Sophomore Tia Parisi from Madison, Wisconsin, only discovered Villanova because of a bet with her parents. When she began looking into colleges in 2016, she did not know where she wanted to go and why type of school she wanted.
She recalls, “I was really banking my college decision on how I’d feel when I visit the different school’s campuses. I’m from Madison, Wisconsin, so I had never heard of Villanova before. I am also the oldest in my family, and my parents both went to feeder schools, so they never had the experience of having to choose a college and pick where they wanted to go. So, we were all lost. But we’re a big basketball family, so my parents made a bet with me. They said that whoever wins the basketball championship that year that I would just go to school there, and I agreed. I didn’t take it seriously, but then my mom on a whim picked Villanova to win her company bracket pool because they had a pretty name. Then they won, and she won money from the pool. Deciding to stay true to our bet, she used the money and bought plane tickets to Philadelphia. When I got to campus, I immediately realized that this was the place that I was supposed to be because everyone was so friendship and the campus was so welcoming and full of people who wanted to see everyone do well and succeed. It was definitely the feeling of community that made me stay here. But I lost the bet, so that’s how I got here in the first place.”
Now at Villanova because of a bet she does not regret, she is an Honors Biology Major pursuing a Medical Ethics track. She also has minors in Creative Writing and Spanish. As a freshman, she came in as Undeclared Arts leaning towards English, but she was also drawn into Biology since she sees herself pursuing a career in Biotechnology after she graduates because she is interested in the concept of gene therapy and the new medicines that Bio-Tech companies are creating to treat cancer and other genetic abnormalities. Although, she does not know yet whether or not she wants to go into the laboratory side of Bio-Tech or the business side. So, this year, she declared Biology as her major and decided to add a Creative Writing Minor so she could still express herself creatively in her studies.
On campus, she ensures that she stays very involved. This year, she became a tour guide for the Blue Key Society because she enjoys exposing prospective students Villanova’s campus and showing them what it has to offer them. She has also served as a Volunteer Coordinator for Special Olympics, which was a hands-on experience that involved running a venue, organizing volunteers, and forming relationships with athletes. She was also a part of the Morale Committee for NOVAdance, is a RUIBAL leader for Campus Ministry, and pledged Delta Gamma this semester.
One of her on-campus accomplishments includes taking responsibility over the literary magazine, Ellipsis, formerly called Arthology. “For the magazine, we receive submissions from students and organize them into a publication every year, which we are currently in the printing phase for right now. This year, I’ve been working with my staff on rebranding because it became clear to me other students didn’t know what it was because of the former title. We changed the name and changed the look, but we kept the same values of the magazine. Kate Szumanski has been our advisor for Ellipsis. I really needed an advisor because we were going through so many changes. When I came into the literary magazine program it was still Arthology, and I was the only underclassman, everyone else involved was a senior. I remember I showed up to one of the meetings and they were surprised to see me. At the end of the year they told me that they hadn’t been expecting the magazine to go on after they left, but if I wanted it, I could have it and make it into whatever I wanted. I had a strong motivation to do this because I did a literary magazine in high school, but the fact that I was the only who was interested in keeping this going was what made me think that there needed to be big changes to the program. Kate’s really stood behind me and has helped me keep my motivation in running the magazine with a really small staff, so I’m excited for the magazine’s future.”
Outside of Villanova, Tia has also had a few work experiences. Her first internship was during her years at high school when she worked as an intern for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Microbiology Lab. The lab she worked for studied genetic ties to tuberculosis. There, she would clean the lab and learned Python computing language, which she would use to manipulate the data the lab received from their trials to make it cleaner and more understandable. Last summer she had an internship with a Biotechnology company in Madison called Aldevron, which is a contract development company that works with other Bio-Tech Companies in Madison. For them, she worked as a marketing intern.
This summer she will be taking classes at the University of Wisconsin since she declared Biology as a major late and needs to catch up on classes. Next year, she hopes to participate in a study abroad program in Denmark during the Spring semester at the Denmark Institute for Study Abroad, which she just applied for. The institute itself has a large Bio-Tech program centered in Copenhagen.
One of her favorite parts about her experiences at Villanova was that all of her expectations have been met so far. “I came here because of basketball, and my freshman year we win another championship, so that’s the cherry on top. Then when I got here and learned about service opportunities like NOVAdance, Special Olympics, and how important service was on campus, and then coming to campus and being able to get involved in these activities that were as awesome or better than I expected them to be. Also, the community. When I came to visit, the Blue Key kids were going crazy and were so excited and welcoming. Then getting here as a student and that being true on a daily basis was so comforting. It makes me know I belong here.”
She left the interview with one piece of advice for fellow students. “I would say talk to people and ask questions. My relationship with Kate came out of me asking her for help, since I was insecure about this club I was running. Asking for help opens doors for possibility on campus. If you don’t push the people who are around you and the people who are supposed to help you, you’re never going to get anything out of your Villanova experience. You have to keep opening doors, talking to people, and pushing buttons to get results.”