St. John’s University Celebrates Class of 2024 at 154th Commencement

Students sitting on the great lawn during the 2024 St. John's Commencement Ceremony
May 20, 2024

For Immediate Release              
Media Contact: James Stephen Smith, 718-990-5789, 516-313-4568, [email protected]
Director of Media Relations, St. John’s University

(Queens, NY, May 20, 2024)– Nearly 1,900 undergraduate degrees were conferred to students of St. John’s University on Sunday, May 19, as graduates, faculty, parents, and guests celebrated the accomplishments of the Class of 2024. 

More than 10,000 guests gathered on the Great Lawn of the Queens, NY, campus to celebrate the University’s 154th Undergraduate Commencement Exercise. The Class of 2024 was recognized in a ceremony that honored students from the Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island, NY, campuses, as well as online learners. 

Jim Ziolkowski, Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of the international nonprofit buildOn, served as distinguished speaker and was conferred an honorary degree. The University also conferred honorary degrees upon distinguished alumni Most Rev. Robert J. Brennan ’84C, Bishop, Diocese of Brooklyn, NY; and Edward A. Caban ’89SVC, Commissioner, New York City Police Department

Born in Jackson, MI, Mr. Ziolkowski established buildOn in 1991 with the goal of breaking the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations in the United States and beyond through service learning and education. The organization has built more than 2,600 schools in the developing world, helping to educate more than 340,000 students. Mr. Ziolkowski is The New York Times bestselling author of Walk in Their Shoes: Can One Person Change the World?

“Education is a fire that nobody can put out,” Mr. Ziolkowski told the graduates. “This is your time, and now is your turn. My prayer is that you will be awakened to the light shining in you. You will change the world.” 

Bishop Brennan has led the Diocese of Brooklyn since 2021. He is the former Bishop of the Diocese of Columbus, OH, and Auxiliary Bishop for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, NY. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from St. John’s and was ordained in 1989. Bishop Brennan speaks proudly of how his time at the University has shaped his priesthood. 

Mr. Caban, who began his NYPD career in 1991, was named New York’s 46th Police Commissioner on July 17, 2023. He supervises the largest municipal police department in the United States, with approximately 36,000 officers and 19,000 civilian employees, who police a city of 8.5 million people. The department has an annual budget of $5.8 billion.

During his welcoming remarks, University President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P., urged graduates to remain empathetic and humble, in line with the values of St. Vincent de Paul, whose spirit of compassion animates the University.  

Echoing St. John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801–90), Fr. Shanley said: “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often. My hope is that you have been changed while you have been here, and that you will continue to learn and continue to change.”   

Student speaker Angelina Licor, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, challenged the Class of 2024 to grow as the University itself has grown these past four years. 

“The changes we have seen on campus are mirrored in us,” Ms. Licor, of Morris Plains, NJ, said. “We stand on the shoulders of giants who have come before us. None of this would have been possible without their investment in us.” 

The Class of 2024 adds to the ranks of St. John’s 198,000+ living alumni.

St. John’s University Commencement 2024: Downloadable images: 
(Mandatory credit to St. John's University)                                 

St. John’s University Commencement 2024: Formal speeches:

Facts about St. John’s University’s Undergraduate Class of 2024

  • Number of undergraduate students eligible for 2024 Commencement: 1,891 students 
  • Percentage of the Class of 2024 who are women: 54%  
  • Members of the Class of 2024 who studied abroad: 373  
  • Members of the Class of 2024 who are veterans: 50 
  • ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) graduates: 16    
  • Members of the Class of 2024 who are international students: 78  
  • Countries represented in the Class of 2024: 31
  • States represented by the Class of 2024: 20 
  • The oldest undergraduate member of the Class of 2024: 63 years old  
  • The youngest undergraduate member of the Class of 2024: 19 years old
  • Students graduating with a perfect 4.0 GPA (grade point average): 56 students  

For media inquiries, please contact James Stephen Smith, Director of Media Relations, at  718-990-5789 (o), 516-313-4568 (m), or [email protected].

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About St. John’s University: 

St. John’s University is a private, coeducational, Roman Catholic University founded in 1870 by the Congregation of the Mission (the Vincentians), with its main campus located in Queens, NY. St. John’s University also has campuses and locations on Staten Island, NY (until June 2024); and in Manhattan, NY; Rome, Italy; Paris, France; and Limerick, Ireland.

St. John’s University is comprised of six Schools and Colleges, including the College of Pharmacy and Health SciencesThe Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional StudiesSt. John’s College of Liberal Arts and SciencesThe Peter J. Tobin College of Business (including the Maurice R. Greenberg School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science), The School of Education, and the School of Law.

As of Fall 2023, the University has more than 1,400 full-time and part-time faculty; almost 16,000 undergraduate students; and 3,992 graduate students from 44 states and 119 countries. St. John’s offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs, including 16 doctoral programs.