Born in Tashkent, Russia, Angela Shamuelova came to Queens when she was eight years old. Residing in Rego Park, it seemed imminent that she would one day be attending St. John’s University. “My sister graduated from St. John’s seven years ago with a degree in speech pathology, and I had always heard positive things about the university from other friends,” Shamuelova said.
So, were the many voices of SJU advocates correct or were they just filling Shamuelova’s head with a faint fiction? Shamuelova feels that they were correct. She enjoys the campus’ activities and the many opportunities that she is allotted within the university. Shamuelova also appreciates the school’s overall positive attitude and atmosphere.”This school is my home away from home,” she said. “Everyone is friendly and supportive and good people.”
A speech pathology major, Shamuelova always struggled between educational norms in her family and making herself happy. “Everyone in my family is a dentist. My mom also encouraged me to be a dentist, but I knew that I wanted to work with children.”
As a freshman, she took pre-med courses, but finally realized that being a dentist was not what she wanted to do. With positive reactions from her two older sisters, and her parents continually stressing the importance of education, Shamuelova was given the encouragement she needed to pursue the major of her choice. She also plans to earn her master’s degree.
Now a junior, Shamuelova looks back on her past two years at St. John’s with affection. Becoming the vice president of the Jewish Student Association last year was a major accomplishment for her and is, so far, her most memorable moment. Upon entering the position, Shamuelova organized a campus-wide Jewish Heritage Day last April, which included an outside presentation that gave those in attendance a realistic view of the Holocaust. Having so many students participate in the special day greatly affected Shamuelova.
“To have people come and learn about my religion and the Holocaust was important to me,” said Shamuelova. “I like influencing people.” Shamuelova is just as involved in her community as she is on campus. She regularly attends temple and is an active member of the Beth Gavriel Bucharian Youth Congregation.
“We meet once a week to discuss marriage, family and congregation on Wednesdays,” she said.
Behind every student leader, there tends to be a mentor who helps shape him or her into a better person of vision, purpose and good will. For Shamuelova, there are two people who serve that purpose in her life: Rabbi Leonard Stern, an adjunct professor and director of Special Events for the theology department, Lois Horan. “They’ve always been there for me with the Jewish Students Association, guiding me and giving me advice. They’ve been great mentors,” she said.
Shamuelova offers this infamous pearl of wisdom to the student body: get involved. It is constantly said, but there must be some truth behind this tidbit of advice. “Join clubs and utilize the activities offered to you,” she said. “Reach out and be friendly. One person can’t do it all, so make connections.”