Move-In Weekend Marks Two Decades of On-Campus Living

September 4, 2019

As St. John’s University celebrates its 20th anniversary of Residence Life, 3,119 new and returning students, along with their families, were welcomed in late summer to housing facilities on the institution’s campuses in Queens and Staten Island, NY.

The annual Move-In Weekend on the Queens campus, held on Saturday, August 31, and Sunday, September 1, officially launched the start of the 2019 fall semester and St. John’s Red Carpet Welcome. The latter is a month-long programming series that features a wide variety of activities designed to help new students make a successful transition to college life, while also enabling returning students to reunite with the college community.

In Queens on Saturday, student volunteers assisted more than 1,300 first-year students with settling into their rooms in DaSilva, Donovan, Hollis, and St. Vincent residence halls.

Other students, including law, graduate, international, and transfer students, moved onto the Queens campus between Thursday, August 8, and Sunday, September 1. Resident students on the Staten Island campus moved in on Wednesday, August 28, and September 1.

“Move-in Weekend and the Move-In Week that follows have become a tradition like no other at St. John’s, with the entire University rolling out the red carpet and welcoming our students,” said Eric Finkelstein, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life. “The campuses are filled with excitement.”

Among the well-wishers were Dr. Gempesaw and his wife, Clavel Albay Gempesaw, Ph.D., who met with incoming students, parents, and family members as they walked the grounds of the campus under sunny skies, strolled through residence halls, and stopped at Montgoris Dining Hall to have lunch.

Asked for any advice he could share with students, Dr. Gempesaw said, “Our new students arrive on campus excited and eager to begin making their mark in the world. Each and every one of them should rest assured that St. John’s commitment to their success is lifelong.”

While making his way through the Residence Village, Dr. Gempesaw was approached by Gregory Auteri ’76CBA, a Certified Public Accountant and Partner with Buchbinder Tunich & Company LLP, in Manhattan. The Brooklyn, NY, resident had just helped his son Gregory settle into his new life on campus. Gregory is a student in St. John's School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science, within The Peter J. Tobin College of Business.

As he shook the President’s hand, Mr. Auteri told him, “I appreciate this University. I graduated from St. John’s with a B.S. in Accounting and I received such a great education here. And because I was able to do so well, I got a job right away. I trace everything I have been able to achieve back to the education I earned at St. John’s.”

Later, Mr. Auteri observed, “I never pushed my son to come to school at St. John’s. I always stayed in the background during his visits to other schools and in his decision-making process. Then, one night, during a trip he made to a school in Pennsylvania, he called and said, ‘I am going to St. John’s.’ I could not speak, I was so happy.”

Students arrived at St. John’s from as far away as Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, China, Ethiopia, Japan, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, and Zimbabwe.

They also traveled to the University from home states that included Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Nevada, Oregon, and Texas.

As she waited in line with a cart full of her possessions to move into DaSilva Hall, first-year student Sailor Urquijo, of Scottsdale, AZ, said she was grateful about fulfilling her dream to move to the New York City area.

“My grandparents live on Long Island, and I love New York City. I have wanted to move here for forever, and I finally get my chance to do that,” said Sailor, who will major in Public Relations in the College of Professional Studies.

“I chose St. John’s because of the diversity on campus,” said first-year student Angue Foretia, of New Carrollton, MD, just after he checked into his suite in DaSilva Hall. “I love going to college with people from all around the world,” said Angue, who will major in Computer Science with a minor in Criminal Justice in the College of Professional Studies.

A few hours after students settled into their residences on the Queens campus, they gathered in Taffner Field House for Playfair, an annual icebreaker for first-year students. Later that evening, students enjoyed a block party held in the Residence Village, which was transformed into a New York City street fair for the occasion.

Students also attended Fresh Fest, an arcade night that featured life-sized games and music, as well as ice cream, a photo booth, and a raffle.

On Sunday, members of the public and the St. John’s community attended Mass at St. Thomas More Church on the Queens campus. And on Tuesday, September 3, St. John’s inducted incoming students to academic life with the annual New Student Convocation, held in Carnesecca Arena.

“We are thrilled to welcome our new students to campus to begin their collegiate experience. This year is particularly special as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of on-campus living at St. John’s University,” said Kathryn T. Hutchinson, Ph.D., Vice President for the Division of Student Affairs. “We are also happy to welcome back our returning students. Move-In Week is a time for Johnnies to connect with friends and engage with faculty while preparing for the exciting academic year ahead.”