When considering her options for college, Staten Island, NY, native Ariana Renna wanted to stay close to the community she loved and to explore, in a meaningful way, her deep-rooted Catholic faith. St. John’s University was a natural fit, and Ariana was accepted into the Catholic Scholars Program, which trains students to become leaders and role models in the Catholic tradition.
“I knew that regardless of what I studied, I wanted faith to remain central to my college experience,” she recently said.
“Even though college brings new experiences, I did not want to give up things I already loved in my life. I wanted to remain involved in my local parish, and I loved that the Staten Island campus allows me to remain close to my family.”
Ariana appreciates the intimate feel of the Staten Island campus. “The small class sizes allow for greater discussion and interaction with my classmates and professors. Despite all of the different programs and majors, the campus creates an environment that fosters familiarity and friendship, which makes it a comforting atmosphere. It allows me to really connect with my various professors and ask questions about the field.”
A Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology major, Ariana chose this career path because it combines her love of service, an intense interest in science, and a desire to work with children. “It blends all of my passions, and St. John’s has a wide array of professors with different backgrounds: some who focus mostly on research and others who are practicing speech-language pathologists and audiologists. This gives me the best of both worlds and helps advance my knowledge of the field in different ways.”
As a member of the Staten Island campus chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, Ariana has gained a deeper awareness of different disorders and had opportunities to meet people with such conditions.
“St. John’s also helped me to find a silver lining during the challenges of the pandemic,” she noted.
During the past year, the Queens and Staten Island campuses often collaborated to host virtual events that Ariana believes might not have occurred otherwise.
After graduation, Ariana hopes to earn either a master’s degree in speech-language pathology or a doctoral degree in audiology. “In whichever field I choose, I want to work with children in a way that meaningfully shapes their ability to successfully communicate. I love that the field of communication sciences and disorders challenges students and clinicians to think outside the box and to be creative—all for the purpose of impacting another person.”
In addition to Catholic Scholars, Ariana serves on the Executive Board of the University’s chapter of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Active since her first year, her experience there has only intensified her desire to work with children in a service-oriented profession.
“One event that really sticks out in my mind was Kids on Campus, which created a safe and fun Halloween experience for young children,” she recalled. “Seeing how the smallest things put such a smile on the children’s faces really made me feel good.”
Ariana also participated in several Midnight Runs, which allow members of the campus community to serve the homeless population in New York City. “It made me appreciate all that I have and gave me a deeper understanding of the importance of giving back in any way that you can.”
These experiences inspired Ariana to deepen her commitment to the Society, and now she serves as its Secretary. “Regardless of our career path, service can and should always remain a part of our lives. My service experiences emphasize how even small things can make a big difference to those in need.”
She added, “Throughout my time at St. John’s, my faith also continues to grow. Through the Catholic Scholars Program, I learn the importance of considering the type of leader I want to be in the Church beyond graduation and in my life as a Catholic adult.”