Ozanam Scholar Maximizes St. John’s University Experience

Grace Comas
September 13, 2023

Risk Management and Insurance major Grace Comas came to St. John’s University because she saw the opportunity for a college experience filled with endless possibilities. “When I visited St. John’s and researched the school, I saw a future where I could be a business student, a service leader, and a global citizen.”

A member of the Ozanam Scholars program and the President’s Society—the University’s highest honor society—Grace, now entering her senior year, has immersed herself in campus life and Vincentian service. She has done this while also taking advantage of the many networking opportunities available to students in the form of internships and expanding her global perspective by studying abroad.

Originally from Philadelphia, PA, Grace explained that the Queens, NY, campus reminds her of home. “It gives you the best of both worlds,” she said. “The campus gives students the chance to have a suburban college experience with quick access to one of the best cities in the world.”

She added, “St. John’s feels small because of the tight-knit class size and groups on campus. When I walk around campus, I see people I know. Yet, it still feels big because of its easy access to the ‘big city’ of Manhattan.”

Grace stressed that St. John’s has done an exceptional job in preparing her for life after college. “The Maurice R. Greenberg School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science has provided me with countless opportunities to connect with industry professionals and gain real work experience while pursing my undergraduate degree.”

Last year, she interned at J.P.Morgan Private Bank, and has been offered a position as an analyst postgraduation. 

“In that position, I worked alongside a fast-paced and highly driven team of high net worth client specialists to assist clients in achieving their financial goals,” she recalled. 

During her final semester, she will intern with Arch Insurance Company, assisting with underwriting. While working full-time, Grace will also study for her Master of Business Administration degree in Finance at St. John’s, which she expects to earn in 2025.

Grace singled out Tracey L. Freiberg, Ph.D., Visiting Professor of Economics and Finance in The Peter J. Tobin College of Business, as a particular inspiration. “She inspires me to never stop learning, and has been an amazing teacher and mentor to me these past three years,” she said. “Dr. Freiberg makes me want to become an expert in my field of study, and contribute valuable research to whichever business sector in which I find myself.”  

Reflecting on her time as an Ozanam Scholar, Grace observed that her desire to serve has only intensified. She recently participated in the ENGin program, providing English tutoring to college students in Ukraine. 

“I have also volunteered as an English teacher with We Speak NYC, helping teach English to immigrants living in New York City,” she said. Her capstone research project entails working with indigenous communities in Ecuador (whom she has visited twice) on virtual English as a Foreign Language learning. 

Grace lived in Rome, Italy, for a semester, taking a Global Destination Course in which she traveled to London, England; Paris, France; and Switzerland. “Each time I travel outside of the US with St. John’s, I learn something new about myself and the world around me,” she said.

Perhaps most importantly, Grace loves the diversity of cultures and backgrounds she has encountered at St. John’s and in the New York City area. “Our students come from all different states, countries, and cultures,” she said. “St. John’s is a place where students can be their authentic selves and find a community that inspires them to be the best version of themselves. I will be forever grateful that I chose the University because of the friendships I have made here.”

Grace continued, “I feel like I really grew into myself here. I found what truly interests me, what kind of people with whom I like to surround myself, and the person I want to be. My experience at St. John’s has been truly wonderful.”