Salvatore Valentinetti

Salvatore Valentinetti '17 headshot outdoors

SJU Student Launches Career on American Idol and America’s Got Talent

Communication arts major Salvatore Valentinetti found himself on the national stage last year when he appeared as a contestant on FOX’s American Idol, progressing as far as the show’s “Hollywood Week” round. Sal’s second attempt at stardom was also a success—he secured a spot as a finalist on NBC’s America’s Got Talent (AGT) this past summer.  

“I feel blessed to have gotten as far as I did,” said Sal, a student in the Catholic Scholars Program and cohost of the WSJU Radio talk show, The Men’s Room.

Sal, who has a singing voice reminiscent of Frank Sinatra’s, refused to give up after his appearance on American Idol. “Sinatra himself once sang, ‘I pick myself up and get back in the race,’” he noted, “and that’s why I was thrilled to perform a Sinatra classic before the four famous judges on America’s Got Talent.”

Sal’s run on AGT ended with an impressive fifth-place showing. “I was lucky to find television fame a second time,” he said. With his appearances on American Idol and AGT, Sal became a well-known name in the entertainment industry, and especially among members of the St. John’s University community.

He credits the process, particularly his publicity-tour interviews for Good Day New York, with helping him decide to study communication arts. “I wanted to find a major that would enable me to use my curiosity, interest in others, and love for conversation,” Sal said. “My goal is to be a television or radio host.”

“Communication arts prepares students for careers in film, television, radio, journalism, and public relations,” said Kevin James ’11C, ’13MBA, Assistant Dean, College of Professional Studies. “I was very impressed by Sal’s level of maturity and knowledge of the media.” He noted that Sal’s extroverted personality is an asset in his role as WSJU’s first Director of Public Relations.

A deeply committed Catholic, Sal participates in Campus Ministry’s monthly meetings and service activities and performs at events including fundraisers for charities like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the American Cancer Society. When discussing controversial topics on his talk show, he notes that he is guided by his faith. “I always look at issues from a Catholic perspective,” he said.     

“St. John’s has not only given me a career path,” Sal said. “It has also provided structure, values, a moral compass, and the kind of support you get from your family. In all these ways, St. John’s has prepared me for a meaningful life.”