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Maria Scalisi '10CPS

With Online Learning, Transfer Student Excels as Scholar and Soccer Mom

After spending two years as a full-time student at a local college, Maria Scalisi '10CPS was ready to find another school where she could gain the flexibility she needed to continue working and being with her children.

Her search, which brought her to St. John's as a Online Learning student, exemplifies  the truth of the famous saying that “life happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

The answer, she decided, was to transfer to a college she could attend part-time. Then Maria suddenly received a letter from St. John's telling her she had been awarded a Transfer Scholarship. “I had often thought about applying to St. John’s because of its excellent reputation,” she said.

When she went to the Queens campus to enroll as a full-time student — she planned to stay with relatives in the area — Maria got her next surprise. In a meeting with an academic adviser at the Office of Enrollment Management, she learned she could use her scholarship as a student in St. John’s Online Learning Program.

Equally unexpected, Maria's advisor helped her choose the ideal major to fit her goals and interests — Criminal Justice in the University’s College of Professional Studies. Criminal Justice is one of 25 bachelor's degree programs in the College of Professional Studies, which also offers 13 associate and fourgraduate degrees.

 “That turned out to be a red-letter day for me,” Maria enthused. “I selected a major that I fell in love with, I ended up having awesome professors with unbelievable real-life experience and I was not only able to work full-time, but also got to be a soccer mom.”

Shortly after this turning point, Maria was in a car accident and suffered a spinal injury. But even this twist of fate — which made it hard for her to use her hands —has given her more reasons to prize St. John’s. “My professors all worked with and continued to believe in me. They made it possible for me to graduate,” she said.

Now, Maria's objective is to become a criminal lawyer specializing in advocating for the  young. “I can think of no better place to get my legal training than at St. John’s School of Law,” she said. She has had to postpone this plan until her children are both out of high school. In the meantime, she made sure to introduce herself to Dorothy Moran, Associate Director of Admissions, and told her about her strong interest in attending the School of Law.

Maria left that meeting much better equipped to put this plan into action. “During the course of our conversation about why I want to be a lawyer, Associate Director Moran pointed out that my passion really lay in becoming a criminal lawyer. Initially, I was considering going into sports law. She told me that my eyes lit up whenever I mentioned helping at-risk youth — so I have found my calling.”

In the near-term, Maria is looking for a position as an advocate and/or researcher with a non-profit that defends the rights of children. To make this quest easier, she proudly revealed that she has “a standing letter of recommendation” from Assistant Dean, Online Learning, Antonio Lodato, testifying to her qualifications as a criminal justice professional.

The Online Learning Program was “the perfect solution for me,” she said. “ But, it was far more than just a solution. It gave me the freedom to fulfill my other responsibilities and introduced me to a new world of possibilities.”