A Family Affair: Love of St. John’s Spans Two Generations

April 20, 2020

Choosing a college is often a family decision. For the Ghiozzi family, attending St. John’s is a choice made by two generations. Luisa Ghiozzi ’90CBA, the matriarch of the family, earned her bachelor’s degree in business management from the University. Now, her daughter Sabrina is in her third year as a marketing major, while son Marco is in his second year of the University’s pharmacy program. We asked the Ghiozzis, who live in nearby Fresh Meadows, NY, about selecting St. John’s and the profound impact that choice has made on their children.

What initially drew your children to St. John’s University?

St. John’s is a household name in our home. I (Luisa) am a graduate of The Peter J. Tobin College of Business. I also hold a graduate extension in Gifted Education from St. John’s. Many relatives, members of our extended family, and friends have attended St. John’s, as well. However, the real “pull” was their attendance at events such as Open House and Accepted Student Day. At both, they received the message that St. John’s had so much to offer—all they had to do was to reach out and ask.

Among the possibilities were Catholic Scholars, Student Ambassador Program, pep band, Italian Club, sports, leadership opportunities, and more. At St. John’s, they felt they could study and live their life, too. The University also offered them wonderful scholarship opportunities.

Did St. John’s location play a role in their decision to attend?

Location definitely played a role in their decision—and not just because we live within two miles of the University—but because it is conveniently accessible to Manhattan. Since they enrolled, the University has really become like a home away from home to them.

Was it important to you that your children attended a Catholic university?

Absolutely. We have actively raised our children in the Catholic faith, and it has been the center of our family since they were born. They were raised with Sunday Mass, being active members of a parish (e.g., choir, youth group, lectors, altar servers, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, etc.), and participants in the sacraments.

Although we hoped that they would continue on this path as young adults, we knew that whatever environment encompassed their lives for four to six years would play a part in swaying them in one direction or another. St. John’s Vincentian heritage inspired us and gave me hope that our children would continue to have opportunities to interact within the Church. The mission would not only provide occasions to participate, but to actually make a difference in the world.

Have you seen a transformation in your son and daughter since their first year of college?

We have witnessed a meaningful/significant growth in both kids. They have become independent multitaskers who are committed to earning high grade point averages, engaging in extracurricular activities, and keeping part-time jobs. During this time, they have also shown how much they value family in their lives. And Sabrina and Marco both studied abroad, which was the first time they were away from us for an extended period of time.

To what do you attribute this transformation?

We attribute it to the environment they have been surrounded by at St. John’s. The University offers so many opportunities for young adults to be part of something, whether a sport, a club or organization, or a fraternity. We credit much of their growth to Catholic Scholars and Campus Ministry. Both have enriched and guided them since their first year.

What has been the biggest challenge as parents of two college students?

One of the biggest challenges has been learning how to balance the difference between fostering independence and not. When do you step back and let them handle their own schedule, finances, selection of classes, and study habits? Too soon and they feel abandoned; don’t give them enough space, and they feel smothered!

Is there anything about their experience at St. John’s that stands out to you?  

The feeling of community is truly evident at St. John’s. Whether you attend a basketball game or Mass at St. Thomas More Church, you feel like you are a part of the St. John’s family. It is uplifting to show up at Sunday Mass and be greeted by faculty members who know your kids. At St. John’s, it is clear that you are welcome, and there are people on campus who care about your well-being.

Would you recommend St. John’s to a neighbor or friend?

Absolutely. Since our kids have been students there, we have been pleased and proud of the young adults they have become. They have made numerous alumni connections to former Johnnies, which shows us that St. John’s will be a part of their lives long after graduation.