Sixty Years Later, Alumna Recognized with St. John’s Diploma

August 1, 2023

More than six decades after she first enrolled, longtime Valley Stream, NY, resident Marie Cecilia Ervolino received her diploma earned from St. John’s University.

Before family, friends, and members of University administration, Ms. Ervolino recently was awarded an Associate in Arts degree from The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies (CCPS). She began her studies at St. John’s Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn, NY, campus in 1956 before withdrawing three years later to raise her family.

After a review of Ms. Ervolino’s transcripts and evaluation of her class work, it was determined she completed sufficient credits to be awarded an associate degree.

“We are delighted to award Marie her degree; she has certainly earned it,” said Luca Iandoli, Ph.D., Dean of CCPS and Professor in the Division of Computer Science, Mathematics, and Science. “Her love of St. John’s never wavered, and it is fitting that we recognize her academic accomplishments.”

Ms. Ervolino began her studies in the Fall of 1956, hoping to become a nurse and taking evening classes while working full time. But that dream was halted in early 1957 when her mother became ill and her father’s job was eliminated.

It was then that she was approached by her high school Latin teacher, who had just been appointed principal of a Catholic elementary school and was in need of a second-grade teacher. Ms. Ervolino pivoted to the Queens, NY, campus, closer to home, and continued her studies at St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences under a unique program in which Catholic school educators could teach during the day and attend classes in the evening.

Ms. Ervolino taught at the elementary school and attended classes at the Queens campus for two more years before meeting her husband, with whom she had six children. Together, husband and wife ran the family construction business while helping their children develop successful careers.

One of those children—their son, Jim—recognized how important the St. John’s years were to his mother. Jim contacted University administration about the possibility of Ms. Ervolino receiving a degree, which became a reality on July 12.

In recognition of their mother’s accomplishment, the Ervolino family made a contribution to the St. Vincent Health Sciences Center, the future home of the University’s Nursing and other health sciences programs.

“The year 1957 was a sad and difficult one for me,” Ms. Ervolino said that day. “But dreams do come true—and 60 years later, I have received a diploma from St. John’s University.”