Alumni Program Hosts Trip to D.C.

The Alumni Insider’s View: Washington, D.C. trip, held from Oct. 19 through Oct. 21, introduced students to career options and futures in the nation’s capital. They listened to panel discussions from professionals on various topics and toured the Capitol Building as well as Secret Service headquarters.

It was also the first time in the program’s 31 years that Pharmacy students had their own designated trip. Normally, a percentage of the normally 50 students were represented by the Pharmacy program. Mark Andrews, Associate Director of Institutional Advacement, said missing three days of classes impacted pharmacy students. As a result, a trip from Wednesday to Thursday was designed for them.

The separate program was also sparked by the program’s relationship with MedImmune, a medical company that specializes in immunization vaccines. Andrews said the connection with the company could be used to give a larger number of students in the field a closer look at potential career options.

MedImmune’s connection to the University is through Robert Fuentes, director of Medical Information for the company. Fuentes spoke on two panels before both sets of students on Oct. 19, moderating the first. He graduated from the Pharmacy program, as part of a five-year program, in 1977 – the same year as Dr. Robert Mangione, currently the Dean of the College of Allied Health and Pharmacy.

On Oct. 20, students attended three consecutive panels on different areas of government work. The first was a panel on law enforcement, with four alumni in different areas of the field mixing their careers with these potential students have when looking for work. The second panel discussed various areas of employment in the private sector. The final was a panel on military service, should it be signing up or as a civilian.

During the second half of each panel, the floorwas open to the students to ask questions on either the panelists’ careers or advice on getting into one’s respective field.

Sophia Petrillo, a senior Childhood Education major, said she especially liked the military panel, which featured both a civilian lawyer and a lawyer for the Marine Corps. Petrillo said she has recently taken the LSAT and was reassured that alumni were able to succeed and live out their life dreams.

“I thought it was a valuable learning experience,” she said. “I enjoyed learning about the depth of the field of law and the things you could do with it.”

Kevin Poon, a ROTC cadet and History major, asked the panel questions pertaining to his service after college. Poon said he thought the panel was able to give him general advice on what it will be like as an officer following his graduation.

One of the best pieces of advices Poon said the panel gave him was, “making a decision even if it’s a wrong one is better than making no decision. Little tips like this will pay dividends later on.”

From there, students toured the Capitol Building. The tour was arranged by Brian Browne, vice president of Government Relations. Government Relations organized the trip with the help of Representative Gregory Meeks of the Sixth District. Students were able to see the inside of the Capitol dome as well as tour the original room used for the House of Representatives.

Later that evening, students and Alumni met to network and discuss their time at St. John’s. During the mixer, held in a private room at Clyde’s – a restaurant in the Penn Quarter section, the Joseph P. Addabbo and Arthur B. Carton Scholarships were awarded to five winners for essays they had written.

Captain Anton Stubbs of the US Marine Corps Reserves, spoke at the panel and announced the winners. Capt. Stubbs remarked that the essays were viewed by the members of the D.C. Alumni chapter for both the essay’s message and citations.

Paige Ingram was one of the three winners present at the event. The others were Mitchell Zink, a student from the Staten Island campus, and James Finnegan. Ingram explained that on their applications, students were given the option to write a researched essay on one of five provided topics.
Browne, who attended the trip when he was a student in the early 90’s, began the event by noting that the D.C. Alumni chapter was the largest outside of New York.

Browne told the group that when he had attended the trip as a senior, students were given the name of an alumni to stay with and responsible for finding their way to Washington. Now, students travel together on a coach bus and stay at the Rennaissance DuPont Circle Hotel.

“Having been a participant when I was an undergraduate,” he said after the event, “I an happy and proud to see how the program has improved and expanded over the years.”

On the final day of the trip, students toured the Security and Exchange Commission. From there, they listened to Christy Gleason, an Advisor to Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) – who now holds Vice President Joseph Biden’s former seat. Gleason, who graduated from the Law School in 1996, explained some of the different ways of getting into politics, like working on a campaign staff or using a specialty such as communications. Lastly, they toured the Secret Service building, which was a first for the Insider’s View trip.