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Meet Recent SJP Graduates

Ina Kodra, SJP '13 / Harvard University

Ina Kodra is a junior at Harvard University where she studies Human Evolutionary Biology with a focus in Mind, Brain, Behavior and a Secondary in Philosophy. She plays on the women's Varsity Rugby Team and DJs Blues shows for Harvard College radio WHRB 95.3fm. Additionally, Ina is Director of Advanced Education for Smart Women Securities, a campus organization dedicated to helping young women manage their money effectively and discover careers in finance. She has previously been involved with activism for undocumented people, as well as as psychological behavioral research on decision-making and biological research on fungi. At SJP, Ina was involved with the Writing Center, played basketball, and worked on the yearbook. 

"Looking back, English with Mr. Booth, AP Biology with Mr. Farren, AP U.S. History with Dr. Pellechia, and AP Psychology with Ms. Johnson were my favorite classes," said Ms. Kodra. "St. John's Prep AP classes prepared me to move on to college. In the future, I'd love to pursue a career which allows me to synthesize my myriad interests. Hopefully, I will be working in finance in the healthcare sector. In my spare time, I enjoy practicing hot yoga, reading, hiking, and learning how to knit."

Joseph Rodriguez, SJP ’14 / NYU College of Art & Sciences

Joseph Rodriguez received a scholarship from NYU College of Art of Sciences to attend NYU as a member of the Class of 2018. He was also offered scholarships from American University, Fordham University and St. John’s University in his senior year at SJP. At NYU, Joseph is enrolled in a business minor program at the Stern Business School. In addition to his studies, he plans to get involved in the Model United Nations Club this semester.  

Mr. Rodriguez said, “SJP prepared me to move on to college in many different ways. In freshman year, I dedicated myself to the schoolwork and my teachers encouraged me to enter honors classes. SJP teachers are incredible people and they pushed me, and my entire class, to achieve the highest level of success possible. Once we worked as hard as we could on our GPAs and SATs, the guidance department was completely hands on and incredibly helpful with college applications. I always think about and am very thankful to the SJP faculty for the patient, supportive and interested demeanor they show and how that reflects on the students. We were all anxious and biting our nails while I was waiting for my NYU letter, and I remember how many members were happy for me once I was accepted.

"The teachers and counselors at St. John's Prep helped me with what to expect in college and how to do well in that new environment,” he continued. “SJP is a school in which the teachers and faculty will really care for you and your success. All of this energy and goodwill helped make it easier to settle in and succeed in a really challenging university program, knowing I have the support of people from my high school. If I could give advice to current SJP students, it would be to pay close attention in class, participate, and ask for extra help from your teachers; because at St. John's Prep, the teachers will definitely help you and provide you all the support you require, the way they did for me.” 

Catherina Gioino, SJP '15 / Columbia University

Catherina (Cat) Gioino is currently attending Columbia University where she received a full grant through the university. As part of the Summer Bridge Program, Cat recently attended a month-long session in which she took four entry level college classes and became acclimated to the vigorous routine of a college lifestyle. 

"St. John's Prep was truly inspirational and the best school experience I have ever had. Having gone to public school in the years prior, I had never witnessed the personal care teachers placed on students, nor had I seen the community become one like we do at St. John's Prep," said Ms. Gioino. "The entire school community facilitated the dreams of every student, whether it was playing on sports teams, making a new club, working in a science research lab, or performing cultural acts in Manhattan parades. SJP offered me the flexibility to connect with my passions on a personal level, in a way that is far beyond what I had imagined a high school could provide." 

During her time at SJP, Cat participated in many clubs and activities, including: Varsity Soccer, Varsity Softball, Junior Varsity and Varsity Basketball, Newspaper, Red Storm News (webcast), Italian Culture Club, Executive Student Council Board Member, Senior Class President, Altar Service, National Honor Society, Campus Life, Catholic Workers, Math League, Bowling, Track, Intramurals, Drama Guild, Hellenic Club, Spanish Club and Robotics Club.


Nikola Mirkovic’ 16 is currently a sophomore at Georgetown University and is pursuing an advanced degree in International Affairs. St. John’s Preparatory School in Astoria has been paving the way for the Leaders of Tomorrow for nearly 150 years. Niko had 4 very important college interviews as a senior: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Georgetown. On his resume, the first two extracurricular programs on his list were Varsity Basketball, and Bollywood Dance. On every single interview it was not about his 4.0 GPA or his perfect AP scores, rather the first comment was “You were on Bollywood! How was the experience?”  They were amazed. “At SJP, opportunities are everywhere. Have the courage, and bravery, to step outside of your comfort zone, and capitalize on the amazing opportunities St. John’s Prep offers!

Luwei Yang('17) is a freshman at NYU Stern Business School.

When I first came to this school, I was very shy and I was not confident about my language skills in English. But every SJP student was kind, nice and friendly to me. I began to join clubs, participate in school activities and very quickly made many more friends. Now I feel very confident speaking to others in English and I enjoy my time at St. John’s Prep. The teachers are all very understanding. They care about me and are always willing to help me. I don’t feel embarrassed when I ask them for help. And they always answered my questions patiently to make sure that I understood them. I really loved my courses! I had the opportunity to learn Studio Art, Sculpture and excel in the Visual & Performing Arts. I had great AP classes that included Calculus, Biology, Psychology and Statistics.  I scored a 5 on all of them! I love St. John's Prep and it will always be my second home.