Matthew Russo didn’t waste any time getting involved at St. John’s University.
Since he began as a freshman last year, Russo, a native of Flushing, Queens, has been highly involved in campus activities.
“It started with orientation and ever since then everything else kind of fell into place,” Russo said.
His involvement stemmed from dissatisfaction with the university’s residence halls.
“When we got here, nothing worked,” Russo said. “It started as kind of a complaint letter.”
Russo took the letter to the Residence Hall Director for Briarwood Hall, Lucy Pesce. Also present for this was Russo’s RA that year, George Coleman. Both pushed Russo to get involved.
As president of the Residence Hall Association (RHA) last year, Russo was given a voice to assist with the problems he was concerned about. RHA was new to the university at the time, their purpose being to help resident students.
“I was on the founding executive board of the Residence Hall Association,” Russo said. “I started as the Student Government representative, moved to vice president and eventually to president.”
The work put in by Russo and the other founding members during that first year proved to be worth it with RHA having a successful beginning.
“We hit many bumps in the road, but overall we got a lot accomplished,” said Russo. “We also gained a lot of ground in getting the organization to stand by itself and getting people to understand who we are and what we’re all about.”
During his upcoming sophomore year, Russo will act as president of RHA until its first elections. Throughout the course of the year, Russo hopes to expand interest and membership of RHA along with increasing programming capacities on the entire campus, and not just in the residential village.
“Next year I hope that the organization will continue to grow,” Russo said. “I hope that we will be able to increase interest and members.”
Russo will spend this summer as an orientation leader, helping to pass along the excitement for St. John’s that he received at his orientation.
“I had a very good orientation my first year,” said Russo. “It gave me a lot of excitement about my upcoming year and showed me how much I could really learn at St. John’s more than academically. I want to give that back to someone else.”
During his sophomore year, Russo will act as a Resident Assistant (RA). In this role, Russo would like to show students that college life is more than going to class and coming back to a dorm room.
“In order to succeed, you have to work hard,” Russo said. “It’s getting involved in stuff. It’s time management.”
In Student Government, Russo took part as a representative of RHA, voicing opinions from that point of view.
Had it not been for the recommendation by his mother and a successful visit to St. John’s, Russo may have never found his home there.
“I went around looking at schools and my mother recommended it [St. John’s],” said Russo. “I found that everybody was just so much more receptive of you as a student here.”
Russo is a government and politics major who hopes to eventually go to law school, although he is not sure what type of law he will practice.
“I prefer the more corporate law, but I don’t know yet,” Russo said. “We’ll see what happens.”
During his remaining years at St. John’s, Russo would like to become more involved in Student Government.
“I think it’s a good opportunity to try and grow in a different area,” Russo said.
Being involved is something that Russo sees as an important factor in college life and is something that he encourages others to do.
“In order to be successful, you have to get involved,” Russo said.