More than 750 alumni and family enthusiastically reconnected and reminisced as they converged on the Queens, and Staten Island, NY, campuses of St. John’s University for the second annual Homecoming Weekend, which was celebrated from Thursday, October 26, through Sunday, October 29.
“Homecoming is such a wonderful reason to come together—we have alumni here representing a variety of Schools and Colleges, decades, and experiences,” said Sara Hunt Munoz, Ed.D., who recently assumed her position as Senior Director of Alumni Relations . “As someone new to the University, I am thrilled to meet so many members of the community who came out to celebrate St. John’s.”
Throughout the weekend, guests were offered a broad range of celebrations and activities to recognize their bond to the University, including a host of sports competitions in which student athletes participated. The sporting events included the Women’s Soccer season finale game vs. DePaul University on October 26; Women’s Volleyball vs. Xavier University on October 27; and the Men’s Soccer season finale game vs. Creighton University on October 28.
One of the ever-popular highlights on the Staten Island campus was the traditional Party on the Hill, held Friday evening, October 27.
“The Party on the Hill is a wonderful opportunity to connect in-person with so many fellow alumni. It's nice to stay connected over the years through social media, but even better to see everyone in person,” said Laurie Tritini, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications. The fun continued on the Staten Island campus with numerous events that included a yearbook display, a photobooth, popcorn, dancing, great food, and lots of toasts celebrating memories of the campus.
The 2023 Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony took place Saturday evening on the Queens campus. This was an opportunity for the University and alumni community to honor outstanding individuals by inducting them into the hall as members of the Class of 2023. The class includes former student athletes who achieved excellence in their sport while representing St. John’s on the national and international levels. The Athletics Hall of Fame committee unanimously recommended these individuals for this prestigious honor.
This year’s cohort includes baseball All-American and Major League Baseball first-round selection Craig Hansen; Men’s Basketball standouts Gus Alfieri, Greg “Boo” Harvey, and Bernard Rencher; Women’s Basketball’s all-time leading scorer Aliyyah Handford; BIG EAST Softball Player of the Year Erin Burner; Men’s Soccer All-American Ben Hickey; and Women’s Soccer All-American Diana Poulin.
For the second time in the Homecoming Weekend’s history, the 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament welcomed alumni, students, and friends to Taffner Field House on the Queens campus on October 29 to support the fully endowed Sigma Phi Epsilon Rho, St. John’s University Balanced Leader Scholarship. DJ Zeke, also known as Ezekiel O. Akinyemi '08TCB, emceed the 3 on 3 basketball event.
On the same day, the Global Loan Opportunities for Budding Entrepreneurs (GLOBE) 3-Point Shooting Contest among students, faculty, and alumni was held in Taffner to support the GLOBE Microloan Program. The GLOBE program is a student-managed lending program devoted to lifting entrepreneurs out of poverty.
The Homecoming Fest, held on the final day of Homecoming Weekend, was a powerful draw for alumni and family members as they gathered outside of Taffner Field House on the tennis court lawn to enjoy a barbecue that included hot dogs and hamburgers, fall-themed desserts, and beverages with wine provided by John Musto '13MBA and beer from Flagship Brewery co-founded by James J. Sykes '05CCPS. Attractions to suit all ages were provided, including inflatables, face painters, balloon artists, a DJ, illusionist Chris Dare '14TCB, and a photo booth. Johnny Thunderbird roamed the tennis courts, and a “Trunk or Treat” activity was held by the Motor Enthusiast Organization with a nod to Halloween.
Kim M. Cozza Checkers '93CBA takes great pride in being one of three generations of family members to attend St. John’s, along with her father, Pasquale “Pat” Cozza '66CBA, and daughters Alexandra Checkers '19C, '20MBA, and Adrianna Checkers, a Criminal Justice major who expects to graduate in May 2024.
“You’ve heard the expression, ‘It’s the family business.’ For us, St. John’s is the family college,” joked Mr. Cozza as he dined alongside his daughter under a large, outdoor tent set up outside Taffner.
Ms. Checkers set her sights only on St. John’s as her college of choice. “My dad’s St. John’s diploma hung just outside my bedroom in the hall. It was huge and all in Latin,” she recalled. “I saw it every day and it was my reminder that St. John’s was going to be my alma mater.”
“I loved my time here,” said Ms. Checkers. She loved it so much that she asked both of her daughters to visit St. John’s first while they were researching colleges to attend. “I told them that if they didn’t like it, they could go to any other college.”
She took them on a tour of the Queens campus. “When they saw the Great Lawn, they were sold on St. John’s!”
Craig M. Schmidt '06Pharm.D. said he was thrilled to be able to attend St. John’s because of its location in “the greatest city in the world.”
“St. John’s gave me my career,” said Dr. Schmidt, who is a Medical Account Associate Director for Novo Nordisk.
“Homecoming was a tremendous success,” said Dr. Hunt Munoz. “Despite the rainy weather, we doubled the number of attendees from last year. I’m excited for this event to keep growing so we can connect with even more alumni.”