Three students sitting on couches speaking with professor

SAFE... Mentoring Freshman

"Everyone of us needs a mentor who, because he is detached and disinterested, can hold up a mirror to us." —P.W. Keve

About Us

SAFE (Student and Faculty Engagement) is a program, which provides freshman and sophomore students with support from faculty, staff and peers. The goal is to promote a successful transition to higher education through early outreach by maximizing academic achievement and social adjustment. 

Benefits of Having a SAFE Mentor:

  • Provides students with an immediate contact on campus (prior to the beginning of the semester)
  • Regular communication and follow-up throughout the academic year. 
  • Opportunities to participate in SAFE events.  
  • Interested in Becoming a SAFE Mentor?

Mentors include faculty, administrators, staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students who will  be trained and provided with useful resources to guide their students. If you wish to join our team and participate in this exciting and worthwhile initiative, please click here 

Benefits of a SAFE mentor for freshman 

Benefits of having a SAFE mentor in your first year :

  1. A mentor will help engage and support students to feel successful and have a settled college experience.
  2. A mentor will help you identify and over barriers to academic and social success.
  3. A mentor will help encourage students over barriers.
  4. A mentor will help you see and seek opportunities.
  5. A mentor will help shine light on your strengths. 

Working with a mentor can help you open doors that you may never have seen possible before. SAFE mentors will be an immediate contact on campus and prior to the beginning of semester. Your mentor will have regular communication with you and follow up with you throughout the year. Mentoring is most beneficial when both the mentor and mentee engage in an on going conversation.  This unique experience designed for you will allow you as the mentee to gain the benefits of experienced advice and the mentor will be able to provide you with guidance, insight, and encouragement and intellectually challenge you.  This a win – win experience for both mentee and mentor. 

St. John’s mentoring program

The mentoring program is in place to help elevate your educational and social experience while here at St. John’s University. Your mentor will be a great resource, a support to you and you will be to them as you engage in conversations together. Your mentor will be there to help you see situations in a different manner. Moreover, help you find new approaches that lead to positive outcomes. You and your mentor together will cultivate an experience that will benefit your freshman year.

Meet our Freshman SAFE Team:

Dr. Andrew Ferdinandi
Associate Dean, Associate Professor
The School of Education 

Saima Khan
Assistant Director- Freshman SAFE

Lakeisha Armstrong
Assistant Director - Sophomore SAFE

Contact Information

We are located in St. Augustine Hall (University Library), Room 104 and may be reached at [email protected] or by telephone at 718-990-3305.

SAFE Mentor Testimonials

During the past two years, I have been a mentee and a mentor in the SAFE program, and both have been incredibly positive, rewarding, and enlightening experiences! I honestly don't know that I could have made it through my freshman year without my mentor, Matthew Pucciarelli, Associate Provost, Office of Global Studies.

When I first decided to come to St. John's, I was excited about moving to New York from California. I looked forward to establishing independence and learning more about myself during my four years at SJU. But it didn't occur to me how much of an adjustment it would be until about a week before I arrived. Fortunately my anxiety was slightly eased by an e-mail I got from Matt introducing himself as my SAFE mentor and setting up our first meeting over coffee. We were able to pick a date soon after the semester started, which made me feel relieved. No matter how tough the first few days were, I could at least look forward to this meeting with Matt.


He was warm and welcoming, and I instantly felt comfortable. That first meeting was very much about him getting to know me and my background. But even in that meeting, he was incredibly helpful. He helped me find my way around campus, register for my first Italian class, and offered reassurance that I would find my place on campus. I knew that even though I was still adjusting, I would be okay. We met for coffee consistently every two weeks that year. I can't describe just how much I looked forward to those coffee chats. Throughout that year he introduced me to other administrators who I would later build strong relationships with, helped me get involved on campus, listened as I vented about typical freshman year struggles, and inspired me to take what he'd given me and pay it forward.

This year I decided to become both a Resident Assistant and a SAFE mentor. In both roles I worked with freshmen and sophomores to help them make the most of their college career. This past year I had the privilege of mentoring three fantastic first-year students. Meeting them reminded me of my first couple of days as a freshman. It was exciting to learn more about their backgrounds, but I was also glad to learn more about myself and what I could offer as a mentor. Every time I got a text from one of my SAFE students asking a quick question or looking for advice on everything from academics to their personal lives, I was filled with a sense of pride and honor that they felt comfortable enough to come to me with their questions, knowing that I'd do everything I could to help them out. I'm pleased to say that my mentees and I have formed strong relationships this year. I plan to keep in touch with them in much the same way that Matt has still kept in touch with me. Being part of the SAFE program both as a mentee and as a mentor has been one of the best experiences I've had here at St. John's!

I have been in the SAFE program since my freshman year. Through the program, I really learned just how important the transition to college life is for a successful college career.

The SAFE program ensures students are involved and actively participating in their education as well as social activities. Mentors ensure that you are not only doing well as a student, but are thriving as a person.

During the fall of my freshman year I joined SAFE at St. John’s University. I was mentored by one of the assistant directors of Transfer Student Services, which was a great opportunity for me. Because I was new to Queens, my mentor notified me of different organizations on campus, community service events, and local places to sightsee in New York. The constant communication helped me transition throughout the year.

The guidance I received inspired me to be a SAFE mentor last semester. It felt rewarding to share my own experiences and help a student achieve some of his/her strategic goals. I was able to reassure my mentee that any challenges faced will ultimately be resolved. My mentee improved academically, met other students on campus, and met with me once every three weeks. We both valued the experience. I recommend upcoming juniors and seniors volunteer as mentors.