FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM MAY 30, 2019 • KIDS & EDUCATION • THE QUEENS COURIER 31 kids & education
Photos courtesy of St. John's University
ST. JOHN’S CAPS A BIG YEAR
University in Jamaica graduates largest class in three decades
BY BILL PARRY
More than 2,300 undergraduate degrees
were conferred to students on the Great
Lawn at St. John’s University during its
149th annual commencement Sunday.
More than 14,000 guests gathered to
watch family and friends and commemorate
their accomplishments of the class
of 2019, the largest graduating class at St.
John’s in three decades.
“Today commemorates all of our hard
work and accomplishments,” sport management
major Anthony Paventa said.
“What is really special is having faculty,
administrators, family and friends in
the same place at one time. All of them
have helped us along the way. Th is is a
In his congratulatory remarks, St.
John’s University President Dr. Conrado
Gempeshaw, Ph.D, said the class of 2019
featured 60 student-athletes, as well as 128
international students from 35 countries.
More than 600 students studied abroad
and a total of 121 graduates served in the
“At St. John’s, I am very proud to
say we turn hope and aspirations into
achievements and accomplishments,”
Gempeshaw said. “Today, because of your
hard work and perseverance, we celebrate
achievements that will hopefully
serve as the foundation for your success
in the future, both personally and professionally.”
More than 40 percent of the class graduated
with honors: 296 summa cum laude,
296 magna cum laude and 428 cum laude.
In addition, 22 students graduated with a
perfect 4.0 cumulative grade point average.
Margaret M. Keane, a member of the
class of 1981 and CEO of Synchrony,
one of the nation’s premier consumer
fi nancial services company, delivered the
Commencement address. During her
speech, Keane, the secretary of the university’s
board of trustees, highlighted many
of the changes she has witnessed both at
St. John’s and in Queens.
“Today, this school has been transformed.
You come from many diff erent
backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures,”
she said. “Th is is one of the most diverse
colleges in the United States.”
Courtesy of SJU
Keane is a Queens native who regularly
ranks on Fortune’s “Most Powerful
Women” list and is one of only 24 female
CEOs in the Fortune 500. Her earliest
professional experience was in debt collection
at Citibank, and she told the graduates
the experience aff ected her deeply.
“Whether we are rich or poor, famous
or unknown, we are all trying to make
it through life,” Keane said. “When you
remember that, you approach the world
with a bit more kindness. Everyone is an
individual, and you do not always know
what they face. I try to bring more kindness
and empathy into who I am and what
I do. I learned that right here at St. John’s.”
Communication arts major Beverly
Danquah, the student speaker, proudly
proclaimed, “If there is anything I know
for sure about the class of 2019, it is that
we are passionate and undaunted. We
have the work ethic to match our ambitions.”
St. John's University conferred 2,382 undergraduate degrees on May 19, the most in three decades.
Margaret Keane and Dr. Conrado Gempeshaw