Benjamin Laudone wasn’t happy at the first two colleges he attended. So when trying to pick a third institution, he didn’t go into the search all that optimistic.
But his mindset quickly changed once he stepped foot on St. Joseph’s University, New York’s Long Island Campus.
“Each and every professor here truly cares about you and your aspirations,” said Laudone, a sophomore computer information technology major. “Everyone here is truly welcoming, and you don’t feel like a ‘number’ the way other colleges can make you feel.”
Part of what makes Laudone’s time here at St. Joseph’s so different from his previous college experiences is his involvement with Campus Ministry.
“This is the first school where I’ve put myself out there and really tried something,” Laudone, 22, of West Babylon said. “I am filled with so much joy that it happens to be with the Campus Ministry community. Without them, I would’ve never enjoyed college as much, I wouldn’t have felt such a strong sense of belonging, and I never would have established the deep connection I have with God.”
Getting Involved with Campus Ministry
Laudone first learned about Campus Ministry during his first semester at St. Joseph’s, while enrolled in the course “Jesus the Christ” taught by Cristian Murphy ’14, director of Campus Ministry.
“I grew up with a Catholic background, and my relationship with God has been strengthened and brought to a level I never thought I’d get to, all thanks to Campus Ministry,” Laudone said. “My favorite moment with Campus Ministry was during the first Mission Day, when we gathered around in a circle toward the end and did a group exercise.
“I myself was not one to talk out loud or express my feelings within a group, but this exercise was extremely profound, and I found a lot of healing values through it,” he continued. “This may seem like nothing, but for a person like me who is very introverted, I can say firmly that I have never participated in anything like this and it makes me feel so much better afterwards.”
When it comes to the person at St. Joseph’s who’s had the biggest impact on Laudone, he credits Murphy.
“Cristian has truly transformed what I hoped this college experience would be,” Laudone said. “He consistently invites me to events at school, keeps me involved and is someone I can talk to about anything.
“In my four years of higher education, I haven’t had anyone reach their hand out as much as Cristian has the past year,” he continued. “You never know what you are capable of until you put yourself out there, and it all starts with an invitation; to that, I thank Cristian tremendously.”
Growing in Faith and Excellence
“I believe that if you find your spirituality, dive deep into it and believe in a greater God like ours, all of the other pillars fall into place,” he said. “To me, my faith is my core foundation that I lean on and depend on that shapes who I am. I feel as though diving into your spirituality and searching for a greater meaning can truly change the kind of person you are.”
Laudone thanks his biggest inspirations in life, his parents, for instilling this faith in him.
“I aspire to be even a quarter of what they were while I was growing up and still are to me,” he said. “The values they have taught me are priceless, and I wouldn’t want my life any other way … One day I’ll be passing down the same morals I was taught to my own kids when I get older. That’s the least I can do for them.”
Laudone noted that St. Joseph’s has increased his sense of belonging.
“Thanks to St. Joseph’s, I’ve taken a tremendous leap in life in terms of my overall growth,” he said. “I feel a sense of belonging I’ve never felt before, and there have been a lot of question marks that have been and continue to be fulfilled and answered here.
“St. Joseph’s has been molding me into what I aspire to be,” Laudone continued. “I believe it is the reason why I talk to my professors, have participated in Campus Ministry, and how I found my major. Without St. Joseph’s, I would’ve never seen my full potential as a student.”