February 24, 2011
It’s a pretty safe bet that, at one time or another, we’ve all
made decisions that have taken us down a road we’ve never
anticipated. What seem to be the most ordinary of choices can end
up changing our lives forever.
That’s what happened in the fall of 1978 to St. John’s
University sophomore Carolyn Krejci when she decided to set up a
study group for students taking Dr. Alfred Liberti’s
Invertebrate Anatomy class. And it’s what happened to fellow
classmate John Sheehan when he learned of the group and decided
that working with other students outside of class might help him
become more successful with this demanding material.
Little did either of them know that they were about to set off
on a road that they would travel together for more than three
“John came to join my study group of nine men and myself,”
recalled Carolyn. “I knew right away that he was special when it
was so effortless to ask him to accompany me to daily Mass. Yes, my
Catholic faith and the active practice of it was an important
thread holding the St. John’s experience together for me back then,
and it still is today.”
Graduation in 1981 took them in different directions. John went
off to dental school and Carolyn began her medical school studies.
Separated though they were, their relationship grew even stronger,
and they were married in 1987.
Sheehans quickly established a reputation for distinction in their
respective professions. John began as a private practitioner, and
since 1995 has been Chief of the Department of Dentistry and Oral
Surgery at St. Francis Hospital on Long Island. He was named
“Attending of the Year” at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in
1997 and was listed as one of New York’s top dentists in 2006 and
Not to be outdone, Carolyn was named “Intern of the Year” for
1987-88 at Winthrop University Hospital. She pursued additional
residencies and fellowships after medical school and soon became
known for her diagnostic and therapeutic skills in both Internal
and Geriatric Medicine.
Both attribute much of their success to their time at St.
“When I graduated from St. John’s in 1981, I realized that it
had been my good fortune to attend a large national university and
yet receive a small college education,” said John, “with individual
attention from the many faculty members I encountered. I had
professors who were acting like mentors, each trying to help the
students to get the most out of our education and ourselves.
Carolyn strongly agrees, noting that being a part of the
University as an undergraduate had an impact that has remained with
her to this day. “My St. John’s Catholic education provided me with
sure footing and firm support as I later tackled the complex moral,
ethical and intellectual challenges of medical school, residency
and fellowship training,” she said. “I still carry my St. John’s
experience with me.”
Although they graduated 30 years ago, the Sheehans continue to
maintain a strong affiliation with the University. They are members
of The Loughlin Society and have been instrumental in supporting
the Dr. Alfred V. Liberti Endowed Scholarship, an award for
academically qualified and deserving undergraduate students
majoring in Biology who plan to pursue a career in the medical
sciences. Their St. John’s legacy has now moved to the next
generation, as two of their four daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, are
following in their parents’ footsteps as current St. John’s
“The spirit of St. Vincent de Paul that permeates every aspect
of St. John’s is what attracted me years ago, and I see it
continuing to grow and flourish even today,” remarked Carolyn. “My
daughters’ lives will be the better for it, as John’s and mine have
Blessing of the Couples Mass in St. Thomas More Church, St.
John’s University President Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M.
presented John and Carolyn with the
Fidelitas Award, an honor reserved for outstanding couples who
met at the University, later married and have demonstrated
exceptional fidelity to each other and to St. John’s. The award is
yet another example of the strong sense of connection that exists
between these devoted alumni and the University that continues to
play such an important part in their lives.
“What did we get out of our time at St. John’s,” asks John
reflectively? “Quite simply, a wonderful life. Carolyn and I are
honored to help provide that same special education to other
generations of students. We want to know that we’ve helped them
make the right, yet often difficult, decisions that will ultimately
change the world around them for the better. I can think of no
finer legacy than that.”