[Guest Post] Dean Lindenmeyr’s Do’s and Don’ts for Academic Success in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Dean Lindenmeyr graciously stopped by to share these illuminating tips for success, which she first bestowed upon the class of 2018 at Orientation several weeks ago.

Ten Dean’s Do’s and Don’ts for Academic Success in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova

  1. DO take the time to get to know your professors. Visit them during office hours. Take advantage of their willingness to get to know you better, and to work with you.
  2. DON’T skip class. Ever. You’ll miss important information and annoy your professors; and you want to stay on their good side. And never, ever text or phone in class.
  3. DO buy the textbooks. Open them. Read them.
  4. DON’T sit in class like a lump. Be an active learner, not a limp, passive sponge.
  5. DO study with friends. Learn along with them and from them.
  6. But DON’T cheat. Ever. We know all the ways to cheat, and you will be caught.
  7. DO take at least one course that seems completely exotic and fulfills absolutely no requirement. It could be Gaelic or Russian history, medieval poetry or the sociology of deviance or the chemistry of art. Explore.
  8. DO change your mind at least once about your major or your career goals, even if you change it back later.
  9. DON’T wait until the second semester of your senior year to visit the Career Center in Garey Hall.
  10. DO take advantage of the academic opportunities that are all around you. Do something daring. When a door suddenly opens before you, walk through it.

New ATLAS Program Launched!

An open letter to all College of Liberal Arts and Sciences students from Matthew Kerbel, Ph.D., Chair of the Political Science Department.

Dear CLAS Students,

We are excited to announce a new Certificate in European Politics that we have launched in partnership with the European School of Social and Political Sciences at the Université Catholique de Lille, in Lille, France. This is an ATLAS spring semester program that is unique and exclusive to Villanova students. If you are thinking of majoring in Political Science, have an interest in European Politics, or are taking French as your language requirement, this is a great opportunity to integrate a Study Abroad activity into your curriculum.

More details are available at http://www1.villanova.edu/villanova/vpaa/abroad/findprogram/sem_lille.html, but let me give you a few highlights.

  • The Certificate may be earned by taking the equivalent of 12 units of Political Science courses at ESPOL in addition to PSC 1200 (which is already a required course in the major).
  • You will also be taking a 6-unit combined culture and French language course called Intercultural Communication, which includes excursions in the region
  • If you are already taking French, this is a terrific way of accruing credits towards a double major in French and Political Science.
  • You will be housed in single rooms in dormitories within walking distance to ESPOL. These dorms are equipped with common kitchen, gym and social areas.
  • You will be assigned a sponsor family who will contribute to giving you a more thorough experience of French culture.
  • Political Science courses taken at ESPOL can only be applied to a certificate, minor or major. In other words you cannot, for example, use the same course to fulfill both a certificate and a major.
  • All Political Science courses taken at ESPOL will be approved automatically for PSC credit.

Note that the application deadline for this spring semester (2015) is October 15. This is because study visas will need to be processed.

I encourage everyone to consider this unique study abroad activity. It is part of our efforts to more closely link the courses taken abroad with our home curriculum in the department, and ease the process of vetting and approving courses on the basis of our confidence in their quality of instruction and experiences.

If you are looking for summer travel-study experiences in PSC, consider the Prague Program or the Washington Minimester. We will send out information on these programs over the course of the semester.

To get started, make an advising appointment with the program coordinator, Prof. Francois Massonnat, Department of Romance Languages and Literature. Email him at francois.massonnat@villanova.edu. Afterwards, he will direct you to the (newly renamed) Office of Education Abroad to fill out an application and get the process started.

Matthew Kerbel
Chair, Political Science Department

[GUEST POST] Internship Experience by Jonathan Tam ’15

Every incoming college student knows of the college triangle aka the graphic of a college student’s time management. The three points of the triangle are labeled good grades, social life, and sleep and it tells you that you can only choose two. What the graphic does not tell you is that it is possible to have all three; you just need to have good time management and a plan.

            My freshman year was a big transition year for me and I figured out what I needed to do to be a successful college student. I also have the added filler of college baseball to my schedule, which helps to focus my time to where I need to spend it. I am a rising senior in the class of 2015 who is majoring in Psychology in the Liberal Arts and Sciences College.

            This summer I interned at a large-scale insurance company called ACE Group USA that specializes in insuring companies with a net worth of $1 billion or more. I spent time in the Risk Management Finance department, which looks at the expectations of every policy from every branch and looks at how the policies are doing compared to how they were projected to do.

            When I entered Villanova as a Psychology major, I was really hoping to be able to counsel and provide therapy but I would have to take way too many classes to earn that right so I have moved on. Now I have been looking at jobs in the insurance industry because it gives me the same kind of social networking without having to go to grad school to get a job. My summer internship in the Risk Management department was excellent for understanding how insurance works and how important social networking is in a workplace environment.


[Guest Post] Summer Internship Experience by Gregory Shirinian

My internship this summer was with Urban Engineers of New York P.C., located in New York, New York right in front of Madison Square Garden. It was an exciting experience that I was able to learn a lot from even though I am not in the engineering school here at Villanova University. I worked in the Business Development sector of the company helping to promote our service as a consulting firm in order to gain future clientele. My internship also involved research into current business and transportation topics that were relevant to the company’s, and my own, futures.

I am a senior economics major at Villanova University and I found my internship through the Armenian General Benevolent Union. The AGBU is an Armenian Organization that offers an internship program in New York City, but you have to apply and be accepted based on resume, GPA, classes taken, and application answers. Once accepted, the internship coordinator found positions for all of us in the fields we are interested in, unfortunately I did not receive a financial position. I did receive a “marketing” position for Urban Engineers. I was interested in this field because I have only had experience in the financial sector at Morgan Stanley, so I figured marketing would broaden my perspective on business.

If students were interested in a similar internship, such as this one, they would have to apply to the AGBU summer internship program via their website. They offer programs in Yerevan, New York, and Moscow. The only drawback is that you have some Armenian blood within your family tree in order to apply and be accepted. It was a great program that I highly recommend because it not only gives you experience, but an established network to tap into once you are applying for job positions. I am sorry to say that I was not able to obtain a picture from my internship because it only involved going out into the field a few times, other than that I was at a desk for five days a week working eight hours a day. Pictures are never allowed out in the field because it is sensitive transportation information that cannot be leaked to the public.  


Guest Photo Post: Melissa Knouse

Here at the Office for Undergraduate students Blog, we love featuring slices of student internship life. Typically this comes in the form of written essays detailing various experiences. Today we’re pleased to share a few great photos of Villanova Undergraduate Melissa Knouse, working at her summer internship with the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. Congratulations go out to Melissa, as she’s recently won a generous stipend through the Career Center. Funded through the donations of a Villanova parent, this stipend is awarded to worthy students working unpaid internships.

Melissa Knouse 1, Villanova Melissa Knouse 2, Villanova Melissa Knouse 3, Villanova

Guest Post – Andrew Saba ’17


Hello my name is Andrew Saba, I just finished my first year at Villanova University. At this moment I am undeclared in the college of Liberal Arts and Sciences, but now after my internship I am strongly pursuing a major in Communications with a concentration in journalism. I interned at Voice of America this summer, the biggest U.S. International Broadcaster, as it reaches 140 million people in 43 languages through radio, television, and the web. Voice of America was a station I never heard of before coming here, but is something many people including my family members overseas have listened to for many years. When my dad lived in the Middle East, he and his family would listen to Voice of America and it turns out that when he came to the U.S. his college internship was at Voice of America.

I found my internship out when my dad heard they were looking for college students who might have a passion for journalism to come and act as interns for them. All that I had to do was get in contact with the internship supervisor and give them my resume, tell them a little bit about me, and why I was so interested in working for Voice of America.

I told them I wanted to intern at Voice of America because I have always enjoyed writing and wanted to dip my toes in the water of journalism before I go out and declare my major. This internship completely paid off, as I have become even more interested in the journalism. I learned so much at Voice of America, because they gave me a lot of responsibility and the ability to learn through experience in the field. Whether that be through classes on how to use the media tools they use, going out and interviewing highly extinguished individuals for stories, or even going out and developing my own piece, I was always learning something and becoming more ready to concentrate my time at Villanova on journalism.

My advice to all Villanova students looking for internships is to just go out and try and get one that matches your interests. Internships are a great way to build connections and acquire values that you will hold onto for the rest of your professional career, so starting with an internship as early as I did is not ill-advised.

[Guest Post] Something Old, Something New: Flipping the Latin Classroom

by Dr. Valentina DeNardis, Director of Graduate Classical Studies

In the Classical Studies Program, students are not flipping out—we’re flipping the classroom instead.

The traditional model for a Latin literature class consists of students taking turns translating a work like Vergil’s Aeneid from Latin to English, with pauses to discuss difficulties in the language, context, significance, analysis, etc.  I remember speaking with a friend near retirement age about his experience as a student in such an undergraduate class many years ago.  He told me that his professor did not even allow the students to look at the Latin text.  One student stood and read the Latin aloud from the book, and another stood and translated what he heard into English.  The tension which might build in such a stressful class format is not terribly conducive to getting the most out of examining a beautiful work of literature.  I have discovered that a great deal more learning can take place in the format of a flipped classroom.

In my upper level Latin literature course this semester, we are reading selections from the Roman poet Ovid’s mythological epic, the Metamorphoses.  Instead of following the traditional model for this type of course, where students struggle alone to make sense of a challenging Latin text, I have the students do prep work outside of class and then work together in class to decipher the text.  After spending some time at the start of the semester reviewing important Latin grammar and introducing the author and his work, I assign a portion of text to the students to prepare.  Most of Latin and Greek literature is available online for free, so I cut and paste the selections into a word document and post it on Blackboard for the students to download and rearrange in a format that works for them (such as adding spaces between lines or on the side for notes).  The students can either print out the text to bring to class, or bring it in on a laptop, or tablet, or even a smart phone.  Students are expected to have looked up vocabulary and forms they do not know, so they have those tools ready to work with in class.  They also do some additional preparatory work, such as reading other portions of the work in English, reading relevant scholarly articles, or researching representations of the myth in other works of literature, art and even post-classical art and culture.

A typical seventy-five minute class will begin with the students getting into small groups to work out a translation together for about half an hour, using the tools and prep work they have prepared before class.  I circulate among the groups, helping if they have a question and noting their progress.  What I have found is that different students have different strengths (e.g., one student may be good at identifying noun-adjective phrases, while another is good at figuring out verbal constructions) and in working together, they make progress, learn from each other, and even have a good time since the pressure to translate alone in the spotlight is off.  While I check in on the various groups, I note any particular difficulties with forms or grammar and can quickly pull up a mini-review on my laptop.  The second half hour of the class can consist of me briefly presenting that mini-review, and then the students taking turns to bring the translation they have worked out to the whole group so that we can discuss it and the text together.  I project the text on the screen in the classroom, and use a graphic tablet and stylus to edit and mark up the text as we discuss it.  After class I can post this annotated text we have come up with together on Blackboard for the students to consult, use as a study guide, etc.  During the last 15 minutes of the class, one student will share a powerpoint highlighting his or her research on one particular myth in the text, showing where else the myth is depicted, from different versions by other ancient authors to uses of the myth in pop culture.

Junior Julie Kurtz describes the experience of the flipped format:  “When we work in groups to translate text, rather than speaking out to the whole class, we are more comfortable. It is okay to make mistakes, and it’s okay to take some time and try the sentence a few different ways. There is much less pressure on each of us, and I definitely think it makes it more likely for each person in the class to participate and be engaged.”

Instead of inducing students to hide and hope they are not put on the spot to tackle a tricky translation alone, this new flipped classroom format is resulting in a much more productive and enjoyable class, and a class in which students spend more of their time participating, collaborating, and learning.

Roman school sculptural relief (180-185 CE)

[Guest Post] Michelle Velez, part 3

Below is a guest post by Michelle Velez, LAS ’14, Environmental Science and Spanish Major.

profile_bird_sanctAs a Spanish Interpreter Intern for the Villanova Law School, I spent this morning observing and assisting in a deposition involving a Spanish-speaking foreman for a demolition project in a building damage case. It was a very unique opportunity to be able to observe and advise a professional translator in her work, as well as to see the deposition process firsthand.

While the city representatives, seasoned defense lawyer and defendants were looking for a quick deposition, difficult translations, tedious details, and law students nervous for their first deposition made for a tense situation.

The translating aspect of the deposition was quite amazing. The translator, a woman from Puerto Rico, had been a certified legal translator for eight years. I was amazed by the speed with which she relayed the questions posed by the students and the answers given by the defendant. I was elated to find that I could follow the conversation word for word (although I most certainly could not have translated as accurately and quickly as she did). I was even called upon for clarification a few times when a word or phrase was misinterpreted or miscommunicated. I made a point to talk with the translator afterwards to commend her and thank her for being patient with my assistance. She thought I was a certified translator and was surprised to discover I was simply a student intern. I’m glad I spoke with her afterwards because I was able to tell her how I admired her work, and she confided in me that she had felt nervous the whole time. Although she admitted to being nervous, she seemed perfectly calm and focused during the arduous deposition.

The foreman’s responses often included Spanglish words as well as names of specific construction tools that were difficult to translate on the spot. The most interesting Spanglish words were “la fensa” for “fence” (instead of “la cerca”) and “el rufo” for “roof” (instead of “el techo”). Technical terms and phrases were also difficult to translate, such as “the party wall,” which referred to the shared wall between two row houses. The defendant also often interjected English words into his sentences, such as “backhoe,” which made it difficult to follow if you did not realize he had switched languages. It was incredible to see translating in action and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to observe and offer some help with a difficult translation.

Internship Experience: [Guest Post] Michelle Velez 2

Below is a guest post by Michelle Velez, LAS ’14, Environmental Science and Spanish Major.

profile_bird_sanctAs an Interpreter Intern at the Villanova Law School legal clinic, I have the opportunity to not only translate documents and phone calls in the office, but to gain real world face-to-face translating skills as well. Last week I had the opportunity to translate a client meeting as well as to shadow the Friends of Farmworkers volunteers during their outreach visits to farmworker housing.

Translating for the client meeting was a welcome challenge, but also a saddening reality. The client was a 14 year-old boy who had been caught by ICE when crossing the border. He had fled Guatemala to be reunited with his parents working in PA, but they were undocumented as well. The already sensitive situation was heightened by the fact that the boy did not understand much Spanish and almost no English, but rather spoke a rare indigenous dialect.

I was immediately reminded of the many homestays I had during my time studying abroad in Panama when we walked into that old townhouse. Its mismatched furniture, chipping paint, and unfinished walls gave no illusions to their precarious financial situation, yet the home had a distinctly welcoming atmosphere, marked by an abundance of family photos lining the walls and their hospitality, offering us refreshments when we entered.  The father dominated the meeting while the mother sat quietly in the corner, expressing contentment whenever questioned directly. The boy sat on the couch and stared at the ceiling, nervous and confused. It was then that I realized the sheer challenge of working this client’s case: the boy would need to testify himself in court and he parents could not accompany him since that would put them in danger of deportation as well. Yet the boy rarely spoke and may not understand Spanish or English.

The lawyers tried to find an interpreter who speaks his dialect, but the only one they could track down lived in Guatemala. The resulting phone call between the translator in Guatemala and the shy child in PA was a disaster. The connection was poor and the boy spoke a slightly different dialect than the translator. I was shocked that the translator seemed to plow through his assignment of explaining a document to the boy, without pausing for confirmation or letting the lawyers know what was going on. Finally, I began to realize that the boy was asking clarifying questions in Spanish, not the dialect, and I suggested to the lawyers that they stop the call. It turned out that the boy knew more Spanish than he initially let on and was just very shy. I sat down next to him and went through the document slowly, indicating the bold parts and the parts where he needed to sign. The boy finally started talking and responding and even smiled when we asked some more questions about his school and his interests. It was a great feeling to help bridge the gap between a nervous young client and the lawyers. I hope I can continue with this case as I think continuity and familiarity will help this boy find his voice.

The trip to visit farmworker housing with Friends of Farm Workers was an adventure. Many of the farmworker trailers are hidden in the orchards or off winding, dirt roads so it was a challenge just to find them let alone communicate with the workers inside. We went to seven different farms, handing out informational pamphlets explaining workers’ rights at each one. A few places we were invited inside into the trailers but at most we just spoke to one or two people outside, distributed pamphlets, and left.

At one farm, we ran into a group of workers fixing a flat tire and we had the chance to talk with them for a while about all the other places they had worked: California, Georgia, North Carolina. It was incredible how far they had traveled. What struck me was that there were two quiet young children at that farm as well, watching us in the background, one clinging to a stuffed dog and another trying to catch the attention of a stray cat that was roaming the farm. I wondered about how these children would grow up, constantly moving, watching their parents deal with potentially discriminatory bosses, always looking over their shoulders for ICE.

On the drive back I asked the volunteers how many people actually called their hotline for help. They said that there have been a few and that this year they are dealing with a case of harassment in which an orchard owner would call his workers horribly insulting names. Yet the reality is that while Friends of Farmworkers and PLA can offer legal services to workers, they cannot guarantee their job security. If workers start speaking up, then they will most likely be fired and since farmers in small rural communities are often close, that will also prevent them from getting work with anyone else in the area if they are viewed as a potential problem. It was eye-opening to speak with the farmworkers in their element and gave me a glimpse of the reality of their work and their lives. I think it is essential for any lawyer or translator working on immigration or farmworkers’ rights cases to do outreach such as this to put their efforts into perspective.