Vitaminwater co-founder Mike Repole will deliver this year’s Queens campus commencement speech, while CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo will deliver a commencement address to graduates at the Staten Island ceremony, St. John’s officials told the Torch on Friday.
“Both individuals are self-made success stories and their words of wisdom coupled with the academic accomplishments of our graduates will make for a special celebration for the Class of 2011,” said University president Rev. Donald Harrington in a press release.
Repole, who graduated from St. John’s in 1991, co-founded Glacéau Vitaminwater before selling the company to Coca Cola in 2007 for $4.1 billion. Repole is currently the chairman and operating manager of Pirate Brands, the company responsible for Pirate’s Booty health snacks. He is also a chairman and majority owner of Energy Kitchen, a New York area fast-food chain.
The entrepreneur’s endeavors have also reached into the world of sports. In January, the New York Daily News reported Repole’s interest in purchasing a portion of the New York Mets, while his race horse, Uncle Mo, is a favorite to win this year’s Kentucky Derby race. Repole will receive an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science Degree at the Queens graduation on May 15, which he will add to the President’s Medal he received at the 2009 commencement.
Bartiromo, who’s weekly show “The Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo is one of CNBC’s highest rated programs, will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters at the Staten Island ceremony on May 14. Bartiromo has worked as a journalist covering Wall Street for over 20 years. In addition to her network show, she also serves as an anchor and managing editor for “Wall Street Journal Report with Maria Bartiromo.”
The announcement of commencement speakers comes just four days after the University reversed its controversial decision to not call names at this year’s ceremonies.
The Staten Island commencement will be held on Saturday, May 14 at 10 a.m., while the Queens ceremony will take place on Sunday, May 15 at 11:00 a.m. According to St. John’s media relations, the Queens ceremony is expected to draw approximately 20,000 people between the graduates, their family members and administrators.