More than 100 student organizations were showcased at St. John’s University’s annual Fall Student Activities Fair on Thursday, September 8, on the Great Lawn on the Queens, NY, campus. The diverse collection of organizations extended across academic and extracurricular interests, offering students a chance to share a common passion, take up a new hobby, immerse themselves in a new culture, or just enjoy the feeling of being part of a campus community.
“What I love about Student Government, Inc., is that we have people from all over campus, from most majors and backgrounds—and they really bring in that sense of service and community,” said Ethan Burrell, President, Student Government, Inc., which was among the groups represented that promised continued commitment to enhancing campus life.
The Fall Student Activities Fair highlights the diversity of opportunities that exist at St. John’s for students to bond around common spiritual, social, and academic values. United by common interests, friendships made during early club meetings can last through graduation and beyond.
That is certainly the case with the University’s fraternities and sororities, which provide students with opportunities for leadership and service through volunteer programs, fundraising, event management, and more. Greek life has long been part of the St. John’s experience and many fraternities and sororities sought to recruit their next generation of members at the fair.
The alpha Kappa Delta Phi sorority, for example, advocates for the interests of Asian-American women on campus. “The first letter in our name is alpha, as in alpha women,” says Stephanie Liu, a senior from Brooklyn, NY, majoring in Childhood Education. “We want to empower women.”
Organizations focused on women’s career development were well represented. The St. John’s chapter of Her Campus enables students from all majors to create content for its female-run publication. The University’s chapter of Women on Wall Street helps women pursue opportunities in financial services, philanthropy, technology, and media.
Also among the more active student organizations were St. John’s host of multicultural clubs. More than two dozen ethnic or religiously based clubs were represented, reflective of the diversity of the University’s Queens location and New York City in general.
Most multicultural clubs, including the Vietnamese Student Association, support cultural awareness across campus and beyond. “What makes this club interesting is that we are open to students who are not Vietnamese. You just have to be interested in Vietnamese culture,” said member Travis Nguyen. “We try to introduce students to Vietnamese art, food, dance, and performing arts.”
Students interested in the performing arts and other creative enterprises were attracted to organizations such as the Chappell Players Theater Group and the fashion club Red House. The Chappell Players—which has been the theater group at St. John’s since the 1930s—performs four shows a year: a musical, cabaret show for charity, play, and children’s show.
“We try to put on shows that bring a lot of joy to the community,” said Abigail O’Neill, a student and historian for Chappell Players, who added students can audition for parts in performances or seek work behind the scenes.
Sofia Cerossi, a member of Red House, said the club allows students to gain more knowledge about the fashion industry. “Fashion sustainability is a large part of our focus,” said Sofia, a sophomore majoring in Fashion Studies. “Not everyone can afford new clothes every year, so we can try to repurpose some clothes. What you learn here about sustainability, you can take into your career.”
A host of social-service organizations were also represented, including a number committed to promoting the University’s Vincentian mission. The St. Vincent de Paul Society sponsors charity events campuswide that have been traditionally popular with students.
“I’ve always had a passion for service. I’ve had a strong Catholic upbringing my entire life, and service and helping those in need have always been just part of who I am,” said student Hailey Pomara, Secretary of the society.
Members of the St. John’s chapter of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) believe their organization offers opportunities for any student interested in social change. “CRS is one of those organizations that, as a student, if you want to make a change in the world and it’s something you’re passionate about, you can make a difference,” said Caitie Dunn, the chapter’s Environmental Sustainability Chair.
Members of the St. John’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity hoped their recruiting efforts would increase membership. “We expect more people this year, especially first-year students,” said St. John’s chapter President Krishna Patel. “Our club is a true service organization.”
The three-hour-long Activities Fair was well-attended and spirited. Some students bounced from table to table, seeking as much information as they could and committing to more than one club.
Some students found it challenging to pick just one or two. Celine Farran, a senior majoring in Childhood Education, said she joined two clubs and might sign up for others.
“We’ll have to see,” Celine said.