The excitement was palpable on St. John’s University’s Queens, NY, campus as students welcomed their families and friends for three days of fun activities, great music, carnival rides, and food during Family Weekend, held from Friday, October 7, through Sunday, October 9.
“We are thrilled to welcome families from across the region and around the country to reunite with their student during Family Weekend,” said Kathryn T. Hutchinson, Ph.D., Vice President for the Division of Student Affairs. “Staying connected to support systems is important to student success. Family Weekend is the perfect opportunity for students to introduce their families to friends, faculty, administrators, and coaches who are part of their St. John’s family and an important part of their collegiate journey at St. John’s.”
The annual event kicked off Friday evening as the St. John’s Women’s Volleyball team faced off against Marquette University in Carnesecca Arena. Many of the first arrivals to Family Weekend later took in the Chappell Players Theater Group’s first performance of Catch Me If You Can in The Little Theatre. More performances of the Broadway musical were staged to the delight of attendees throughout the weekend.
On Saturday, following brunch hosted by the Division of Student Affairs in Montgoris Dining Hall, participants interested in Study Abroad were invited to attend a presentation, “The Journey Continues Abroad: Understanding our Global Mission,” which was held in the D’Angelo Center. Faculty members delivered academic presentations in classrooms located throughout the D’Angelo Center classrooms.
The festivities then moved to the Great Lawn, where guests gathered for the Family Weekend Carnival, a staple of the event that offered carnival games, rides such as a mechanical bull, slides, and a huge collection of free pumpkins.
“There is an indescribable energy that is felt when our families are on campus, and the carnival gives us an opportunity to make connections that will last for years to come,” said Samuel Baah, Associate Director of Orientation and New Student Experience.
Parent Marit Brox flew from Norway to experience Family Weekend and visit her son, Elias, a first-year student who received a scholarship to be a member of the Men’s Soccer team. It was her first time on campus.
“This is something else!” Ms. Brox exclaimed, as she strolled along the verdant Great Lawn. “In Norway, we have big universities, but not like this, where students can live on campus and have access to all of these beautiful grounds. This is like what I have seen in movies about college life.”
Senior Amanda Rivera, a psychology major, and her mother, Maritza Nieves, have never missed a Family Weekend during her years as a St. John’s student. “This is our tradition, and we love to do it,” said Amanda, after posing for a picture taken by her mom while standing amid the sun-splashed carnival.
“This event generates so much family unity, and there are so many fun activities,” said Ms. Nieves, of Woodhaven, NY. “Plus, we get to see the construction,” she added, while gesturing toward the building site for the striking, new, 70,000-square-foot St. Vincent Health Sciences Center.
Marcelino Serrano of Rochester, NY, was delighted to visit the campus that is now home for his daughter, Nadia, a sophomore. “Everything is wonderful here, and she really loves it,” he said as he relaxed at a picnic table just off the Great Lawn.
At a nearby table, Francine and John Alexander shared snacks with their daughter, Taylor, as they took in the carnival during their first visit to St. John’s. “I love the atmosphere that is all over the school and the people, who are very sweet,” said Taylor as she sat between her parents.
“Having Taylor here at this University gives me peace of mind,” Mr. Alexander said. “We live on Staten Island. She is away at college, but she’s not that far away. It’s safe, and if she needs us, we can be here quickly for her.”
Taylor’s twin brother, Justin, is also finding happiness as a student on St. John’s campus in Staten Island. “When they’re happy, we’re happy,” said Francine Alexander with a laugh.
Late in the afternoon, the University hosted its popular Residence Village Block Party, which featured music and food stations. The weekend ended Sunday with a Community Mass held in St. Thomas More Church. Participants also enjoyed a brunch, the chance to win raffle prizes, and the final performance of Catch Me If You Can.
Highlights of Family Weekend on St. John’s Staten Island, NY, campus included a Rock the Red Breakfast for students and staff on October 7, followed by Screen on Green, a movie on the Great Lawn with snacks, courtesy of Student Government, Inc., according to David N. Gachigo, M.P.A., Interim Vice Provost, Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Division of Student Affairs, on the Staten Island campus. On October 8, students and their loved ones gathered for Family Day to enjoy food, snacks, music, a photo booth, and a caricature artist.