Julia Oseka at the Vatican

Empowering Our Students

 Making History 
at the Vatican


The pope appointed a Saint Joseph’s student as one of only two laypeople from the United States to serve as a delegate to the Universal Assembly.

Pope Francis named Julia Osęka ’25 (above), a physics and theology major and student leader of SCHEAP (Synodality in Catholic Higher Education in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia), a voting delegate from North America to the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome.

The Assembly took place during October 2023 and was the first of two such gatherings in the three-year global synod on “Communion, Participation and Mission,” which Pope Francis convened two years prior. This marks the first time in the history of the Roman Catholic Church that non-bishops had voting status in a synod.

How were you selected as a voting delegate and what was your reaction when you found out the news?

Osęka: I was surprised and overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement. I participated in the initial stage of the synod [in 2022] and got involved with SCHEAP, where I was asked to be a student leader. I was later asked to represent the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as a delegate to the continental stage of the synod. I gave a review of the synthesis from North America and participated in a debrief session. When Pope Francis announced that women and young people would be invited to be delegates, Philadelphia Archbishop Nelson Pérez put in a recommendation for me. From there, I ended up being selected as a delegate.

Why is having young people’s voices heard in the Church so important?

Osęka: Young people are part of the Church. I think every person who is a part of a greater organization or group should be heard by people who make decisions. In this case, not only are we being heard by people who make decisions, but young people are also making decisions and voting. I think this truly represents the active diversity of the Catholic Church. [Young people] are the now of the Church, we are not merely someplace in the future.

What was unique about this synod and what role did you play in it?

Osęka: This synod was a gathering of bishops from all around the world and lay people; it was actually the first time that lay people and non-bishop members — religious people and priests who are not bishops — participated and also had a vote in the synod.

As a delegate, I carried with me the voices and experiences of the people from North America, especially the youth. I did so by participating in prayerful reflections and dialogue with other delegates and experts, as well as drafting reports and proposals.

What did you learn about the Catholic Church from this experience?

Osęka: One of the main things I learned is that diversity is a treasure. Our experiences of Catholicism are so different and yet we find a tremendous sense of unity, which has to be developed and cherished.



Graduating the Newest Class of Health Science Professionals

Class of 2023 alumni from the School of Health Professions are the first of Saint Joseph's graduates to add the new school to their resumes.


Philadelphia College of Pharmacy students in graduation

Students in Saint Joseph’s Philadelphia College of Pharmacy’s white coat ceremony

The first class from Saint Joseph’s new School of Health Professions (SHP) graduated this spring following the 2022 acquisition of University of the Sciences. Over 500 graduates from occupational therapy, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant studies and more joined the ranks of nearly 100,000 Saint Joseph’s alumni across the globe in professional careers, graduate programs and full-time volunteer opportunities.

Ryan Romano ’23 (PharmD), a graduate from Saint Joseph’s Philadelphia College of Pharmacy (PCP) who is now a pharmacist at Rosemont Pharmacy, reflects on his experience in the program.

“‘Pharmacy is constantly changing’ was the first thing my dad, a PCP alum, taught me when I started working with him. From innovative and engaging classes to impactful rotational experiences, PCP has given my dad and me the skills we need to be able to adapt in an ever-changing industry,” says Romano.

With the addition of five new doctoral degrees to the University’s academic portfolio, this was the first year Saint Joseph’s held a standalone doctoral ceremony as part of its Commencement exercises, adding over 200 SHP doctoral graduates to its celebrations.

“From innovative and engaging classes to impactful rotational experiences, PCP has given me the skills we need to be able to adapt in an ever-changing industry.”

- Ryan Romano ’23


The University also continued the tradition of hosting pinning and white coat ceremonies for students in its occupational therapy, pharmacy and physician assistant programs. These ceremonies signify a major milestone in a student’s academic journey, representing either a transition into the professional portion of their training or a celebration that their clinical training is complete.


Saint Joseph's Pharmacy student receiving diploma at graduation

School of Health Professions by the Numbers

532 SHP Graduates in the Class of 2023
203 Doctoral Hoodings
8 New Degree Types Awarded
12 Majors
89% North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) Pass Rate (National Average: 80%)
83% Pharmacy Graduates Matched with Postgraduate Year One (PGY1) Residency Programs

School of Health Professions students taking photos after white coats ceremony

Select Employers and Residencies


  • Cooper University Hospital
  • Good Shepherd Penn Partners
  • HCA Florida Largo Hospital
  • Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
  • Inspira Health
  • Ivy Rehab
  • Janssen
  • Long Island Jewish Medical Center
  • Merck
  • MossRehab
  • Novacare
  • Pfizer
  • Rite Aid Pharmacy
  • Tender Touch Rehab
  • Walgreens Pharmacy
Top 5 Athletics Accolades at Saint Joseph's

Photo Credits: Atlantic 10 and Sideline Photos LLC

Field Hockey Captures A-10 Championship and First NCAA Tournament Win
For the fourth time in five years, the field hockey program captured the Atlantic 10 championship, downing No. 21 UMass 3-0 in the title game. Making their fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament, the nationally ranked Hawks collected another program milestone when they beat No. 10 Wake Forest 3-1 for the first tournament win in St. Joe’s history.

Baseball Earns Atlantic 10 Regular Season Title 
The 2023 season was a special one for Saint Joseph’s baseball as the Hawks captured the regular season Atlantic 10 title after leading 17-7 in conference play. Additionally, Head Coach Fritz Hamburg was voted the A-10 Baseball Coach of the Year, while nine Hawks were tabbed for A-10 All-Conference teams.

Hawks Win Inaugural Atlantic 10 Men's Lacrosse Regular Season Crown
Competing in the inaugural season for men’s lacrosse in the Atlantic 10, Saint Joseph’s posted an undefeated conference record, conquering 5-0 to secure the A-10 regular season crown. A memorable 2023 season was highlighted by 14 Hawks earning A-10 All-Conference team honors, Head Coach Taylor Wray being selected A-10 Coach of the Year, and graduate student Zach Cole ’22 earning three All-American honors.

Women's Basketball Earned Postseason WNIT Bid
The women’s basketball team earned the 12th postseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament bid in program history this past March. The Hawks opened the 2022-23 campaign with nine consecutive wins, tying for the second-best start to a season. Backed by a talented lineup of veterans and newcomers, Saint Joseph’s finished the year with 20 wins — their most since 2013-14.

Men's and Women's Basketball Student-Athletes Bring Home the Hardware
It was a stellar year for student-athletes on both the men’s and women’s basketball teams. On the men’s side, Erik Reynolds II ’25 earned National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District Four Second Team, Atlantic 10 All Conference Second Team and All-Big 5 First Team honors, while Cameron Brown ’23 garnered Big 5 Co-Most Improved Player accolades and joined Lynn Greer III ’25 on the All-Big 5 Second Team.

Newcomer Laura Ziegler ’26 was recognized as Atlantic 10, ECAC and Big 5 Women’s Basketball Rookie of the Year along with All-Big 5 and All A-10 honors. Talya Brugler ’25 earned A-10 and Big 5 All-First Team honors, the I-AAA Athletic Directors Association Scholar-Athlete Team and 2023 PhillySIDA Academic All-Area Teams, while Mackenzie Smith ’24 was selected to the A-10 All-Conference Third Team and All-Big 5 Second Team.

College Athletics' Hardest-Working Mascot Gets a New Look

St. Joe's treasured tradition has evolved, proving the Hawk Will Never Die.


Saint Jospeh's New Hawk Mascot

One of the most recognizable mascots in college sports, the Saint Joseph’s Hawk, got a new look. After more than two decades of extensive use, hundreds of thousands of flaps, and countless appearances at University and community events and alumni weddings, it was time for a refresh. 

“The Hawk is the hardest working mascot in Division I athletics,” says Jill Bodensteiner, JD, MBA, vice president.“ It is part of our treasured tradition of the Hawk to update the look periodically and our fans agreed that the time was right.”

Saint Joseph’s collaborated with former mascots and best-in-the-business designer Street Characters to blend traditional aspects of previous Hawk costumes with newer attributes that
allow for durability and functionality.

It is part of our treasured tradition of the Hawk to update the look periodically and our fans agreed that the time was right."

- Jill Bodensteiner, JD, MBA

Vice President and Director of Athletics

The Hawk costume, originated by Jim Brennan ’58, made its debut on Dec. 3, 1955. Since then, a total of 61 Saint Joseph’s students have put on the suit for both the men’s and women’s basketball programs. Hawks serve as enduring proof of the University’s rallying cry, touted by Sports Illustrated as the most defiant chant in all of college sports: The Hawk Will Never Die.