Jake Wiscovitch was “blown away” by the welcome he and his fellow students received from St. John’s University at this year’s New Student Orientation. “There’s been a diverse array of programming and opportunities to get to know each other, and the Orientation Leaders have been great,” the Sport Management major from East Meadow, NY, observed.
Jake was one of over 3,000 incoming freshmen to attend one of several two-day orientation sessions held on the Queens and Staten Island campuses throughout July and August. Held annually, New Student Orientation provides incoming St. John’s students with a roadmap for their college experience.
These first-year students attend programs and lectures on topics relevant to their student experience and are exposed to all the resources the University has to offer. They also have the opportunity to engage with one another, faculty, and returning students, who can offer assistance and guidance on their new journeys.
“Our orientation program helps incoming students and families get excited about starting college, while at the same time smoothing the transition to campus life and the independence that comes with it,” observed Brian Fausto, Assistant Director, Student Development.
A new facet of orientation this year was teaching students the skills essential for cultivating cultural awareness, Mr. Fausto noted. “We take pride in our campus diversity and always strive to create a more inclusive and affirming campus environment,” he stressed, adding that he believes the program’s success comes from the diverse team of student orientation coordinators and leaders who have been assembled. “They are dedicated students who go above and beyond to ensure all incoming students and families feel comfortable about beginning college.”
Informational programming dealing with subjects such as campus safety, relationships, tolerance, and tips for academic success were balanced with ice breakers such as “Johnny’s Social,” and the “St. John’s Riff-Off,” all designed to engage students with each other and the larger University community.
Melanie Peña, a Criminal Justice major from Yonkers, NY, came to St. John’s because she wanted to live on campus yet not be too far from home. “My favorite part of orientation has been experiencing life in the dorms—getting a sense of how much space I’ll have and relating to a roommate for the first time.”
Biomedical Sciences major Tiffany Hale from Hollis Hills has lived in the shadow of St. John’s all her life. A family friend attended St. John’s and inspired her to attend. “St. John’s has always had a great reputation in the sciences, and someday I want to conduct psychiatric research that contributes to finding a non-addictive cure for depression,” she related.
“As a Liberal Studies major, I came to St. John’s because of the many programs I have to choose from, diverse student body, and the fact it’s so close to home,” said East Rockaway, NY, native Andrew Marceda. “It’s great to stay local, but at the same time have that direct connection to New York City.”
“I wanted Andrew to have a college experience that expanded his horizons, and it is obvious St. John’s was the right choice,” said Andrew’s mother Yolanda Marceda ‘96Ed. “As a St. John’s grad, I’m really happy he chose to come here. I love that he’s going to experience so much diversity. I can’t imagine a better place to prepare him for what lies ahead.”
Orientation Leaders (OLs) provide students with a friendly and supportive face as their initial point of contact. Brendan Hines, an Environmental Sciences major, was inspired to become one after his orientation experience last year. “My OL was always there for me once school started, and he suggested I would be a good fit as well,” Brendan recalled.
“My job is to cultivate a student’s interest in St. John’s,” he said. “They’re not just here to build a future. They’re here to build a family.”