St. John’s Helps Inner-City High Schoolers Build Successful College Strategies

buildOn at St. John's Student Participants pose for a group photo
August 22, 2022

More than a dozen high school students from inner-city communities were introduced recently to the mission and student life of St. John’s University through “buildOn at St. John’s!”, an inaugural college summer initiative that the University forged in concert with buildOn. The nationwide, nonprofit program aims to provide educational opportunities to those attending underserved secondary schools. 

“The overall goal was to introduce a group of city high school students to college life and to increase their confidence in their ability to do well in college,” said Kathleen K. Marks, Ph.D., Program Director and Chair and Associate Professor, Arts and Humanities, The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies.

Students spent four days and three nights experiencing residence life in Hollis Hall, located on the Queens, NY, campus, and enjoying meals in Montgoris Dining Hall. They attended academic classes, listened to talks by faculty speakers, and interacted with assistant deans, as well as with representatives from Academic Service-Learning, Campus Ministry, Undergraduate Admission, University Career Services, and the University Freshman Center.

“Students told me that the time was so packed with information about St. John’s that one more night would have made it perfect,” added Dr. Marks, who worked with buildOn chaperones throughout the program’s duration.

buildOn at St. John's student wearing t-shirt that says "We Are the Change" on the back

Students additionally visited the College’s centers and laboratories and completed a food security service project on campus. A highlight of their stay was an interactive visit with members of the University’s Men’s Basketball team and the Women’s Basketball team, as well as the teams’ coaching staff. 

An excursion to the Harry Potter New York store on Broadway and lunch at Shake Shack capped the program in which students saw in action the core value of service that underscores the St. John’s experience.

In addition to the locations in New York and Connecticut, the service-learning programs buildOn offers engage students in Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; and the San Francisco Bay area in California.

The buildOn mission is to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service and education. The organization strives to mobilize students to transform communities in the US through service and change the world by building schools in developing countries.

The organization’s mission dovetails with that of St. John’s Vincentian mission to help those in need.