St. John’s Launches First-Ever Fall Virtual Open House

admissions ambassadors on campus looking at the camera, two female wearing red jackets standing outside.
October 22, 2020

Prospective students and their families were welcomed on Saturday, October 17, and on Sunday, October 18, to St. John’s Fall 2020 Virtual Open House, for two fully interactive, online experiences that enabled them to explore life as a Johnny from the comfort of home.

The day featured numerous events conducted through an online portal to mirror in-person activities students would have traditionally encountered on the University’s campuses in Queens or on Staten Island, NY.

Live events, including real-time campus tours, video streams from professors, and online chats with current St. John’s students, faculty, deans, and administrators were frequented by visitors throughout the day.

“I would like to thank the more than 1,400 students who registered for our Virtual Open House in Queens,”  said Jorge Rodriguez, Vice Provost and Chief Enrollment Officer. “While we would have loved to have seen every attendee in person, we hope that they were able to connect with our students and faculty and experience our University. There truly is no other place like St. John’s to call home!”

Senior Kalina Di Marco, a Student Ambassador who majors in Advertising Communication with a double minor in Pop Culture and Digital Media and Design, helped launch the Queens event by remotely delivering a welcoming speech during which she described opportunities she is offered at St. John’s.

“What really put St. John’s above the rest of the schools I researched is its location. I can get to the center of Manhattan, the advertising capital of the world, in less than 45 minutes,” said Kalina. “This made city exploration and food dives a weekly thing, and many big-name companies have their headquarters there, too, which means easy access to internships.”

Kalina also referenced St. John’s flexible class schedules and sizes, its more than 180 student clubs and organizations, and the vast networking opportunities that exist for students.

“If you take one thing away from this Virtual Open House, I hope you remember this: you are courageous,” Kalina said, “and, with St. John’s by your side, you can make greatness the new normal, and grow to extraordinary measures beyond your own expectations.”  

University President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., welcomed Open House attendees via a video recording. Noting student success is the top priority at St. John’s, Dr. Gempesaw said, “We are proud to be ranked first among Catholic colleges and universities in the country in terms of social mobility. Our students come from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and from geographical locations that stretch from more than 100 countries and 46 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico. They all have a desire for knowledge that will prepare them for a meaningful career.”

Prospective students were equipped with an online “virtual backpack” that contained extensive information on all aspects of the University, including academic programs, St. John’s schools and collegesUniversity Career Services, student financial services, global opportunities, and guidance on how future first-year, transfer, and international students can apply for acceptance.

Student Ambassadors gathered on the Queens and Staten Island campuses to conduct real-time online tours using the Zoom platform. Student Ambassadors on the  Queens Campus were stationed in front of noteworthy campus locations, including various academic buildings, the Great Lawn, and St. Thomas More Church, and provided descriptions and histories of their respective locations before passing the tour on to the next student tour guide.  Student Ambassadors on our Staten Island Campus walked around campus in real time while they shared  their stories and experiences.

Professors gave live, online presentations on academic programs that were scheduled throughout the day. The presentations were immediately followed by question-and-answer sessions during which prospective students used a chat feature and live streaming to pose questions. 

Admission counselors, current students, administrators, deans, and staff across University departments employed the real-time virtual sessions to answer visitors’ queries on a broad range of topics in addition to academics, such as Residence Life, Athletics, Study Abroad, and financial aid. Nearly 100 Student Ambassadors assisted the faculty and administrators during their chats and livestream events. 

Attendees also learned about other opportunities that will enable them to visit the University virtually and in person. The campus recently resumed in-person, scheduled campus tours of indoor and outdoor facilities on the Queens and Staten Island locations that will accommodate a student and one other person. Students can also schedule virtual tours of St. John’s, as well as connect directly with an admission counselor or a student ambassador. 

A second Virtual Open House will be held on Sunday, November 22, from noon to 3 p.m. EST. 

Prospective students indicated the October 17 Virtual Open House was a success. 

Among them was Jason Miller, a junior at East Rockaway High School, who said, “Even though the Open House was remote, I still got a thorough understanding of all of the offerings that St. John’s makes available to students, from academic programs to activities and internships.”

“It was fun and informative,” said Elizabeth Petrellese, a senior at Division Avenue High School in Levittown. “The people I met through this event were very welcoming and inspire me to learn even more about becoming a Johnny.”