October 27, 2006
They say that all roads lead to Rome. In the case of Jesse Van
Hoy ’06C, the road from Rome led to Cambridge.
After studying for a semester at the St. John’s Rome Campus his junior year, Van Hoy became
so enthralled with the Eternal City’s museums and antiquities, he
began researching graduate degree programs combining these two
fields. Less than two years after his return to the United States,
the young graduate hurdled the Atlantic once again — this time to
the University of Cambridge, Kings College — and is now enrolled in
a year-long master’s program titled “Archaeological Heritage and
Throughout the year, Van Hoy will be trekking through primordial
sites such as Avebury and Stonehenge and exploring archaeological
sanctuaries such as the British, Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers Museums.
His classes revolve around the formation of cultural identity, the
legal status of noteworthy heritage sites and the shifting
character of museums in a post-colonial world.
A history major from Beacon, NY, Van Hoy graduated from St.
John’s with a 3.99 GPA, summa cum laude honors and the Silver Medal
award — bestowed each spring to the senior with the second-highest
GPA of his class. But the 22-year-old scholar says it was his
semester at the St. John’s Rome Campus that ultimately caused him
to blossom into a complete student, deepening his awe and curiosity
about the infancy of mankind.
“Rome exposed me to a world that had previously only inhabited
the pages of textbooks and the depths of my imagination,” says Van
Hoy. “The juxtaposition of ancient and modern made me wonder about
humanity’s dialogue with the past. Going to Rome was the best
decision I made at St. John’s.”
The St. John’s Rome Graduate Center offers undergraduates the
opportunity to study abroad for a semester and administers a
complete course load for graduate students enrolled in the M.B.A.
and Government and Politics M.A. programs.
The ‘Write’ Stuff
Though Van Hoy’s application to Cambridge was spawned by his time
spent in Rome, it was signalized by his time spent at the St.
John’s Writing Center. Calling his senior-year role as tutor for
the Writing Center “my other truly formative experience at St.
John’s,” Van Hoy recalls the impact it had on his academic
“The time I spent in the Writing Center was invaluable. It
became my home away from home,” he recalls. “It allowed me to
improve my own writing skills and realize that knowledge is useless
without the ability to express it in a coherent and compelling
manner.” The Cambridge scholar then reflects on his one-on-one work
with the many St. John’s students whose primary language was not
English. “The University prides itself on an amazingly diverse
enrollment, so it felt good to help these [ethnic] students in a
meaningful way,” he says.
Since Van Hoy’s departure, the Writing Center has undergone a
marked transformation. Beginning this semester, the Center is now
the feature component of the newly formed Institute for Writing Studies,
which operates on both the Queens and Staten Island campuses and
oversees the new First-Year Writing Program (devoted to the quality
and cohesion of all introductory English and writing courses) and
is in the process of finalizing the new Writing Across the
Curriculum Program (designed to improve students’ writing in
courses other than English).
This summer, St. John’s hired 15 full-time faculty members with
extensive writing backgrounds, and the University plans to hire
several more before the start of the 2007-08 academic year.
“It’s very exciting to see capital resources invested in the
Writing Institute,” notes Van Hoy, who enjoys tracking the
developments of St. John’s while abroad. “This will benefit the
entire student body and increase the University’s profile in the
professional world as a school that produces top-quality
And top-quality scholars, according to a few of Van Hoy’s former
professors who have little doubt about the impact he will make in
“Jesse has the imagination and work ethic to be a huge success
as a British postgraduate,” says
Konrad Tuchscherer, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History and
Director of the Graduate
Admissions Assistance Program (GAAP), who taught and mentored
Van Hoy at St. John’s and received his own Ph.D. from the
University of London. “With his St. John’s education behind him and
such wonderful opportunities unfolding in front of him, Jesse is on
track to make a mark on the world.”
The St. John’s Graduate Admission Assistance Program was
instituted in 2004 to serve as a resource for juniors and seniors
preparing to submit applications for graduate schools, competitive
scholarships and fellowships.
In Fine Company
The University of Cambridge is generally considered one of the
world’s most academically prestigious universities, and the museum
program is highly selective; last year it admitted approximately
one-third of its applicants, and half of the Americans currently
enrolled matriculated from Ivy League schools. But despite his
claims of being “intimidated” by the prospect of applying to
Cambridge, Van Hoy now finds a way to take it all in stride.
“I’d like to think that I can serve as an example that you don’t
need an Ivy League institution in order to get to where you want to
go in life,” he says. “I’m happy I chose St. John’s. If you take
advantage of its opportunities, it can be a stepping stone to the
upper-echelons of higher education.”