The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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The Class of 2020: Honoring SJU Graduates


Wearing a cap and gown and watching Commencement on a computer does not have the same pomp and circumstance as shaking University President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw’s hand while receiving a diploma. Regardless, seniors deserve to be celebrated. The COVID-19 pandemic took away seniors’ final moments at St. John’s, including their Commencement ceremony. Scattered all over the world, Johnnies are all wishing they could be back on the Great Lawn or having Dunkin with their friends in Marillac just one last time. The Torch asked seniors to share their favorite memories and experiences during their time at St. John’s, as well as any special shout-outs they wanted to mention. Below are  some of the responses that the Class of 2020 shared with us. To all the new St. John’s alumni, this one’s for you. We hear you, see you and wish you all the best. Congratulations! 


Amanda Negretti, Bachelor of Science in Advertising Communication

“As a December 2019 graduate, I got to experience my ‘endings,’ my last [Torch]  issue, my last MSG game, my last big final. I feel for the spring graduates that didn’t get the time to finish their last undergraduate semester the way they were meant to.”

“I got to expand on my photography and became a leader for the first time, as Photo Editor of the Torch. I sat on the court of the iconic Madison Square Garden Arena, next to big-time sports photographers who have given me tips and advice along the way. I was able to continue my kickline career from high school to college when I joined the Stormettes. Performing at the Winter Carnival where I felt like my childhood dream of being a Rockette was close to being attained.

“I am going to miss the feeling of being on campus and being a part of it. The next time that I step foot on campus, I will be an alumna, which is a strange thought.”


Alicia Villafana Bachelor of Science in Marketing and International Studies

“The end of senior year was like that of no other. Nobody expected it to end like this, or could have predicted that it would end like this. With that being said, the class of 2020 will forever live on as a class known for its strength and resilience.”

We are unforgettable and must remember to look for the silver lining in the perceived darkness. Our journey and culmination of all the hard work each of us put in over the past four years is what matters most. Our futures are bright, and to my fellow graduates, congratulations!”


Balwant Kingra, Bachelor of Science in Biology and Minor in International Studies 

“During my time at St. John’s, I have made a bunch of great memories. Something I look forward to every spring semester when the weather gets nice and [is when] everyone is out on the great lawn. Although this may seem insignificant, I find it so beautiful to see others outside taking a breather from school to share some laughs with their friends. I feel such a positive vibe when I’m there with my friends just enjoying the fresh air and seeing others around me doing the same.”


Jason Alonso, Bachelor of Science in Sport Management

“In my last year at St. John’s I had a theology class with this girl, she was super cute and we just started talking in class more and helping each other with some work. Eventually we started hanging out outside of class and we started dating and have been for six months now. This was a huge part of my last year at St. John’s and it made it so much better. I will always remember that theology class.


Morgan C. Mullings, Bachelor of Science in Journalism 


“St. John’s was where I met my best friends. I was part of Sinai’s Radiant Liturgical Dance ministry, which has been at SJU for a long time. Learning with them, teaching them, praying with them and worshipping with them was the greatest experience. I think what I miss the most is learning the dances with them and perfecting them, practicing over and over.”

“I also miss the yearly showcase. Preparing all year for that one moment, being in the Little Theatre practicing until midnight was hard work. It was always worth it. Using your body to express your faith and testimony is an extremely vulnerable experience and act, and Sinai combined that with excellence in technique, choreography and leadership. I have that sisterhood for the rest of my life, and I can’t wait to come back for next year’s showcase.”

“Congratulations to the new e-board! You’re meant to be where you are right now, and God is everywhere in your organization.”


Nataly Lado, Bachelor of Science in Public Relations

“I will miss you Saint John’s. In these four years I’ve experienced many moments that made my college experience special. Throughout my time in the University my pride in being a Johnnie grew with each passing year.”

“There was always something new to learn about Saint John’s thanks to the privilege I was granted serving as a Student Ambassador. It seemed that my school spirit wore off on visitors. One time, when my tour ended I was thanked with applause from both prospective students and parents.”

“It was in Saint John’s that I met wonderful people. The first day of classes in the spring semester of freshman year I was sitting in a science class and the professor asked the students to draw a picture of what we believe a scientist looks like. I asked a girl next to an empty seat if she would mind if I moved next to her … little would I ever know that thanks to that drawing I would meet my closest friend!”


“It was in Saint John’s that I completed my dream of going to Italy since I started learning Italian in high school …. The experience abroad formed my friendship with people I consider like family.”

My gratitude extends to professors, Dean Theresa Peros and career advisor Eliza Zervos who have helped me with shaping my professional career growth. Thank you Saint John’s for the amazing moments I will cherish forever.” 


Nusrat Nasir, Bachelor of Science in Biology and Minor in English

“I want to thank my family, my friends, my former teachers and the professors at St. John’s University for supporting me and educating me.”

“Being a Muslim is of utmost importance to me and I wanted to share a quote that really got me through my life including my time at St. John’s University. The quote is, ‘But they plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners’ (Qur’an 8:30).”


Julia Gilmore, Bachelor of Science in Marketing  

“My favorite SJU memory is hanging out on the beautiful Great Lawn with a group of friends last springtime. The Great Lawn provides a beautiful study space especially during finals week! I remember talking and laughing with my friends on the Great Lawn and instantly forget about the stress I felt during that finals week.


Spencer Clinton,  Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Minor in Photojournalism

“I moved from California to New York City to attend St. John’s. I wanted a change of scenery and a new perspective. That is exactly what I found. In my four years at SJU, I made so many friendships, had an abundance of new experiences and an equal amount of hardships.”

“The class of 2020 was robbed of physically completing their college experience, but the bonds that we created will last a lifetime. I’m grateful for my college experience and am proud to have graduated in such unprecedented times. Let this show that in the face of hardship, we will persevere.

“A special thank you to the Torch for being my second family for three years.”


Theresa Vogel, Bachelor of Arts in English and a triple Minor in French, Theology and Business Administration

“I applied to St. John’s on a whim because an Admissions Counselor came to my high school for an Instant Decision Day. I had never considered the school and had never even been to the campus before.”

“The first time I went to campus was at Accepted Student Day, and that day, I decided that I would be going to St. John’s. I went into St. John’s undecided on my major … I picked up three minors along the way — French, Theology, and Business Administration — so in a way, I suppose I still am undecided! I also had the incredible opportunity to study abroad in spring 2018 in Paris, France, at the St. John’s University Paris campus in the heart of Paris.”

“On campus, I had the honor of being involved with many Campus Ministry activities such as service, Liturgical Ministry, Catholic Student Community, VITAL and St. Vincent de Paul Society. I even got to be on Catholic Faith Network twice to represent the Catholic Scholars Program.”

“I worked as a Copyeditor for the Torch for a semester in fall 2019, and although my time there was unfortunately short-lived, I met so many amazing people who were so encouraging and fun to be around, even late into the night! You all have done a great job throughout this uncertain time, and I know that the Torch will continue to flourish.”

“Like many college students, there have been many ups and downs, but I would not have had these experiences without St. John’s, and I am so glad that I decided to go here. Congrats to my fellow classmates. The Class of 2020 is resilient and strong, and I am proud to be a part of it!


From 2020-2021 E-Board: Special thanks to Morgan C. Mullings, Amanda Negretti, Spencer Clinton, Destinee Scott, Jenna Woo, Andreina Rodriguez, Amber Borden, Nataly Lado and Theresa Vogel for their work and contributions to The Torch during their time at St. John’s University. 



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Sophie Williams
Sophie Williams, Digital Editor
Sophie is a senior majoring in Photojournalism with a minor in Public Relations. She has held several positions including Staff Writer, Photographer, Assistant Features Editor, Co-Features Editor and Features Editor. Sophie is serving as the Digital Editor this year and hopes to revamp the Torch's digital presence. Some fun facts: Gossip Girl is her favorite TV show, she is an educator at lululemon Soho and her enneagram is Type 6. You can reach Sophie at [email protected].
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