Difference Makers Kicks Off Fourth Year with Staten Island Campus Orientation

High school students tour the Staten Island Campus.
October 10, 2019

On October 2nd, 2019, the Staten Island Campus hosted 84 students from three local high schools for the 2019 Difference Makers Program orientation session. Now in its fourth year, Difference Makers is a Staten Island-based civic engagement program that prepares students for college by teaching them to make a difference in their community. 

Dr. William Reisel, Professor of Management in the Peter J. Tobin School of Business, created the program to bring high school students the benefits of St. John’s University’s academic service-learning program and its Vincentian mission as they prepare for the college admissions process. For this year, Dr. Reisel created an orientation program to introduce them to St. John’s University and inspire them for their semester’s projects. “I’m very grateful to our high school partners for their continuing support of Difference Makers,” Reisel commented. “They believe in the difference our program is making for their students.” 

"There's no better place on earth to engage in Academic Service-Learning than St. John's University,” Dr. James O’Keeferemarked as he welcomed students from Susan E. Wagner High School, Tottenville High School, and Curtis High School in the Kiernan Suite of the Kelleher Center. Students met with four community-based partners to adopt service-learning projects over the four-month program.  The Difference Makers program embraces social justice issues on Staten Island, including hunger, elder care, immigration, childhood cancer treatment, pet rescue, children’s programs, elementary school tutoring, and healthy food initiatives.

Difference Makers is generously supported by the Staten Island Foundation, the Richmond County Savings Foundation, the Northfield Bank Foundation, and the New York City Department of Education.  The participating schools will convene again on the St. John’s University Staten Island Campus in January to receive congratulations and certificates for the  2,000 hours of community service that the high school students will contribute to Staten Island.

Difference Makers reflects St. John’s commitment to student success.  “St. John’s is an active participant in Staten Island’s college readiness initiatives,” said Dr. Robert Fanuzzi, Associate Provost and Director of Civic Engagement.  “But Difference Makers reflects what makes St. John’s unique. It is the only program in the borough that prepares high school students for success in college and careers by learning to serve others.”