Ahead of Homecoming Weekend, St. John’s University’s annual Alumni Convocation Ceremony recognized nine graduates for their personal and professional accomplishments while embodying the Vincentian spirit of the University.
Among the honorees on October 21 was the Hon. P. Kevin Castel ’72SVC, ’75L, ’04HON, Senior US District Judge for the Southern District of New York, who said the University cultivated in him the compassion required of an effective jurist. Since being appointed to the federal bench in 2003, Judge Castel has presided over more than 5,000 cases and authored more than 1,500 opinions.
“My work requires me to impose sentences on individuals convicted of serious crimes,” said Judge Castel, who received the University’s Lifetime Achievement Award, given to an alumnus who over the course of his or her life has exemplified a Vincentian spirit of service.
“Most of these individuals are from backgrounds and life experiences different from my own,” Judge Castel continued. “My education at St. John’s instilled in me the need to treat each individual with dignity, to be open to the possibility of personal redemption, and to have empathy for the individual, the family, and victims seen and unseen.”
That spirit of service and compassion was shared by the eight other honorees, whose lives, according to Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P., President of St. John’s, “speak to other people about the fundamental values of this University through a commitment to service, and a commitment to making our community stronger and richer, particularly in their care for the needs of others.”
The celebration began with a ceremony at St. Thomas More Church, at which each of the honorees was recognized for their decades-long commitment to St. John’s. Outstanding Alumni Achievement Medals were awarded to Linda DaSilva, R.Ph.’81P; Diego Rodriguez ’88SVC, ’16GEd; and Tarik S. Turner ’98C.
Ms. DaSilva is Vice President, Life Sciences Commercial and Market Access Consulting, at the financial adviser and tax firm Deloitte, LLP. Mr. Rodriguez is a former agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and current Vice President of Security and Emergency Management at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, while Mr. Turner, a former Cocaptain of the Red Storm Men’s Basketball team, is a Managing Director at the investment firm AllianceBernstein L.P., a basketball analyst for television networks SNY and Fox Sports, and a member of the University’s Board of Trustees.
“In every job that I took, I wanted to optimize the foundation of service that was part of my experience at St. John’s,” Ms. DaSilva said. “It inspired me to be aware and to do more. Current students in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences have the potential to be change agents and to ease the developing health-care crisis in the area.”
“It is a humbling honor that makes you reflect on the journey,” added Mr. Turner, who led the Red Storm to a berth in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament in 1998. “The discipline required to be successful in competitive athletics and the value of being a good teammate, of being responsible and accountable, all play a role in my life today. I learned these things at St. John’s.”
Following the convocation ceremony, honorees, their families, and members of the St. John’s community adjourned to the D’Angelo Center for an awards dinner. Other honorees included
Heritage Circle Inductees
President’s Medal Recipients
Medal of Honor Recipient
Mr. Walsh, who was raised in Bellerose, NY, is a sponsor of the Big Shoulders Fund, a Chicago, IL-based nonprofit that supports more than 90 needy Catholic schools in Illinois and northern Indiana. “It’s paying forward the values I learned at St. John’s,” he said.
The Medal of Honor is the highest award bestowed on an alumnus by the University. Mr. Shea is a member of the Board of Trustees Emeritus, a member of the University’s Institute for Catholic Schools Advisory Board and a member of the Board of Trustees of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Commercial Sciences degree by the University in 2016.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to have gone to Catholic schools,” he said, “and to have the benefit of a St. John’s education. It was the best value and it delivered values. It reinforced a commitment to serve others that guides you for the rest of your life.”
Watch video from the Alumni Convocation.