Future Johnnies Receive Energizing Welcome at Open House

October 7, 2019

A record of more than 1,100 high school juniors and seniors visited St. John’s University’s first Open House of the fall semester, signaling for many of them the beginning of their exciting journey as Johnnies.

Held on October 6 on the Queens, NY, campus, more than 3,000 prospective students and their families were treated to an enthusiastic welcome and festive atmosphere as they were introduced to the myriad possibilities offered by a St. John’s education.

On this crisp, fall day, animated Student Ambassadors greeted visitors as they converged on a campus awash in red and white. It was an atmosphere reminiscent of a pep rally, complete with booming music and performances by the St. John’s Dance Team, Pep Band, Cheerleaders, and Kickline. Of course, Johnny Thunderbird was on hand to welcome and take selfies with visitors.

“It was an exciting day as St. John’s broke another record for Open House attendance,” said Jorge Rodriguez, Vice Provost and Chief Enrollment Officer. “This was our largest turnout in recent years for an October Open House, and the families and students whom I met with were ready with questions and excited to begin the application process.”

During his welcoming remarks inside Carnesecca Arena, Simon G. Møller, Ph.D., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Professor, Biological Sciences, who has taught at universities throughout Europe and the US, told those assembled that it is at St. John’s where he feels most welcome. “We in the University community are privileged to be part of St. John’s University and its mission—and to witness firsthand the success of our students,” he stressed.

Guests heard from student speaker Evelyn "Eve" Austin, a senior Public Administration and Public Service major, Jeannette K. Watson Fellow, and passionate University ambassador. “I did not come to St. John’s with a perfect grade point average,” Eve reflected. “I did not know my major and I did not know how to live away from home.”

She recalled the Open House she attended, where she got her first glimpse of life at St. John’s. “I sat where you are sitting—and the student speaker spoke to me. I knew, in that moment, that I was a Johnny.”

Since those early days at St. John’s, Eve was tapped to join the Skull and Circle Honor Society, which recognizes outstanding juniors and seniors in St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Last summer, she interned in Anchorage, AK, for Defenders of Wildlife, a nonprofit conservation organization whose mission is to protect all native animals and plants throughout North America in their natural habitats.

“Students from all parts of this community can tell you their story of persistence, resilience, and how St. John’s has changed them,” she explained. “Not everyone comes to St. John’s realizing they are capable of amazing things—but everyone leaves St. John’s knowing they are.”

Beyond the formal program, students and their families enjoyed guided tours led by Student Ambassadors, or explored the campus on their own. Residence halls, several of which were recently upgraded with new flooring, ceilings, desk furniture, lighting, and wall graphics, were open for viewing.

Detailed information sessions were held for students who want to learn more about the University’s many Study Abroad programs, Honors and Ozanam Scholars programs, and transfer admission. At the Academic Programs and Student Services Fair inside Taffner Field House, faculty, administrators, and students answered queries about the University’s over 100 programs and majors, as well as a wide range of student services, from interested students and their parents. 

Maria Ortiz and her son Brandon, a current student at the High School for Construction Trades, Engineering and Architecture in Queens, are interested in St. John’s for a variety of reasons. “He would like to stay local, but still close to New York City,” Ms. Ortiz noted, adding that as an alumna of St. John’s Preparatory High School, she prefers her son to have a Catholic education. Additionally, Brandon noted that he is very impressed by the Computer Science program at St. John’s.

Robert Vazquez, a student at Cathedral Preparatory School and Seminary in Queens, is currently enrolled in the College Advantage Program (CAP), which provides qualifying high school juniors and seniors with the opportunity to enroll concurrently in high school and credit-bearing St. John’s courses. “It is great that I am already taking college courses through St. John’s, and I want to continue,” he said. Robert added that he has a cousin currently attending St. John’s who speaks very highly of the experience.

Cousins Juliana Gallo and Alexander DeRose, both from Staten Island, have relatives currently attending St. John’s, and are attending both the Queens and Staten Island, NY, campus Open Houses to see what each has to offer. Despite their proximity to Staten Island, neither has decided which campus they might attend, but both are interested in the Accounting program. Michael Gallo, Juliana’s father and Alex’s uncle, said, “St. John’s ticks all the boxes: great programs, local flavor, and excellent financial aid.”

Open House for the Staten Island campus will be held on Saturday, October 19. Another Open House for the Queens campus will be held on Saturday, November 23.