Optimism reigned on Saturday, August 26, as a new generation of Johnnies moved onto the St. John’s University Queens, NY, campus, inspired by the opportunity to receive an education that elevates and a New York City college experience.
Undeterred by early-morning showers, the parade of overstuffed move-in carts began at about 9 a.m. and lasted through the early afternoon. First-year students and their parents unloaded belongings in the Residence Village, greeted suitemates and their families, and were quickly introduced to campus life.
More than 1,200 first-year students moved onto campus Saturday; by Sunday, another 1,400-plus returning students had settled in their dorm rooms. The Fall 2023 entering class features students from 46 states and 121 countries, from Australia to Zimbabwe.
“We’re excited to welcome the next generation of Johnnies into the fold,” said Jason T. Bartlett, Ph.D., Director, Office of Residence Life. “August at St. John’s is always a busy and exciting time when the entire University community comes out in full force to welcome new and returning students to campus and start this chapter of their St. John’s story.”
Members of the St. John’s move-in crew helped students and families find their way to one of the three first-year student residence halls: DaSilva, Donovan, and Hollis Halls. Volunteers outside the Montgoris Dining Hall distributed St. John’s merchandise and offered information about clubs and other student opportunities. Music blared from loudspeakers to mark the festive occasion.
For some first-year students, it was not their initial visit to the campus. Some had toured the University prior to enrolling; for others, including Jack McClelland of Farmingdale, NY, and George Neofitidis of Westbury, NY, familiarity came from their parents.
Jack’s mother, Bonnie ’93SVC, and father, Stephen ’91SVC, are alumni; so is George’s father, George Sr., ’91CBA.
“I love this school. I love this community,” George Sr. said. “It’s a proud moment for both of us.”
The younger George, who will share a dorm room with a cousin and whose closest friends are also first-year Johnnies, has yet to decide on a major, but is attending The Peter J. Tobin College of Business.
“Knowing people at the University and having a sense of familiarity is important to me,” George Jr. said. “I can’t wait to go to Red Storm Men’s Basketball games, especially at Madison Square Garden.”
“St. John’s was always the likely choice for me; it’s special knowing both of my parents went here,” added Jack, who plans to study Homeland Security at The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies. “They’re both excited that I got accepted here.”
For some first-year students, the possibility of a private-school education in the nation’s most diverse city was impossible to overlook. Gabriella Colon wanted to stay near her Colonia, NJ, home, but mom, Lissette, was equally attracted to the diversity of St. John’s program offerings and its student population. Two-thirds of the incoming class identify as Black, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian, Native Alaskan, American Indian, or two or more races. Fifty-three percent of the incoming class are women.
“When you attend class with people from different backgrounds, you learn new perspectives,” Lissette said. “That helps you when you are looking for a job after college and prepares you for the real world.”
Some first-years students, like Erica Tanner from Massapequa, NY, who is attending the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, hail from nearby towns and villages. Others, including Christopher St. Louis of Seattle, WA, had a farther distance to travel.
However, both were united in their belief that St. John’s is the place for them.
“I love that the campus is so close to New York City, but also feels like a true college campus,” Erica said. “I’m far enough from home that I really feel like I’m going away, but close enough that I can see my family when I want.”
“I just love the environment,” added Christopher, who plans to study Finance at Tobin. “Everyone is friendly and it is just a wonderful place to be. I look forward to seeing my dormmates, chilling with them, and having a good time.”