November 05, 2009
From October 21 – 23, 2009, 45 St. John’s University
undergraduate and graduate students representing every school and
college participated in the 29th Annual Alumni Insider’s View…U.S.
Student's View ... U.S. Capital Day One
Student's View ... U.S. Capital Day Two
Student's View ... U.S. Capital Day Three
This exclusive program brings current students together with
Washington, DC area alumni who hold positions within some of the
nation’s top industries, including legal, healthcare, law
enforcement, political, business, education and
communications. Students benefitted from an "insider's view"
of the workings of our nation's capital and the considerable
professional and personal expertise of the alumni presenters.
The three-day program included a welcome dinner, panel discussions
and a variety of networking opportunities.
After arriving in Washington on Wednesday afternoon, the students
attended the traditional welcome dinner, which this year was hosted
by the family of the late Hon. James F. Tierney ’41L. Lawrence
Baun, son-in-law of Judge Tierney, described how the judge
supported the program for many years by hosting students in his
home during their time in Washington.
Laura Cranston, R.Ph.’84P, a member of the University’s Board of
Governors and Washington, DC Alumni Chapter Leader also welcomed
students and reminisced about her role as a student participant.
“As a participant in the second year of the program in the early
1980s, I am always excited to make the students feel welcome here,
as I was when I came down from New York. If a student should
decide to pursue a career in Washington, DC, I know that they will
feel that there is an instant network for them and a growing St.
John’s community here.”
The evening concluded with a tour of the national monuments.
On Thursday, the first full day of the program, students listened
to and networked with alumni panelists from the Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA), the United States Senate, the U.S.
Department of Labor, the Diplomatic Security Service, the U.S.
Department of Justice and the Federal Housing Finance Agency who
discussed the inner workings of their respective
Nathaniel Berman, Esq. ’06L, a Labor Relations Industrial
Specialist for the U.S. Department of Labor urged students to
“hustle and follow-up” on each and every contact that they make as
they pursue their professional careers.
John Martinez, Esq.,’97L, Assistant General Counsel for the CIA,
reminded the students to “…use St. John’s as a resource and take
advantage of the strength and commitment of the DC Alumni Chapters.
Your job search should be like a 3-legged stool, focusing on
networking, job sites and headhunters to support your
efforts.” Kathleen McGovern, Esq. ’88CBA, ’91L, Assistant
Chief, Corporate and Securities Fraud for the U.S. Department of
Justice concurred, reminding the students that, “…St. John’s alumni
feel an obligation to help one another, so consider this when
The second panel of the day offered students an opportunity to hear
from alumni who are employed in various types of public sector
careers, including education, lobbying and non-profit professional
associations within the Washington, DC area. Many of
the messages presented to students urged them to forego working
solely to secure their first job but to attach equal, if not
greater, importance to establishing their long-term career.
Panelist Ryan Randall ’07Ed, currently an elementary school teacher
in Prince George’s County, MD noted that she was, “…not just my
students’ teacher. I’m often a big sister, a counselor, a
nurse, etc. That’s not just my job, it’s my career.”
The group then traveled to the Inter-American Development Bank,
where they were hosted by Miguel Toruno, Esq. ’98L, Senior
Integrity Officer, who provided an overview of international
employment and the benefits associated with working for an
international organization within the nation’s capital.
Healthcare issues were the topic of another interesting and
informative panel, hosted by Cranston and joined by alumni
panelists Ann Rixinger, M.D. ’75C, a physician in private practice
and Anne Lin, Pharm.D., R.Ph. ’84P, Dean and Professor of Pharmacy
at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. The discussion focused on
the current state of affairs within the healthcare sector,
including the proposed healthcare plan, swine flu vaccinations and
issues related to the newest trends in preventative care. Dr.
Rixinger advised students to “Do what makes your heart sing.
Your profession should be based on emotional, not financial
The day concluded with a networking reception that offered
opportunities for students to meet and mingle with other alumni
from the region. Andrea T. Papa ’88SVC, Associate Director,
Student Engagement and Regional Programs, Office of Alumni
Relations welcomed attendees to the program, thanked the alumni for
their support and provided highlights of the events taking place at
alma mater during the past year. The reception concluded with
an announcement of the recipients of the Arthur B. Carton ’25C,
’29L and Joseph P. Addabbo ’46L, ’84HON Scholarship. This year’s
scholarship recipients include Hadia Sheerazi ’10C, Stephen Lang
’10TCB, Scott Reutter ’10C and Kiranmayee Suryadevera ’11P.
“I am extremely excited about winning the award,” said
Reutter. “Meeting with alumni in the [DC] area was a huge
help and a great experience for me. I can’t thank everyone
enough for my scholarship. I hope to be on the other side of
this trip sometime in the future.”
Reutter’s enthusiasm for the trip and gratitude for the generosity
of the donors who supported his scholarship award was echoed by
Lang, who noted that, “This was one of the best experiences of my
college career. I would like to thank the Office of Alumni
Relations for awarding me this scholarship. I am very grateful for
this award, and I truly believe that it is a great honor.”
Students began their final day in Washington with a visit to the
United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), hosted by
Brian V. Breheny, Esq. ’90CBA, ’96L, a member of St. John’s
Board of Governors and currently Deputy Director, Legal and
Regulatory Policy for the Division of Corporate Finance of the
SEC. Breheny engaged the students in an interactive
discussion of the history and current operations of the SEC, and
described the many ways in which this regulatory agency safeguards
the financial well-being of the average investor.
Breheny was effusive in his praise for how the Alumni Insider’s
View…U.S. Capital has evolved in recent years. “This is a great
program, and I’m proud to be part of it,” he said. “In the
last five years I’ve seen that it’s completely changed, from having
local alumni host people in their homes to this more involved and
focused program. I think it’s a flagship program in which the
students get a tremendous amount out of [the alumni
participants]. The alumni who the students see are really
excited to be here and talk about what they do. It’s a great
opportunity for students to come here and meet the people from St.
John’s and see what they do.”
Following this unique visit students enjoyed a farewell luncheon
featuring keynote speaker Thomas Snowden ’88SVC, Video Editor for
the Washington, DC bureau of the NBC Nightly News and The Today
Show. Snowden presented a public service announcement that he
created and informed students that that he uses Facebook to find
someone he wishes to include in a story. The importance of
using popular social networking sites as valuable resources to both
begin and advance their professional careers was stressed to
students by alumni panelists and non-panelists throughout the
The final panel of the 3-day trip included both active military and
retired/civilian alumni representing each branch of the Armed
Forces. This discussion focused on the day-to-day activities
of their current roles and offered them an opportunity to share
stories of how they came from the halls of St. John’s to acquire
their current positions.
“I was honored to be a part of St. John’s 29th Annual Insider’s
View…U.S. Capital,” said Lt. Col. James G. Bartolotto, USMC,
Esq. ’88C, ’91L, Trial Attorney for the United States Department of
Justice and presenter at the U.S. Military and Challenges of the
21st Century panel. “Speaking with current students about
their career dreams and hearing from fellow alumni about their
diverse experiences was tremendously uplifting, albeit
humbling. Moreover, interacting with them reminded me of the
outstanding people I met at – and continue to meet from – St.
John’s, and the incredible way the University prepared me, not only
for my profession but for life. Thank you again for including
One of the many highlights of the program was a surprise visit on
Friday from Congressman Anthony Weiner (D – Brooklyn and
Queens). Brian Browne ’93C, ’97G, Assistant Vice President,
Government Affairs and Director of the Manhattan campus introduced
Weiner, who offered a fascinating history of the House of
Representatives building in which the students were gathered.
He also discussed the current healthcare debate and engaged in a
lively question and answer session with the students.
The program concluded with a tour of the U.S. Capitol, after which
the students boarded a bus for the return trip to the Queens
Genuinely pleased by the increasing involvement of St. John’s
alumni in ensuring the program’s success, Cranston noted that,
“What is most encouraging to me in my role with the St. John’s
alumni chapter here in Washington is that more and more alumni come
out to each event we host. Their commitment to St. John’s is truly
Students participating in this popular program were grateful for
the opportunity to share in such a unique and highly valuable
experience. “This program was amazing,” said Alysha Velez
’10C. “Not only did we hear about all the wonderful and
diverse opportunities that the capital holds, but to hear it come
from our own alumni was even better.”
“This program was a phenomenal experience,” agreed Kiranmayee
Suryadvera ’11P. “The alumni interaction was great.
They showed a great amount of pride in their alma mater and were
willing to share their stories and resources [with the
The opportunity for personal interaction between students and
alumni was seen as one of the most important and beneficial aspects
of the program.
Jacquelyn Torres ’10Ed was quick to praise that component of the
program. “Although I initially had some reservations as to
whether or not I could find or hear about careers or opportunities
that might interest me, I found that all of the panels afforded me
some sort of new ideas to walk away with. I really liked the
ability to speak to the alumni one-on-one.”