A sense of community can be found in many different places, but, for senior statistics major Alex DaCosta, he has found it all throughout Villanova. “The best thing about Villanova is the community,” he says. “Everyone is so proud to be a Villanovan and represent the school.”
Originally from Long Island, New York, Alex wanted a school with a more tight-knit and personal feel while applying to colleges, and Villanova matched that description perfectly. “Villanova checked all the boxes for what I was looking for in a university,” he says.
“Compared to colleges in New York City, Villanova provided an on-campus experience. It is a medium-sized school and I personally didn’t want to go to a big school with gigantic lecture halls or a school that was too small. Villanova is the perfect size where classes are more intimate. I knew there would be a sense of community here.”
At Villanova, Alex has felt like he belongs to a community within the different clubs and organizations he has joined. As a member of the Filipino American Student Association (FASA), he has celebrated his own heritage and promoted an appreciation of Filipino culture. And, as a part of LEVEL, he has helped bridge the gap between students with various abilities and disabilities and promote inclusion.
This year, he felt especially connected with the Villanova community during a LEVEL retreat. “As a club, we stayed at Camp Ockanickon for one weekend, and it was one of the most wholesome experiences I’ve had at Villanova with the best people,” he says.
“We disconnected from technology during the trip, and this allowed us to really bond with one another. I met and learned so much about each person on the trip, and it made everyone so much closer. It was truly about building relationships and supporting each other. And, we were able to do all of this while participating in accessible and inclusive activities at the camp.”
In addition to student groups, he has found community with Villanova’s extensive alumni network as well. “I’ve taken advantage of the VSB mentor program and have gained so much from that connection,” he says. “Plus, there are just so many alumni that I’ve reached out to for help and advice, and each time, everyone was willing to talk and offer any help they could.”
This mentorship has been valuable in Alex’s pursuit of a business minor, and the statistics major also has a minor in computer science. With this impressive combination of degrees, he was able to intern at Eli Lilly this past summer. As a statistics intern, he did fascinating work for the pharmaceutical company. “I had an amazing and extremely enriching internship experience,” he describes.
“Essentially, at Eli Lilly I worked under the project statistician and with the entire stats team to determine the effectiveness of a drug. This drug, which is currently undergoing clinical trials, seeks to prevent the clinical progression of Alzheimer’s disease in patients before impairment begins. I created many visualizations and ran different statistical tests and models for the data collected. It was such a rewarding experience because I had learned so much, and I felt that my work and contributions had a purpose. It was amazing to have this professional experience and be a part of the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry.”
Following his senior year, he plans to apply his statistical knowledge to the world of finance. “Throughout college, I’ve always had an interest in finance and I hope that after graduation, I can be a financial analyst,” he says. “It would be a great opportunity for me to utilize my statistical background and enter a field that I’m interested in.”
With graduation nearing, Alex will miss the things that made Villanova feel like home, and first and foremost, that includes his friends. “Thank you to all my friends for making my Villanova experience so special,” he says. “There are so many great people that I’ve met throughout my time at Villanova, and I’ve definitely made some lifelong friends who I’ll always love and support.”
“Obviously, we’ll still be in touch after graduation, but all of us won’t ever live so close to each other again,” he adds. “It’ll be different as we all transition into the next chapter of our lives. I’ll definitely miss seeing and being with them as much as I am now. They are such a big reason why I love being at Villanova. Who you surround yourself with really changes everything. They’ve supported, loved, and looked out for me this whole time – making me feel safe and at home. I appreciate them so much and I’ll cherish that forever.”
Like many other Villanovans, Alex is also an avid basketball fan, and he will miss the on-campus atmosphere of Villanova basketball and the friends he has made while playing in his free time. “I’ve always played basketball and Villanova is obviously a big basketball school, so I’ll miss playing with everyone I’ve become friends with and met on campus throughout the years,” he says. “And, at basketball games, the energy is unmatched, so I’ll miss being a part of that.”
But, before he leaves Villanova, Alex would like to pass on some senior wisdom to rising students. “It’s okay to not have your life planned out. It’s okay to be confused or even lost sometimes, especially in such a different environment,” he says.
“I encourage you to try new things, join some clubs, and meet new people. There are so many opportunities and experiences waiting for you. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone because that’s how you grow. In the end, it’ll all work out. So go cherish your time at Villanova because it’ll go by quicker than you can imagine!”
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As a Staff Writer for Villanova University’s Office for Undergraduate Students, senior Daniel Donabedian shares the stories, experiences, and accomplishments of the students of Villanova’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.