August 29, 2012
In a festive welcome to their first semester at St. John's
University, nearly 1,900 members of this year’s freshman class
Arena at the Queens, NY,
campus for the annual New Student Convocation on Tuesday, August
The Convocation capped the University's "Week of WOW," a series of
events introducing new students to the wide variety of activities
available at St. John's. At the Convocation, faculty and
administrators marched into the legendary arena, treating students
to academic pomp and circumstance reminiscent of a commencement
The Staten Island
campus held its own Convocation for 164 freshmen on the same day.
Gathering at the Campus Center, they were welcomed by Jerrold
Ross, Ph.D., Dean of The School of Education and Academic Vice
President of the Staten Island campus.
At Carnesecca Arena, St. John’s President,
Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M., pointed out the sea of red and
white visible throughout the arena. "This [spirit],” he said, “will
continue to be your experience as you walk around campus — and
especially at athletic events."
Fr. Harrington spoke of
Keegan Bradley ’08CPS, a St. John's alumnus who is now a
celebrated professional golfer. On the last day of each tournament
in which he plays, Bradley wears a red shirt to celebrate the
University’s significance in his life.
"In a few moments,” said Fr. Harrington, “you will walk from this
arena into your St. John's life. You will carry the University’s
name with you for the rest of your life. Walk proudly and never
forget the special meaning of the color red."
Robert Mangione, Ed.D., R.Ph., Interim Provost of St. John's,
promised students that the entire University community is committed
to their academic success. "Stand tall and be confident,” said Dr.
Mangione, “yet be humble and determined as you begin your studies.
Your college years will go by very quickly. Make every minute
count, including your very first minute on Wednesday." (Classes
began on August 29.)
Emphasizing the value of the University’s Vincentian
Rev. James Maher, C.M., Executive Vice President for Mission
and Student Services, said that St. John's students are passionate
about making a difference in the world. "They care about their
fellow members of the St. John's family and offer great service to
the people of New York City and beyond, who live in vulnerability
Also addressing the students, Robert
Wile ’99SVC, Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff in the
President’s Office, reflected their enthusiasm. “Today,” he said,
“is truly a great day. We’re here to celebrate you — the newest
members of the St. John’s family!”
Sharing Their Stories
Freshmen heard words of support and encouragement from current
students. At Queens, Kevin Grover ’13TCB and Victoria Serbes ’13CPS
shared the podium as each discussed St. John’s life-changing
Victoria said she was a bit reluctant on her first Midnight Run, in which
students distribute sandwiches to New York City’s homeless. "I
stood there in the rain, handing out soup and coffee,” she
recalled. “Then a homeless woman encouraged me to warm up in the
van. I was stunned. Even though she would be sleeping on the street
that night and could be wet for days, she took the time to offer me
compassion and comfort."
Island, Megan Hunt ’13Ed said she was determined to get the most
from her time at St. John's. "Campus life is an exciting world,
filled with new people, organizations and opportunities,” she
Following the Convocation, students moved on to welcoming
ceremonies held by their individual Schools and Colleges.
Afterward, they broke for lunch and attended faculty presentations
about their majors. "I enjoyed the informal discussions we had with
the professors," said Hannah Manga ’16CPS. "They were very open and
Ebony Jean-Louis ’16C, a native of Boston, felt at home the moment
she arrived on campus. She also “loved” the Convocation’s
pageantry. "It was amazing,” she said. “The student stories were so
inspiring. It meant so much to me that they shared them with