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Human Resources Celebrates Graduation for Leadership, Management, and Professional Training Participants

July 13, 2017

Reflecting St. John’s University’s commitment to professional development, the Office of Human Resources presented 57 employees with certificates of completion on June 28 during the 12th annual graduation exercises. In addition to 25 recipients of an HR Management or Professional Development Certificate, 2017 saw 32 graduates from the Leadership Development Certificate Program, honoring 22 administrative leaders and 10 faculty leaders.

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Deans, vice presidents, and supervisors showed their support by attending the ceremony, held in The Peter J. Tobin College of Business building (formerly Bent Hall). Each certificate program is designed to enhance the professional knowledge and leadership skills of St. John’s employees. Since the program's inception in 2005, more than 460 employees have earned certificates, each logging an average of 64 training hours. (Learn more about Certificate Programs)

During her opening remarks, Nada M. Llewellyn, Esq., Associate Vice President for Human Resources, noted that, “Developing and retaining strong leaders in all positions is at the heart of the University’s second strategic priority to recruit, recognize, and retain the best faculty, staff, and administrators.” 

“Workplace studies,” continued Ms. Llewellyn, “find that talented employees are retained when they have meaningful and purposeful work, feel valued and respected for their contributions, and are motivated and enabled to grow and advance in their professional careers.” Ms. Llewellyn praised graduates for their persistence in completing the workshops, and thanked managers for encouraging their employees’ professional growth and development.   

Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., President of St. John's University, presented the awards to the graduates.

Following the presentation of the awards, three graduates reflected on their experiences with the different certificate programs. Nunziatina A. Manuli, Assistant Vice President of University Events, spoke on behalf of the Leadership cohort. Ms. Manuli offered that the leadership program allowed her to grow as a leader, to develop relationships with those whom, otherwise, she would not have had the opportunity to meet, and to learn from colleagues. She applied the program’s leadership lessons when she was called upon to manage a new team of people after the devastating loss to the SJU community of Pamela Shea-Byrnes, D.Min. To accomplish this, she reflected on what she learned in the leadership workshops: manage expectations; maintain open communications; and keep morale high by leading others, or as Ms. Manuli stated, “look to the ducks.” Equipped with her props of a plastic mother duck and ducklings, Ms. Manuli explained that by learning to redirect efforts and to manage what needs to get done, she and her team ensure that “magic happens here.”  

Mansoor Khan, Systems Analyst and Data Manager in University Career Services, reflected on his completion of the Management Development Certificate program. The workshops afforded him the opportunity to assess his strengths and areas in which he needed improvement. Mr. Khan offered the following advice:

Lean on your colleagues from other departments who may have faced similar situations and challenges and had successful results;

Embrace the relationships and new-found connections made at the workshops;

Be a leader who gets his/her hands dirty. Be that leader known as a doer and motivator by those who surround you, and take the time to have those casual conversations with your colleagues and staff;

Do not let the certificate you earned accumulate dust—continue to refer to your notes and handouts from the workshops.

Rosemary Hartofilis, Academic Advisor in the College of Professional Studies, appreciated the broad range of experiences her colleagues brought to the professional development workshops. “It’s never too late to learn more,” she said. “My fellow employees have shown me that you can truly make the world a better place by making yourself a better person.”

She cited another benefit gained from the workshops - learning how to more effectively deal with errors. “Going over workplace scenarios in the training workshops has taught me the right way to deal with my mistakes so that I don’t get bogged down in them. I learned how to be grateful for my mistakes because overcoming my faults has made me a stronger employee.”

Ms. Hartofilis credits the training program with helping her gain confidence to express her ideas with fellow employees and managers. It was during the training role-plays, where she recognized the need to reach out to students who also may lack confidence – the confidence  to discuss issues with her,  their advisor. By elevating their confidence, she said, “I can better serve them and help them to reach any goal that they might have.” She continued by saying,“It is my hope that I make all of my students and fellow employees feel the way that these trainings have made me feel: confident, fearless, and ready to learn more.”

Ms. Hartofilis ended her remarks by quoting the poet, Maya Angelou, who said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Dr. Gempesaw offered closing remarks in which he challenged certificate recipients to maintain the connections made with colleagues at the workshops. “Leadership is a relationship; therefore, embrace the relationships you made with each other while going through the program,” he said. “Training was meaningful to you because of your relationship building.”

Dr. Gempesaw shared that to be successful in this ever-evolving world, we need to constantly improve—and we do this by continuing to learn. He thanked certificate recipients for showing a unique commitment to St. John’s and for their interest in learning more about themselves and the University; and he praised them as role models for the University community.