My OUS Story: Mia Arrington

During her time at Villanova, freshman Mia Arrington from Maryland, has learned that she is more than what she appears on paper.

Before deciding to attend Villanova, Mia struggled deciding between Villanova and Spelman College, which is the number one historically black college, known as an HBCU. She remembers that all of her friends from high school thought that she would be attending Spelman, but for her, Villanova offered a new challenge she hadn’t faced before.

“I felt at home at Spelman when I visited, but at the same time, I was really impressed with Villanova, and I felt that I could make it my home with some work. I thought that I would have to challenge myself more as Mia and make myself do something different, because at Spelman I saw myself being comfortable and fitting right in, but Villanova offered me an opportunity for growth. Sometimes it’s been difficult, but most of the time, it’s been rewarding, and usually it’s rewarding after it’s been difficult. I feel like Villanova has definitely been a humbling experience, but I have also had moments where I appreciate myself more since I am starting to realize that the surface level isn’t everything I am.”

She has found bits of her home at Villanova in the Black Cultural Society and in REACH, a multicultural outreach program for which she mentors a 10th grader at a high school in Philadelphia. Though she remains undeclared, she aspires to declare a double major in Political Science and Philosophy. She has always been interested in politics since her father and her grandfather are both former politicians turned lobbyists. Since she was a little girl she’s loved going to work with her father, which has allowed her to become more conscious of what’s ethical and of the grey areas in politics. She has been able to see the benevolent side of these grey areas under the influence of her father who lobbies for underrepresented and underserved groups, which functions as her main inspiration. In regard to Philosophy, she has always liked it, but her main push to the field was when she learned that another one of her inspirations, Angela Davis, majored in philosophy.

Last semester, she decided to attend Kate Szumanski’s Workplace Wednesday Workshops. Meeting Kate at these workshops was, as she said, a really transformative experience.

Kate ended up asking her to speak during Early Action Candidate’s Day on a panel about professional development and internships. She recalls, “I was the last person to speak on the panel, and I started during the last two minutes before it was supposed to be over. I talked about how I met Kate, what employers look for, and what I will be doing this summer. I was nervous, but afterward, a girl came up to me and asked me questions about what I had talked about, and we exchanged information. I was so happy because I did the same thing last year when I attended a panel on campus, so that was a big thing for me.”

Attending these workshops, where she learned how to write a cover letter and improve her resume, allowed her to receive a research position on campus through the Villanova Match Research Program for First Year Students. Currently, she works under Dr. Meredith Bergey in a medical sociology study concerned with World Trade Center Cough that some 9/11 survivors are afflicted with, causing respiratory issues. They are studying the sociological reasons why the recognition of this condition was dropped off in medical and political fields.

This summer, she will be interning at the Congressional Office of U.S. Representative from Texas, Sheila Jackson Lee, on Capitol Hill while working at a waterpark during the weekends. She received this position when over Winter Break, she and her father attended an Investiture at Capitol Hill where every representative was hosting an Open House. She decided to venture to Sheila Jackson Lee’s office since she had prior met her at the Congressional Black Caucus over Fall Break.

She said, “My dad told me that I have to be aggressive, so I went over to Sheila Jackson Lee wanting to congratulate her for being sworn in again. I introduced myself, said what I was studying, and how moved I was by the whole program for it was so encouraging and empowering. I don’t know if she remembered my name, but I think she remembered me being really aggressive from the Fall. I ended up meeting her legislative counsel after she had to leave since they had already had work to do once they were sworn in. I had just been mingling, eating the food, and then her legislative counsel complimented my coat. That’s how the conversation started. I told her I was at Villanova, and she said that if I was interested in interning at the office to send her a short cover letter and a resume. Not much later, my application was approved, and in the summer, I will be serving under the legislative counsel.”

Mia’s most formative experience at Villanova took place over Spring Break, where she embarked on a Social Justice Experience to San Diego and Mexico, in the areas of Tijuana and Tecate, for a border immersion experience with other Villanovans sponsored by CASA. They spent half the week in San Diego on one side of the border, learning about that culture, lifestyle, and history. In the middle of the week, they met with Border Control Officers before they left for Mexico. During the week, they volunteered at migrant shelters and schools.

Concerning the experience, Mia recalls that “It was life changing for me, though it was something that was hard to grapple with. I want to commend the grassroots organizers that are standing up for their own communities because they are doing a lot of work and they hosted us. Other people on the trip thought that their faith was being tested, and they had more accountability for themselves and their actions, and their faith was tied into that. I felt the same. My grandfather was a pastor, so it was very important to him that we were connected to God. While we were there, I could only think about him, but we were without our phones, so even though I wanted to call him, I couldn’t. I don’t believe that it was a coincidence that he made peace with everything on Earth at the same time I was having all of these revelations. When I got back, he had already passed. I am really grateful for that experience, for it helped me learn that it even though it helps to look good on paper, it’s important to be more than that.”

Her trip also inspired her to return to studying the Spanish Language, a language both of her grandparents, who she called the trailblazers in her family, were proficient in and taught. “I have always loved Spanish, and on the trip we immersed ourselves in the language. It reminded me that our language barriers have such deep impacts on our lives, especially at the border where it is so tense, polarized, and politicized. I remember that we went to a Home Depot where people were looking for work. One of the men said that he was so afraid when we got out of our car speaking English, and since we were a big group, he didn’t know what would happen. I thought that was so mind-blowing, because he was a grown man who reminded me of my dad, and he might be afraid of me even though I’m just an eighteen-year-old girl. Our ability to speak Spanish eased over that tension. I understood and truly felt that these people are worth fighting for, and they need advocates to represent them steadfastly. I am going to be that person.”

To her fellow Villanovans, Mia had a few pieces of advice. “Be serious about what you’re here to do, but don’t take yourself too seriously because I think the most meaningful work can be done when everybody checks their privilege and remembers that no one person is better than anybody else. Also understanding what circumstances may be affecting someone’s life and their productivity will help your work become as fulfilling as possible, not only for you but for other people. I sometimes take myself too seriously, and I have to remind myself to relax, so it’s something that I am also learning, but I think it can do everybody some good.”

My OUS Story: Marisa Reinhart

Senior Marisa Reinhart from Pequannock, New Jersey, has made the most of her Villanova Career. She chose to attend Villanova because she witnessed a community where everyone was enjoying their time. She also wanted a medium sized liberal arts college where she could continue to pursue her love of critical reading and writing and to figure out how to apply it in her future. Her love of sports also prompted her to attend a school with a sports presence, which, as she recalled, worked out. She also said that she has a twin brother at Seton Hall, which has prompted a huge Big East rivalry in her family.

She also recalled an unforgettable experience from her childhood. “When I was four, I was on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, and the engines caught on fire, so they stopped the boat, got it under control, and we chugged back to Bermuda to fly home. But Tina Fey ended up being on it. She wrote about it in her book that it was her honeymoon cruise in 2001 before she was big. My mom read the book and we realized that it must have been the same cruise we were on.”

She came into the university undecided as a Freshman, but she was open to experience the well-roundedness of a liberal arts education by taking different classes and seeing what most captured her interest. After exploring different courses, she discovered that her passion lay in Communications and declared it as a minor with a specialization in Public Relations. She also has a double minor in History and Peace and Justice.

Her time at Villanova has been full of a plethora of internships and extracurriculars. Her first internship occurred during the summer after her Freshman year at a lifestyle website and video editing agency firm near her house called “Hip New Jersey.” There she wrote blog posts and contributed to social media marketing. Overall, she found it to be a good learning experience.

Her second internship, during her sophomore year, was an on-campus one with OUS that came about after she took Kate Szumanski’s ASPD course called Professional Writing. After bonding with Kate, she decided to apply for the position of Strategic Marketing Intern that would serve under Kate. She and the other interns worked together on promotional materials for professional development events, on social media, and on a brand-new transfer guide that would help students who transferred into Villanova.

On working with Kate, Marisa said, “She has been such a resource over the years. I’ve sent her my resumes and cover letters to read, or she’ll forward me events that she thinks I might be interested in, and she has written me letters of recommendation. So, Kate is definitely the best person, but there are so many people at Villanova who just want to help their students. I think finding someone like that is fundamental to your success. It was nice to find her earlier on in my college experience, rooting for me on campus.”

Then, during her junior year, she had a virtual internship for a luggage company where she helped with social media promotion. She also did part-time volunteer work for a non-profit that encouraged women to run for political offices. For them, she was a public relations intern and wrote press releases and assisted at events and workshops they hosted.

Last summer, she worked as a Retail Marketing Intern at Pierre Fabre Group, a French pharmaceutical company, and dealt with their haircare and skincare brands through product launching and writing copy for their products. She recalled it as one of her favorite internships, because not only did she get free products out of it, but she was able to work for a company that had a global outreach, so she could learn about what goes into working for a global company.  

Currently, she interns for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Media Relations Office. She helps run their Instagram and writes blog posts and press releases. She said, “I have written press releases in my classes, but it’s been great to write real press releases and then also running the Instagram for the college. So, it’s been a cool experience this year since I’m building a portfolio to send out for jobs in the future, and now I can display some of the real-world work that I have been been doing so far.”

She had also made a strong impact on the Villanova Community through her extracurriculars. As a sophomore, she founded Villanova’s chapter of She’s the First, a national non-profit organization that raises money for girls around the world to be the first in their family to graduate from high school. Villanova’s chapter has now sponsored girls in Sierra Leon for tuition for three years and has held many fundraisers on campus like bake sales, Documentary Screenings, and a cheese buffet called Cheese the First.

On founding the chapter, she said, “I watched a documentary called ‘Girl Rising,’ which talked about educational inequities around the world. I also watched it when Michelle Obama was doing her ‘Let Girls Learn Initiative,’ and the impact of Malala’s courage, who was our age, still impacted me. I learned that there wasn’t a club that dealt with girls’ global education at Villanova. Because of that, I began She’s the First here on campus. Now, we train students here at Villanova to be global citizens that learn about educational and gender inequities. I have since passed on the presidential torch to someone else, and it was exciting to see that it’s going to continue after I leave. Starting She’s the First has shaped everything I have done on campus, inspiring me to work for a non-profit someday or a company that is socially responsible.”

She also serves as the Senior Class Representative for the Student Government Association where she also serves as the Chair of the Student Life Advisory Committee, where she manages different issues that might arise in student organizations, residence life, and dining hall services. While not doing work for She’s the First and SGA, she dances in the Dance Ensemble and serves as a Student Ambassador for the Anne Welsh McNulty Institute for Women’s Leadership.

To her fellow Villanovans, she advises them to do as much as possible during their four years. “Go to as much as you can. I’ve tried to go on every sort of trek that Villanova has organized, like the Turner Broadcasting Expedition, visiting Ralph Lauren and Vineyard Vines with the business school, and attending a marketing check at media labs and advertising agencies over winter break. I try, even if I don’t know if I am interested in the industry, to expose myself to different things. I was and still am undecided about the industry that I want to be in, but I try to seize every opportunity to discover my career path by going to Bridge Society Events and other professional development events. Take advantage of everything while you can. Also, get involved where you can see yourself committed four years from now. As time goes on with the classes you take and the people you meet, you will find what you are passionate about.”

My OUS Story: Michael Bigley

Senior Michael Bigley, from Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, while playing the trumpet for the Villanova Band, has always made sure to take advantage of any opportunity that has crossed his path. 

His love for mathematics, which began in high school, led him to declare a double major in Math and Economics accompanied with a minor in Statistics and a Certificate in Information Technology. He’s noted that many other students do not know about the Certificate program and told me that, “It’s an easy program designed for people of all majors that requires just four classes involved with IT. I decided to get a certificate since it would match well with the rest of my majors and diversify myself for potential employers.” 

Similarly, he commented on the advantages that a Villanova Education has provided him. “Villanova really helps you out in applying your courses to multiple different aspects, so that I was able to look into all the disciplines I wanted to study and manage my time well. Because of this, I have gained a well-rounded curriculum that I love, which will help me achieve the career that I want someday.”  

Michael got a head start when he began at Villanova as a freshman. “When I first came to Villanova, I had the opportunity to move in early with Early Arrival Band Camp. It made my transition to college easier, since I had the chance to make friendships early on with other freshmen who also didn’t know anyone else. Joining the Villanova Band was a great way for me to continue my interest in music, which when I was applying to college, I didn’t really think about. I had been too focused on what I wanted to study, but when I saw the opportunity to be in the band, I had to pursue it to maintain my love of music.”

Now, you can find him during Villanova’s Basketball games playing along with his trumpet to his personal favorite song that they perform, “Birdland.” He also serves as Webmaster and Newsletter Editor for the Band, for which he maintains the website and creates their newsletters.

His internship search began during his first semester of his junior year. Open to any opportunity for a potential internship, he created a Handshake account for himself and spent his semester applying throughout Philadelphia, New York, and near his hometown in New Jersey, knowing that he wanted an internship that involved Math and Economics. 

December 2017 came around, and he decided to make an appointment with OUS’ Kate Szumanski during the very chaotic time of finals. He made this appointment because he was stressed not only about finals, but about the effectiveness of his resume. 

He recalls that “Kate had another meeting at the time. I think she had accidentally overbooked, but she put her other meeting aside to meet with me, a student, during that stressful time. Because of that, I saw the dedication she has to her students and how she will help us no matter her own schedule. She sat down with me, looked at my resume, gave me a few pointers, and boosted my confidence as well by telling me what was great and what I should expand on. She also provided me with comfort, letting me know that I will get an internship, I will get a job someday, and to keep working, but not beat myself up about it.” 

Finally, in April of his junior year, an opportunity arose with Celgene Corporation, a pharmaceutical company whose headquarters are located in Summit, New Jersey. He was hired to work as an intern in the Commercial IT Division in Hematology and Oncology, where he helped with project organization and management for the company’s upcoming 2019 projects. He also worked with other interns in redesigning the knowledge portal website for onboarding employees. 

His biggest takeaway from Celgene was the educational aspect of his position. His manager ensured that he was learning about all the different aspects of the company and its internal functioning. Every week the company would have “Lunch and Learns” where speakers would come in to talk to the interns. 

I asked him if he remembered one significant speaker that left an impression upon him. “Someone in the company talked to us about ‘CAR-T’ which is a rather new innovative immunotherapy for patients with blood cancer that extracts a patient’s T-cells, alters them to make them stronger, and puts them back in their body to fight the cancer. We later had the chance to tour the facility where they conducted this therapy, and it was really eye-opening to see that while we were working in the IT department, the company as a whole is fighting cancer and other diseases. Listening to this talk about the process and going on the tour reminded us of the company’s mission.”

As for his post graduate plans, he is currently applying to receive a Master’s degree here at Villanova in Applied Statistics. Ideally, he would also like to have a full-time position in Philadelphia or the Villanova area while he pursues his Master’s degree. 

He left the interview with a few pieces of advice for anyone else still searching for their career path. “I would say, take advantage of all the opportunities and resources that are at Villanova. Make sure that you’re checking out the Career Center, OUS, and most of all, make an appointment with Kate Szumanski. Really make sure that you’re making the most of your college experience. Get out there, leave the classroom, participate in extracurricular activities, search for your career opportunities, and make sure that you’re always looking ahead.” 

My OUS Story: Bethany Ho

Senior Bethany Ho has always known that she has wanted to be a doctor, a want that derived from her childhood experiences growing up in Bernardsville, New Jersey. 

Bethany admits that normally, she has found herself not revealing the true reason as to why she wishes to pursue medicine to others. Instead, she normally answers that her dad is a doctor. She tells me, “That usually suffices, and the conversation moves on. Otherwise, I must dive into a space too heavy for a casual conversation.”

She reveals that the true reason stems from her being born with a health condition. When she was born, her parents were told that she would not live past a year old. But her doctors did not give up on her, so she, with a guardian angel watching over her, reached that one-year mark. That did not mean her fight was over. 

She continued to tell me that, “It was not without a long journey of exhaustion and pain, both physical and emotional. Growing up, I went in and out of hospitals and doctors’ offices due to a health condition. Doctors became a crucial part of my support system as they were encouraging, compassionate, caring, and optimistic. Where the world inflicted pain, the doctors promised respite. For it, I am stronger.”

Now, Bethany continually contemplates how doctors not only save their patient’s lives, but how they change them in the process. She told me about an experience she had when working at a hospital, watching in awe as a surgeon performed a coronary artery bypass graft, ultimately healing the patient’s heart and prompting her further towards her chosen career path. 

She made a promise to herself then. “My doctors were my role models, and I hope to be able to share the same compassion and care to future patients as they did for me.”

In order to pursue this dream, she began her undergraduate career at Villanova, which she decided to attend without even visiting campus; somehow, she knew that this university would become her home. Originally, she entered as a Biology major, since it seemed like the most obvious and straightforward path towards her goal. But then, as a junior, she discovered her passion for sociology after taking Dr. Rory Kramer’s “Race and Ethnic Relations” course, transforming her outlook on society. As a result, she ended up switching her major to sociology under the mentorship of her professor and learned that she could pursue her love for sociology while pursuing her goal of medicine, for she can now address the social inequalities and its implications within healthcare, something now fundamental to her future career. 

She also has a minor in Chinese because her parents used to speak Mandarin as their, as she phrases it, “secret language” at home, and she “always wanted to decode what they said and to become fluent in the future.” 

In order to ensure her success of pursuing her medical school dream, Bethany utilized OUS’ Health Professional Advising Services. She mentioned that “Health Professional Advising through OUS, and working with Dr. Russo and Ann Trail, has guided me on how to reach my dreams by providing me with countless tips and resources. If they did not conduct their seminars on application readiness, evaluation letters, and selecting schools, I would not be as prepared as I am now as I apply to medical school this application cycle.”

As for her extra-curriculars, Bethany currently serves as President of SREHUP (Student Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia), where she has had the opportunity to work at homeless shelters and confront the social inequalities she studies. She also is a leader in the campus ministry group, Renewal College Fellowship, which has been her home at Villanova. 

Bethany had one main piece of advice. “One thing I would tell my fellow Villanovans is to care for one another and listen to them, because that’s the only way we can truly impact others and make a lasting impression on people’s lives.”

The Notre Dame Master of Science in Business

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 10.24.33 AMThe Master of Science in Business (MSB) is a yearlong graduate program for non-business undergraduates with little or no work experience. The aim of the program is to bridge a student’s undergraduate work with its application in a business context by providing fundamental business knowledge and skills.

The MSB program takes place over three semesters—summer, fall and spring—and provides students with a thorough grounding in business fundamentals, such as accounting, finance, business ethics, marketing and management principles. In addition, the 44 hours of coursework includes two integrative courses that enable students to combine the knowledge and skills they gained through their undergraduate major with business fundamentals in a way that creates a unique personal brand.

Who is it for?

Students who meet the following conditions may apply for the Master of Science in Business degree:

  • Will have earned an undergraduate degree at the start of the MSB program
  • Will have earned an undergraduate degree in a non-business area (such as liberal arts, science and engineering)
  • Will have graduated from an accredited university
  • Will have little to no work experience

The Notre Dame Master of Science in Business program provides a foundational set of business skills for students who want to bridge their undergraduate studies into a career in business.

University of Notre Dame Business-Science majors would not be eligible for this program.

MSB students do not participate in an internship or study-abroad program.

More information: http://business.nd.edu/msb/

Master of Science in Business
276 Mendoza College of Business
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556
1-800-631-8488
msb.business@nd.edu

Semester in Environmental Science [Guest Post: Cindy Troy]

This is a guest post by Cindy Troy, LAS ’13, Environmental Science and Philosophy Major, Honors Concentration.

I came to Villanova University knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my life, or so I thought. I entered my freshman class as a declared environmental science major. My advisor, in the Department of Geography and the Environment, had worked previously as a TA for the “Semester in Environmental Science” program in Woods Hole, MA, and made an excellent pitch for the opportunity. When the director of the program came to Villanova, I met with him and decided to apply for a spot during the fall semester of my junior year. After filling out the application, getting recommendation letters, and about 3 months of waiting, I was accepted to start in the fall.

IMG_0596The experience was one I will never forget. I arrived in early September and moved   into my apartment, which was literally a block from the ocean. The views looked like they came straight out of a tourism brochure for Cape Cod. It was amazing. The bike paths, the ocean, the ferry; Woods Hole was just as beautiful as I had imagined. There were 20 other students from other colleges around the nation. We spent the first 10 weeks in an intensive program of lectures and lab work. A particular highlight of the program is that the people giving the lectures are the leading scientists in their fields. Dr. Ivan Valiella, the author of our text book, was sitting in his office two doors down from our classroom. Being surrounded by the nation’s topmost scientists was surreal.

IMG_0602Our labs consisted of going into nearby cranberry bogs, the surrounding grasslands, and the beaches to collect samples. We would go into the neighboring deciduous forests to measure rain gauges, count trees, and measure rates of photosynthesis. We went into tidal marshes and collected quantitative data of the number of fish, frogs, crabs, etc., and determined how the nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in the area were affecting the animals. We determined this by taking them back to the lab, taking skin samples, and checking their stomach for signs of their diets.

The second 6-8 weeks of the program was spent designing, executing and writing up our own independent project. We were able to work closely with a mentor from the Ecosystems Center at the Marine Biological Lab, but did the majority of work and analysis on our own. I wouldn’t have traded this research experience for the world.IMG_0668

Through this program I learned so much about myself that I couldn’t have learned from being at Villanova alone. I learned that while conducting scientific research in the field and in the lab is fun, it just isn’t for me. However, I did conquer my fear of public speaking, as I delivered a 20-minute talk on my research to a room of over 200+ renowned scientists. Also, I learned how to gather background information, compile data, and design my own research project. I gained so many valuable skills by working closely with these scientists, and gained some great references in the process.

Most importantly, I learned that I could combine the skills I gained in this program, and my passion for the environment, to pursue other goals. I’m now in the process of waiting to hear from law schools and hope to pursue environmental law. So, while I might not be the one determining just how pollution is affecting ecosystems, I’ll be the one trying to prevent it from being an issue in the first place.

Choosing A Major [Guest Post: Luke Bonomo]

Below is a guest post by Luke Bonomo, ’15. Please email OUS if you’d like to tell your own story about choosing a major.

Hello everyone. My name is Luke Bonomo. Currently I am a sophomore undeclared College of Liberal Arts and Sciences major from Massapequa, New York who is leaning toward majoring in either Computer Science or Mathematics.

So far, the story of my college major has been a wild, complicated rollercoaster ride that has only recently started to calm down. I entered Villanova as a Biology/Pre-Medical major with the intent of going to medical school after graduation. I decided that I would pursue a career in medicine while I was a sophomore in high school. I was somewhat interested in the human body and medical sciences and liked the idea of being able to have a tremendous impact on the lives of others while also having an extremely secure and high paying job. At the time, it seemed perfect. Reality, however, soon set in. After spending my entire freshman year in pre-health classes (General Biology, Chemistry, etc…), I realized that this was not the field for me. I was not the slightest bit interested in any of these subjects. In fact, I dreaded learning about them. I realized it was time for a change.

For the last few months of my freshman year, I thought constantly about other majors. Not a day went by where I didn’t spend at least an hour on the computer reading about other careers. During this time, I was able to single out a few interests. First and foremost, math had always been my best subject. Since I loved solving problems and working with numbers, math ranked high on my list of potential majors. I also seriously thought about pursuing a degree in education, in addition to math. I taught religious education while I was in high school and absolutely loved it. I could certainly see myself continuing down this path and teaching at a high school. Finally, I strongly considered computer science. Like my father, who was a computer science major when he attended Columbia, I have always been fascinated with computers and technology. Even though I had many important decisions to make in the future, I was happy at that time to have a basic idea of what step to take next.

In the mean time, however, I was encouraged by my parents, among others, to apply to transfer into the School of Business. Since the application was not binding (I could apply and decline if accepted), they believed that there was no harm in submitting the application. They also believed that the business school would be perfect for someone like me who had absolutely no idea what to do with his life. After all, I’d receive a great education and would be able to graduate with a (probably well paying) job. I saw no flaw in their argument, so that’s exactly what I did. I applied in April 2012 and waited to hear back. Sure enough, I received an email in May saying that I had been one of the very few students who was admitted as an internal transfer.

I was faced with a difficult decision. On the one hand, I knew where my interests lay. I knew that I was passionate about mathematics, about solving problems, about computer science, etc… and knew that I was not very interested in business. On the other hand, I was given an opportunity that many would have jumped at. I started to convince myself that I needed to transfer, that I wouldn’t get a job, or be as happy, if I didn’t. More importantly, I started to wonder what others would think if I turned down the School of Business. They’d certainly be disappointed and probably would think that I was crazy. Even though I knew that my interests lay elsewhere, I felt that transferring was the only option I had. So, I accepted the invitation and guess what? I was miserable. I knew it wasn’t what I wanted, but I did it anyway because I felt like I had to. Had I talked to someone back in May, I certainly wouldn’t have made the same decision. Instead, I kept to myself and did what I felt like I had to do.

I didn’t feel any better as the months went by, so again I realized it was time for a change. It took a lot of courage for me to transfer back into the College of Liberal of Arts and Sciences. People would certainly think that I was crazy now! However, I knew that the move was necessary. I knew that I needed to pursue my academic interests because, in the end, nothing else would be satisfying. It might entail cramming courses into my schedule over the next two years and taking summer classes, but at least I’d be happy. So here I am a few months later, as a future Math or Computer Science Major, writing about this decision in order to convey one simple message: don’t settle for anything. Follow your passions, do what’s best for you, and everything else will fall into place.

Week One of the Homeward Run [Guest Post: Erin Malone]

Erin Malone ’13 is a Communication Major and English Minor. Amongst her many activities on campus, Erin is an intern in the Office for Undergraduate Students. Thanks Erin!

It has become glaringly obvious that this semester is going to be full of ‘lasts’, the first Maone_Orientationof which was my last-first week of semester, and most recently my last home swim meet. The day-to-day grind of college can sometimes feel dull and boring, maybe even sometimes overwhelming. But, in every day there is something special – something even amazing – and for me, every day just keeps getting better. So this week, as I continue to take on my series of lasts, I toast not only the days to come, but also the days that have been as I reflect back on my very first year at Villanova, and the greatest lessons I have learned.

Lesson #1: Don’t underestimate the power of introductions.

At the time, I did not see orientation as a happy and exciting celebration of the four years ahead, but rather, a tiring and unnecessarily awkward weekend of forced icebreakers, and cheering. After two days of busy, name tag-wearing games, I was ready to run back to Philadelphia airport and catch the next plane back to Australia. Obviously I didn’t (realistically I’m far too lazy for such an act). Instead I created one of most resonating memories from my time at college. While the many ice breakers just to learn each other’s names were tedious and frustrating, it resulted in personally knowing at least 24 people on this campus, by name and interests, even to this day. Orientation was also the beginning of two of my best friendships here at Villanova; I know they will continue long after graduation in May. Now as I look at the value of networking and the importance of relationships, I look back at these introductions and think how dearly I would love the opportunity to go back through my years at Villanova to meet and remember all these people again.

Lesson #2: Embrace your core requirements.

It is no surprise to many that I utterly detested the idea of taking core subjects unrelated to my communication major. Instead of spending my first two years ticking off requirements, I put the majority of them off until my junior and senior year (the idea of which would now send most seniors stomachs hurling). However, what I learnt by easing my way into these classes is that everything is interconnected, whether you’re taking existential English, environmental theology, economics, or microbiology. I have been able to appreciate every general class for what it is (not what I wish it were) and see it as part of the bigger picture. Yes, I am a second semester senior taking History 1050 and Philosophy 1000, but already I am seeing connections in these classes to the seven semesters of learning I have already acquired and can now approach them with the excitement and attention they deserve.

Lesson #3: Never be afraid to let go and change.

If you’re like me, you arrived at college with a vague idea of what the experience should be like, and who you are going to become. While it’s good to have goals, sometimes following an image rather than listening to what we are feeling means we can miss a passing opportunity to become something completely different – something even better. As a freshman student athlete, I arrived with the image of becoming an Olympic swimmer (this is not a joke – this was my unwavering goal as a freshman). I focused so much energy and time into swimming, staring straight ahead at my goal, that I missed all the amazing opportunities I was passing on my journey; friendships, campus involvement, social organizations, things to see and do. Even when these opportunities came knocking on my door, I would shut the door in their face, unwilling to waiver from my one-direction gaze.

After living like this for a year, I quickly learned that a one-track vision is not only stressful, but also very lonely. During a summer of soul searching, I challenged myself to return to school as a sophomore ready to embrace what it could be, not what I thought it should be – a happy revelation that led me to realize I could still chase my goal of being a great swimming, but I could also be so much more. Please don’t misunderstand my point here – have goals, and dream big – just don’t forget to stop and look around every once in a while to see what else you may be missing.

While I learned so much more in my first year at Villanova, these three lessons have helped guide me through my subsequent years, leading me to where I now stand. As I head into my final semester, I hope to continue embodying these values, and hope that others may read this and take a moment to stop to look back at just how far they too have already come, and all the places they may go – freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and even seniors. College is a journey and graduation the final destination for us all, but the route to get there is unplanned, with endless variations, so don’t be afraid to take the time to explore, experience, and evolve.

1/30 Institute for Recruitment of Teachers (IRT) Info Session

Learn more about the Institute for Recruitment of TeacheScreen Shot 2013-01-27 at 8.08.04 PMrs (IRT) this Wedneday!

The Phillips Academy IRT addresses the lack of diversity in the nation’s teaching faculties by recruiting outstanding students of color and other scholars committed to diversity, counseling them through the graduate school application process, and advocating for sufficient funding for advanced study.  Since 1990, the IRT has built a national consortium of colleges and universities that are eager to enroll IRT students to diversify their graduate student bodies and to expand the pipeline of educators to teach, counsel, and administrate in American schools, colleges, and universities.  IRT urges its students to earn their advanced degrees and teaching credentials before they launch their educational careers.

Malissa Brennan from the Institute for Recruitment of Teachers (IRT) is coming to Villanova on Wednesday, January 30th.  She will hold an information session about the IRT at 5:30 p.m. in the Bryn Mawr room.  In the morning on Thursday, January 31st she will also hold interviews for students who are interested in applying to the program.

Students should RSVP to Brighid Dwyer (brighid.dwyer@villanova.edu) if they plan to attend the session.

Here are the eligibility criteria:
 
Intern Summer Workshop:

  •  Applicants must be rising or graduating college seniors.

Associate Program:

  • Applicants must be rising college seniors, college graduates, or currently or previously enrolled in a Master’s degree program.

ALL Applicants Must:

  • For undergraduates, have earned a grade point average of 3.0 or above (on a 4.0 scale); and for graduate students, have earned a grade point average of 3.5 or above (on a 4.0 scale).
  • Have an undergraduate or Master’s degree major in mathematics, social sciences, humanities, education or computer science;
  • Demonstrate a commitment to eradicating racial disparities in education;
  • Demonstrate an interest in serving as a positive role model to youth;
  • Submit a complete application by April 1.

For more information about the program: http://www.andover.edu/summersessionoutreach/ifroteachers/pages/default.aspx

Thoughts on College [Guest Post by Dr. Dennis Wykoff]

Dr. Dennis Wykoff holds the Dennis M. Cook Endowed Gregor Mendel Chair in Genetics in the Biology Department at Villanova University.

When I think back on how I got to where I am now…teaching Genetics and Genomics and performing research on the evolution of signal transduction pathways in yeast…I would love to say that I knew what I was doing all along.  Alas, I did not, and I’m not really sure that I know what I am doing even now.  That is the beauty of a life well lived – you never know what is going to happen next month.  I went to a big state school back on the west coast, and it was easy to get lost in the crowd.  I decided I wanted to be a biochemistry major, but I also thought about Political Science.  In the end, I could get A’s in Biology and I had troubles getting A’s in Political Science, although I loved the classes.  I also took Art History classes and other “core” type classes.  Those are the classes that still influence me as I read a lot of biographies and I am obsessed with politics.

I knew from the beginning (i.e. High School), that I wanted to be a scientist of some type, and I came to realize in college that I really wanted to be a college professor.  I tried to do the best at what I did and always tried to enjoy it.  However, in the real world, some jobs suck.  I had a job for a couple of years in a lab that was miserable, but I learned from it.  I learned how I wanted to treat people and how I didn’t want to treat people.  Crummy experiences are actually good for you, just like green vegetables.  So let me give your 4 pieces of advice that I wish I had had in my college experience.

  1. Follow your bliss – Yep, sounds corny, but try to take as many classes as possible related to what you enjoy.  I’ve seen Biology students take three Biology labs in one semester (not because they are crazy as many of you may think, but because they are excited to take the classes).  Intellectually, you will rarely have the opportunity after college to get to spend 40 hr/week learning about things that interest you.  Admittedly, some classes will not be the most exciting, but load up on interesting classes.  Change your major if you aren’t taking a lot of classes that are interesting!
  2. Quality over quantity – There is nothing wrong with exploring lots of interesting things, but after freshman year, choose a few things and do them well.  In the end, employers, grad schools, and medical school is not going to be excited that you were involved in 5 different extra-curricular activities, but that you were involved in one that actually did something.  People can see through a smoke-screen of busy vs. doing something.  Spend time working in a laboratory, or preparing for Special Olympics next year, or organizing a Habitat for Humanity trip. Do something substantial!
  3. Embrace failure – I had disasters in my career.  Not getting into the right school, not getting a job, feeling like a complete idiot…However, trying to stay positive and see that every failure is really a new opportunity is what you should strive for.  Neurobiologists know that for every bad event, you learn a lot more than for an easy event.  Training yourself from you failures now will allow you to be more successful later on.
  4. Find new interests – Listen to a few podcasts every week.  I personally listen to the Science Magazine podcast and hear about what is new in the world of Science and Technology, but I also listen to the Freakonomics podcast too.  Ask your friends what they are reading, ask a professor what they would suggest would be an interesting read. Get a group together to talk about some topic of interest to you.

If you are science major, think about doing research with one of your faculty.  Villanova University is known as an “incubator” of future M.D. and Ph.D. students in the scientific fields.  Helping students is what all of the faculty want to do and personally, I find my job the most rewarding when I am helping students with research.  Admittedly, some of what is up above is pabulum, but it is worth reminding yourself of things every so often.  If you didn’t find anything useful in what is here, take a look at cool scientific pictures from my laboratory.

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We study yeast cells and how transcriptional programs get re-wired in different species.  Re-wiring may be a mechanisms to help maintain different species.  The first figure is a melting curve of a fluorescence detected during a quantitative PCR experiment.  The second picture is what yeast cells look like under the microscope.  These are the same yeast cells that allow your bread to rise and make alcoholic beverages.  The third picture is of yeast cells that are expressing a protein localized to the nucleus and that protein is pseudo-colored red.  The cytoplasm is colored green and blue represents the shape of the yeast cells.