More than 2,300 undergraduate degrees were conferred to students of St. John’s University during its 152nd Commencement celebration before 14,000 guests on the Great Lawn on the Hillcrest campus on Sunday, May 22.
The achievements of the Class of 2022 were recognized in a ceremony that honored students from both the Queens and Staten Island campuses and graduates ranging in age from 19 to 64 and included more than 100 international students.
University Vice Provost and Interim Chief Diversity Officer Andrè McKenzie, Ed.D., served as a distinguished speaker and urged the new graduates to “embrace the challenges and opportunities that new environments bring.”
Dr. McKenzie, a long-serving member of the university’s administration and an authority on issues of diversity, education, equity and inclusion, was honored with the President’s Medal, presented by University President Reverend Brian J. Shanley, O.P.
Reflecting on the historic Vincentian mission of the university, Dr. McKenzie reminded graduates to “be grateful for the blessings you have received throughout your life. Let your sense of gratitude be the driving force to serve others, as did St. Vincent de Paul,” the 17th-century French Catholic priest who dedicated himself to serving the poor.
During his welcoming remarks, Fr. Shanley told graduates they had demonstrated grace and maturity in the face of four challenging years, marked by the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If you think about your mind four years ago, and your mind today, there should be a vast difference,” Shanley said. “One of the marks of intellectual maturity is the ability to change your mind in the face of evidence, data and dialogue. You have learned how to learn, and that process must continue for the rest of your life.”
Degrees were conferred to 2,343 undergrads, 58 of them earning a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade point average, while 56% of the Class of 2022 graduated with honors. A total of 340 graduates studied abroad during their studies, 111 graduates from 33 foreign countries and 72 graduates were student-athletes. Additionally, 80 graduates served in the United States Armed Forces and 20 ROTC graduates were commissioned as officers in the United States Army.
Student speaker Hajara Dar urged members of the Class of 2020 to go forward in life carrying the principles that were reinforced during their time at St. John’s.
“When we do what we believe is right, we move the world forward in a positive direction and we make our own history,” Dar said.