February 24, 2012
DeCaires ’00C, ’08G likes to tell the story of when she first met a
St. John’s graduate.
“I was a teenager working part-time at my friend’s mother’s card
and gift shop on East End Avenue,” she recalled. “One of our weekly
customers was an alumnus of St. John’s School of Law, and he’d
always come in wearing his St. John’s sweatshirt and gear. He’d be
talking about his alma mater, telling us about all the Red Storm
games. He was so incredibly enthusiastic about the University.”
That excitement was contagious, and DeCaires realized right away
what a special place St. John’s is.
“I loved how he loved St. John’s,” she explained. “I wasn’t
looking into colleges at the time, but those are the things you
remember. You want to find a school that you can talk about in that
way, and for so many of us, St. John’s is that place.”
DeCaires is now a proud double alumna and currently serves as
Director of Donor Relations in the Division of Institutional
Advancement. In this capacity, she is responsible for acknowledging
donors of The Loughlin Society on behalf of University President
Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M. and Robert Wile ’99SVC, Senior Vice
President and Chief of Staff. Additionally, she collaborates with
the Office of Student Financial Services to ensure that all
scholarships are awarded and the donor’s intentions are met.
“At the end of the day, my job is to make sure that we deliver
on what our donors want,” she said. “We want the donors to see
their wishes fulfilled, all in an appropriate and timely
Seeing the generosity of donors firsthand is an incredibly
rewarding experience for DeCaires.
“I see how our alumni and friends directly impact the students,”
she said. “Whether it’s a state-of-the-art new building on campus,
having access to better professors, getting scholarship money –
students benefit in so many ways, and it’s a great feeling to play
a part in that process.”
DeCaires graduated from St. John’s in 2000 with a B.A. in
English and earned an M.A. in Liberal Studies in 2008. She was an
incredibly involved student, serving as News Editor of The Torch,
St. John’s student newspaper, and Women’s Chair of Haraya. She was
also a member of the Caribbean Students Association.
“We used to say that The Torch was St. John’s first dorm,” she
joked. “I spent a lot of nights here waiting for the edition to be
done and finishing pages, and that whole experience was very
beneficial for me. It made me a lot more comfortable talking to
people. When you’re a reporter, you can’t be shy – you have to go
find the person you need quotes from. So today, I have no issue
going into a room and making friends.”
That’s an especially important skill for DeCaires, since she
interacts with donors on a regular basis. She enjoys chatting with
alumni about their student days and explaining to them how vastly
the University has grown.
“Our alumni have great stories,” she said. “One graduate from
the ’60s or ’70s told me about how he was taken out of class one
day because he wasn’t wearing a tie! You can tell it was a very
different experience back then compared to how it is today, and
that’s fun to hear about.”
But though times have changed, DeCaires has noticed that the
Vincentian mission, the spirit of helping those who need it most,
has remained strong.
“We’ve remained true to our founding principles,” she noted.
“Other universities struggle to get their students to do anything,
but St. John’s students are selfless and active, and so are our
alumni. And what I like to do, if I’m ever speaking with alumni, is
to let them know that what they love about the University is still
here. The campus looks different, the students look different, but
what you remember and love about St. John’s has remained the