August 24, 2009
Meet Yvette Clairjeane, 2009-10
President’s Society Member
This spring, 29 new members were inducted into St. John’s
University’s President’s Society. This most prestigious
organization is made up of students whose scholarship, integrity
and maturity are accompanied by leadership skills demonstrated by
their significant contribution to the extracurricular life at St.
Founded in 1968 to showcase the “best and brightest” among the
student body during a tumultuous time when the national perception
of college students was vastly negative, the President’s Society
still represents all that is best in St. John’s students.
The new Society members — 19 female and 10 male — are now
considered staff in the office of University President
Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M. During the upcoming year, they
will typically attend 15-20 presidential functions, acting as hosts
for honored guests who might include world or national leaders,
Board members, industry titans, and St. John’s alumni and
Interested students apply for membership in the Society in their
third year and serve during their fourth year. Three equally
important criteria are considered: academic achievement (generally
a 3.5 grade average); a comprehensive knowledge of the University
and an ability to articulate it fluently; and sustained leadership
within the University that includes service both on and off St.
John’s campuses. Members are selected by a committee of University
administrators after an intensive application and interview
Tradition of Giving Back Helps St. John’s
Student Find Fulfillment: Yvette Clairjeane ‘10
Yvette Clairjeane is a leader who has forged new opportunities for
fellow students to interact with faculty, deans and administrators.
Every one of her academic, service and leadership pursuits has
enabled St. John’s students to become more involved in their
According to the 20-year old St. John’s University senior,
“students need to have a voice in the University’s decision-making,
especially when the issues are related to their welfare.”
Yvette rose through the ranks of Student Government, from St.
John’s College sophomore representative to junior senator and
Executive Board member. With the help of other Student Government
members, she helped organize the Meeting of the Minds Dinner and
the Junior-Senior Forum — initiatives geared to providing
opportunities for students to have free-flowing dialogues with
deans, faculty and administrators.
Impressed by Yvette’s desire to make the St. John’s
experience more meaningful for other students, professors and
administrators urged her to apply for membership in the President’s
Society. This past March, Yvette learned that she was among the 29
outstanding students chosen. Members serve as the President’s
ambassadors at major University events.
Preparing for a Global
Government and Politics major, Yvette selected St. John’s
primarily because of its multiculturism and Vincentian and Catholic
mission. Born in the U.S., she spent her first six years in Haiti
before her family returned to New York. Yvette grew up in the
diverse neighborhood of Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
“St. John’s Vincentian values, community service and tradition of
giving back to those less fortunate were key factors that made and
make it the right school for me,” she explained.
The University’s cosmopolitan atmosphere also prepares students for
a changing world, Yvette added. Being exposed to students from many
different countries is a “vital part of a college education in
today’s global environment.”
That is why Yvette serves as a Diversity Peer Educator, running
programs to help students communicate with people from other
countries and backgrounds.
Many Forms of Service
The new President’s Society member considers herself lucky to have
had so many opportunities to pursue her interests at St. John’s.
This appreciation sparked her desire to serve others.
She cites her participation in St. John’s service “plunges”
at Lourdes, in New Orleans and Philadelphia. She has worked at soup
kitchens in Rome and mentored underprivileged school children in
Helping victims of Hurricane Katrina through the New Orleans plunge
held special meaning for Yvette. “The day before Katrina, there was
a fire in our building and my family lost just about everything. I
know how sad I felt, and I could imagine how this must have been
magnified 100-fold in New Orleans.”
Back in New York, Yvette helped victims of domestic abuse as a
member of the Ronald H. Brown Pre-Law Summer Prep Program at St.
John’s. She interned at the Red Hook Community Justice Center in
Brooklyn, where she helped crime victims — primarily disadvantaged
women — while honing her legal skills.
Looking forward to future service as a community leader, Yvette
also participated in the three-track Women in Leadership
Certificate Program. The program paired her with a female mentor on
campus, who helped her strengthen her leadership skills.
“St. John’s has taught me that hands-on service can come in many
different forms — big and small, local and overseas,” said Yvette.
“This is what St. Vincent de Paul meant when he talked about
serving the needy ‘with the strength of our arms and the sweat of
Professors as Role Models
Yvette has also learned a lot about Vincentian service from her
professors. John Greg, Ph.D., heads her list of faculty
members she admires.
“Not only did his course in Legal Argumentation provide me with a
guide to how to advocate for clients, but his holistic concern
about his students is a role model for me,” she said.
Now, her membership in the prestigious President’s Society adds
another arrow to her leadership bow. “Being a bridge between
current students and St. John’s alumni gives me the opportunity to
meet and talk to St. John’s graduates about their experiences here
and how the university impacts all our lives.”
We invite you to visit our Undergraduate
Admission pages to learn more about the St. John’s