President’s Society Members Reflect on College Experience: Part II


Induction into the President’s Society is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a St. John’s University student. Throughout their final year of studies at St. John’s, inductees support the President at various events and act as ambassadors of the University. Now, as these graduating students prepare for life after St. John’s, we asked them to talk about the University and the impact it has made on their lives.

Five President's Society grads against a red background
May 20, 2021

Rebeka Humbrecht

Rebeka Humbrect in her cap and gown

Communication Arts, English
Minor in Social Justice

What is your proudest accomplishment over the past year?
I completed my four-year research project for the Ozanam Scholars program, which focused on so-called “period poverty,” or the unequal access to menstrual health education and hygiene products. I conducted research and implemented a pilot project to help combat period poverty on Staten Island, NY. I’m proud that I was able to adapt my research, as necessary, and continue to make changes happen on Staten Island. 

What advice do you have for incoming students? 
Get involved in clubs and organizations. It’s the primary way I made friends, networked, and found leadership experiences. Do not be afraid to attend a few meetings of a club that you’re not sure you will like. 

What was your favorite class and why? 
My favorite class was The Gothic with Rachel Hollander, Ph.D., Associate Professor, English, St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. This class focused on Gothic literature (think Frankenstein), which meant each novel always had twists and something supernatural going on. 

How has the pandemic changed you? 
Before the pandemic, I was already a super independent person, and I was good at managing my time. Due to the pandemic, I actually allowed myself to rely on other people a bit more. Being away from people makes you realize just how important a support system is in all aspects of life. Now, I’m able to more effectively be a part of a team and lean on others when needed. 

Matthew Kirschenheiter

Matthew Kirschenheiter in his cap and gown

Childhood Education

What is your proudest accomplishment over the past year?
I am proudest of the fact that my teammates and I on the St. John’s Dance Team were able to come together and compete virtually for the Universal Dance Association College National Championship! 

What advice do you have for incoming students? 
My biggest piece of advice would be to savor every minute and find the beauty in every second. Time goes by so fast. Before you know it, it’ll all be over!

What was your favorite class and why? 
My favorite class was my student teaching seminar, because it was a great opportunity to connect with my fellow education peers and discuss everything that we work so hard for.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 
I see myself as a teacher working with special needs students and one day coaching a competitive dance team!

How has the pandemic changed you? 
The pandemic has made me realize that tomorrow is not guaranteed. Truly give your all with no regrets each day, because who knows what tomorrow will actually bring. 

Marisa Murgolo

Marisa Murgolo in her cap and gown in front of The School of Education building

Childhood Education

What is your proudest accomplishment over the past year?
My biggest accomplishment was being inducted into the President’s Society. Ever since my freshman year, it was a major goal that I set for myself. 

What advice do you have for incoming students?
Get involved on campus! Whether you’re a commuter or resident student, no matter where you’re from, no matter who you are, there is something for everyone at St. John’s. By getting involved, you will feel like you are at home when you are here. 

What was your favorite class and why?
Education 1016: The Arts in Inclusive Settings. It’s a course I took when I studied abroad at the Rome, Italy, campus. It focuses on the different elements of art, as well as various instructional approaches and methods of teaching art. Each week a pair of students would “teach” the class as if they were elementary school students. We spent time creating fun activities that related to the elements we were teaching and would take the class on field trips around Rome to view and analyze different works. 

How has the pandemic changed you?
If there is one thing the pandemic taught me, it is to never take anything for granted. I am so grateful for the reflection it has allowed me to do. There are so many things in my life that I am fortunate to have, and I now know that I need to appreciate them even more, because we never really know what tomorrow will bring.

Teresa Neri 

Teresa Neri in her grad cap and gown

Childhood Education 

What is your proudest accomplishment over the past year?
Throughout all of the hardships that the world has faced, the St. John’s community has been able to push through. I was able to stay on the executive board for two of my student organizations, remain a Resident Assistant, and be inducted into the President’s Society. I have also been student teaching in person since January. I am proud of the resilience I have shown, as well as my family and the St. John’s family. 

What advice do you have for incoming students?
These next four years are going to go by in the blink of an eye. Don’t take any second for granted. You are going to create memories that are going to last you a lifetime and be some of your best. Cherish the friends that you make and don’t dwell on the past. Take a step out of your comfort zone and try something new—you never know when you are going to be experiencing a life-changing moment. 

What was your favorite class and why?
My favorite classes met back-to-back every week—EDU 1041 First and Second Language Acquisition and Literacy Development and EDU 1042 Literacy Development for Content Area Reading and Assessment. They were both taught by Elena Jurasaite-O’Keefe, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, The School of Education. She made the class interesting and fun every single week by creating a loving and positive classroom environment.

How has the pandemic changed you?
I have become much more appreciative of what I have in life, the people I am surrounded by, and the opportunities I have been given. I think that my ability to adapt has been something that has grown now more than ever. I have had to create new ways to connect with friends and family, safely teach my students, and discover new ways to live. Every day I have learned something new about myself through my pandemic journey. 

Ryan Vent 

Ryan Vent in his grad gown holding his cap

Business Analytics

What is your proudest accomplishment over the past year?
I have been able to accomplish so much. I was inducted into the President’s Society, landed my dream job, and was honored with the Outstanding Student Achievement Award. It makes all of the stress and hard work over the past few years worthwhile, and it motivates me to continue to further myself personally and professionally. 

What advice do you have for incoming students?
Get involved as much as you can; not only will it lead you to make amazing friends and great memories, it will give your résumé substance when you look for internships. The best thing that I got involved with was community service, specifically the Midnight Runs. 

What was your favorite class and why?
My favorite class was Photography. It is one of my hobbies, but I had never taken a class. It gave me a platform to tell stories and express myself through pictures, which was something that I had never done before. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself growing into a manager or director role, where I can inspire and train a team of data visualization analysts, which is my current role. Besides furthering my career, in 10 years I see myself doing a lot of traveling and pursuing a side photography business where I tell the stories of others through pictures.

How has the pandemic changed you?
The pandemic has changed the trajectory of my career and life immensely. If not for online classes and remote working, I wouldn’t have even considered applying for the job I currently have. The pandemic has shown me that even in terrible times, if you continue to work hard and do what you are passionate about, then good things will come. Also, it has taught me to be even more goal-oriented to stay motivated and push myself to keep improving. 



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