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

Repole Proud to Return to Commencement

In 1991, Mike Repole walked across a stage on the Great Lawn and received his diploma. In a few weeks he’ll be back – speaking to a new generation of graduates.

Repole is one of the University’s most active and successful alumni. In 1996, he co-founded Glaceau, the parent company of Vitamin Water. Repole sold the company in 2007 for $4.1 billion, and currently owns Pirate Brands and the Energy Kitchen restaurant chain.

Repole will address the class of 2011 at the May 15 commencement ceremony, and will receive an honorary doctorate. Honorary degrees are given in recognition of an individual’s accomplishments. Repole said he was honored when University President Father Donald Harrington asked him to speak at the ceremony.  

“It takes a lot for me to be speechless,” Repole said, “but I was borderline speechless.”

In 2009, Repole was awarded one of the top University awards, the President’s Medal to honor his personal successes and dedication to the University. When he was told that he was being given the award, Repole said that he never pictured himself putting on a cap and gown again.

Commencement will be filled with many emotions for Repole. He said addressing students who are sitting where he sat two decades ago is an “interesting coincidence.” Repole said he hasn’t yet thought about the speech he will give, but he will not talk about “a text book issue.”

Repole graduated with a 2.2 GPA and a degree in Sports Management. He has remained heavily involved at St. John’s, from spreading the University’s name to helping revive the Men’s Basketball team.

Repole describes the Red Storm as the “front porch” of the University. An unsuccessful team reflects poorly on the University. “If you think the front porch doesn’t look good, you’re gonna think the inside of the house doesn’t look good,” he said.  

While Repole grew up a fan of the Red Storm, he says his commitment to the University goes beyond the athletic success. As an alumnus, Repole said he felt frustrated to see the University’s various academic successes underappreciated because of the basketball team’s woes.

Repole said he is “happy but not content.” He constantly strives to be the best person possible, whether it is in business or his personal life.

Repole said being content means there is nothing else to which to strive. He said he is happy with everything he has done so far but that he is “always going to be driven to do more.”

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