Journalism Major Grateful for St. John’s Values

Maria Villarroel wanted to major in journalism, which meant two things: she had to come to New York City, the media capital of the world, and attend St. John’s University.

Maria Villarroel

“I knew that I wanted to attend an institution that reinforced the family values with which I grew up.”

Maria Villarroel '23
  • Journalism, Bachelor of Science in Journalism
  • The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies

A native of Orlando, FL, Maria became interested in St. John’s as a sophomore in high school. “Not only was I attracted to the beautiful campus, but I was also very excited at the thought of attending a University that cared so much for helping others and making our community at large a better place,” she recalled.

Originally from Venezuela and an only child, Maria is intensely close to her parents. “I knew that I wanted to attend an institution that reinforced the family values with which I grew up.” 

While Maria wanted to live in New York, she appreciated the fact that St. John’s University’s Queens, NY, campus is a subway ride away from the city. “It’s not as overwhelming as Manhattan can be. I felt it was the perfect transition from Florida,” she explained.

Maria is Culture Editor at The Torch, the official student newspaper of St. John’s, which has been a highlight of her college experience. “It taught me the importance of independent journalism and the responsibility that comes with such a commitment,” she stressed.

Maria Villarroel standing next to large LinkedIn Statue

Last summer, she interned at LinkedIn in their editorial department. “This was easily the best and most rewarding experience of my life. Being surrounded by such hardworking people and doing what I love made me so eager to see what the future holds postcollege.”

A member of the President’s Society, the highest student honor society at St. John’s, Maria proudly represents the University. “I feel obligated to give back to the community that has taught me so much,” she said. “To be surrounded by such smart students and incredible people is truly an honor.”

She added, “The President’s Society has shaped me in so many ways. It has taught me the importance of networking and projecting myself effectively. It has allowed me to become more organized and disciplined, while also being able to create a community with those around me.”

Maria Villaroe in line with other President Society Members

Maria has been accepted into the International Communication master’s program at St. John’s and hopes to pursue doctoral studies or attend law school. “I want to either go back to LinkedIn and work as an editor or write for The New York Times or The Washington Post.”

Compassion, Maria believes, is the defining characteristic of a St. John’s student. “We really care for one another. This is amazing because it allows us to practice our Vincentian values of taking care of one another and wanting what’s best for each other.”

Maria strongly believes that St. John’s has prepared her for life after college. “It has taught me to always show up as the best version of myself,” she explained. “Our professors expect so much from us, but it’s exciting to have someone believe in you and your talents. I like to think I leave St. John’s as a more confident and professional individual.”

“A theme for my time at St. John’s would be resilience,” she offered. “As a first-year student during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I feel like I’ve always had to take the extra step to make my college experience somewhat normal—but St. John’s has made it possible, and I will always be grateful.”