St. John's Welcomes New Group of International Students

Donovan Hall on the St. John's Queens Campus
August 23, 2022

Brimming with optimism and motivated by the possibilities of a St. John’s University education, a host of international students began the move-in process on Monday, August 22, confident their college choice was the right one.

The international cohort kicked off the fall semester move-in period. By Saturday, August 27, most undergraduate students will be settled in the residence halls, ahead of the official start of classes on Wednesday, August 31.

“I’m excited to see in which ways I develop academically and athletically,” said Nora Haugen, a 19-year-old, first-year student-athlete from Sandnes, Norway, which is located 325 miles from the capital of Oslo. “Everyone is here to help me become the best student I can be, as well as the best athlete.”

Nora, a track and field athlete, hopes to compete in the 400-meter run as a member of St. John’s Women’s Track and Field team. In the meantime, she intends to study Biochemistry at St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

She said she was drawn to the University by the opportunity to train with Aliann Pompey, Director of Track and Field and Cross Country, and the University’s proximity to Manhattan. Nora arrived in New York last week and spent five days touring it with her mother.

“I saw the city in the way a tourist would; maybe now I can be more like a local,” she joked.

Nearly 50 countries are represented among St. John’s cohort of international students in 2022-2023. Some come from as far away as Australia and Vietnam; others from Canada and the nations of the Caribbean. Every continent but Antarctica is represented.

Another athlete, Quitterie Dujardin, also moved in on August 22. Quitterie, from Gif-sur-Yvette, France, about an hour from Paris, competes in the hurdles and met Ms. Pompey, her new coach, for the first time.

Entering St. John’s as a third-year student, Quitterie will pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies at The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies with ambitions to attend medical school. She completed two years of college in her native country.

“I wanted to find a university with a great track and field program,” Quitterie said. “The coaches at St. John’s were wonderful in helping me through the international process. They were a real plus.”

Looking out on DaSilva Memorial Field, she exclaimed, “That’s the track! Wow!”

Quitterie was joined by several other students from France as they moved their belongings into the residence halls. Among them was 21-year-old Maxime Boulland, from Reims, France, near the border with Belgium. Maxime found St. John’s via NEOMA Business School in France, where he spent his first two college years.

Upon learning that St. John’s was in New York City, he was sold. Maxime is attending The Peter J. Tobin College of Business.

“New York is a city that I just love,” he said. “I was really interested in St. John’s once I was presented with the opportunity to attend.”

Like Maxime, Mathilde Lefeuvre, from Morainvilliers, France, is a former student at NEOMA who is entering St. John’s as a third-year student. She originally intended to complete her four-year degree at a university in Beijing, China, but transferred to St. John’s as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened in Asia.

Mathilde said she has no regrets about changing course.

“St. John’s was attractive because of New York City, but also because I have some friends from France here,” she said. 

She also will attend Tobin. But unlike several of her French-born fellow students, she will not share a room with students from her native country. Instead, she will room with several US-born students. Mathilde believes that will help her transition to life at a New York City campus.

“I think not having French roommates will help me improve my English,” Mathilde said. “I’m excited about it.”

International Student Orientation continues through Monday, August 29, with a series of informational events, including primers on American classroom culture, life in the New York City area, and student wellness matters. A movie night, laser tag, international student lunch, and more entertainment events are also planned.