Saint Joseph's University

What I Learned During My Freshman Year at SJU

I will be sincere. I would never have believed that after only two semesters I would have such good friends, such meaningful relationships with professors, and such a deep desire to return to Hawk Hill for my sophomore year. That is the power of St. Joe’s. No matter who you are, where you are from, what you are studying, or whether SJU was your first or last choice for college, St. Joe’s has an undeniable ability to forge community and changing its students for the better.


My first year at SJU has made me a better person, a person more fully alive. First and foremost, St. Joe’s has taught me the importance of relationships. Beginning my St. Joe’s career with the Philadelphia Service Immersion Program (PSIP), I was extremely nervous, did not know many other students and was unsure. Nine months later, I said goodbye to many close friends, many of whom attended PSIP alongside me. Due to the University’s Jesuit emphasis on community, SJU students are always open to new relationships and friendships. Personally, I was embraced by the warmth of the Campus Ministry community in Wolfington Hall. I met new people and made best friends through my time on PSIP, the Winter Immersion Program (WIP) and Weekly Service. In keeping with the Ignatian pillar of encounter, the SJU community instilled in me an appreciation for others, care for the marginalized, and a love for my friends.


It is essential to mention that this idea of a relationship is not only relevant to my peers, but also to the faculty, staff, and professors at St. Joe’s. The small and intimate class sizes of SJU allowed me to know all my professors and to be known by all my professors. As a college student, you are an adult and must be responsible for your own actions, grades, and schedule. However, the professors at St. Joe’s elicited care and concern for students and the subject material that I did not expect to see at the collegiate level. My professors clearly enjoyed teaching, were experts in their field, and liked speaking with students about the course material outside of class.


SJU offers overwhelming amounts of opportunities. I was stunned after only two semesters by the number of internship advice, career development outreach, research positions, service events, and prominent speakers invited to campus. As a freshman, I was chosen to participate in the Winter Immersion Program and traveled to El Salvador with eleven other students. We formed relationships with the people of different Salvadoran communities and prayed with them. Now, we are working to connect women entrepreneurs from the communities with American Fair-Trade markets.


Regarding professional development, I really wanted to secure a summer internship after my freshman year. I spoke to one of my Political Science professors during office hours. He immediately reviewed my resume with me and offered interview advice. His assistance helped me earn a summer position at the Pennsylvania Second District Congressional Office.


Deciding to attend St. Joe’s was the best decision I ever made. I did not think that it was possible to form the relationships and close friendships that I did after only two semesters. I did not realize that I would be able to hear talks from prominent government leaders, obtain a summer internship, and encounter new cultures after only one year in college. I have learned more in a year at SJU than I have in a lifetime. I love St. Joe’s and I can’t wait to see what the next three years bring.

-Paul Koenig, Class of 2022