September 03, 2013
by Shannon Luibrand ’14CPS, Features Editor of The Torch
Mark O’Rourke ’02L leaned over the porch rail at Saratoga Race Course,
cheering and pumping his fists in the air as the stampeding
thoroughbreds sped by on the turf, kicking up dirt and grass behind
them, their muscular bodies pumping hard as the jockeys leaned
pressing them forward.
Before anyone had the chance to blink, the horses crossed the
finish line, nose and nose–a photo finish.
“It is a wonderful day at the Races,” O’Rourke said.
John’s alumni cheered alongside O’Rourke, holding up their winning
tickets. Even those who lost a dollar or two on the race celebrated
with the winners.
“As part of the event we sponsored a race,” Elizabeth Austin
’08TCB, ’10MBA, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations- Chapters,
The St. John’s University race was the first post of the day at
Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, Aug. 17, as part of the annual
St. John’s Alumni Day at the Track. Alumni gathered in the winner’s
circle, posing with the winning jockey after the conclusion of the
“It is an event that everyone really loves,” Austin said. “A lot of
people traveled up from the City to be here.”
Over 70 alumni and friends gathered under the Race Course pavilion,
a front seat to the races of the day, to celebrate Saratoga’s 150th
Anniversary and to enjoy each other’s company. St. John’s decorated
tables for the alumni; red and white balloons took over the event.
And although the day could have been mulled when a jockey went
airborne off of his injured horse during the first run, the alumni
tried to remain in high spirits.
Jacob Dobbs ’81SVC won some money betting on the St.
John’s race. Proudly sporting his winning ticket, he joked about
going to cash it in for the big bucks.
“I try to make all the St. John’s events,” he said. “Because I
gained so much from St. John’s I have to give back.”
Dobbs, who now lives in Rotterdam a town right outside of Albany,
works as a counselor in a prison. He said he has a word of advice
for current students.
“They really need to know St. John’s is a tremendous institution,”
he said. “They are fortunate to be there. Get as much out of it as
you can because St. John’s grads do great.”
Mary Marquis ’95MLS agreed. She said it was the professors at St.
John’s who made her fall in love with the University in the first
“We had some excellent professors, excellent instructors,” she
Marquis added the beautiful weather made for a great day.
“We came because we thought it would be a nice way to connect with
people from St. John’s and have an exciting day at the Races,” she
John’s has dozens of alumni chapters across the nation from Albany
to Los Angeles. Austin was hired less than a year ago to revamp the
St. John’s Alumni Chapter program. She has been revitalizing the
regional chapters by hosting events and programs with a high
concentration in the Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Phoenix and
While the Saratoga event has a lot of alumni attending from the
City, it also has a lot of alumni from the Albany Chapter,
O’Rourke, president of the Albany Alumni Chapter, is a graduate of
the law school. He said there are about 300 members in his
“We need more of the law school alumni to come out,” he said. “All
O’Rourke highly encourages every alumnus to get involved.
“I think the alumni association is really the enduring strength of
the University,” he said.
If interested in joining an Alumni
Chapter, please contact Elizabeth Austin at firstname.lastname@example.org or by
phone at (718) 990-2548.