “The challenges we face, dear graduates, are many. Pick a challenge, and make it your passion.”
Graduates also heard from Suzanne Ivonne Bell ’18G and Amilya-Galen Jeanty ’18MBA, both of whom delivered student addresses. “These degrees equip us as agents of transformation, while implementing uncommon actions,” Ms. Bell observed, adding, “uncommon because we include God’s truth and standards, and not just well wishes.”
“St. John’s University was simply an idea to me at one point,” Ms. Jeanty observed. “That idea has been manifested into a reality that surpasses my wildest dreams. I have learned the importance of growth, independence, and trusting in myself and my abilities.”
“Our Rome Commencement is always a wonderful example of the University¹s commitment to a global education,” said Katia Passerini, Ph.D., Dean, College of Professional Studies. “St. John¹s gives our students the tools necessary to succeed on the world stage. By experiencing life in another country and a new culture they develop a wider perspective that deepens their personal horizons and makes them that much more appealing in the working world.”