Campus Spotlight

The year 2007 is being called the year of heroes, but St. John’s University’s own Andrew Ferdinandi was ahead of the game in late 2006. On Nov. 9, Ferdinandi, an assistant professor in the department of human services and counseling in the School of Education, swiftly went to the aid of a young boy named Antonio who suffered a heart attack and collapsed on the street. Ferdinandi performed CPR on the 11-year-old from P.S. 224, resuscitating the boy and saving his life, according to ambulance workers.

“I didn’t do anything dramatic,” was Ferdinandi’s response to all the attention he has been receiving since his heroic deed. The professor recalled that on that particular day, he had left a book at home that he needed for one of his classes.

“I could have conducted my class without it, but for some reason I wanted to go back for it,” he said. “I never took Bell Boulevard before and even to this day I ask myself ‘why did I make that left turn?'”

While Ferdinandi does not consider himself religious, he does consider himself to be a very spiritual person.

“Someone was meant to be there and that person just happened to be me,” he said.

Ferdinandi said he learned CPR many years ago at a class that he took at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. “I never used my training until that day,” he said.

Ferdinandi compared his remembrance of the life-saving procedure to riding a bicycle: once you learn it, you never forget. He noted that he was only concerned about the well-being of the child and never thought he would receive so much recognition for what he calls a “simple deed.”

“I’m not a hero,” Ferdinandi said. “A hero is a single mother working two or three jobs and parents who kill themselves to give their children a better life.”

The professor compared this situation with how hard his parents worked to make sure he had a better life when they came to America from Italy.

“If we don’t care about each other, no one will care for us,” Ferdinandi said. “I would have felt ashamed if I didn’t do anything.”

The professor has a 12-year-old son and said that this experience has made him value his own family even more.
“I would want someone to do that same thing for my son if he was in that situation,” he said. “There is so much destruction in the world. If we countered all of that negativity with positivity we could turn all that destructive behavior into constructive behavior.”

Ferdinandi continues to keep in contact with the family of the child he rescued. He added that he is waiting for Antonio to get better before he goes to the hospital to see him.

The professor continues to feel overwhelmed by all of the notoriety he continues to receive. In December, Antonio’s school held an assembly for Ferdinandi and he received a proclamation from Assemblyman Mark Weprin.

Ferdinandi is just thankful that he was in the right place at the right time.

“I am just an ordinary person who had a chance to do something and I did it,” Ferdinandi said.