My OUS Story: Harrison Jumper

Junior Harrison Jumper from has taken advantage of every opportunity that has come his way during his time at Villanova.

During his high school years, he became encapsulated with political science during the 2016 Presidential Election. While taking his AP U.S. Government Course, he became obsessed with the process of campaigns and learned that he wanted to explore the field of political science during his undergraduate career. He chose Villanova for two reasons. First, he was drawn by the caliber of the Political Science Department, who, when he visited campus, told him about their programming and all the networking opportunities he could get involved in. Second, he decided to come to Candidate’s Day where he witnessed the strength of the community, a community that wanted him to come here. He had the sense that this is where he could belong.

Once he came to Villanova, he picked up some political science courses and declared as soon as he thought was possible. He also has a minor in economics.

His biggest involvement on campus has been his work with the student Government Association. “I have chaired the Elections Commissions for SGA since my Freshman year, which was the year it was created. It’s a major component of my time throughout each semester, because there are elections in the Fall for freshman candidates and there’s elections in the Spring for President, Vice President, and the senatorial positions. As Chair, I oversee the elections from start to finish. This includes working with the candidates and guiding them, helping them understand the university’s election laws, setting up the debates, meet and greets, and the campaign rally night, which was something that we started this year. On Election Day we set up the voting link and the email blast that gets sent out to every student, so it’s a really big undertaking.”

He is also a member of Phi Sigma Pi, which is an honors fraternity, and the Academic Reform Committee, which looks into improving different initiatives within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and representing what the students want.

On recalling his favorite campus experience, the first memory that sprung into his mind was the 2018 Villanova National Championship Basketball win. “I followed every game. I am not a big sports person, but I will support Villanova Basketball. When I heard that we were going to the Final Four, I immediately began to plan how I’d get to San Antonio. I was looking on Google Flights every day, and then the day I was heading home for Spring Break, my parents picked me up and I was in the car checking my phone and I saw there were tickets for $230, so I texted my friend that we were going. The thing was, I had to fly to Salt Lake City, Utah, and then I flew to Dallas, and then I took a bus from Dallas to San Antonio, so like a crazy person, I traveled for thirteen hours to go see Villanova play in just the Final Four Game. I didn’t even stay for the Championship. But I got to come back to campus for the Championship, so I really did get to see the best of both worlds. San Antonio was just incredible, and I was even on TV multiple times because I dressed up from head to toe in attire. I have never been on the news more than doing the championship run because I dressed up to all the events, so the reporters would take pictures of me. Afterwards, I lost my voice and got sick, but it was all so worth it.”

After his freshman year, he had an internship with an Educational Law Firm with attorneys that represent different school districts. The experience from that internship helped him achieve his second one last summer when he interned for the City of Philadelphia in the Mayor’s Internship Program under Mayor Jim Kenney, for which he was placed into the City Law Department. “I accepted the role because it was a good opportunity to forge connections and learn about the functioning of local and city government. I worked closely with the Code Enforcement Unit, which is responsible for building code violations and who take action to get places in Philadelphia in compliance when they may be in violation of a building in code. I went to court multiple times a week and saw city attorneys litigate on behalf of the public and the city government.”

An irreplaceable part of his experience as a political science major, one he hopes that every political science major gets the chance to do, was the three-week Washington D.C. Minimester hosted by the Political Science Department. “When I first toured Villanova, this girl who I ran into who was a Political Science major told me that this was the one thing I had to do before I graduate. You go to D.C. with fifteen others, and they set-up this amazing itinerary for you. It’s used to explore the intersection between politics and policy making. They had us meet with different professionals in D.C. from congressmen to journalists and to pollsters to have an open dialogue with them. A big part of it is the questions we ask them, so the Department Head of the Political Science Department, Dr. Matthew Kerbel, asks when you interview for this program if you’re ready to ask tough questions to these professionals. I told him, of course, because the learning is going to happen in these tough questions. We learned about all the different avenues of professional careers that are available, but it also enhances our learning so much because what we learn in class at Villanova might be more theoretical in nature, since we’re learning how government should operate and good governance, while this program teaches us the reality rather than what it should be.”

This current semester, he has been taking the ASPD course Public Policy Paths taught by Kate Szumanski, which has now opened up many doors for him and tries to connect students with alumni in Washington D.C. “When I saw the description for the course, I realized it was perfectly up my alley. We learn about the alumni’s experience working as a professional in D.C. we are given ways to stay in contact with them. They come visit our class, and it has been incredible hearing what they have to say. I see my future in Washington D.C., and so getting the opportunity to talk to these people was fundamental because internships in D.C. can be incredibly hard to secure. Before the class started, I reached out to Kate and I told her that I was interested in getting an internship this summer in D.C., but I didn’t know how since kids from all over the country are coming and trying to get these hypercompetitive internships. I asked if she had any advice for me, and she told me that I was already on the right track by taking the class and she told me to network, network, network to land myself a role. And it worked. Now, I have an internship this summer working in the Congressional Office of Congressman Dwight Evans which I just learned about. Kate was the first person I emailed because she has felt like such a friend and a mentor to me rather than a teacher.”

His internship will begin at the end of May and will last for about twelve weeks. For Congressman Dwight Evans, who serves a district in Philadelphia, Harrison will be answering letters, emails, and phone calls from constituents and engaging in a discussion with them about their concerns, wishes, and issues, and he will take on any tasks that a legislative aide might give him. “I’m hoping to prove myself this summer by working as hard as I can, because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to work on Capitol Hill. I can’t even believe that I’m really doing it, it hasn’t set in yet. It’s intimidating too, to have this role and know that I’m going to be walking down those aisles.”

Though Harrison is not completely sure as to what he wants to do after he graduates, but he now knows that he has a deeper interest in exploring federal politics and policy through his Public Policy Paths course and the Washington Minimester. He also hopes that his internship on Capitol Hill will continue to open doors for him.

To other Villanova students, Harrison had one main piece of advice. “I would say that the key to having a really enriching time here is to get involved in things that you really like. It doesn’t really matter what it is, because everyone has varying interests and passions, but when you get involved in something you start meeting people and you start making these friendships that might otherwise not have happened. Apply to as many clubs or organizations that you feel may be somehow relevant to you and then throughout your time distill which ones you really like and commit yourself to them, because when you put your all into something the reward will be really great in the end. You’ll make so many connections and friends that it will be invaluable to helping you and enriching your time here. Ultimately, it is about the people you meet. Also the learning lessons that you learn through your extracurriculars can be more valuable than what you learn in the classroom. That’s something that I learned especially this election season in SGA, since I dealt with how people work.”

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: Ritesh Karsalia

Senior Ritesh Karsalia from New Jersey has always known that he has wanted to become a doctor, but it was not until coming to Villanova that he found his other passions. He came to Villanova as a Biology major because he is an aspiring physician and because of his interest in the life sciences from high school.

Though, he did not expect that he would declare minors in Spanish and Latin American Studies. “What pushed me there was our core curriculum and some really great professors. After I took both semesters of intermediate Spanish my freshman year, that was technically all I was required to do, but one of my professors approached me and told me about a study abroad program. I considered doing it, but I was hesitant at first until another professor told me about the same program.”

After the recommendations from those two professors, Ritesh ended up attending an information session that inspired him to apply to the study abroad program. So, the summer after his freshman year, he studied abroad in Chile, where he took a course with a Chilean professor that focused on the differences in Chile in comparison to other Spanish speaking countries. In the course, they explored the everyday life of a Chilean, including their slang, sayings, and the distinguishing factors of the country.

He recalls that “Spending the summer in Chile influenced my interest because I realized that Spanish was not just a language I took for a requirement, but I really enjoyed learning the language and communicating with others with that language. I remember the first day I met my host family, I could not speak much Spanish at all, and it was the most intimidating thing I have experienced because I didn’t know how I could communicate with them. It was really awkward communicating with them the first few weeks with hand gestures, broken Spanish, and going in circles with phrases. After a while though, I became a lot more fluent in terms of communication because I became immersed in the culture. That whole experience made me realize how interesting it was to communicate with these people from different parts of the world, and I didn’t have access to learn and speak with them before. It helped me learn better Spanish and influenced me to pursue that minor along with Latin American studies after learning about the culture and taking more classes at Villanova. I did not anticipate these minors, but they’ve been influential in shaping my future goals and time at Villanova.”

On campus, Ritesh’s major commitment has been with Campus Ministry in their COV program, which stands for Community Outreach of Villanova. Every week for the past two and a half years, he has been going with a cohort of students to a parish in Upper Darby where he tutors immigrants in that area in ESL in small groups or one on one tutoring.

“We get many Spanish speaking and Vietnamese speaking immigrants who attend the facility and are at different levels of English. They need help in order to figure out how they can work around their everyday jobs and lives. It has been one of the most influential things I have done on campus, and I think it ties in with the time I spent studying abroad, because that’s what really got me interested in other cultures and languages. It has come full circle to this experience, and this is something I have been super grateful to participate in.”

He also volunteers with Learning Support Services in Falvey, for which he leads weekly General Biology study group sessions. Each week, around twenty to thirty students come for extra help and content review.

He has also left his mark on campus with his work with the Health Professions Advising Office. As a freshman, he bonded with his advisor, Dr. Russo while she was assisting him with his classes and his career goals. At the time, there was an office assistant who ended up leaving for dental school, and they needed someone to help them take on a lot of their responsibilities, a major one being the newsletter they publish each semester. Dr. Russo asked him to step into the position, which is something that he has now been managing for four semesters. For the newsletter, they decide upon a theme that will help pre-health students in all of the pre-health fields and solicit articles and different experiences from students and professors on campus.

In regard to his work experience, last summer, Ritesh worked in the immunology lab in Mendel as part of a research fellowship. He has also worked as a clinical assistant intern at a reproductive endocrinology clinic between my sophomore and junior year and also during some of his winter break during my sophomore and junior year back home in New Jersey. For that position, he helped the team at the clinic with procedures, patients, and data collection.

Currently, he works as an intern at Villanova’s Law School as the community interpreter. For that position, he works with student lawyers who are assigned different cases ranging from asylum, refugee, and health law. As the interpreter, his role, through the Spanish department, is to serve as intermediary in order to help the student lawyers communicate with their clients when they have to make phone calls to them or when their client comes in.

Before he goes to medical school, for which he is open to many different medical fields, Ritesh plans on taking a gap year. “I am anticipating spending the next year doing a year of service through AmeriCorps. I had an interview recently for a program I am excited about, and I should hear from them soon. It is with a community health center in New Jersey, and they work with farmers, marginalized communities, people from a lower socio-economic status, and immigrant populations. They help provide them with primary care medical services, get them enrolled in the Affordable Care Act, and help them with basic health education and health literacy while running after school physical activity programs like diabetes management. I have a couple of other potential job offers, but I want to do this because it’s going to broaden my horizons and allow me to experience health care in populations and areas I might not typically be exposed to during medical school. I think from my background up until this point, I have not been able to see a lot of the challenges and struggles that there are in the disparities in the health care field. Being able to spend that year with a completely different population group will help me view my future career through a different lens and help me be better prepared to handle issues that people face within the field.”

He left the interview with a message for his fellow Villanovans, “I think an important piece of advice for any student, no matter what field they’re pursuing, is to find an area or region of interest that really captures your mind, something that you’re really interested in, and something that you can see yourself expanding upon. What I mean by that is you should find an interest, and then really hone in on that interest by putting all of your efforts into it. For me, I came into Villanova as a pre-health student, but after my time here, I became interested in immigrant and marginalized populations and service through that lens through my study abroad, my service, and my minors. So, for any student here at Villanova, I think it’s important to find an area you’re interested in and dive deep into it in order to find out how you can make an impact there from a deeper perspective.”

My OUS Story: Amenawon Ayemere

Sophomore Amenawon Ayemere has taken advantage of every resource that Villanova has to offer her, resources that are fueling her path to medical school. She has lived in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania for most of her life, but she was originally from Nigeria, making her a first-generation Nigerian college student.

She remembers that initially she did not want to go to Villanova. “At first, I didn’t want to apply to Villanova, because to be honest, it was fifteen minutes from where I lived and didn’t have great diversity. I decided to come here because of the offer I received, and I figured that they had more resources I could take advantage of because it is a private university. Now to be honest, and it’s so cliché, but I love Villanova. I love going here. I feel like the school has opened up so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had anywhere else.”

She entered Villanova as a Biology major, since she believed that it was the best major for pre-med students. For a while, she enjoyed Biology, but she realized that it limited the types of science classes that she could take, so she switched to Comprehensive Science last semester, which has allowed her to branch out and concentrate in different specialties.

She also has a minor in Global Health. “I declared a minor in Global Health because I am very interested in the world in general, especially after the Break Trip I went on over Spring Break to the Border, which was sponsored by CASA. I also went to Nigeria and Egypt during Christmas Break. When I was at these places, I was able to see how economics, the school system, and the health system works differently from America, and those differences fascinated me. So, I decided to have that global perspective and branch away from the sole American perspective. I feel like a lot of Americans just like think it’s America only when it’s like no there’s a lot going on outside of this country, better or worse. That’s why I’ve been a little more intrigued in the global world and the global perspective and I’ve decided to dive deeper into that.”

Amenawon remembered the difficulties of adjusting to a college environment. “As a first-generation college student, it was really hard coming to Villanova since I had to navigate everything for the first time on my own. My top three resources became CASA, Ann Trail from Health Professional Advising, and Learning Support Services. The people there, especially Ann Trail, made me feel comfortable and heard. First semester, I didn’t utilize most of those resources, but second semester, I knew I needed to work really hard, so I started utilizing them to my full capability and I’ve been on the Dean’s List ever since. The resources are there, you just need to tap into them and not be afraid to ask.”

On campus, she is involved in many different organizations. She works as a Volunteer EMT for VEMS and is involved in ACV, which is the organization for African and Caribbean Villanovans. Next year, she will be a Service Coordinator for the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students (MAPS) and will serve as an RA in McGuire Hall. She is also most proud of her work as the Vice President of Scientista, which is a national organization for women in STEM, which she said is a great way to make connections with many professional women in different STEM fields through conferences and career fairs with the different chapters of Scientista.

She also works as a research assistant on campus in the Biology Department under Dr. Kelman Wieder along with five other students. They primarily work with Peat Moss and look at the effects of nitrogen and other chemicals on it. Together, they collect samples, clean them, and grind them to prepare them for analyzation.  

Amenawon decided in high school that she wanted to become a doctor after an irreplaceable educational experience. “My high school had a professional field experience course, and through it we could go to the nearby hospital and shadow each department. Every day I came home from this course with a new story. For example, one day I shadowed in the Nursery, and when I was there, I noticed that there was one baby in particular that could not stop crying even though he was only three days old. I asked the nurse what was happening, and she told me that the baby was born addicted to opiates and was currently going through withdrawal since his mother had taken them during her pregnancy. I realized at that moment that the health professional I was speaking to, was the only person who could help that baby and keep him alive. Because this health professional came into his life at such a young age, he can live, he can grow, and possibly have a successful future. It made me realize that everything in your life is second to your health, so I decided to pursue medicine because of the power health professionals have and how grateful I am for them. The idea of being able to be that person, that superhero, the person who can literally change your life, is amazing. I think sometimes they don’t get enough credit. As a health professional, you are an invisible hero. It blows my mind that I could do that for the rest of my life.”

Villanova has also equipped Amenawon with being able to already know that she will achieve the next step on her journey in becoming a doctor: medical school. She was accepted into a 4+4 Affiliation Program between Villanova and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine that guarantees her admittance into the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine as long as she follows a few guidelines throughout her undergraduate career. Only sophomores pursuing Osteopathic Medicine could apply, so after she discovered it on the HPA website and attended an information session, she decided to apply since it fit her goals perfectly.

She wishes to pursue Osteopathic Medicine because of her ultimate goals as a doctor. “Osteopathic medicine deals with preventative medicine, and that’s important because when I grow up I want to work in especially low income or poor neighborhoods. Having preventative medicine is really important for these families because they can’t see a doctor every year. This field turns medicine into a craft.”

Next summer, she currently plans on participating in SHPP, the Summer’s Health Professional Experience Program after receiving acceptance. It is a six-week program at Rutgers Medical School that helps expose pre-health students to their specific fields.

She had one final piece of advice for other Villanova students. “To other people and students coming into Villanova, just open your mouth and ask. I feel like Villanova is where if you need help you can get it. There’s a lot of resources, so utilize them, and there’s a lot of opportunities you just need to go for them.”

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: Juliette Foley

Senior Juliette Foley from Wallingford, Pennsylvania, has allowed her passion for the environment and geography to secure her future career.

At Villanova, she is double majoring in Environmental Science and Geography, which she declared during her sophomore year. “I chose these majors because the idea of being outside and doing testing for the environment appealed to me instead of the typical office job. I was also in the Environmental Learning Community during my freshman year. It was a nice segue into declaring my majors. Everyone was really friendly and close, and they had a great sense of community that Villanova always talks about. It was really nice as opposed to other dorms without learning communities where you don’t really get to talk to anyone. We even went on weekend trips to different farms, to Tesla where we got to ride in the cars, and we had bonfires.”

Juliette can be found at the GIS Club, Globeplotter, where they do humanitarian work like digitizing streets in third world countries or other underdeveloped places. She can also be found working at the different gyms across campus, where she has been working since her freshman year, and crocheting pet hats for a local animal shelter, Providence Animal Center.

She spent last semester working as a teaching assistant for Dr. Shakya’s Environmental Pollution course, which for her was a great experience especially in conjunction with the current climate change crisis. Last year, when she lived on campus, she was also highly involved in Inter-Hall Council, where she helped plan events for the residents of St. Mary’s Hall.

The summer after her sophomore year, she was accepted into a study abroad program. “I studied at Arcadia in Sydney, Australia the summer after my sophomore year. I took the courses Australian Aboriginals and Environmental Policy, which were both great classes. The class Environmental Policy even sponsored fields trips, allowing us to venture to the Outback and some other national parks in Australia. I also went on a lot of day trips around the country and even did a weekend in Cairns to see the coral reefs with some of the other study abroad students.”

After that summer, she knew that she had to begin her job search. “Junior year I went to the Career Center, and I had them look over my resume. A very helpful and knowledgeable student who worked there taught me how to format my resume properly and edited it so that it used stronger verbs, the type that companies want to see. Then, I looked up GIS positions online and applied to a bunch of places. A few places responded, and I ended up interviewing for Vertex Inc. in King of Prussia, so that last summer, I interned there as a GIS Analyst Tax Research Intern. It is a tax software company, and they calculate taxes for different companies like Starbucks and Toyota. I personally worked on jurisdiction boundaries and addresses for GIS, so for example I digitized streets, performed feature edits for streets using USPS data and background maps, and edited city boundaries to ensure correct tax calculations. I had also never been in an office before, so it was great getting that office experience, though I learned that sadly it’s not like the show, “The Office.” Although, I was also able to meet people my age trying to figure it out in the same field as well, which made the internship beneficial to my career growth.”

She entered her senior year last semester ready to start preparing for her plans after graduation, not knowing that soon, Vertex would be reaching back out to her. “One of my co-workers at Vertex had to have heart surgery and there was a complication, so he was out for half a year, and they needed some extra help. My bosses asked me if I would like to return for some part-time work during the semester, which I agreed to. This semester, they asked me to interview again for a full-time position, which I received. After I graduate, I’ll begin my position there as a GIS Technician.”

Her time at Villanova was made up of the little things amidst the big. “Winning the national championship freshman year was probably my favorite memory here since it was so unexpected. Otherwise, there isn’t one thing that stands out, but throughout my time here, I’ve had some great little moments that have formed my experience here.”

When she was speaking of her favorite courses, though she wholeheartedly enjoyed both of her majors, she remembered fondly her introductory theology course that went against her expectations. “I had this great teacher for Theology 1000, her name was Dr. Kathleen Grimes. She was more progressive than I thought a Theology professor could be, and she made good arguments and began great discussions, like one time she asked us, “Will there be sex in Heaven?” I was stunned that religion would talk about that or even consider it.”

She left the interview with a piece of important advice. “Start early in finding a job and looking for all of the opportunities on campus. But don’t freak out if you don’t know what you’re doing, because no one ever really does, you can take your time to figure it out.”

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: Alison Nieto

Junior Alison Nieto, from Poughquag, New York, claims that she does not need a legacy, instead she wishes to empower others to continue to help one another. Her time at Villanova has expanded her sense of obligation to her community that extends to her position as secretary in the Villanova Voices, as a writer for the Odyssey Community at Villanova University, as the Culture Editor of the Villanovan, as a Tour Time Captain Blue Key, as the West Campus Events Coordinator for Inter-Hall Council, as a member in the Student Alumni Association, and as the initiator of the Puerto Rico Benefit Concerts.

She is a Communications and Spanish Double Major with a Double Concentration in Rhetorical Studies and Public Relations. Like most Liberal Arts students, she came in undecided as a freshman, thinking about both History and Psychology, until she took a Communications course.

She said, “I fell in love with the discipline. I loved thinking about how we use words to make the world around us, how we translate events into language and communicate what that means. I declared Communications because we use language no matter what we do. How we communicate and how we understand how that works and how to use it as a tool is so interesting, because we literally see it everywhere.”

She declared Spanish as a second major due to her heritage, for her father is Puerto Rican and her Grandmother is from there, and also due to her passion for language. “Selfishly, I want to learn as many languages as possible in order to communicate with as many people as possible, because I think it is so close-minded to only talk to one group of people. I want to talk to everybody. Languages connect so many people, and I feel like we need that. We need to be connected.”

Last summer, she worked as an intern Blue Vista 725, a Media Marketing and Promotions Company in Midtown Manhattan, a position that she found through Handshake. There, she fell more in love with New York City and is now determined to work there someday. She admits that she was thrown into the position and had to learn about it as she did it.

“I had no idea what I was doing the first week, but then, I fell in love with it,” she said. “I worked hands on with clients, emailing celebrities like Woody Harrelson, figuring out new angles to market from, and writing Press Releases before I knew what they were. Now I think I want to work in Public Relations or in journalism, at least somewhere in the news cycle. Working there showed me how you can use Public Relations to influence what people think about brands through your words. It is the first perception that you have of the world around you.”

Back during her sophomore year, after witnessing the after-effects of the devastation of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico on Day of Service, including how it destroyed her grandmother’s hometown, Alison knew that she had to act.

She told me that she it sent her on a spiral of thoughts. “I thought about the people on campus from Puerto Rico, people whose family is from Puerto Rico, and no one was talking about it, they weren’t recognizing that it happened and that it’s a catastrophe. So I felt that if the school or the government wasn’t going to say anything, then I would. For me the inspiration was Villanova and how we care about our community on campus and outward. I wanted to take that sense of community and charity and extend it. To tell the people suffering in Puerto Rico that we might not be there experiencing that devastation, but we are here for you. ”

From that moment, Alison was determined to begin the Puerto Rico Benefit Concert. She began by emailing Kate Szumanski from OUS, who she had prior worked with at Kate’s resume workshops, professional development workshops, and who she had made multiple appointments with to improve her career potential. Kate sent her a list of names of people to talk to to get it arranged as fast as possible.

She recalls that “Everyone was really helpful in getting it off the ground from an idea to a tangible event that I was printing flyers for. I also contacted my friends in acapella, asking them to be a part of it, and they immediately said that they were there for me. It was such a relief for me to not worry about it since I had so many people out there helping me and having my back. I felt that sense of community that we talk about over and over again, and it got to the point where other on-campus groups were reaching out because they were motivated by our cause, like the Superlatives and Baila Latino. That for me was the most moving thing that ever happened.”

Her hard work paid off. The first concert raised $2,346, which was all donated to Unidos Por Puerto Rico. That hard work translated into another concert last October that raised $3,000, which is now in the process of being donated to the Hispanic Federation. For that concert, she almost had Lin Manuel Miranda speak, but unfortunately, he was shooting in London at the time. She had found his managers’ contact information at her position at Blue Vista 725, where she had proceeded to email everyone, including booking manager, his publicist, and his father. Those efforts resulted in a personal email from Lin Manuel’s father, and his managers sending over a signed “Hamilton: The Revolution” book to be raffled off at the concert.  

Her main hope, after all of her efforts at Villanova that impacted many lives in Puerto Rico, is that it will be continued in many different forms. “It was really good to see the difference that we can make and how I got people passionate about what I was passionate about that let me affect change. It is great to leave a legacy and be known as someone who did this, but I think for me, I’d much rather my legacy be about the change I created and about the things I did to help people. I want to be successful, but at the end of the day I’m going to measure my life as successful by how many people I was able to help and how much good I was able to do. With that being said, I don’t need a legacy here. It would be great if people remembered, but I want people to feel empowered to do what makes them passionate, to help others, and to be the person that you needed when you were growing up.”

She also told me that she is currently working to get an organization off the ground at Villanova that will be for students like her who want to host charity events for any cause that they are passionate about.

Now, she continues to hope that her work will continue to be reflected on Villanova’s campus. “It is so important that if I can make one person feel empowered to make a change, I think I have done my part. One person really can make a difference, and we made over $5,000 worth of difference. I don’t think I’m special for this, I just want to show others that they can do it.”

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.”