My OUS Story: Ryan Wolfe

Freshman Ryan Wolfe from Charles City, Iowa knew that Villanova was going to be his home for the next four years.

“When I got into Villanova, I hadn’t seen it yet, so last Spring my mom and I came on a college visit so I could see if this university was everything that I had heard it was. At one point during the visit, we were sitting on those stones outside of the Quad, and sitting there, I realized that this was the place where I was meant to be.”

Now, he has declared a major in Political Science and he is currently considering pursuing minors in both History and Public Administration. He chose Political Science because he’s always been intrigued by the political process and has always wanted to know the ins and outs of the system. In the future, he also wishes to go to Law School with the goal of going into Constitutional Law. He believed that Political Science is a good fit for a future in law school it will expose him earlier to all of the information that the law requires.

On the campus, he has gotten involved in multiple organizations. He serves as the Librarian for the Villanova Singers, helps with sound for VSMT’s musical productions, including their most recent production, If/Then, after acting throughout high school, which has been an enjoyable experience. He will also be a member of the Sophomore Service Learning Community next year.

Being a part of the Villanova Singers has given Ryan one of his favorite Villanova experiences. “After the string of losses that our basketball team had that occurred after we lost to Penn, we had a game against Marquette in the Pavilion, who had been the highest ranked team in the conference. We beat them and it was so much fun. I was with the rest of the Villanova Singers because we had sung the National Anthem for that game. It was such a great atmosphere, and it was very indicative of Villanova’s culture of coming together and supporting one another.”

He is also a writer for the Villanovan. “I’ve been writing mostly about current political topics, including the first debate here on campus between the Villanova College Democrats and the Villanova College Republicans on Immigration Reform and about many of the political candidates that have announced that they’re running for president. Other than that, I’ve written about events on campus. One interesting article that I wrote recently was about a professor here, Dr. Joey Nielsen, who was a part of the team that was able to take the picture of the Black Hole.”

This summer, he will be studying abroad in the Czech Republic under the tutelage of Dr. Lynne Hartnett, who has one of the best people and professors he has ever met, and Professor Mary Beth Simmons. The program will be centered in a monastery in the Czech Republic, where they will be taking their courses. There he will be taking a class on Czech Literature Class, which will be taught by Professor Simmons, and a class on the Fall of Communism and the Rise of Democracy in Eastern and Central Europe, which will be taught by Dr. Hartnett.

One of the reasons why he decided to study abroad in the Czech Republic was because of Dr. Hartnett. “I took Dr. Hartnett’s Tsars and Commissars last semester, and at the beginning of the year when Dr. Lindenmyer was talking to us at Orientation in the humid tent on the field, telling us about these different classes that we could experience in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, she offhandedly at the end threw out Russian History. At first, I thought that was a fun comment, but I didn’t realize how interesting it actually was. I hadn’t learned a lot about Russian History before, so it was just like an exposure to a whole new culture and it was so enjoyable, it’s been my favorite class that I’ve taken here so far.

Next Fall Break, he will be participating in the Villanova on the Hill program. “We’re going to Washington D.C. for a week, and we’ll be learning from people on Capitol Hill about the ins and outs of the D.C. system. I’m excited for it because I think it will be a good stepping stone for getting the lay of the land early on and getting the resources to network there because I hope to work in D.C. one day.”

Ryan left the interview with a piece of advice for his fellow classmates. “Give it time. Because I had a very bad culture shock at first, I was very far away from home and It took me a while to get adjusted to the Villanova atmosphere, and to recognize that, that it’s okay, that things do that time, eventually it will get better.”

My OUS Story: Lydia Becker

Freshman Lydia Becker from Burlington, Iowa came to Villanova in order to seek as many opportunities as possible. Growing up, she became used to a small community, as her hometown has only about 20,000 people and her high school graduating class had thirty-two students, making coming to Villanova a big change for her.

Lydia said, “I knew that I wanted to get out of Iowa, it was great, and I loved the people there, but there weren’t many opportunities. I chose Villanova because I loved the community aspect of the university, since I was coming from a small school and a small town, so I wanted that in a college. Villanova has that, but they also have all the opportunities of a larger school. It’s nice to have the resources and the Alumni Networks and opportunities but also still have the small community feeling.”

After taking Dr. Brianna Remster for Intro to Criminology, which she took as a recommendation from an upperclassman, Lydia was inspired to declare a double major in Criminology and Sociology just a week ago and she hopes to also get a minor in Spanish. Her decision was also inspired by an aunt of hers who works for the San Francisco Police Force and has served as her role model growing up. Becoming a Criminology major was one way that Lydia maintains connections to her aunt, who is someone who has consistently inspired her.

On campus, she is a member of Chi Omega, Club Tennis, and the Executive Board for Inter-Hall Council. As part of IHC, she serves as the Senator Representative in the Student Government Association.

She recalls that “Club Tennis was the first thing I got involved in. I hadn’t been planning on continuing tennis when I came to college, but I saw how athletic of a campus it was and how many people were getting involved in Intramurals, Club Sports, and Varsity Teams. I thought that I may as well go for it since I had many friends telling me to just go for it, what do you have to lose. I tried out and somehow made the team. It’s been a great community and I’ve met many friends through that. Chi Omega was the same thing, I went through Rush not really knowing if I wanted to join a sorority or not, but I clicked with a lot of girls during Rush, and really found my place there. For me it’s always been coming in not planning on doing one specific thing but then just taking the leap of faith and trying my hand at whatever there is available.”  

Lydia remembers accidentally beginning her career search when she stumbled across the Career Fair for Arts and Sciences students. “I walked in and had no idea what it was, I had just seen a sign for it, and I wandered around looking all disheveled since I had just gotten out of the shower, while everyone else around me was dressed business casual. There, I met Kate Szumanski. She was really helpful, handed me a booklet, and ushered me around to different people. The first table that I went to was the FBI table. I ended up talking to the woman there for an hour straight, and that’s another reason I’m interested in Criminology, that’s essentially my dream job. After the fair, I kept in contact with Kate, and she recommended I take her ASPD Public Policy Paths class, which ended up being absolutely amazing.”  

Her favorite on campus experience has been living in St. Monica’s as part of the Leadership Learning Community. “It’s been really great having a group of students throughout the year to be in multiple classes with, like Leadership, Ancients, and Moderns, and getting to know the same group of people so you already have that set group of friends going into the school year. Also, it was nice being able to relate to people in the learning community and relate your workload to them, I have really grown close to many people through the learning community.”

For the rest of her three years at Villanova, Lydia hopes to remain fluid in her experiences by exploring many fields of interests.

She also had a piece of advice for fellow Villanovans. “My advice would be to not be afraid of pursuing what interests you, whether it be a club or course that you might enjoy. Also, don’t limit your activities to things that you only see as having a utility of some sort. Join a fun club even if it’s not a resume builder.”

My OUS Story: Annie Melbert

Senior Annie Melbert from Indianapolis, Indiana is a driven individual whose Villanova experiences have helped guide her in deciding what she wants to pursue in the future. She is a Communications and English Double Major in the Honors Program with minors in Writing and Rhetoric and Business, which she did through the Summer Business Institute where she discovered a love for marketing.

She remembers that she didn’t declare any of these until the last minute, even though she generally knew what she had an interest in. “I’ve always loved my English classes and I was interested in journalism coming in. Had Villanova had a journalism school, that would have been the school that I probably would have studied within, but the Communications Department is great because they have such a wide variety of classes that you can tailor to your interests. I’ve tended to take many journalism heavy classes including Sports Journalism, Broadcast Journalism, and the Journalism course in the English department. I’m also a perfectionist, and I knew that I would spend an exorbitant amount of time on my schoolwork, so I was concerned that I wouldn’t make the time to read for fun, which is why I added English on as a secondary major because my reading for fun would be built into my curriculum. I’m very happy with that decision because I have loved every English class that I have taken here.”

As for her Honors Major, she presented her thesis defense last Friday. Her topic was a rhetorical analysis of Colin Kaepernick’s ad campaign of the 30th anniversary of Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign called Dream Crazy. She analyzed the topic through the lens of corporate politics and Kaepernick’s national anthem protests.

She is currently in the midst of the post-graduate application process and hearing back from different companies. “I’ve been looking into many content marketing positions, so things that involve creative strategy and copywriting strategy. I have always enjoyed being creative, and I like telling stories. I think marketing is an interesting way to tell stories because that’s essentially what it is. You learn who a company is, how they want to be portrayed, how they want to portray themselves, and you tell that story.”

She has been a part of Villanova Television, otherwise known as VTV, for each of her four years at Villanova. “I always joke that I joined VTV before I was an official Villanova student, because my sister, who is two years older than I am, went here and she was a part of Villanova Television. My parents had to leave a little bit early during orientation, before the mass, so my sister was the one who gave me the blessing, and then I spent the rest of the day walking around with VTV. They are the ones who film and make the orientation video, the big video that they show at the end of orientation, so that was a lot of fun for me because I already felt like a member.”

As a freshman, she explored each department of VTV including news, sports, entertainment, and marketing, and she ended up becoming the most involved in the marketing department. It is VTV’s newest department that has built up over the last four years, and they are in charge of making videos for other clubs and organizations on campus including the big Special Olympics videos, the orientation video, acapella concerts, and other promotional videos for other clubs and organizations.

Her most recent position was serving as Vice President of Operations, helping oversee the club as a whole. “Even though this is the only club I’ve really been a part of, it’s in part because it’s kept me very busy, and I think it’s very unique in that the marketing department allows you to connect with other organizations on campus in a very intimate way because in order to tell their story you need to understand how they want to market themselves, you want to understand their own personal brand and the way that they want to tell their story, so it’s been a really cool way to network and get to work with many different clubs that I think make Villanova so unique.”

Being a part of VTV has given Annie some of her favorite on campus experiences. For example, each year she has been able to work with Special Olympics, a weekend that she believes makes Villanova unique and weekend that is her favorite of the whole year. “VTV gets to film throughout that entire weekend, so it carries with it a super quick turnaround as it’s one of our E-Board wide projects. There are seven or eight of us who film throughout the whole weekend all of the different sports events, O-Town, and the Awards Ceremonies. We create the video that is presented at Closing Ceremonies, so we don’t sleep much, but it’s just so fun to get to interact with the athletes and the volunteers. This year was my last one, and I got a little bit emotional, but because I was Vice President, I got to take the lead on the project in a way I hadn’t been able to before with the President.”

Something else that she will never forget was her own special experiences with VTV after Villanova won both National Championships. “Through VTV, I’ve gotten to be a part of the press box at the Championship Parade in Philadelphia. In the press box, I was among real, professional journalists, and I was even able to do this as a freshman. To win a National Championship as a freshman is one thing, but to actually go to the parade and be a part of the press box and have a real press pass was so cool and unforgettable. I got to take photos of the team and video tape them at the parade with a couple of my VTV friends, and then I was able to do it again my junior year, but it was extra special freshman year.”

Last summer, she interned at a marketing firm in Indianapolis called Innovative, which was a valuable experience for her, fueling what she wants to pursue as a future career. Her internship was catered towards video production and post production. She went on a couple of video shorts, copyedited for presentations and websites, took photos for some of the clients’ websites, transcribed interview footage, helped create paper edits, which are rough draft scripts of what the video would look like. After she transcribed the interviews, she would go back and highlight what she thought were the most impactful quotes from the interviews to piece them together in order to tell a story within these twenty-minute interviews.

Annie left the interview with a piece of advice for her fellow classmates. “This is something that I told my little sister, who is a junior in high school, so she’s in the midst of the college search. I had to write her a retreat letter last weekend, and I had a little advice section. I told her that in this time of life, I think the word passion can be thrown around casually, and people make it seem that you’re supposed to know what your passion is, and you should already be pursuing it at such a young age. Sometimes I think people dismiss the fact that passions can evolve and change overtime and finding something you truly enjoy and want to dedicate your time and effort to takes time and introspection. They are ever-changing and ever-evolving. My parents are such good examples, because my mom worked very hard to raise four children over the course of the last twenty-four years, and she recently started her own care package business called Happy Pak. I look up to her so much because she’s doing it, she’s fifty-two years old, but she’s pursuing a newfound passion of hers. And my dad too, he’s been a doctor all his life, and he’s starting his own business now too because he recently received an additional integrative medicine degree. It’s one of his newfound passions and he’s doing it. The core message I’m trying to say is that I think college is a great time to explore a wide variety of interests but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to find your passion and pursue it at such a young age because they’ll change overtime.”

My OUS Story: Amira Guy

Sophomore Amira Guy from Laurel Springs, New Jersey, who is double majoring in Classical Studies and Political Science, is an individual who strives to make her mark on campus and on the world around her. She came into Villanova as a History Major, already set on going to law school one day because of her interests in human rights. One day she hopes to work for an organization like the UN Relief Agency or any sort of NGO that focuses on pushing through human rights expansion around the world. Ultimately, she desires to study International Law, so she can travel around the world to help people who cannot defend themselves.

After going to her first undergraduate level Spanish class and taking it for four years during high school, she could not understand what the professor was saying and decided to rethink her class schedule. So, on the first day of classes, she went to her academic advisor who then recommended that she learn Latin instead. After one class session, Amira fell in love with the subject, and thought to herself that she should try something new, so she declared a major in Classical Studies, a decision also backed by her love of the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan.

She also took International Relations her first semester with Dr. Clayton Cleveland, whose course she loved and who she served as a research assistant for during her freshman year. For him, she read United Nations security council meeting minutes and input the information into a database. The course and her assistantship caused her to fall in love with International Relations, so she decided to pursue Political Science, while dropping the History major.

On campus, she became one of the three founders of the community service organization, Strive, during her freshman year. She recalls, “I was with my two roommates in Good Council, and we were talking about different clubs on campus and how we wanted to begin a club that didn’t focus on just one foundation or just one issue. Instead, we wanted to start a club where every month we would pick a different non-profit or community service project. Doing this enabled us to constantly help people from different circles all year round. Together, we put our heads together and created Strive. Our first year was great. We hosted a powderpuff game, donated a bunch of clothes, and we went to feed the homeless in Philly.”

While working as a tour guide from the Blue Key Society, she is also the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Student Government Association. “I’ve always wanted to be in student government, and after serving as a member of SGA, I realized that they had this director position. I believe that, especially on campus, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are of vital importance because we need to make sure that everyone on campus feels comfortable, is able to go after their dreams, and can really fulfill their full experience at Villanova. What we do is hold programs, work with different students on campus with their issues and concerns, and we work with the administration to make sure that Villanova is a great place for everyone to study and have a great time.”

One of her favorite experiences on Villanova’s campus has been serving as an Orientation Counselor, which she did at the beginning of this year and will serve as again this coming year. “Those were the best twelve days that I’ve had at Villanova. Being on staff, getting to have a relationship with seniors and juniors, building that friendship, and being able to impact new students was absolutely amazing. I loved being able to have new students and help them feel that Villanova will be their home. I can’t wait to be on staff again.”

For the past two summers, she has had the opportunity to work as a Legislative Assistant for New Jersey State Senator Fred H. Madden and Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera. “I was able to work with them, help do research for them, work on cases, and performed whatever assistance they needed like organizing files and communicating with constituents. It was great to see the ground level of state government, and it opened many doors for me, just knowing the Senator and the Assemblywoman. It also allowed me to gain immense writing and research skills that I was able to use here as a student.”

Currently, Amira is still deciding what she wants to do this summer, but what has helped her for her applications and making a decision has been “The office of OUS and Kate Szumanski have really helped me. It was amazing going into the office, and Kate literally sat with me for thirty minutes, just helping me look at internships in Philly and in the Washington D.C. area. Most of the internships I’m applying to now are from Ms. Szumanski. I was able to get an internship in D.C. and she’s been helping me work my funds to be able to stay in D.C. She really cares about us and what we’re doing in our internships and our success here.”

In the spring of next year, she will be studying abroad at St. Anne’s College at Oxford University in the Classics Department and the Political Science Department. “I didn’t think that I would get this opportunity, because I was told that it was only open to Honors students. But I believe that college is what you make of it and you have to go after what you want to do. So, I worked really hard on my GPA and my internship experiences while researching other programs I could do, until I saw that Arcadia University has a program at Oxford and I decided to go for it. Now, I have the opportunity to travel there and study with their faculty and their tutorials. I’m really excited because I feel like Oxford can open up many doors for me, and also because of the opportunity to explore Europe.”

To other students, Amira recommends. “Handle business. I think college is a time to have a great time, make friends, and have great experiences. Like tomorrow night my friends and I are going to see Avengers: Endgame at 11:30pm, and it being an 11:30 movie, nobody should be doing that, but they are those experiences that you get to have here at college. You have to have those experiences in order to make those great memories, but there are also going to be those times where you have to handle business, so go after anything you want, go into your classes strong, go talk to your professors, get into your classes and learning and handle that GPA, and go for the internships you want no matter what people tell you. For example, I was told that I probably wouldn’t get to work at a Law Firm because I’m an undergrad, but I was still able to get an interview for one, which I have on Monday. College is what you make of it so never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. As long as you try your best then you know that it’s going to be a great college experience.”

My OUS Story: Amy Barrett

Junior Amy Barrett from Westchester, Pennsylvania, has known since high school that she has wanted to become a counselor.

She remembers when she realized that she wanted to be a counselor. “My love for counseling started because my friend had an eating disorder and began to seek treatment during our junior year of high school. I would sit in on her group and family therapy sessions to be a part of her support system. One of the counselors actually came up to me and told me that I would be a great counselor myself. I knew that I actually enjoyed it to, so I came to college set on pursuing that as my career.”

At Villanova, she is a Psychology Major with a minor in Counseling. She decided to major in psychology because it serves as a counterpart to counseling, which Villanova only offers as a minor for undergraduates. After she graduates, she hopes to get a Master’s in Counseling, and she is currently considering whether or not she would want to pursue a doctorate degree. Though, she has not decided yet whether or not she wishes to do Broad Counseling or School Counseling.

On campus, she is involved in the sorority, Delta Delta Delta, otherwise known as Tri Delt, and has helped out at NOVAdance every year. Being a part of Tri Delt has been one of her favorite experiences on campus. “I feel that I have found so many people in my sorority who are so similar to me that I can always rely on to talk to. Also, I love the philanthropy events that we host. We support St. Jude’s and Alex’s Lemonade Stand, and for those organizations, we get the whole chapter together and we write letters around Christmas time to our family and friends that discusses what we’re doing and what we’re raising money for. We also had a kickball tournament recently, for which we partnered with Sig Nu to raise money for St. Jude. We get people around campus to make teams and it’s so much fun.”

Next year she will be serving as a Rho Gamma for sorority recruitment. “I will have my own group of fifteen to twenty potential new members, and I’ll be with them throughout the sorority recruitment process in the beginning of January. I was really excited to get elected for this since it’s a counseling type of role. I loved my Rho Gamma, so I applied for the position because I wanted to give others the same experience I had. My Rho Gamma was so great and made us all feel so valid, comfortable, and secure in knowing that everything would be okay. I hope to give my potential new members the same experience that I had.”

During her time on campus, Amy has also held multiple internships. She has worked for the non-profit, SpeakUp! which is located in St. David’s. The internship was related to Amy’s dream of counseling because the organization partners with local middle schools and high schools to develop a student leadership team. Once a year, they host what they call, “break-out” sessions that is used for people to learn from one another while discussing different topics, including family stress, school stress, drugs and alcohol, and peer pressure.

Last semester, she worked with the non-profit Pickleberry Pie. “They send musicians into hospitals to sing for the hospitalized children throughout the Philadelphia area. My main goal there was developing their fundraising and advertising. I went to a session at Bryn Mawr Hospital and heard the musicians sing to the kids, who absolutely loved it. It made me realize that what I was doing was touching so many lives.”

For two semesters she has worked for the Uncommon Individual Foundation in Devon. Currently she works for a branch of the Uncommon Individual Foundation called So Good Now, which has been up and running for about a year. “I help with the fundamentals of business, like budgets and organization for events. The mission of the organization is to strive to inspire young athletes to share their time, talent, and treasure through sports. They host different sports clinics, including volleyball, swimming, basketball, and football, throughout the Philadelphia region, but I’m trying to increase their visibility and network so they can increase the number of clinics they can do. This May, we are hosting a swimming clinic for underprivileged kids in Chester. We’re getting local swim clubs to donate goggles and swimsuits and we had a goggle drive for Learn to Swim month, which was this April.”

She left the interview with a piece of advice for her fellow classmates. “I think it’s very important to find a good social support group, whether that’s your friend group or someone you can confide in if you’re having a bad day or a bad week because sometimes college is hard. There are so many things you’re exploring while you’re trying to get good grades to find good jobs, so it’s important to have people to talk to. Remember to give your transition to college time, meet those people, and get involved. All of this is so very important in order to have a successful college career.”

My OUS Story: Tia Parisi

Sophomore Tia Parisi from Madison, Wisconsin, only discovered Villanova because of a bet with her parents. When she began looking into colleges in 2016, she did not know where she wanted to go and why type of school she wanted.

She recalls, “I was really banking my college decision on how I’d feel when I visit the different school’s campuses. I’m from Madison, Wisconsin, so I had never heard of Villanova before. I am also the oldest in my family, and my parents both went to feeder schools, so they never had the experience of having to choose a college and pick where they wanted to go. So, we were all lost. But we’re a big basketball family, so my parents made a bet with me. They said that whoever wins the basketball championship that year that I would just go to school there, and I agreed. I didn’t take it seriously, but then my mom on a whim picked Villanova to win her company bracket pool because they had a pretty name. Then they won, and she won money from the pool. Deciding to stay true to our bet, she used the money and bought plane tickets to Philadelphia. When I got to campus, I immediately realized that this was the place that I was supposed to be because everyone was so friendship and the campus was so welcoming and full of people who wanted to see everyone do well and succeed. It was definitely the feeling of community that made me stay here. But I lost the bet, so that’s how I got here in the first place.”

Now at Villanova because of a bet she does not regret, she is an Honors Biology Major pursuing a Medical Ethics track. She also has minors in Creative Writing and Spanish. As a freshman, she came in as Undeclared Arts leaning towards English, but she was also drawn into Biology since she sees herself pursuing a career in Biotechnology after she graduates because she is interested in the concept of gene therapy and the new medicines that Bio-Tech companies are creating to treat cancer and other genetic abnormalities. Although, she does not know yet whether or not she wants to go into the laboratory side of Bio-Tech or the business side. So, this year, she declared Biology as her major and decided to add a Creative Writing Minor so she could still express herself creatively in her studies.

On campus, she ensures that she stays very involved. This year, she became a tour guide for the Blue Key Society because she enjoys exposing prospective students Villanova’s campus and showing them what it has to offer them. She has also served as a Volunteer Coordinator for Special Olympics, which was a hands-on experience that involved running a venue, organizing volunteers, and forming relationships with athletes. She was also a part of the Morale Committee for NOVAdance, is a RUIBAL leader for Campus Ministry, and pledged Delta Gamma this semester.

One of her on-campus accomplishments includes taking responsibility over the literary magazine, Ellipsis, formerly called Arthology. “For the magazine, we receive submissions from students and organize them into a publication every year, which we are currently in the printing phase for right now. This year, I’ve been working with my staff on rebranding because it became clear to me other students didn’t know what it was because of the former title. We changed the name and changed the look, but we kept the same values of the magazine. Kate Szumanski has been our advisor for Ellipsis. I really needed an advisor because we were going through so many changes. When I came into the literary magazine program it was still Arthology, and I was the only underclassman, everyone else involved was a senior. I remember I showed up to one of the meetings and they were surprised to see me. At the end of the year they told me that they hadn’t been expecting the magazine to go on after they left, but if I wanted it, I could have it and make it into whatever I wanted. I had a strong motivation to do this because I did a literary magazine in high school, but the fact that I was the only who was interested in keeping this going was what made me think that there needed to be big changes to the program. Kate’s really stood behind me and has helped me keep my motivation in running the magazine with a really small staff, so I’m excited for the magazine’s future.”

Outside of Villanova, Tia has also had a few work experiences. Her first internship was during her years at high school when she worked as an intern for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Microbiology Lab. The lab she worked for studied genetic ties to tuberculosis. There, she would clean the lab and learned Python computing language, which she would use to manipulate the data the lab received from their trials to make it cleaner and more understandable.  Last summer she had an internship with a Biotechnology company in Madison called Aldevron, which is a contract development company that works with other Bio-Tech Companies in Madison. For them, she worked as a marketing intern.

This summer she will be taking classes at the University of Wisconsin since she declared Biology as a major late and needs to catch up on classes. Next year, she hopes to participate in a study abroad program in Denmark during the Spring semester at the Denmark Institute for Study Abroad, which she just applied for. The institute itself has a large Bio-Tech program centered in Copenhagen.

One of her favorite parts about her experiences at Villanova was that all of her expectations have been met so far. “I came here because of basketball, and my freshman year we win another championship, so that’s the cherry on top. Then when I got here and learned about service opportunities like NOVAdance, Special Olympics, and how important service was on campus, and then coming to campus and being able to get involved in these activities that were as awesome or better than I expected them to be. Also, the community. When I came to visit, the Blue Key kids were going crazy and were so excited and welcoming. Then getting here as a student and that being true on a daily basis was so comforting. It makes me know I belong here.”

She left the interview with one piece of advice for fellow students. “I would say talk to people and ask questions. My relationship with Kate came out of me asking her for help, since I was insecure about this club I was running. Asking for help opens doors for possibility on campus. If you don’t push the people who are around you and the people who are supposed to help you, you’re never going to get anything out of your Villanova experience. You have to keep opening doors, talking to people, and pushing buttons to get results.”

My OUS Story: Kerri Weston

Sophomore Kerri Weston from Pine Beach, New Jersey, entered Villanova knowing that she was entering an institution of support. She recalls that, “I think there’s a really big support system here. They really emphasize how you when come in, the whole staff and faculty are waiting to help you. It’s like a little family here that wants to help you and wants to see you succeed so badly, I don’t think I saw that as prevalent at any other school I visited. This was also my dream school, so I knew that if I got accepted, I would be going here.”

She is currently pursuing a major in Communications with a specialization in Public Relations, which she declared at the end of her freshman year. So far, she has thoroughly enjoyed her communications classes, especially this past year, during which she has been able to expand her course load past the introductory courses and focus in on Public Relations.

She sees Public Relations as a part of her future. “Ideally, I want to work for public relations. I met this woman at a Bridge Society Event who does exactly what I hope to do. She works for a media agency that promotes television shows, and I think that’s the coolest thing in the world, and to work in New York or Los Angeles in the entertainment industry would be what I want to do. I really love Public Relations because I like promoting things that are bigger than myself.”

On campus Kerri is a part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Committee. She contributes heavily to their publicity efforts; she helped make the logo that was on all of their materials, their t-shirts, the banner, and helped with their social media. She is also on the Diversity and Inclusion Council, which is a part of the Student Government Association. They help underrepresented groups have a voice on campus by listening to their issues and trying to fix them. Currently, they are in the works to have an LGBTQIA+ space on campus, which is an important step, because as Kerri said, having a space for their community is one of the biggest issues they face.

Last summer she worked as a Human Resources Intern at Six Flags Great Adventure. Currently she works on campus as a work assistant in the Dean of Students office while balancing two different internships.

One of her internships is working for the non-profit organization PACT for Animals. “They find foster homes for people who are going overseas or are hospitalized and need a temporary home for their pets. For them, I’ve been writing articles that get published on their website and their social media, in order to get people to pay attention to these pets. We have many people who are potential fosters and word is spreading so we’re getting more people to reach out and help us. I love going there so much because they have dogs and cats wandering around in the office. Once, I posted a photo of the office on Snapchat, and since then, all of my friends have been wanting to come.”

She also has an internship with the Office of Undergraduate Studies under the tutelage of Kate Szumanski. For the office, she uses the online program Canva to make posters. She even has posters planned already for Kate’s events next semester.

Next semester, she will be working for another non-profit organization called I Support the Girls, a position she secured after being proactive. “The organization helps women who are homeless and need items like bras, pads, tampons, so we collect donations, do drives, and help the women. The woman I will be working for, Kathleen Vicente, works in Student Involvement and she hosted an event last semester. At the event, she said that she was looking that she was looking for an intern to help with social media. I immediately went up to her and introduced myself and I told her that I really wanted to be her intern, and she hired me.”

She had one main piece of advice for other students. “Utilize your resources. Ask for help. Don’t be afraid For example, because of CASA, I had to go to a Learn About the Bridge Society event. That was where I met Kate and right off the bat, she told me to show her my resume and she would fix it for me. Now, she has helped me ever since. I think there are a lot of people on this campus that are willing to help you and you just need to ask because they want to see you succeed.”

My OUS Story: Harrison Jumper

Junior Harrison Jumper from has taken advantage of every opportunity that has come his way during his time at Villanova.

During his high school years, he became encapsulated with political science during the 2016 Presidential Election. While taking his AP U.S. Government Course, he became obsessed with the process of campaigns and learned that he wanted to explore the field of political science during his undergraduate career. He chose Villanova for two reasons. First, he was drawn by the caliber of the Political Science Department, who, when he visited campus, told him about their programming and all the networking opportunities he could get involved in. Second, he decided to come to Candidate’s Day where he witnessed the strength of the community, a community that wanted him to come here. He had the sense that this is where he could belong.

Once he came to Villanova, he picked up some political science courses and declared as soon as he thought was possible. He also has a minor in economics.

His biggest involvement on campus has been his work with the student Government Association. “I have chaired the Elections Commissions for SGA since my Freshman year, which was the year it was created. It’s a major component of my time throughout each semester, because there are elections in the Fall for freshman candidates and there’s elections in the Spring for President, Vice President, and the senatorial positions. As Chair, I oversee the elections from start to finish. This includes working with the candidates and guiding them, helping them understand the university’s election laws, setting up the debates, meet and greets, and the campaign rally night, which was something that we started this year. On Election Day we set up the voting link and the email blast that gets sent out to every student, so it’s a really big undertaking.”

He is also a member of Phi Sigma Pi, which is an honors fraternity, and the Academic Reform Committee, which looks into improving different initiatives within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and representing what the students want.

On recalling his favorite campus experience, the first memory that sprung into his mind was the 2018 Villanova National Championship Basketball win. “I followed every game. I am not a big sports person, but I will support Villanova Basketball. When I heard that we were going to the Final Four, I immediately began to plan how I’d get to San Antonio. I was looking on Google Flights every day, and then the day I was heading home for Spring Break, my parents picked me up and I was in the car checking my phone and I saw there were tickets for $230, so I texted my friend that we were going. The thing was, I had to fly to Salt Lake City, Utah, and then I flew to Dallas, and then I took a bus from Dallas to San Antonio, so like a crazy person, I traveled for thirteen hours to go see Villanova play in just the Final Four Game. I didn’t even stay for the Championship. But I got to come back to campus for the Championship, so I really did get to see the best of both worlds. San Antonio was just incredible, and I was even on TV multiple times because I dressed up from head to toe in attire. I have never been on the news more than doing the championship run because I dressed up to all the events, so the reporters would take pictures of me. Afterwards, I lost my voice and got sick, but it was all so worth it.”

After his freshman year, he had an internship with an Educational Law Firm with attorneys that represent different school districts. The experience from that internship helped him achieve his second one last summer when he interned for the City of Philadelphia in the Mayor’s Internship Program under Mayor Jim Kenney, for which he was placed into the City Law Department. “I accepted the role because it was a good opportunity to forge connections and learn about the functioning of local and city government. I worked closely with the Code Enforcement Unit, which is responsible for building code violations and who take action to get places in Philadelphia in compliance when they may be in violation of a building in code. I went to court multiple times a week and saw city attorneys litigate on behalf of the public and the city government.”

An irreplaceable part of his experience as a political science major, one he hopes that every political science major gets the chance to do, was the three-week Washington D.C. Minimester hosted by the Political Science Department. “When I first toured Villanova, this girl who I ran into who was a Political Science major told me that this was the one thing I had to do before I graduate. You go to D.C. with fifteen others, and they set-up this amazing itinerary for you. It’s used to explore the intersection between politics and policy making. They had us meet with different professionals in D.C. from congressmen to journalists and to pollsters to have an open dialogue with them. A big part of it is the questions we ask them, so the Department Head of the Political Science Department, Dr. Matthew Kerbel, asks when you interview for this program if you’re ready to ask tough questions to these professionals. I told him, of course, because the learning is going to happen in these tough questions. We learned about all the different avenues of professional careers that are available, but it also enhances our learning so much because what we learn in class at Villanova might be more theoretical in nature, since we’re learning how government should operate and good governance, while this program teaches us the reality rather than what it should be.”

This current semester, he has been taking the ASPD course Public Policy Paths taught by Kate Szumanski, which has now opened up many doors for him and tries to connect students with alumni in Washington D.C. “When I saw the description for the course, I realized it was perfectly up my alley. We learn about the alumni’s experience working as a professional in D.C. we are given ways to stay in contact with them. They come visit our class, and it has been incredible hearing what they have to say. I see my future in Washington D.C., and so getting the opportunity to talk to these people was fundamental because internships in D.C. can be incredibly hard to secure. Before the class started, I reached out to Kate and I told her that I was interested in getting an internship this summer in D.C., but I didn’t know how since kids from all over the country are coming and trying to get these hypercompetitive internships. I asked if she had any advice for me, and she told me that I was already on the right track by taking the class and she told me to network, network, network to land myself a role. And it worked. Now, I have an internship this summer working in the Congressional Office of Congressman Dwight Evans which I just learned about. Kate was the first person I emailed because she has felt like such a friend and a mentor to me rather than a teacher.”

His internship will begin at the end of May and will last for about twelve weeks. For Congressman Dwight Evans, who serves a district in Philadelphia, Harrison will be answering letters, emails, and phone calls from constituents and engaging in a discussion with them about their concerns, wishes, and issues, and he will take on any tasks that a legislative aide might give him. “I’m hoping to prove myself this summer by working as hard as I can, because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to work on Capitol Hill. I can’t even believe that I’m really doing it, it hasn’t set in yet. It’s intimidating too, to have this role and know that I’m going to be walking down those aisles.”

Though Harrison is not completely sure as to what he wants to do after he graduates, but he now knows that he has a deeper interest in exploring federal politics and policy through his Public Policy Paths course and the Washington Minimester. He also hopes that his internship on Capitol Hill will continue to open doors for him.

To other Villanova students, Harrison had one main piece of advice. “I would say that the key to having a really enriching time here is to get involved in things that you really like. It doesn’t really matter what it is, because everyone has varying interests and passions, but when you get involved in something you start meeting people and you start making these friendships that might otherwise not have happened. Apply to as many clubs or organizations that you feel may be somehow relevant to you and then throughout your time distill which ones you really like and commit yourself to them, because when you put your all into something the reward will be really great in the end. You’ll make so many connections and friends that it will be invaluable to helping you and enriching your time here. Ultimately, it is about the people you meet. Also the learning lessons that you learn through your extracurriculars can be more valuable than what you learn in the classroom. That’s something that I learned especially this election season in SGA, since I dealt with how people work.”

My OUS Story: Gracie Stagliano

Senior Gracie Stagliano from Atlanta, Georgia is the definition of an activist, both in and outside of the classroom.

At Villanova, she is an English and French Double Major with a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies. Deciding to major in English was a favorite choice for her because it was her favorite subject throughout all of high school, and she has always loved reading, writing, and analyzing literature. She also added another major in French, after getting recommendations from her French professors that she should. Since she had enough credits from that classes that she had taken and loves the study of languages, she decided to add the major.

She ended up adding the minor in Gender and Women’s Studies because she had been inspired by the Gender and Women’s Studies courses that she had taken as a freshman. “I felt like it had opened my mind to something that I had never considered before. I fell in love with Gender studies, especially within literature.”

While studying these different but interrelated fields, Gracie has won multiple awards that all recognize her impeccable strength in writing. As a Freshman, she won the award for Best Essay by a First Year Student for the Gender and Women’s Studies Conference and got first place essay in the ACS Writing Awards. Last year, she received the Jerome J. Fischer Memorial Award, which honored the Best Essay by an Undergraduate from the English Department. Finally, she received an Honorable Mention for Undergraduate Essay for the Gender and Women’s Studies Conference that took place on April 5th.  

On campus, she serves as the Co-Vice President of the Villanova Poetry Society, who is having their annual slam competition on April 11th. Last year, Gracie received the honor of winning first place for the slam, which was judged by Villanova professors. She also serves as the Layout Coordinator for Polis Literary Magazine.

During the fall semester of her junior year, she studied abroad in Lille, France. “It was a really incredible experience, and a lot scarier than I thought it was going to be. I ended up strongly improving my skills in French and developing more as a person. I learned about different cultures and different practices, even about things people would never consider would be different, but once you realize that it’s part of a culture you see how normal and commonplace it is. I think that gave me a lot more cultural awareness and made me even more open to different points of view. I took classes at the University there that were taught entirely in French, which was a huge adjustment, but also ended up being really fun. I even had to make a music video in one of my classes, for which I worked with a French art student, which was something that I had never done before. Also, in the month of July before I started my official study abroad program, I did an internship giving tours at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, so that was a crazy experience, but so incredibly fun.”

Something that has captured Gracie’s attention this semester has been the Climate Change Crisis. “Everything for me started at the beginning of this semester with the Climate Change Town Hall that was organized by Dr. Jean Lutes, who is my academic advisor. I had heard about it through Dr. Lutes and the English Department. I had always been interested in helping in the climate change crisis but had never gotten involved with any sustainability efforts on campus before this. My interest built up to this moment where I was trying to get people to come to the town hall and help spread the word that something needs to be done. After my efforts with the town hall, I was asked to speak at the Climate Walk-Out that happened a couple of weeks ago. Now, I have been working with Corina Scott, Alex Forgione, and Maeve Kavanaugh and other underclassmen to organize different walk-outs. This Friday, April 12th, we are doing Fridays for Future, which is part of a student-led global movement to end climate change and that’s going to be at noon at the Oreo. We’re going to be doing a demonstration with posters and interviewing people for a short video project on why sustainability on campus is important to them. We also met with Father Peter after the walk-out. We’re still working on coordinating with him and the sustainability council to get more information on exactly what is being done because they’re more in the planning stages and not so much in the doing things stage, so we’re trying to get more information of why we’re currently not doing anything.”

In regard to Gracie’s work experience, she taught over the summer with a program called Breakthrough Collaborative back home in Atlanta, which offers school-year and summer educational programming for students from under resourced communities. For the position, she took on a teaching residency created for college undergraduates for which she taught social studies to eighth graders. Currently, she works as an intern for the Center for Family Services, which is in New Jersey and is a non-profit organization dedicated to changing lives through multiple initiatives. For them, she performs communication and graphic design work with their public relations team.

After graduation, Gracie plans on volunteering with the Jesuit Volunteer Corp for a year of service. She is still in the interview process with the organization, so she is unsure as to what type of service she will be doing, but know that she will definitely be taking that year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corp.

She left the interview with some words to her fellow Villanovans looking to inspire change. “I think no matter what challenge you’re facing, no matter if that’s a personal challenge or social justice challenge, don’t be cynical. And always keep hope alive.”

My OUS Story: Renee Romagnoli

Junior Renee Romagnoli from Rockland County, New York, has allowed for each one of her fundamental experiences during her college career to be the foundation for her career path.

She entered Villanova as a Biology major, and she is interested in pursuing a minor in psychology. Her initial interest in Biology began when she was in eighth grade, and she took her first biology course. Though the course was challenging, she discovered her love for the body and how each system is so dynamic. Her aunt, a biology teacher, also pushed her in the direction of biology as Renee discovered that she wanted to become a doctor. Also, as a freshman, her Gen Bio II professor encouraged her to apply for the five year BS/MS program, which will allow her to also get a masters in biology. Next semester, she will begin developing her own project for her thesis.

As a part of her masters program, she has been working in Dr. Louise Russo’s anatomy and physiology lab since her freshman year. “We use the mouse model and we look primarily at different hormones that may affect uterine growth. It was a little intimidating to jump into research at first since I had no experience, and Dr. Russo immediately started me off with surgeries on live mice. I thought, I am a freshman, how am I supposed to do all of these things, am I going to pass out? In high school, I had only done one dissection on a frog and my partner ended up doing that work. But because of my work in the lab, I can now perform these surgeries on my own. I never thought that I would be able to handle that. It was the right push at the right time, since I was hesitant beforehand. The way Dr. Russo has her lab planned out is that you jump in and learn as you go. It’s more hands-on which I like. I now hope to keep pursuing the realm of anatomy and physiology but more in the realm of pediatrics in the future.”

On campus, she is a part of the Pre-Med Club, the Pre-Health Honors Society, and the Biology Honors Society, Tri Beta. She also serves as one of the co-presidents for MAPS, the Minority Association for Pre-Health Students, and the VP of Academic Excellence for her sorority Alpha Gamma Delta.

Being a part of MAPS has been one of the hallmarks of her Villanova career. “I started off as a regular member freshman year, and then they had board positions opening up, so I decided to apply for secretary. At the time, the two presidents were seniors, and they took me under their wing and guided me through the whole process as they were applying to medical school. I learned a ton from them without even knowing it. Then they recommended that I become president this year, and I have been doing that with another senior. For the position we try to relay information for activities on and off campus for minority students interested in health careers, so we work a lot with PCOM, the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. I had never thought about being a president of a club since I had never seen myself as a good public speaker or much of a leader, even though I have had leadership positions, but they were all behind the scenes type of positions. But when the seniors in the club saw those characteristics in me that would be suitable to be a president, it made me feel more sure of myself and gave me a boost of confidence, reassuring me that I can do this. I now know I can handle more things than I give myself credit for.”

As a member of MAPS, she has been able to visit PCOM’s cadaver lab and their simulation lab, which allowed them to practice performing remote surgery. Last year they also had their first Melanin in Medicine Conference. For the conference, they invited five medical students from PCOM and Dr. Higginbotham, the Dean of Diversity and Inclusion at University of Pennsylvania’s Medical School. Currently, they are trying to host another student panel with people from Thomas Jefferson.

Renee has also been able to expand her interests in the medical field during each of her summers. When she was a freshman, she thought that along with Biology, she wanted to also pursue a major in Chemistry. So, she applied and received a Chemistry-oriented internship at SGS, a company that performs product testing. They placed her in the Organic Chemistry lab even though she had never taken a course in Organic Chemistry beforehand.

Although, that experience helped her decide what she did want to do. “I was extremely lost and confused the whole time in the Organic Chemistry lab, and I realized that I did not want to be stuck in a research lab alone as part of my future career. I would much rather do collaborative research work.”

Because of that realization, she decided to supplement her time with what she did want to pursue, and she decided to volunteer at NYAC Hospital. She had applied online to read to patients and their families before and after their treatment, but when she arrived at the hospital, they decided to place her in the Endoscopy unit, and then the Pathology unit.

She recalls that, “At the lab, I was able to see all of this fresh tissue that had just come out of the operating room, which was really cool. It was not what I thought I would be doing at all, but it helped me realize how much I enjoyed learning about that part of medicine. I worked with the Histology Technician. As the samples would come in, like hip bones or knee bones from different surgeries or a uterus from a hysterectomy or even amputations, I knew I had to prepare myself for those sights and help her as they process all of the tissues so they can make microscope slides. I got so much out of that experience, and I didn’t think I would enjoy that side of the medical field so much, all of the blood and guts, but that comes with being a doctor, and it helped me get over my fear of that and also solidify that this is what I want to do. I continued with them last summer, and every time I am home for breaks, I go back to volunteer. Each new time I come, they start to let me do more. Like they let me separate breast tissue, which I am not trained for, but they trusted me enough to do it.”

This past summer, along with NYAC, she also shadowed at Tufts and MGH in Boston in the NICU. “I absolutely loved it, just being around the babies all day was great. I just loved what the doctors were doing everyday. The health professionals there also told me that I had an uncommon personality that would be suitable for that profession, which I had never thought of as a strength of mine, but it was really great to hear them say that about me, it gave me confidence in my career choice.”

As for her post-graduation plans, she will stay at Villanova for an extra year to complete her research for her masters degree. After that she plans on applying to medical school, for which she would love to go back home to New York or be in the New Jersey area. Right now, she plans on going into neonatology.

To other Villanovans, she had a few pieces of advice. “For me, coming from high school, I was super involved in a lot of different clubs, and then I got here and it was a shellshock seeing how involved everybody is. It made me a little overwhelmed, wondering how I could find my place in all of these different organizations and not knowing what would be best for me. I would say try as many as you can, and it’s okay to not like something or to try something you that you never thought you would be interested in. Like for me going out for MAPS, I didn’t know if it would be a good fit for me, but I decided to see how it would go and now I’m one of the presidents of it, so you really never know what could lead you in the right direction. Also, I didn’t know that coming from a huge family and to a new school, that you would feel alone sometimes, and being involved in those clubs and taking on leadership position, makes you feel like your presence is more important and you can get your voice heard, so I thought that was helpful for me in the transition to establish my place at Villanova.”