May 13, 2011
QUEENS, N.Y. - St. John's celebrates its 141st commencement exercises this weekend, and nine Red Storm men's basketball student-athletes will cross the stage. The largest graduating class of basketball players in school history will be joined on the dais by head coach Steve Lavin, Hall of Fame Coach Lou Carnesecca and Mike Repole, co-founder of Glacéau vitaminwater, who will be the Commencement Speaker at the University's graduation ceremony on Sunday, May 15.
"St. John's 2011 Commencement will be a special day for our athletics program," said Chris Monasch, Director of Athletics. "We are sending off a number of student-athletes who authored terrific careers for the Red Storm. Our men's basketball program will be represented on stage by Coach Lavin, Coach Carnesecca and the class that helped restore St. John's to national prominence. And Mike Repole, a great friend and benefactor to our University, is sure to deliver a fantastic address."
A total of 44 St. John's student-athletes will participate in Sunday's commencement - including women's basketball players Centhya "Coco" Hart (Criminal Justice) and Sky Lindsay (Finance) - and men's basketball players Malik Boothe (Communications), Justin Burrell (Communications), Kevin Clark (Communications), Dele Coker (Marketing), Sean Evans (Public Relations), Dwight Hardy (Sports Management), Paris Horne (Sports Management) and D.J. Kennedy (Public Relations).
Rob Thomas (Human Services), who served as an undergraduate student assistant this season, will also cross the stage on Sunday. Thomas' commencement signifies a victory over hardship and adversity - poverty and homelessness during his younger years, dyslexia and learning disabilities growing up as a student, and a serious knee injury several months before his first game at St. John's - to become a college basketball player now graduating.
Justin Brownlee (Sports Management) will not participate in Sunday's commencement, but can complete his degree requirements during St. John's summer sessions.
Repole, a St. John's graduate (`91 SVC) and entrepreneur who has made his mark in the business world, will receive an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science Degree. Repole co-founded bottled water company Glacéau vitaminwater and turned it into a $4.1 billion money-making endeavor in 2007 after its sale to the Coca Cola Company. He now serves as chairman of the board and operating manager of Pirate Brands, maker of the healthy snack food Pirate's Booty, and chairman and majority owner of Energy Kitchen, a chain of healthy fast-food restaurants throughout the New York metropolitan area.
Carnesecca will be honored for his more than 50-years of service to his alma mater. The Hall of Famer, who has been a part of the University fabric for a half-century, is known worldwide for his 526 collegiate wins and a trip to the 1985 NCAA Final Four. He has served as goodwill ambassador for the game of amateur basketball and St. John's University for his entire adult life.
"Lou is St. John's. We celebrate his 50 years of service to the University, love for St. John's and passion for the game globally which has transformed him into an international icon. He has touched the lives of so many and fits perfectly with our Vincentian mission and service to the community at home and around the world," said Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M., President of St. John's University, who will lead Commencement Exercises and confer all degrees and special presentations.