My OUS Story: Renee Romagnoli

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My OUS Story: Owen Barnard

Senior Owen Barnard from Oxford, Mississippi has never let an opportunity pass him by.

Before coming to Villanova, he already knew that he wanted to become a Political Science Major because of his deep interest in government and politics. Although, he waited to declare until the end of his sophomore year in order to make sure it was definitely what he wanted to pursue after taking some political science courses.

He chose Villanova primarily because of location, since he realized he didn’t want to remain permanently on Capitol Hill, where he learned most people who go to schools in Washington D.C. end up. He realized that going to Villanova would allow him to live in a swing state, be near a historic city, and go to a school with a good basketball program and a good political science program.

On campus you can find him at the two organizations that have dominated most of his time at Villanova. Throughout the year, he works as a tour guide for the Blue Key Society. Since his freshman year, he has also held many positions in the Student Government Association. For three years, he has been one of the three senators for Liberal Arts and Sciences, he was the first speaker of the senate last year, he has chaired a couple of committees, and the past two years he’s served as a student representative on the Academic Fairs Committee.

Due to his positions in SGA, he has been an advocate for Arts and Sciences students. “For SGA, when I’ve advocated for different policies for Arts and Sciences students, I’ve gone to talk with people in OUS just because they’re the people who have control over those matters outside of the Dean’s Office.”

After taking two ASPD courses with Kate Szumanski, called Professional Writing and Social Networking, Owen became, as he said, a dedicated support member of Kate Szumanski’s internship squad and has volunteered at many panels that Kate has hosted. “Anytime there’s a panel there’s a consistent group of us that she taps to talk on them, and I volunteer whenever I can. They happen usually during Candidate’s Day and Kate asks us to talk to accepted students about our internship work, how we connected that to the classroom, and how Villanova propelled us to where we are now. There are usually three or six of us on the panel, and we have a running conversation about we who are, where we’ve come from, what we’re doing now, and here’s what it took.”

He began his extensive internship experience before his freshman year of college. For two summers, before his freshman year and the year after, he worked for AmeriCorps. “Most people, when they think of AmeriCorps, they think of it as a one to two year commitment all year round, but I did two, three month commitments for two summers. I worked with them at their summer school program in Holly Springs, Mississippi, doing everything from making copies to working with the kids, helping teachers, and community outreach. It was a really educational experience since it was a summer school for kids who would fail school if they didn’t come or kids whose parents didn’t want them sitting at home all summer. All of the teachers involved were brand new teachers. Many had never taught before, and it was so interesting seeing them go from point A to point B throughout the summer.”

The summer of his sophomore year, he worked for the Mississippi Farm to School Network. “It is a non-profit that does advocacy education in terms of getting healthier and locally grown food from farms to schools. It ensures that at local schools, lunches incorporate local farms’ produce instead of having it shipped from elsewhere. By taking the food, the school sustains the farm and the farm sustains the lunch program in return. The program also worked with the farmers, brought community gardens to schools, and brought the kids to the farms.”

The summer before his senior year, Owen also interned for the digital department on the re-election campaign for Bob Casey, who is one of the senators from Pennsylvania who later got re-elected in the fall for another six-year term.

Lastly, he worked as a digital media strategist for a handful of democratic campaigns around the country through a firm out of New York called Ethica Media. “My focus was mainly digital ad buying, Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other social media. I learned to take the message of the campaign, work with the campaign and the campaign strategy team, and then build the profile of the voter we were looking for.”

As of right now, Owen does not have plans for after graduation, though he’s been searching for opportunities that will help guide him in his decisions for his future, a future that is open for him. “I’ve applied for some presidential campaigns for fun, although they are super competitive. My favorite is Pete Buttigieg from Indiana, and I’ve wanted to work for him even before he did his CNN Town Hall and became super popular. That’s the dream. Other than that, I’ve pondered law school, an MPA, or an MPP, I’m sort of all over the place with what I want to do. I know that I at least want to take one or two years before I go back to school, although I know I want to go back for myself and because in many spaces, either the salary or the work, requires a higher degree. Though, I want to take the time to choose what I want to pursue before I sign on the dotted line. I’ve done everything from dishwashing to sweeping floors to jobs where I’m paid well like digital ad buying, so I know that these next two years, as long as I have a job and a support system, I know I will be fine. Though, right now, I have a couple of interviews lined up in digital ad campaign management at a couple places between Philly and New York.”

Owen left the interview with advice for his fellow students. “Use your resources, make sure to reach out to people early and often since everybody’s willing to help. A couple job offers that I got for internships the summer going into my senior year before I chose the one with Bob Casey, some were from the Nova Network and some were from Handshake, so use the resources you have and don’t be afraid to go talk to people who could have resources that can help you. Don’t miss an opportunity to do something. Make sure to carve out time to do the interesting stuff as opposed to what you can do every day. That’s when a lot of my cool experiences have been had, like seeing John Kasich, John Kerry, Tarana Burke, all of whom came to campus. Going to those big-name events, and other smaller events like diversity presentations will provide you with different points of view that can make you a more well-rounded person.”

My OUS Story: Alexander Pereira

Current Senior Alexander Pereira, from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, has melded his curriculum into his future career path all the while ensuring that future students can do the same. On campus, you can find him studying in the library, playing intramurals like soccer, basketball, volleyball and flag football, at the gym, and being a leader in the Villanova Consulting Group.

During the first semester of his sophomore year, he declared a major in Communications. Specializing in Organizational Communication, and a minor in Business. He had known before coming to Villanova that he wanted to work in a business environment, but it took him until coming to Villanova to explore his passion for the people and relationship skills side of business. As a freshman, since he knew he wanted to pursue something in the business field, he tried Economics. Soon, he realized that the Economic courses were not for him while realizing that he was enjoying his communication classes, like Public Speaking, the most.  

He said, “Certain majors and certain courses comes easier to other people, it depends on the person. Like for me I love public speaking, I love presentations, I love getting up in the morning, and I love having conversations with people, so for me I realized that my loves and my skills fit communications after I read about the different specializations. Before when I thought of communications I thought of television, the media, and journalism, but I didn’t realize there was a whole side of with specializations in interpersonal communication and organizational communication. I was able to make links between that program and business.”

So, he realized that Organizational Communication suited his career goals. He explains his academic program as “almost like the liberal arts version of business management where you not only look at how people operate and organize themselves in a business but in everyday life within society.”

By adapting Communications to suit his career path towards business, Alex was able to experience different sides of Villanova. “Having the opportunity to take classes in both Garey and Bartley positioned myself well because I wasn’t sucked fully into one mindset. At the end of the day, I had a good breadth of experience within my classes as a whole. I would say the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences does a good job of exposing students to different types of courses through pre-requisites and general education courses. They can be overwhelming, but as a senior, I now see why we have them because you are able to take these different courses in different areas and see what you like and don’t like.”

The varied courses that he took allowed him to realize his passion for business consulting that led him to take the course Consulting and Organization taught by adjunct professor, Dr. Suzanne Seidl, whom he has taken the last three semesters. Dr. Seidl’s teaching style has Alex’s preferred mix of communication and business, for she teaches communication through a business mindset and has many guest speakers come to her classes.  

Dr. Seidl’s class required students to become actual consultants. “Our professor gave us the freedom to pinpoint a problem that we saw on Villanova’s campus, find a client, and work with them to come up with a strategy report, implementation plan, and needs assessment on how to fix it in the best way possible. My client was Kate Szumanski, the Director of Leadership and Professional Development in OUS. I had noticed that consulting opportunities are growing fast in Villanova, but many of those opportunities are housed within Bartley even though consulting is open to all majors. In consulting they want a diversity of thought, backgrounds, and communication skills. That diversity of thought is needed to solve a client’s problem as efficiently as possible. So, I met with Kate to implement a plan on how to spread awareness in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences about all of these consulting opportunities. For that, we created a new ASPD Consulting Course, which will hopefully be running by next year.”

For the course, which would run once a week and be pass/fail, Alex and Kate plan on having Nova Alumni that we are current consultants to come to the class and talk about their own experiences in order to educate students about that career path and network with them. Alex believes that this course could save students time. “From the class, if you can figure out, hey I’m a sophomore, and I love consulting, now I’m going to put my best foot forward and start preparing for interviews and internships for my junior year. Or you say, I took this course, put my best foot forward, met some interesting people, but I don’t think consulting is for me, and now I can focus on different careers.”

Alex has also had multiple internship experiences that have built the foundation for the career he is pursuing. Growing up, he worked alongside his father and his uncle in their family construction business. This work provided him with sales and technical work experience.

Then, during the fall semester of his junior year, he participated in a study abroad program in Sydney, Australia. There, he took courses and worked as a marketing and communications intern for Discovery Communications, which is the umbrella network for channels like Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, and TLC. Throughout the internship, he was given exposure to how television networks work, he helped out with Shark Week, and he was even an extra in some of the network’s commercials.

Last summer, he interned at Burlington Stores in New Jersey as a planning and allocations analyst, a position he received after attending one of Villanova’s Career Fairs and meeting an employer from Burlington. Even though it was a more financial and business type of role, he was also able to engage in elements of communication and presentation that he loves. He recalls that, “It was exciting to be working within that business because the nature of standard brick and mortar retail is starting to go down whereas off-price discount retailers like Burlington are on the rise.”

Currently, Alex is interning in Philadelphia at a Public Relations Advertising firm called the Brownstein Group in their strategy department. He was able to get that position when he learned about the company and reached out on LinkedIn to a Villanova Alumni who works there. She referred him to others in the business and helped him get an interview.

Starting in the summer, Alex will be working as a consultant at a global consulting firm called Accenture in their Philadelphia office, fulfilling his goals of becoming a consultant. “I am really excited to have the opportunity to be in a firm like this, be able to travel, be expected to think on my feet, adapt to different industries and clients, and be able to have consulting training and development invested in me.”

Alex left the interview with one piece of advice. “Balance is important. This is something I still struggle with. I often spend too much time in my academics and not as much compared to other opportunities. What I have been able to realize looking back at my time here, is that obviously you want to come here for a good education and pursue something that you are passionate about, but what is unique about college, something that you may not realize at first, is that there are so many areas where you can learn and develop outside of the classroom like living with someone you don’t know or independently, learning to manage conflict, making friends, and maybe going abroad. All of it is part of the learning experience that makes college so valuable over the degree. It is important to understand that and realize that you should be consciously trying to allocate your time to developing yourself as a person in addition to your studies.”

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: Katie Bogan

Senior Katie Bogan, from Sicklerville, New Jersey, is one of the tight-knit Computer Science Majors on campus, who is also pursuing a minor in Communications. During her time as a Computer Science major, she has formed close bonds with fellow majors due to the small size of the program, something that she has valued immensely concerning her educational program. While she is not doing work for her Computer Science courses, you can find her playing the saxophone for the Villanova Band, which has been one of her favorite experiences and her most treasured extracurricular activity.

Last summer, after applying through Handshake after being referred to it by OUS, she worked as Production Operations Intern at BlackRock, a financial asset management corporation located in Wilmington, Delaware. Her main task had her working on software development projects. She also outfitted features for an internal website utilized by fellow employees at BlackRock. Once a week, she attended meetings with colleagues in Edinburgh and Dubai, so she was able to speak with those individuals about their experiences working for the company internationally.

She recalls that, “My bosses and colleagues really respected me and worked well with me. That type of relationship was a wonderful thing to have and was my biggest takeaway from working there, since I was able to work in a professional setting and speak to my colleagues in meetings who were both my equals and higher ups. The higher ups in the company also had meetings with us weekly in order to ask what we were thinking of the company, since they wanted my opinion on what was happening in the company on a day to day basis. That was really valuable to me because I was just an intern, but they ensured that my position meant so much more.”

As for her post-graduation plans, her passion for education and constant learning drove her to apply for the five-year BS/MS program for Computer Science and Software Engineering at Villanova. In order to complete some of the requirements for the program as an undergraduate, she had to rely on OUS to register her for her graduate courses and advise her through the process of becoming of master’s student.

She also said, “In July, I will also begin working as a Software Engineer Associate at Lockheed Martin in their Space Division, which develops cutting-edge technology in the realms of aerospace, defense, and security operations. I will be creating software for machines used in space exploration and protection. In the future, I hope to still be employed at a company with colleagues that value my presence in the workplace and performing tasks that make me really happy, so that I feel like I am developing my career in the right way.”

Before she left the interview, she had one more thing to remind her fellow Villanova students, “Remember to stop by OUS, which usually has tasty cakes and free candy. It’s something I do all the time.”

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 Brain Aneurysm Awareness Run is organized by members of the Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory Lab, in the Psychology Department at Villanova University. As cognitive neuroscientists who study memory, we have observed the devastating effects of brain injury in many stroke patients. We want to give something back to these patients who so generously contributed to our understanding of the consequences of brain injury. With your help, we can help fight the devastation caused by brain aneurysms and save lives right here in our community.

Registration begins at 7:45 a.m. • Event begins at 9:00 a.m.
Pre-registration fee of $25 (adult) • $15 (students & children 6 and over)
*includes tshirt if registered by 8/22; Tshirt sizes include standard adult & children sizes *includes chip timing for all runners

After 8/22 registration fee will increase to $30 (adult) $20 (students & children 6 and over)
*tshirts are available while supplies last.

To pre-register please scan the QR Code below or go to

For even more details, or to spread the word, view the full flyer here: baar2014_flyer

The Matthew J. Ryan center for the Study of Free Institutions and the Public Good

Come visit the Matthew J. Ryan Center for the Study of Free Institutions and the Public Good!  Located in Old Favley 304, we are a place to discuss serious ideas about politics.  We believe active citizenship is not simply about voting every four years or turning on cable news or Colbert once in a while.  Politics is about asking questions like: What makes a good citizen or statesman?  What is freedom?  And is it something we should care about?  Become a member of the Ryan Center, and participate in discussions about contemporary and controversial political issues, reading groups, public lectures, and more.  Please email Brenda Hafera ( for more information.