My OUS Story: Austin Rongo

“Home is where I choose it to be, and I consider Villanova my home,” says Chemistry major and Philosophy minor Austin Rongo ‘24. Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, he has spent his past two summers on the campus, and plans to spend next summer on 800 Lancaster Avenue as well. 

Villanova won Austin over with its beautiful campus and exciting acceptance email. Between his junior and senior years of high school, he took a road trip hitting Bucknell, Tufts, Princeton, Brown, and of course, Villanova. “As soon as I saw Villanova’s campus I thought ‘Wow, this place is awesome. I really like it here’ and I really liked my tour guide,” he shares. Then, alongside a bunch of friends and fellow applicants, he found out he had gotten in. “Villanova had the best admitted student’s letter I had received. As soon as you opened the email it said ‘Congratulations!’ and ‘Welcome!’ in a big flashy message. It was really cool for me,” he recalls.

Starting his college journey at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic has made each year an enjoyable, but very different, experience for Austin. “My first year was a COVID year, so classes wise I felt like I was in college, but the social scene was so different. You could only have four people in a room at once, and it was very hard to socialize. Sophomore year felt more like my freshman year socially, but this year I finally figured out my routine,” he shares.

However, he hasn’t let any of that time go to waste, and has dedicated much of it to valuable research here at Villanova, while still managing an impressive number of other endeavors. “The past two summers, I conducted research with my chemistry professors. My research focuses on making copper catalysts, which are greener than most other chemical catalysts, and we’re using them to polymerize rubber,” he explains. 

He is also a part of Orientation on campus, and has served as an Administrative Assistant for the past two years. “Even though Orientation has only been 24 days for me total, I just feel like I’ve learned the most about myself as a person and have been able to give new students and other people in my life the best version of myself. I hope I taught them something valuable, and I know I’ve learned valuable things from the other orientation staff,” he says. He feels blessed and excited to serve as the Administrative Coordinator for next year’s orientation, and will work hands-on with the Office of First Year Experience this summer. 

Last year, he was in the Sophomore Service Learning Community, and loved the involvement. “I had done service before, but I felt more connected with my service. Taking classes with others in the community opened my eyes to this experience I hadn’t had before, and it was really unique,” he reflects. 

In addition to research and volunteer work, Austin plays club rugby and works as a Teaching Assistant for General Chemistry. “It’s really rewarding to see the students learn and understand something, and it’s been good to reinforce that base chemical knowledge that I’ve had,” he says.

After graduation, Austin hopes to receive a Fulbright Research Award in order to study and research abroad for a year or two after he leaves Villanova. As for career aspirations, he shared that he would like to conduct research, but is still deciding between two areas. “I’m thinking about ending up in pharmaceuticals. I like that kind of research, creating target drugs to solve any health related problems that we face as a society, but I also really like what I’m doing right now with rubber research, and even general polymer research,” he says.

In his time left at Villanova, he wants to dive into service again and give back to the Sophomore Service Learning Community. His senior year, he plans to rejoin and serve as a Peer Facilitator. His favorite part about being here so far has been the opportunities he’s had access to, as he feels there weren’t many presented to him in high school. “Whether it’s a community or something that you want to explore for yourself, I just feel like with any organization or class here, you’re really going to get something out of it,” he shares. He’s learned to go for things, even if he’s not quite sure he’ll like them. “Be bold. We have four years. If you’re on the fence about something, jump into it and see what happens.”

Interested in being featured on My OUS Story next? Fill out the interest form here!

As a Staff Writer for Villanova University’s Office for Undergraduate Students, sophomore Gabrielle Piccirilli shares the stories, experiences, and accomplishments of the students of Villanova’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

A Letter to Unjustly Stigmatized Arts Majors

This letter is addressed to any student who has ever been told their major is “worthless”, “a waste of money” or “easy”. You, your passions, and your hard work matter and you will go far.

It is undeniable that in today’s society, there is a stigma associated with pursuing majors within the arts. Arts majors find themselves at the brunt of all kinds of wild assertions that their selected fields of study are of lesser value than others or will land them in low salary positions for the duration of their careers. 

For a high-school senior, college freshman, or even a student three semesters deep, hearing things like this can be extremely daunting and disheartening. Even as a lifelong lover of creative endeavors, I was almost swayed away from the arts because of these fears. It’s incredibly easy to let the discouraging words of others gnaw away at your confidence, but it’s time that we change the narrative. That begins with reshaping our own perceptions.

“What are you studying?” 

The all-too-popular, dreaded question any college-aged person has faced thousands of times, whether that be in line at a grocery store when someone noticed your college hoodie or across the Thanksgiving dinner table. If you’re bold enough to respond with the truth, that you’ve dared to select something within the arts, you may be rewarded with another slew of nightmarish questions:

“Are you majoring in something else too?”

“How will you make any money?”

“Is that really worth the student debt?”

“Are there even any jobs in that?”

A favorite baseless comment I’ve received personally is “Creative Writing isn’t something you study in college, that’s just a fun class you take in high school!” I’d argue my Creative Writing minor and lifelong passion for the discipline say otherwise, but I’ve learned to pick and choose my battles.

Recently, I came across an article from The Skyline View (sourced below if you’d like to give it a read in its entirety) in which a career counselor at Skyline College, Kenny Gonzalez, shared some insight on combating these judgments. Gonzalez said; “We tend to put ourselves in these cookie-cutter approaches. In the creative arts, there are no traditional pathways. You create your own, almost like a freelancer, to be able to do the kinds of things you want to do, not what your parents want you to do. Not what your partner wants. Not what obedient society is telling you is safe.” 

His last line is what resonated with me most – it is essential that as arts majors, we realize the importance of pursuing something that invites us to think in ways we find enriching and exciting. Our majors receive the reputations they do because they lack simple, ready-made outcomes. When you major in a field in the sciences, you’re working down a structured, specific path designed to bring you to a common end. Many people like the clarity and security this brings. Society likes questions answered and loose ends neatly tied up. This is why we get such pointed questions that can foster insecurities. It can be hard for someone with this way of thinking to be content with the excitement of unknown possibilities, and there is nothing wrong with that, but it’s not for everyone. 

Every human brain cannot be expected to be satisfied by the simple nature of question and answer. Some brains would rather see a problem and come up with a multitude of solutions, rather than a problem that reads like an equation that can only be solved with an exact accompanying sequence. When pursuing a creative career, there will never be one singular outcome, and that is the beauty in them. It’s exciting to know that the classmates that leave your university with the same degree as you will be in an entirely different place than you in ten years, dictated by what they felt more drawn to pursuing. 

The majors of Communication and English are just two of the many that face this misunderstood treatment, despite the large, ever increasing number of bright and capable students that study them. As a Communication major with two minors under the English department, I sit right at the crux of this. Full transparency: I was terrified to declare my major. Even though I was pretty sure what my interests were, I put off declaring Communication, Creative Writing and Writing and Rhetoric, hoping my love for something scientific and “valuable” would come along one day. However, all I was doing was falling for societal pressures, and waiting for some grand epiphany that was never going to happen. 

Since declaring, I’ve learned the power of owning my love for the arts, and that’s what I hope to share with others who find themselves in this very same boat. We must acknowledge that our choices have not set us up for doom, and that they weren’t the “wrong” ones to have made. The assertion that those who pursue Communication or English will end up with low salary jobs, with the exception of the one in a million best-selling author or social media superstar could not be farther from the truth. A simple skim on a website with salary and employment data like Glassdoor would tell you that the average Editorial Director at Penguin Publishing House earns an estimated $152,000 annually, and a Communications Manager at Google has a salary of $172,640. These so-called “useless” degrees can land six-figure salaries, and do quite often. It’s not as much of a longshot as society would like us to believe. Plus, the skills obtained from studying these disciplines can serve you very well in pursuing law school, and graduate or doctoral degrees.

The multi-faceted education we can walk away with as Communication and English majors equips us with the abilities to exercise a wide variety of skills and traits that can lead to multiple streams of income consecutively. With the skills I’ll obtain by graduation, I’ll be ready to tackle my aspiration of pursuing a career within Public Relations, while also authoring written work for publication. 

Whether society realizes it or not, our majors dive into concepts that are at the very heart of human existence. Every professional work environment, and each relationship in one’s personal life requires both communication and the application of language to function. Our world would practically spin off its axis if people didn’t utilize language, critical thinking skills and communication on a daily basis. We cannot let ourselves forget our often overlooked value.

So, I’ll task you with this; if you ever feel what you’ve chosen to study isn’t of much value, whether you’ve gotten lost in your own thoughts or someone in your life has blatantly told you so, I want you to take a moment and imagine a world in which we’re unable to reap in the benefits of those who choose to major in the arts. Here are a few realities of that world: 

There are no authors, and no books to be read. 

There are no social media representatives, and no successful brand campaigns. 

There are no public speakers, and no inspirational messages to be shared. 

There are no fashion designers, and no fun trends to follow. 

There are no content creators, and no media to be consumed. 

There are no entertainers, and no shows to attend. 

There are no journalists, and no timely reception of crucial information. 

The world as we know it would fade from existence, growing much less connected, advanced and enriched each day. This list just scratches the surface of things that would be lost if we didn’t have creative-minded people confident enough to pursue the stigmatized fields, and would extend farther and farther down the page depending on how much time you devote to this little exercise. But, the point remains the same;

All of you and all of the hard work you put in are so very valuable, and even if those around aren’t quick to acknowledge it, make sure that you do. 

Love,

A fellow arts major 

Sources: Hernandez, Adriana. “The Stigma Facing Creative Majors.” The Skyline View, 14 Dec. 2021, https://www.theskylineview.com/the-focal-point/features/2021/12/14/the-stigma-facing-creative-majors/.

As a Staff Writer for Villanova University’s Office for Undergraduate Students, sophomore Gabrielle Piccirilli shares the stories, experiences, and accomplishments of the students of Villanova’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Senior Spotlight: Grace Lundell

Political Science and French and Francophone Studies double major Grace Lundell ‘23, is nothing short of well-traveled. After seven consecutive months of study abroad experience, and many international internships, she sits down to tell us about her Villanova journey so far and what the future holds for her. 

Originally from Washington D.C, Grace attended an international school from ages five to eighteen, really starting her on the path of interest in international affairs. When she began her college search, she wasn’t positive about what she wanted, but coming from a graduating class of 30, she knew she wanted to attend a relatively small school. She also came to realize that she really valued school spirit. “I went to all of the Admitted Students’ Days and Villanova’s was the best. At my school growing up, kids were constantly coming and going with the diplomatic cycle, so no one really cared that much about school spirit. It was so cool to go to the Villanova Admitted Students’ Day and see how much people actually loved Villanova and liked being there,” she says. “I also felt like some of the schools were lacking with the purpose of their education, and it was just to get a job, which didn’t seem good enough for me. I really liked how Villanova emphasized that your education is for a purpose and to serve others,” she explains. Grace’s twin sister is also a student at Villanova, and although they made their decisions separately, they both landed on Villanova for these same reasons. Now, Grace serves as President of the French Club and Co-President of the Honors Events Board. 

Starting her senior year, she is experiencing a natural mix of excitement and anxiety. “I came in and had a normal non-COVID experience freshman year, but then in March it suddenly ended, so it feels like I lost like a year. It feels like I should be a junior,” she reflects, giving us insight into what it’s been like to be a college student during the pandemic. “I’m entering a new chapter and applying to graduate schools to do a master’s in International Relations so that’s a really exciting experience. But at the same time, it’s very anxiety-inducing, because it feels like going through the college application process all over again, but with the added weight of knowing that you’re truly becoming an adult,” she articulates. 

In looking to the future, it’s important to also reflect on where you’ve been. In looking back on her previous three years, Grace shares some fond memories. Her freshman year, she recalls late nights at Donahue Hall, sharing; “I remember sitting there so late talking with my friends that the cleaning staff knew us and the little table we always sat at.” She also spoke highly of her time spent abroad; “One of the best experiences was going to France for the spring semester of last year, and then Ireland this summer. It was a constant experience of being abroad from January through the end of July. I loved being in Ireland and part of the Villanova program run by Dr. Joyce. She did such a good job at creating this close-knit community.” Overall though, her favorite thing about being at Villanova is how friendly her peers and professors have been. “Even if you were in a class with someone four semesters ago, they’ll still say hi to you and I love that,” Grace shares.

She has also really enjoyed her time with both the French department and the Honors Program. She shared how her participation in the Honors Program and her relationship with the faculty and staff there really changed her for the better; “The Honors Program has what’s called Shaping courses, and I completed two of them. They really teach you to think beyond just academics and create a plan for yourself of what you want your life to be. That’s been really helpful, making me take a step back from the busyness of university life and think about what I want my life to look like in 10 years.” As for her academics specifically, Grace says; “I’ve really enjoyed a lot of my French classes. The French department is like a really close-knit community, especially when you get to the upper levels. I’m taking a French Politics class right now through the department, which is the perfect merging of my two interests.”

As a French major, she felt it was essential to study abroad in France. After cancellations her sophomore year due to COVID, she finally got to go her junior year to a town called Nantes. “I wanted to kind of focus on being immersed in the French culture and language, so I didn’t travel much around Europe. But I did get to travel a lot around France and just traveling with the friends I made on study abroad was amazing,” she reflects. 

She loved her following summer studying in Dublin, Ireland just as much. “Ireland was great because it facilitated my transition back to Villanova. When I was in France, there were no other Villanova kids in the program, and all my classes were in French. Being in Ireland with Villanova kids, writing in English, and taking a class with a Villanova professor was a great transition back to being at Villanova fully this semester,” she explains. 

Part of her time in Ireland also included an internship with Ireland’s leading think tank: the Institute of International and European Affairs. This wasn’t her first internship, but this was the first time she felt entrusted with important work with less supervision. “I was writing and editing a lot of pieces of policy analysis that the IAEA was publishing, and I actually became the first intern to get a policy analysis published on their website,” she details. She also took part in an event at the French Ambassador’s residence, getting to put the French she’d practiced the entire semester prior to use. This experience was really helpful for Grace, as she got to talk with people doing the kinds of things she’s interested in.

She hopes to become a Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State, and two internships with State really confirmed this as her ideal career. “I’ve done one with the U.S Embassy in Ireland, and then one with the American Corner in Tunisia, which is part of the Public Diplomacy Wing of the embassy there,” she explains. Both internships were virtual but very beneficial. 

After her time at Villanova is up, Grace plans to make her way back home to Washington D.C, a fitting place to study International Relations. However, she is also interested in some programs abroad and hopes to keep the spirit of traveling abroad alive in her graduate studies.

Interested in being featured on My OUS Story next? Fill out the interest form here!

As a Staff Writer for Villanova University’s Office for Undergraduate Students, sophomore Gabrielle Piccirilli shares the stories, experiences, and accomplishments of the students of Villanova’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Senior Spotlight: Jacob Artz

Communication major, Journalism specialization, and radio show host, Jacob Artz ‘23, shares his unique story to the start of his Villanova career, and gets us up to speed on how he’s spent the busy last three years. 

Jacob is from St. Clair, Pennsylvania, and is studying both Communication and Humanities, minoring in the latter. As he starts the first semester of his senior year at Villanova, he reflects on how his time here began. “In my left ear, I only have 60% of my hearing, and I’ve had two major surgeries on it. When I was younger, my family and I would come down to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia a lot because of that, and we would always stop by Villanova to just walk around and see the beautiful campus. I got to see it during all the seasons,” he shares. His grandfather also contributed to his interest in Villanova. Jacob recalls watching all the basketball games with him religiously since he was 11 years old. Additionally, a scholarship offered in his area by Villanova alum, James Curvey, made it possible for Jacob, as well as some of his friends from home, to attend Villanova. “It wouldn’t be possible for a lot of kids from my area to come here because of the price, and I was fortunate to get that scholarship. Without it, I probably wouldn’t be here,” Jacob explains. 

He has taken quite the academic journey, taking a little bit to really settle in on what he wanted to study, and he stresses that this is a journey that can always evolve and change. He first considered Education and History, then explored research, Human Resources, and sports within Communications. He enjoyed internships with WBRE-TV and the Republican Herald with their sports teams over the summer, but is exploring options in Advancement and Communication for higher education. “A lot of kids think it has to be this one way, but it really doesn’t. It’s not what your parents or your friends want, it’s what you want,” he shares. 

As for a favorite professor, he wanted to shout out Mr. Michael Bradley, his journalism coordinator. “He always has these 8 am classes that are so hard to get up for but they’re so worth it. He just brings so much energy and is a very down-to-earth, relatable guy,” he says. 

Jacob is not lacking in the area of campus involvement. He hosts a radio show, Sports Takes with Jake, on WXVU every Monday night. The show is about an hour and 15 minutes each week, and he does 20-30 minute podcasts during the breaks. He also works at Falvey Library on campus, and writes for the Villanovan, previously in the opinion section and now, in the sports section. Last semester, he covered the men’s track team. In addition, he was nominated for the Senior Gift Committee this year. He’s also helped out with the Bridge Society, serving on the executive board and creating their Facebook page. 

He was also a very involved member of the Knights of Columbus. He was Deputy Grand Knight, which is the Vice President, and Grand Knight, which is President. “We do faith, fraternity, and service events, and when I was Grand Knight, we got Star Council, which is being deemed exceptional in those three areas,” he shares. The group also earned the National Community Award for their service at the local Augustinian cemetery. 

Outside of service, Jacob has also taken the liberty of working for a variety of places in several internships. His first was fittingly with the Knights of Columbus, working forty hours a week. He was their Strategic Partnership and Communication Intern. “They wanted me to target the younger knights, like college kids and people that just graduated, and I did some email correspondence. I did social media content for their insurance team, such as Facebook and LinkedIn. I’m not a huge financial guy, so that was a little out of my range, but was very cool,” he shares.

As a lover of Philly sports, this summer, Jacob had two appropriate internships. One was at a news station called WBRE-TV in Wilkes-Barre, PA as their sports intern, getting to go on assignments, observe them, and help execute shows. His other internship was also sports related, a sports writer for the Republican Herald, a paper in Pottsville, PA. 

He also interned at the Office for Undergraduate Students here at Villanova, and interviewed and wrote features on successful interns, as well as a Back to Basics series where he shared how to make a resume and how to start a Handshake account.

Looking back on his years spent at Villanova so far, he recalls one of his favorite memories, “I was fortunate enough that my roommate is an executive in the Nation, so he got us tickets to the Big East Tournament. It was a dream come true to go to Madison Square Garden, and then see them win it all was just was awesome.” 

“One of the best things about being a Villanovan is how many people care about each other, especially the staff and the professors. I’m just amazed. My sophomore year, my grandpa I was really close with passed away suddenly. I remember going to my astronomy class, and my professor, Kelly Prsa, could tell I was not with it. After class, I let her know I was going to be out for the funeral, and I talked to her about how I was going through a rough time. She was emotional right in front of me, I couldn’t even believe it. It was really powerful because I remember walking out of there and thinking ‘I’m glad I’m here’, and that’s really stuck with me,” Jacob shares. 

When asked what he would say to his freshman year self, given the opportunity to go back in time, Jacob said, “Definitely have more fun. I took the mantle of being busy and doing work a lot, and I just wasn’t as sociable as I should have been. I should have done things I wouldn’t have normally done just to meet people and do things,” he explains.

As for after graduation, Jacob shares his plans, “It’s a little bit in flux, but I think I can utilize my communication skills and networking skills. A dream job would be if I could work here in advancement or recruiting. I think that’d be a really cool role to have because I’ve been here and know the place in and out,” he says.

Interested in being featured on My OUS Story next? Fill out the interest form here!

As a Staff Writer for Villanova University’s Office for Undergraduate Students, sophomore Gabrielle Piccirilli shares the stories, experiences, and accomplishments of the students of Villanova’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. 

The Freshman Experience: Study Spots

Hello! My name is Gabrielle Piccirilli and I’m a rising sophomore at Villanova University. Typically, I write student features for OUS Magazine (to be continued!), but this May I completed my freshman year and decided to begin this series! When I was looking at colleges and awaiting the start of my first year at Villanova, I was buzzing with both questions and worry. My hope is that through sharing my experience, I can answer some of the many questions new and prospective students have! This summer, follow along with a new topic each week shedding some light on what it’s like to be a Villanovan.

Sometimes studying at the desk in your dorm just doesn’t cut it, and you’ll want to mix up your study environment. Luckily, Villanova has tons of spaces on campus you can study, complete homework, write papers, or prepare for presentations. Here’s a list of my personal favorites, but after a few months on campus, you’re sure to find favorites of your own!

I really enjoyed studying in the Reading Room of Old Falvey. It’s a beautiful space and has plenty of booths that give you comfort and silence while studying. Talking is prohibited there, so if you need complete silence that you can’t find in your dorm building or other places around campus, this is the place for you. As the name says, it’s a really good place to do readings for your classes, and I always found myself to be super productive there.

The third and fourth floors of the library are other favorites of mine. I prefer it to be pretty silent when I study, and these are great for a quieter environment. The third floor is usually just limited to whispers, and the fourth floor is completely silent. There, you will find tons of large desks, which are great if you’re studying with friends or just need a lot of space to lay out your study materials. There are also many privacy desks if you find yourself easily distracted. I used these desks to study for all of my finals! 

Talking is permitted on the first and second floors of the library. If you’re doing a group project, working with a tutor, or studying with a group, these are great places where you’ll find many other students doing the same. The second floor of the library also has the Math Learning Resource Center and the Writing Center, free tutoring resources available to students.

If you’re doing some light studying or just don’t mind some chatter and movement around you, the Connelly Center is where I spent much of my time doing homework, papers, and reviewing for tests. There are plenty of tables and couches throughout the building, but my personal favorite spot is the high tables back by the Villanova Room and the Cinema. This is a super fun place to sit and study with friends, and you have the convenience of Holy Grounds, Belle Air, and the convenience store just a few feet away if you’re hungry or need a coffee. The high tables are quite popular though…so if you see an open table there, make sure to snag it quickly!

A great thing about Villanova is how beautiful the buildings and greenery on our campus are. In my freshman year, I loved to study outside when the weather was nice, getting both fresh air and a nice view. There are plenty of benches and tables around campus to bring your books and study. Plus, there’s lots of open grassy space to lay down a blanket too. 

When it comes to study spots, Villanova has you covered. You can find students scattered all throughout campus working hard on assignments and cramming for exams. It’s all about finding the spots that work best for you!

As a Staff Writer for Villanova University’s Office for Undergraduate Students, sophomore Gabrielle Piccirilli shares the stories, experiences, and accomplishments of the students of Villanova’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

My OUS Story: Julia Micklo

For rising senior Julia Micklo ‘23, her passion for gender equity and helping others has dictated much of her college journey. She’s a Psychology major and a Gender and Women’s Studies minor with not only three internships under her belt but much campus involvement as well. As she approaches her senior year at Villanova, she sits down and shares her experiences and story thus far. 

Julia is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and found Villanova while looking for a smaller college with lots of school spirit. “My older sister was at Ohio State University and I really love the school, but it was just so huge. So I set my sights on trying to find somewhere that had the same school spirit that they have for their football team, but a little bit smaller. Villanova was the perfect fit with the basketball team,” she explains. “The sense of community here was really appealing to me, and I went on a tour and fell in love. Then, when I came to my Accepted Students’ Day, I knew that this was definitely the place for me,” she recalls. 

Three years in, Julia would definitely call the campus home and has fully immersed herself in campus life. She is a part of the McNulty Institute for Women’s Leadership and serves as a Women’s Leadership Ambassador. “Gender equity is a huge passion of mine, and to be able to do that on campus has been really cool,” she says. 

She is also a part of Blue Key and explains her love for it, saying, “I felt kind of lost finding my way to college, so it’s been super fun to be able to give back and help prospective students.”

Outside of campus, she is a part of the Philly Justice Project for Women and Girls, which is new. “It’s been a really nice way to get involved with the surrounding community and make an actual difference that I can see,” she shares.

Last summer, Julia did two part-time remote internships. Her first was with Women For Election, based out of Dublin, Ireland. She was supposed to study abroad there, but when she was unable, she was set up virtually with an internship. “I worked to help women who want to enter into politics at all different levels, whether that be as a candidate themselves, or a campaign manager. We worked to give them the resources and tools they would need to enter into politics to help curb the gender divide that’s happening in Irish politics,” she explains. This was especially important and valuable work for Julia.

Her other internship was with PennEnvironment, Pennsylvania’s statewide environmental advocacy group. “I worked on a lot of different initiatives for the climate crisis, wrote letters about fracking, and contacted my local community to get signs on petitions. It was a super positive experience,” she says. 

This summer, Julia is interning with The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities as a Human Resources Intern. The Center is a nonpartisan research and policy institute that focuses on promoting policies to better low-income, minority, and LBGTQ+ communities. “This summer has been great, as I am gaining a lot of HR experience while putting my efforts into a very worthwhile cause.”

After graduation, Julia is entering Villanova’s Human Resources in Development Master’s Program. She’s currently in the combined program and will be starting her master’s classes this fall during her senior year. “It’s nice to know I have a little bit of extra time to experience things at Villanova,” she comments. Her ultimate career goal is to enter into a Human Resources position at a nonprofit that focuses on women’s rights or health. 

When asked what her favorite part about being at Villanova so far was, many things came to mind. “Just this past year, the playoffs for basketball were so fun. At March Madness, I couldn’t say enough good things about my experience there,” she says. 

“A lot of the classes I’ve taken, specifically my Gender and Women’s Studies courses, have just been so interesting and have made me want to learn more and more. They gave me such a greater perspective on people’s lives and the differences we all have and broadened my scope of life a lot,” she says. One of her favorites was Gender, Sexuality, and True Crime, an ideal class for Julia as she’s a self-acclaimed “true crime fanatic”, and enjoyed looking at it through the lens of gender, sexuality, and race. 

Julia also shared some advice for incoming freshmen, “Don’t take rejection personally and grow from it. When I came in as a first-year student, I wanted to get involved with a lot of different stuff on campus, but a lot of the clubs can be a little exclusive. I took the rejection from those clubs really personally and thought something was wrong with me. But there’s just so many of us wanting to be involved, that it’s just a numbers game most of the time,” she shares insightfully.

She will be going into her senior year this fall with not only a master’s level course load, but with great friends by her side. “The friends that I’ve made here have helped it feel like home. I’m friends with a majority of the people I was best friends with my freshman year, which I think is a little unique and different. Not a lot of people can say that, and I’ve been really grateful in that sense,” she says. 

Interested in being featured on My OUS Story next? Fill out the interest form here!

As a Staff Writer for Villanova University’s Office for Undergraduate Students, sophomore Gabrielle Piccirilli shares the stories, experiences, and accomplishments of the students of Villanova’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The Freshman Experience: On-Campus Jobs

Hello! My name is Gabrielle Piccirilli and I’m a rising sophomore at Villanova University. Typically, I write student features for OUS Magazine (to be continued!), but this May I completed my freshman year and decided to begin this series! When I was looking at colleges and awaiting the start of my first year at Villanova, I was buzzing with both questions and worry. My hope is that through sharing my experience, I can answer some of the many questions new and prospective students have! This summer, follow along with a new topic each week shedding some light on what it’s like to be a Villanovan.

Whether you have a Federal Work-Study or are simply looking for some extra spending money, Villanova has many options for on-campus job opportunities. I’m well acquainted with Villanova employment – I have three on-campus jobs! I started them all as a freshman, and have had super positive experiences with them all. If you’re interested, it’s never too soon to start applying!

For me, the application process was very simple and straightforward. I was able to apply for all of my jobs by searching for “Student Jobs” on MyNova and clicking on that icon. You will then be taken to a page of job postings that you can search by keyword, posting number, department, position title, and which college you want to work within. If you don’t have a particular job in mind, you can also do a general search for all available positions. To apply, you’ll submit some personal information and a cover letter online. Some jobs may ask for writing samples, relevant work, or a resume. I also completed interviews for two of my jobs, while one of them did not require one.

Working as a full-time student can seem tricky, but Villanova is extremely accommodating. Your employer will ask for your availability around your class schedule and will never ask you to work during class time. Personally, all of my employers have been extremely understanding when I needed to take off for an educational event or extra study time. Your education will always come first when working. 

To give you a glimpse into what working at Villanova can entail, I’ll briefly dive into my jobs here. The first is in our nursing school as a Standardized Patient. This includes acting as a patient in accordance to a script, and sometimes even putting on a hospital gown, fake IV, and breathing mask. I act within a simulation of a real-world hospital experience, in which nursing students participate and learn. At the end of the scenarios, I can give the students feedback. It’s really rewarding and unique work that has also allowed me to meet many fellow actors and many nursing students, with whom I’ve formed friendships.  

My second job is what you’re reading right now! I work as a Staff Writer for our Office for Undergraduate Students. Typically, I interview students within the College of Arts and Sciences and write student features to share their stories, experiences, and accomplishments. I’ve branched out into sharing my own experiences and advice through this series. This job has been wonderful for me as I love to write and have gotten to meet so many amazing students here at Villanova. It’s also opened my eyes to all the different paths and opportunities that are out there. I stumbled upon this job when I saw a sign advertising it outside of the St. Augustine Center – so keep your eyes peeled for postings around campus!

My third job is working as an Access Services Technician at Falvey Library. I split my time between working at the service desk, assisting with patron questions and checking in and out books, and at the Interlibrary Loan department, sorting and packing books from other universities. Through this job, I’ve made friends with my co-workers and have enjoyed helping out students, professors, and visitors with their inquiries. It’s given me great customer service experience. My jobs just scratch the surface of jobs you can hold at Villanova. Working here has been a wonderful experience for me and I’ve only ever encountered friendly, helpful, and dedicated employers and co-workers. So, don’t hesitate to check out the postings for an on-campus job!

As a Staff Writer for Villanova University’s Office for Undergraduate Students, sophomore Gabrielle Piccirilli shares the stories, experiences, and accomplishments of the students of Villanova’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The Freshman Experience: Dorm Life + What to Bring

My dorm room!

Hello! My name is Gabrielle Piccirilli and I’m a rising sophomore at Villanova University. Typically, I write student features for OUS Magazine (to be continued!), but this May I completed my freshman year and decided to begin this series! When I was looking at colleges and awaiting the start of my first year at Villanova, I was buzzing with questions and worry. My hope is that through sharing some of my experiences, I can answer some of the many questions new and prospective students have! This summer, follow along with a new topic each week shedding some light on what it’s like to be a Villanovan. 

In my freshman year, I lived on the first floor of Stanford Hall on South Campus. Stanford, with five floors of rooms, is the campus’ largest residence hall, so a large number of new students are likely to reside there soon as well! 

My floor had three wings, one of which was all women and two of which were all men. They were joined together by the lobby, which was a popular spot to hang out, as well as, run into fellow students on their way to class or the dining hall. You could also find plenty of students anxiously awaiting their Uber Eats or DoorDash orders to arrive outside! 

My wing had two sides, joined together by a staircase at the end of the hallway, and each wing had its own communal bathroom. I would roughly estimate that I shared a bathroom with sixteen other girls on my side of the wing. 

A large worry for a lot of incoming college students is just that: the idea of sharing a bathroom and showers with so many people. I too had those same fears! I thought there was no way I’d ever adjust. However, in my experience, it turned out to not be so bad after all. Our bathroom had two stalls, and we rarely ever had any sort of line to use them. It also had three sinks and plenty of counter space to wash dishes, do a skincare routine or brush your teeth. It had two showers with hooks beside them for your towel and caddy. The bathroom wasn’t an ugly or gross space either, as many might imagine. Our bathroom was kept very clean by staff and the girls I lived with, and our RA decorated it with pictures of our family and friends, vines, LED lights, and cute shower curtains. It felt almost like a home bathroom. We also had a habit of leaving motivational sticky notes on the mirrors for each other. In my hall, you were likely to wake up, head into the bathroom, and be greeted with “Today is your day!” or “You got this beautiful!”. After a few weeks, the communal bathroom will become an everyday norm. 

My desk!

Despite the reservations of most incoming freshmen, I ended up enjoying living in a dorm room. It became a homey, relaxing place to retreat and unwind after a long day of classes. I decorated my dorm with colors and posters that reflect my personality and things I like and I would really suggest doing so yourself. It makes the space truly yours, and much more comforting. 

I also really enjoyed having a roommate. With kindness and mutual respect for one another in the space you share, you’re bound to build a close bond with your roommate. It’s often inevitable with all the time you’ll spend together. A bond like this can be great, especially during your first few months of transitioning. It’s nice to “come home” and be able to talk about your days with one another and to have someone to lend a hand; like putting on a necklace or getting quizzed for a test. 

However, if you find yourself in a roommate situation you aren’t comfortable with, Villanova is often extremely accommodating. I could tell you firsthand, that sometimes changing roommates can be for the better. First, however, it’s important to talk things out with your roommate in a calm, civilized manner, and make sure to explain your boundaries to them in a clear and fair way. At the start of the year, you will also create a living agreement with your roommate that your RA will assist with to make these boundaries more official. However, problems or discomfort can always arise and if you find yourself needing to change your living situation, that’s perfectly okay. I had one roommate for my fall semester and a different roommate for my spring semester, and I was much happier after the switch. Be sure to do what’s best for you. It’s crucial that you feel comfortable in your new home. 

My roommate’s side of the room!

After living through one year of college, I would love to share some things I used almost daily and was lucky I had when the time to use them came up. When packing for college some things might slip your mind and turn out to be super useful. 

First, I would advise having a phone wallet for the back of your phone case very strongly. You’ll be issued a Wildcard that gives you access to your dorm room, your dorm building, the printers, your meals, and many other things on campus. A big struggle of mine my freshman year was leaving my dorm room and not having it on me, consequently getting locked out of my room or building. Having somewhere to store it on the back of your phone is super handy and will hopefully help you avoid getting locked out of your room, especially while fresh out of the shower in a robe… However, if this does happen to you, don’t panic! You can always find your roommate if they’re nearby, get the RA on duty, or call the Public Safety non-emergency line, and they can unlock it for you over the phone. 

Next, I would definitely invest in a mini vacuum cleaner for your dorm. I had one that could be used as a vacuum or a dustbuster, and it was amazing. You never realize how many crumbs or little scraps of paper can accumulate until you live in a pretty small space with another person. The vacuum I had was very slim and could be easily slipped into the back of my closet and didn’t clutter the room. 

Another angle of my dorm room!

This next one is pretty well known, but it can’t be stressed enough; a robe, shower shoes, and a shower caddy are absolute musts. Having these eliminates all of the stress of the communal shower situation and makes your life way easier. It eliminates the hassle of carrying multiple products in your hands and gives you the comfort of walking in and out of the bathroom for your showers. 

Another essential is a super long phone charger. To optimize space, it’ll be nice to get your dorm bed raised (and it may already be raised when you arrive) and this can make charging your phone while laying up in your bed difficult. It’s hard to get a standard wire to reach up that high (trust me I tried with extension cords and duct tape…) so try to bring a six or ten-foot one to be safe. 

On a similar note, I’d suggest an extension cord to make sure you can charge all your essentials even if an outlet isn’t optimally placed. In my experience, my dorm room had a long strip of outlets across both walls, so this wasn’t an issue, but an extension cord was still helpful when trying to plug in multiple things in one space.

A dehumidifier is always great, as the rooms can get a little humid and you want to avoid any risk for mold growth. As well as under the bed storage drawers, which are great for optimizing that space under your raised bed without taking up additional room.

Grabbing all the essentials before moving into your dorm is always great, but if you forget, misplace or break anything – don’t be shy to ask your hallmates if you can borrow something of theirs. They’re more than likely to help you out! I found that my hall was always borrowing and sharing things with one another as needed. As a wing, we had a GroupMe and I-Message group chat in which people always asked one another to borrow things.

As a Staff Writer for Villanova University’s Office for Undergraduate Students, sophomore Gabrielle Piccirilli shares the stories, experiences, and accomplishments of the students of Villanova’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The Freshman Experience: Lessons Learned

Hello! My name is Gabrielle Piccirilli and I’m a rising sophomore at Villanova University. Typically, I write student features for OUS Magazine (to be continued!), but this May I completed my freshman year and decided to begin this series! When I was looking at colleges and awaiting the start of my first year at Villanova, I was buzzing with questions and worry. My hope is that through sharing some of my experiences, I can answer some of the many questions new and prospective students have! This summer, follow along with a new topic each week shedding some light on what it’s like to be a Villanovan. 

Feeling nervous, excited, and scared about college is all totally natural. It is a huge transition whether you’re coming from far away or close by. It’s a whole new world very different from what you may be accustomed to. Personally, I know I struggled with the transition and needed a few months to truly settle in. 

If you find yourself feeling down, it’s important to realize you are not alone. So many people struggle with leaving home, missing their high school friends, balancing a heavy course load, and meeting new people, but often try to hide the fact that they feel this way. 

I’d love to share two of my big takeaways from my freshman year. The first one is that social media is an illusion. This is definitely not a foreign idea, but I found it to be especially prominent in college. It can be so easy to scroll through Instagram or Snapchat on a homework break and feel lame, like you’re missing out, or like you only have a few friends compared to other people who seem to have a million. However, it is so crucial to remember that people only post the highlights of their lives, and things they think will build a better image for them online. People aren’t going to post the night they stayed in to cram for a midterm or the morning they cried because they miss their dog at home. These moments happen for everyone, but you’ll likely never know. It’s also important to realize just because a big group is on someone’s page, doesn’t necessarily mean that the big group is actually a close-knit friend circle. Captions and poses can be deceiving and leave you questioning why you don’t have as many or as close of friends. Be sure to remember that so much of what you may see is fabricated and overexaggerated.

My second and most important takeaway is that it is okay to choose your own path that works best for you, even if it differs from that of others around you. College is a time to make decisions that make you happy, that move you forward, and that you enjoy. It can be very easy to let others’ opinions affect you, but it is perfectly okay to not be interested in something everyone else is and to do your own thing.

For example, at the beginning of my freshman year, I went home for a few weekends because I was missing home and wanted some time there. Having a balance between time at school and time at home worked really well for me in this time of transitioning to college. However, I was told I would miss out on the “college experience”, and was made out to feel like I was doing something wrong because of it. But the truth about college is that the “experience” everyone talks about is whatever you make it. You dictate what your college experience is. If you want to go out, go out. If you’re feeling like a night in, stay in. Don’t be afraid to try new things, but also don’t be ashamed to say no when you’re not interested. I can guarantee you that you will be much happier and fulfilled when you make the decisions that benefit you, not the societal pressures around you. 

So, remember you are not alone, not everything is what it seems and you create your own experience!

As a Staff Writer for Villanova University’s Office for Undergraduate Students, sophomore Gabrielle Piccirilli shares the stories, experiences, and accomplishments of the students of Villanova’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The Freshman Experience: Basketball!

Hello! My name is Gabrielle Piccirilli and I’m a rising sophomore at Villanova University. Typically, I write student features for OUS Magazine (to be continued!), but this May I completed my freshman year and decided to begin this series! When I was looking at colleges and awaiting the start of my first year at Villanova, I was buzzing with questions and worry. My hope is that through sharing some of my experiences, I can answer some of the many questions new and prospective students have! This summer, follow along with a new topic each week shedding some light on what it’s like to be a Villanovan. 

If you know about Villanova, you likely know about our three-time NCAA champs, the Villanova Wildcats, and if you aren’t yet a fan, you’ll become one sooner than you know! 

We’re big on basketball, and Villanova makes it simple to stay up to date with games, lotteries, tickets, and events all in one app called Nova Athletics Student Tickets. It’s available in the App Store and will be essential during your four years. 

In the app, as a student, you’ll have your own QR code that you can present upon entry to all Villanova Athletic events (not just basketball!) Once scanned, you will accumulate points. In my experience, they take a day or so to show up in the app, so don’t worry if you don’t see them instantly. You can even get extra points for attending certain events, staying late, or coming early! 

The more points you have, the more likely you are to win lotteries. Men’s Basketball games run on a lottery system, where each student has the opportunity to enter for a chance to win a ticket. Once you enter a lottery (which is super simple, just the click of one button in the app), you can either win a ticket, be placed on a waitlist, or not be selected at all. If you aren’t selected, you may get some consolation points though! The tickets are digital and will be automatically loaded into your app if you win one. All you’ll need to do is show your QR code at the door and you’re good to go in and enjoy the event. There’s also the option to transfer your ticket to another student for most of the events, in the case that you can’t make it and have a friend that can!

My freshman year, I won almost every lottery I entered for games at the Finneran Pavilion (the Finn). We made it to the Final Four my first basketball season at Villanova, and with bigger games such as that one, the lottery system works a little differently. In those cases, you can enter for the opportunity to buy a ticket to the game. Home games, however, are always free to students that win the lottery and no purchase is necessary.

For our games at the Finn, the student section usually dresses in accordance with a certain theme. Some themes I’ve done are flannel and Christmas. It’s a super fun way to cheer the Wildcats on! The student section also has a variety of fun cheers, chants, dances, hand signals, and posters. After attending a game or two, these moves will be second nature to you. They make being in the crowd much more fun and help unite our community as we support the Cats. 

Whenever I won the lottery for a game, my friends and I would go pretty soon after the doors opened to get the extra points for arriving early and to get good seats. I ended up being in the first or second row of the student section almost every game I went to! Of course, you don’t have to show up super early every game, but I recommend giving it a try for at least one. Being front and center is a super cool experience.

The student body doesn’t just come together for home games right on campus at the Finn. When the Wildcats are playing away, CAT (the Campus Activities Team) hosts what we call Game Watches. This is when we all gather to watch the game up on a big screen, with food, posters, and all the same energy we bring to a game we’re attending in person. These can take place in the Connelly Center, Villanova Room, outside, or at the Finn. Bigger Game Watches, such as the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, and Final Four are even more exciting, with a DJ, streamers, and more. The Final Four Game Watch was one of my favorite events in my freshman year. 

Aside from games, we have basketball events as well. Our huge annual event to kick off the basketball season is called Hoops Mania and is an unforgettable experience. The Men’s and Women’s teams attend and are cheered on by a very lively crowd. There’s music, lights, dance performances, scrimmages, a Slam Dunk contest, and always a special performer at the conclusion of the evening. When I attended last year, Grammy-nominated Offset performed a concert for us right in the Finn. The energy and support of the student body was incredible. Another awesome event I got to attend last year was Josh Hart’s jersey retirement, which he attended and spoke at! This was another really cool experience for the student body. 

As a campus, everyone is super eager to get behind and support our teams, and all of Nova Nation is buzzing with excitement for basketball season. Our sports events are a super fun thing to get involved with on campus, so don’t hesitate to attend! Go Cats!

As a Staff Writer for Villanova University’s Office for Undergraduate Students, sophomore Gabrielle Piccirilli shares the stories, experiences, and accomplishments of the students of Villanova’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.