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.” 

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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.”

BRAIN ANEURYSM AWARENESS 5K RUN/ 1 MILE WALK – 9/6

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
give.bafound.org/2014BAAR

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 (brenda.hafera@villanova.edu) for more information.