Sustainability On Campus: A Conversation With Bob Morro and Liesel Schwarz

Walking around Villanova’s campus, you’ll probably be charmed by the graceful trees by Alumni Hall, the iconic St. Thomas of Villanova Church and the beautiful gothic style of many of the buildings on campus. I know that’s what charmed me when I visited campus. What I didn’t appreciate about Villanova’s campus, however, was all of the daily work that goes into maintaining our beautiful grounds. I knew even less about all of the initiatives Villanova supports to reflect our commitment to sustainability.

In the spirit of Earth Day, I was able to sit down with two major contributors to Villanova’s green initiatives on campus. Bob Morro, the Vice President for Facilities Management, and Liesel Schwarz, the Sustainability Manager, were both kind enough to speak with me about Villanova’s commitment to going green.

Jane: First, I wanted to get a better idea of what both of you do at Villanova. What are some of your responsibilities?

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Part of the Earth Week celebrations included a local Farmer’s Market in the center of campus!

Liesel: As the sustainability manager, I oversee all the different aspects of sustainability that we work on here at Villanova. I work with our Facilities team on energy efficiency and I work with our Grounds team on sustainable grounds management. I work with our students a lot, like on Earth Day, but other events too. We have an on-campus garden that I help manage. I (also) work with faculty to incorporate sustainability into the curriculum. One of the most important things to me is recognizing that our product is a student. We want to make sure that our students understand what sustainability is, why it’s important, and more specifically, how it relates to what they’re interested in.

Bob: We have five different divisions within Facilities Management. We have building maintenance, grounds maintenance, custodial, environmental safety and health, and design and construction. A lot what we do operationally really impacts how the University attacks sustainability. The President’s Climate Commitment cites our mission to become climate neutral by 2050. We have a central steam plant, we burn fossil fuel, so we’re trying to reduce that and become as efficient as possible in those areas, as well as encouraging our students, faculty and staff to be as sustainable as possible.

Jane: Liesel, when you try to integrate sustainability into the curriculum, do you meet with professors directly, or are there guidelines for professors?  

Liesel: Word of mouth is helpful. A couple of years ago we held a workshop – and we’re hoping to again – about how sustainability can be incorporated into what they already teach. I think on one of the biggest barriers is that faculty don’t want to teach something they’re not super familiar with, which is totally understandable. We want to give them those tools. We’ve been collecting sustainability teaching resources in a database to provide to faculty, and help them get over that hurdle and explore new options that may be available to them.

Liesel also mentioned a brand-new advisory board for green initiatives on campus. She believes that this new board will have an incredible impact on the strides Villanova is making in sustainability, stating, “We’ve started the Sustainable Leadership Council, which is made up of all senior leadership throughout campus, which is a big step for us.”

Bob added that some major influencers are in this new leadership council. “Two people – the Dean of Engineering, Gary Gabriele, and the Vice President for Mission and Ministry, Barbara Wall, are really driving the council, (as well as) people like Liesel, who did her thesis on a very similar topic,” he said. “There are maybe about 18 people on it, so it’s just getting started. That’s kind of new and developing, but I think it’s a great and overarching organization to try and gather and coordinate all the different activities the University does to support the environment and sustainability.”

Jane: So you’ve mentioned how Campus Ministry has an interest in all sustainability efforts. Do you think that Villanova, being an Augustinian school, encourages certain values when it comes to being sustainable and eco-friendly?

Bob: When Father Peter first signed the President’s Climate Commitment, he cited our spiritual and emotional leader, Saint Augustine, and the types of values he espoused when it came to issues like this.

Liesel: Even when you read the Cliff’s Notes version of the Pope’s encyclical from 2015, “Laudato Si,” it’s all centered around environmental stewardship, but also on environmental justice and helping others who are impacted by our actions with regard to climate change. It’s a nice tie-in. And Catholic social teaching is essentially what environmental stewardship is trying to be. It’s being good stewards to our environment and being good stewards to our neighbors. That’s really what we’re trying to do.

Bob: Under Mission and Ministry we have the Center for Peace and Justice, so as Liesel said, we’ve always been about social justice at Villanova, but now we’re sort of expanding that to environmental justice. That’s what I see this leaning toward.

Jane: So the new strategic plan… is all of the construction on campus a part of that? 

Bob: The new strategic plan is overarching, so you know it encompasses academics, construction, mission and ministry. The strategic plan is still in the process of being developed, and I would say it’s maybe two-thirds done.

Jane: How does this construction impact our surrounding communities?

Bob: There are a number of new impacts. First of all, we try to do all of our new construction following LEED guidelines. LEED stands for Leadership Energy and Environmental Design. We hire architects, and charge them to design to LEDD standards.

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Artist depiction for the new living spaces along Lancaster Avenue!

The largest impact we’re trying to achieve is providing housing to our students, so we can take students out of the neighborhoods. We’re taking about 1,200 students and bringing them back on campus. That’s less impact to the neighbors. The other impact of that is that those 1,200 students had to drive to school. As true commuters, students have to drive to school once if not twice a day. So that traffic, we think, will diminish. That’s not to say these students won’t drive, and junior and seniors are allowed to have cars on campus. There will be, however, fewer trips. During construction we’re also trying to be more green and sustainable, so as part of the LEED design process we encourage or require them to procure their material for components of the buildings locally, opposed to getting them in (somewhere like) California. We want them to get material from within a certain radius of the construction site. We recycle any construction waste, therefore reducing the stuff that goes into the landfill.

Jane: How do the new buildings on campus impact our University’s efforts towards sustainability?

Bob: New construction is difficult because we’re trying to reduce our footprint, but every building we build uses more energy just because it’s a new building. As we start to use up our usable land, we’ll look at different ways to meet our space needs. Renovating and repurposing existing buildings, maybe putting additions on existing buildings.

Jane: What do you think is the most significant step our University has taken to demonstrate our commitment to sustainability?

Bob: Hiring Liesel!

Liesel: Ha! I would say our commitment to going carbon neutral by 2050. That’s one of our more higher-reaching commitments to sustainability that we haven’t achieved yet, but it’s a good goal.

Bob: The carbon neutrality is part of the President’s Commitment, which encompasses different areas. Something I forgot to mention with construction is our stormwater management. Basically the goal of stormwater management is to take all of the water that falls on your site, and to take care of it on your site, not to put it in a pipe which goes to a stream which goes to a river which goes to the ocean, which with it brings the pollutants of the parking lots or whatever that catch that water. So instead, we’re trying to capture the water and use it on campus. We also have two professors – Professor Rob Traver and Professor Bridget Wadzuk – who are experts in this field. They get grants from the state and are actually currently rewriting the state of Pennsylvania stormwater regulations for how you deal with stormwater anywhere. But we have 15 sites on campus and we measure and meter that water.

From this conversation with Liesel and Bob, I was pleasantly surprised by all of the wonderful work Villanova has been doing to become more eco-friendly. I was shocked that I wasn’t more aware of this information, and felt like it deserved more recognition. When I asked them both about why students don’t know about this as much as they should, they both agreed, “It’s hard to get students’ attention.” Between everyone’s extracurricular activities, athletics, classes and work schedules, it’s hard for these initiatives to be widely known among groups that aren’t naturally drawn to them.

That being said, we don’t all have to sign up for Sustainability Club right now. As Liesel reflected, maybe we can just think about how sustainability and environmental interests are more interconnected to issues that relate to our passions, opposed to just thinking of recycling more. (But do that too.) Take note of the actions that contribute to sustainable lifestyles, and see if there is anything – big or little – that you can do on campus to incorporate them.

 

National Champions: Part Two

Many Villanovans had to change their Easter plans this year. Instead of driving back home or flying to see family, many of my friends scrambled to find flights to San Antonio, Texas. Many eagerly entered in the student lottery to get ticketed for Villanova’s second Final Four appearance in the last three years. Some students were able to get on one of the two chartered flights Villanova arranged for fans. Others took a wide array of transportation—planes, trains, and automobiles—to get to the Alamodome in San Antonio. Conversations for the two days prior to Easter break were dominated by the big questions —“Are you going to San Antonio?” “Did you get ticketed?” “Where are you staying?”

I was not personally able to go to San Antonio, but the enthusiasm surrounding the game followed me to New York City, where I was visiting my family. I did an inordinate amount of research on Villanova’s first opponent, the Kansas Jayhawks, to see who their key players were and how we would pull out a win. While I braved some East Coast rain, I saw Snapchats of my friends in sunny San Antonio learning about the historic Alamo and walking around their famed River Walk. I envied not only their ability to see our team play in the Final Four game, but also to see Nova Nation in full force, traveling more than a thousand miles to support our school.

In true Catholic school fashion, after our 95-79 win over Kansas Saturday night, we held an Easter Mass Sunday morning. This Mass served the nearly 4,000 Villanova fans who had made the trek down and bolstered the already high-spirits of Nova Nation. Team Chaplain Father Robert Hagan said of the Wildcats, “May they fill up more baskets than the Easter Bunny.” That, they did.

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An inside look at the watch party held in the Connelly Center!

Returning back to campus that Monday, the energy was palpable. My friends who were flying back into Philadelphia around game time did everything in their power to expedite their return to campus. Everyone was vying to get a great spot at the game watches our Campus Activities Team put on in both the Connelly Center and at the Oreo, the central hub on campus. Complete with DJs, free pizza and halftime entertainment, this game watch had just as much excitement as any other Villanova game. I was quite thrilled to find out that during the halftime entertainment, my amazingly talented roommate won a dance battle on stage, and was subsequently gifted a Villanova lawn chair.

I’m in a unique situation in which I can compare my two National Championship victories to each other. Not many college students in America have that blessing, but here we find ourselves in an era of Jay Wright-Villanova Basketball excellence. If you’re at all familiar with “The Shot” (which you should be!), this is the shot Kris Jenkins took with 4.7 seconds left in the 2016 National Championship game that propelled Villanova to a 77-74 win over the UNC Tarheels. When people ask me how it felt to see that shot as a Villanova student, I find I don’t have the words to explain it. In disbelief. Out of body? No one quite knew what to do. Surreal.

This year, it was in the cards. We started off confident. We maintained our lead throughout the second half. The 79-62 victory over the Michigan Wolverines put to rest any qualms people had about Villanova being an underdog.

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Jalen Brunson holds up the 2018 National Champion trophy in celebration!

Once the clock ran out, all of the students bolted to the intersection of Lancaster and Ithan, where we had congregated just two years earlier. Tears of happiness were shed. Hugs were shared. Many chants of “Let’s Go Nova” were shouted at the top of our lungs. Being the best really feels the best. The second time around was just as sweet.

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Students cheered on as the parade traveled toward Philadelphia’s City Hall!

School was cancelled the next day, and this past Thursday the city of Philadelphia held a parade for our new 2018 National Champions. The trains from West Campus were packed with Villanova students clad in their freshly minted “Villanova NCAA National Champions 2018” shirts, just picked up at the University bookstore. Against the backdrop of Philadelphia’s City Hall, we were able to unite in celebration. This parade included not only the Nova Nation, but everyone from Philadelphia who felt the magnetic excitement of this victory.

 

Since the 2016 title game, I have attended more Villanova basketball games at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. I’ve listened to more commentary of Big East basketball on television, which my dad and brother supplement with their own perspectives on how Jalen Brunson has matured as a player since his first year. I’ve purchased more Villanova shirts from our University Bookstore. I’ve interacted with Jay Wright in the Davis Center, where I felt like I was speaking to a full-fledged movie star. He took it well, as I’m sure he deals with that a lot. I’ve celebrated, cried and cheered, all with my closest friends.

From these experiences, I’ve realized Villanova basketball hasn’t just brought us more wins or more recognition. It’s brought us an undeniable sense of community. It’s brought us closer to what we all want from our college experiences—memories we will never forget.

Finding Your Way Thanks to an RA

As your first year of college begins, you’ve got dozens of questions.

Which buildings are my classes held in? Where can I find the best food on campus? What clubs can I join?

The ever-growing cloud of questions hovers over your head, and it can be difficult to ask other nervous first-year students these questions. When I started here at Villanova, I remember worrying that I would be the only person who looked lost or messed up. I wished I could talk to somebody older than me, who had already learned the ropes of Villanova. Fortunately, I quickly was able to find that person in my resident assistant, or RA.

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My RA decorated each room with teacups!

During my first year, my RA did a great job of welcoming us all to the university. She constantly had her door open, and as the year went on, I loved getting to talk to her more. During sorority recruitment, she was eager to hear how the experience was going. If I locked myself out of my room, she easily swiped me in, and I even remember that our common passion for “American Horror Story” led to me watching it on Wednesday nights in her room with a few other friends.

RAs are a staple in any college residence hall, but it wasn’t until I became a Villanova student that I realized an RA is more of a friend than an authority figure. Of course, there are rules that every RA must follow, but I loved knowing that there was always somebody there who was willing to listen.

I was able to talk with not only my own RA, Eric, but one of my good friends, Katherine, who have both worked as RAs for two years. I think the fact that they were even interested in sharing that experiences really proves how dedicated and enthusiastic RAs can be at Villanova. Like me, Katherine and Eric had great experiences getting to know their own RAs during their first years, and it inspired them to want to give back and provide a comforting experience to new students in the future.

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Eric Robinson ’19

“Coming to college, you won’t know anyone, and it might be awkward at first. RAs who work with first-year students are really good at making the floor feel like a family. I saw how my RA was able to bring us all together and make my first year so wonderful. I really just wanted to pay it forward, and make others feel welcome in the residence halls.” – Eric Robinson ’19

RAs at Villanova love what they do. Having known Katherine since our first year, it’s been great to see her grow since becoming an RA. I think it’s helped her learn more about her residents as well as herself.

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Katherine Precourt ’19

“I made it my goal to be available and open to my residents. If they needed a cheerleader or a shoulder to cry on, a friend or an advisor, a sister or a confidant, I tried my best to be the support system that each of them needed. Additionally, it allowed me to recognize my passion for counseling, a career that I am currently pursuing today! Being an RA has blessed me with an incredible support system and wonderful friends, and has allowed me to become a more empathetic and conscientious leader within my community.” – Katherine Precourt ’19

I’ve found my RAs here at Villanova to be nothing but helpful. They’re supportive, friendly and eager to make your experiences here better. Without them, dorm life can seem a lot of intimidating than it actually is. Even as a junior now, it’s nice to know that someone is always ready to help. My roommates and I can all agree, when in doubt, ask Eric. It sounds funny, but it’s important to remember: RAs at Villanova want to be there for you. My RA made my first year much easier for me, and I’m sure they’ll continue to do so for many students to come.

College Tours – What I Wish I’d Asked

As a high school senior, I thought I was on top of my college admissions process. I did SAT prep classes, made a schedule for completing my essays and supplements and reached out to my college counselor to ensure everything was done on time. Despite all my preparation, there was always one task that seemed daunting to me: college visits.

To me, college visits seemed overwhelming. It seemed like I was an outsider, observing other people in their “natural habitats” – the dining halls, dorms, classrooms and fitness centers. I wanted to be the “coolest” I could during these visits. I wanted to blend in and not draw attention. Naturally, in my mind, that meant I shouldn’t participate. That’s what cool college kids did, or so I thought.

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The St. Thomas of Villanova Church is an iconic stop on Villanova campus tours!

On tours, my parents were always so engaged and I was always so embarrassed. They would be at the front of the group, asking about class size and on-campus food options, while I tried to maintain my position in the middle of the pack. I felt intimidated by the notion of asking questions that would help inform my ultimate decision of where to go to school, so I never did. After my parents would ask a question, I would always feel a slight moment of embarrassment, thinking “Ugh, my parents are asking another one?” This was then followed with my immediate attention to whatever the answer was.

On tours, I didn’t know what to look for. I wish I’d asked more. This is what I wish I knew:

What are ways to get involved on campus? This is a big one for me because the first week of school everyone asked me, “Are you applying to Blue Key?” or, “Are you applying to be an LPH?” My answer to both of these was no, because I didn’t know what they were. I soon learned that Blue Key Society is the on-campus group that gives admissions information before tours and gives tours to prospective students. LPH is in fact an abbreviation for “Local Program Host,” a position available to first-year students who would like to get involved in the Special Olympics Fall Festival held at Villanova.

How easy is it to change majors or declare your major? I entered Villanova as an undeclared major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. This qualified me to take a one-credit class entitled “Advising: Explore and Experience” (known as ASPD) the first semester of my first year. This class met once a week to go over professional development opportunities and ways to figure out what you’d like your major to be. After a year at Villanova, I realized what really interested me was communications. I emailed my advisor to set up a time to officially declare, which I built up in my head to be a momentous occasion. And although it is a big deal to officially declare your major, getting a form signed seemed anticlimactic. I still prefer an anticlimactic experience to a stressful one, however. The ease with which I was able to officially declare made me feel more secure and supported in my decision.

Is it easy to study abroad? Although it may seem like a long way off as a high school student, the decision to study abroad will creep up on you sooner than you’d think. I didn’t know if I wanted to study abroad, but it was always a good option to have. I ultimately decided to study abroad last semester in Copenhagen, Denmark, which was one of the best decisions I could have ever made for myself.

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One of my best friends from Villanova, Spencer, visited me in Copenhagen while he was studying in Galway, Ireland!

The process of applying and getting courses approved seemed daunting, but all of the wonderful people in the Office of Education Abroad (OEA) were extremely helpful. I was able to meet with both my academic advisor and abroad advisor to finalize what classes would be counted towards my major and minor, and what classes would have to be taken at Villanova. OEA also gave me better tools to anticipate the financial costs of study abroad and ways to engage more fully in the culture in which I was studying.

Are most students from the area or all over? I did not anticipate this being an issue for myself until I got to Villanova’s campus. I didn’t fully prepare myself for the culture shock I would feel being a Californian coming to Pennsylvania. Although I knew Villanova was an extremely welcoming community, I initially felt that so many people were from the East Coast. And while there are many people from the region, my best friends are from Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago, Los Angeles and Portland. Villanova draws students from all regions of the U.S. and around the world, and I now see that my intimidation about people from the East Coast was misguided.

Do TA’s teach classes? It’s important to think about what experience you’d like in the classroom. Although topics of extracurricular involvement and room and board will help shape your college experience, you are ultimately going to college to learn. After taking five semesters worth of classes, I have never had a teaching assistant (TA) teach a class. My notion of an intimidating, standoffish college professor was quickly disproven my first day of classes, as my statistics professor asked each student to say his or her name and where we were from. Verbatim, he said, “For any of you first-year students in this class, don’t be intimidated. I promise you all of your professors will be nice.” He did not mislead me.

What’s Greek Life like on campus? Villanova offers a whole host of opportunities for students to get involved on campus, one of which is Greek life. There are nine Panhellenic organizations, eight Interfraternity organizations, and eleven Multicultural Greek organizations on campus. I currently participate in a Panhellenic organization on campus and am incredibly thankful for all of the opportunities it has afforded me. I appreciate, however, that Greek life is not for everyone. Villanova enables students to involve themselves in a wide variety of on-campus organizations. Formal recruitment for Greek life organizations takes place second semester, which allows new students to build off of their involvement of first semester. There is no Greek housing, which allows Villanova students to meet more students in other groups as well. Out of my three current roommates, two of them are in different sororities and one is not involved in Greek life

Outside of these questions, it’s important to take in your whole experience on campus. Statistics and facts about a school are very important. It’s essential to get a feeling for the ways you can get involved, shape your expectations for your classroom experience and understand where you’ll most likely be living throughout your four years of college.

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The Oreo is a favorite spot on campus to hang out with friends – especially when it’s 75 degrees and sunny!

Beyond that, however, it’s important to look around. Look at the current students. See if they seem genuinely happy, or if they were just getting through their days. Do they all look stressed? Are they friendly? Are they helpful?

People are what make a community great, and that’s never been truer than here at Villanova. Knowing about class size and service opportunities helped shape my decision, but more than that, it was the personal experiences I had on campus that ultimately made me feel that Villanova was home.

Love and Villanova

When Valentine’s Day rolls around, you run into individuals with very different opinions of the holiday. For some, it’s a day to celebrate with their significant others. For others, like myself, it’s a chance to go out to dinner with the girls and pick out a rom-com to watch. I think Valentine’s Day has become a chance to celebrate love in your life, no matter what form it takes. At Villanova, I’ve formed some of my greatest relationships with roommates, friends, sorority sisters and fellow tour guides. I’ve found that I’m surrounded by love every day, often evidenced by something as simple as a phone call with my parents or when one of my roommates gives me advice.

Villanova has gifted a lot of people with relationships that have lasted long after graduation. One of my family friends, Rachael Ponge, graduated in 2011 from Villanova. This past December, she married TJ O’Donnell, who she met through mutual friends during their first weeks at school. They have since relocated to New York City, but more than 70 Villanova alumni attended their wedding in Syracuse, New York. One of her bridesmaids, Kate Wroblewski, got married just two weeks before to Ryan Verfurth, who also graduated from Villanova in 2011.

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TJ and Rachael O’Donnell got married in Rachael’s hometown of Syracuse!

One of my favorite aspects of Villanova is how genuine the friendships I have made here are. I think Kate and Rachael’s stories are no exception to this idea. Since graduation, Rachael and Kate’s friend group has been able to keep in touch, and their memories have managed to extend from exciting times as college students to memorable moments as working professionals. I got to talk with both Rachael and Kate, and they shared a lot about the awesome adventures their friend group has experienced since graduation. Not only did they talk about how grateful they were for the friendships they’ve made, but the education and experiences Villanova gave them as a university.

I think Villanova is special for everyone in different ways. For me, It was a great group of lifelong friends, a husband and the base for a great nursing career.” – Rachael Ponge O’Donnell ’11

Rachael and Kate’s friend group has managed to get together as often as they can, despite being spread out between New York, New Jersey and even Chicago. From getting together to watch Villanova win the 2016 NCAA Championship to rotating apartments for “Friendsgiving,” they’ve traveled as far as Las Vegas and Puerto Rico together.

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Ryan and Kate got married here at Villanova University!

“Villanova will always have a piece of my heart, not only because I got married there, but because I got to meet the most wonderful people and received an incredible education. I will always be thankful for the experiences I had at Villanova that have helped shaped who I am today.” – Kate Wroblewski Verfurth ’11

I actually got to know Kate through her younger brother, James, who was one of my first friends here at Villanova. It’s funny how making friends with one person can open doors for that many more opportunities. It’s been inspiring to talk to Rachael and Kate, seeing how Villanova has given them not only the great education of a well-respected university, but friendships and even relationships that have been genuine, long-lasting and fulfilling.

Thinking about Valentine’s Day this year, I might not have the same experiences as Rachael and Kate, but their stories just make me appreciate the people I have gotten to know at Villanova thus far. I don’t know exactly what the future holds, but the people I have met and the experiences I have had at Villanova lead me to believe that it couldn’t look any brighter. As another Valentine’s Day passes, I’m excited to see what life will be like next year, but until then, I’m happy spending the night with some great friends wondering what incredible adventures we’ll have after our graduation day has passed.

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Go Cats, Go You, Go Class of ’22!

Could you imagine Christmas coming twice a year? It does here at Villanova! That warm, jittery feeling that makes you too excited to sleep, the overwhelming excitement that almost everyone is enveloped with on Christmas comes to Villanova’s campus for Early Action Candidates’ Day. Once you experience this Villanova holiday, you will never want to leave!

 

Early Action Candidates’ Day has been perfected over the years to provide the perfect glimpse into the Nova Nation for admitted students. It allows you to see where you fit in at your “new home” through the various events planned throughout the weekend. Some of our featured events include going to a first-year class, grabbing dinner with Blue Key members in their blue shirts and going on campus tours. You’ll have an amazing time no matter what you do, and you’ll feel like a real student here. You may even fall in love with the school!32726201801_a5c4fa7f15_o.jpg

 

This will be my fourth Early Action Candidates’ Day, and each one has brought me so many memorable experiences. My first was during my senior year in high school, and it may have been hard to wake up early on that cold Saturday morning, but I was soon jolted awake in the best way possible. As we drove down Lancaster Avenue, there were what seemed to be hundreds of students, all showing off their Nova spirit. The energy and excitement that was displayed by these students was electric! They had signs that said “It’s a great day to be a Wildcat” and “Welcome Wildkittens,” and all the while they were screaming with excitement and glee. So much passion, excitement and energy were on display. It captured my heart, and I knew that I had to call this my new home. There was a positive, loving energy around campus, and I could tell that the students were passionate about the school and their fellow classmates. It really felt like a fantastic community!

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The next two years I was involved in Early Action Candidates’ Day as a Blue Key member and Candidates’ Day Committee member. I loved getting to know the admitted students through dinners and tours. Perhaps the most outstanding moments were talking to students on campus who ended up coming to Villanova because they talked to me. It warms my heart that my passion, energy and love for Villanova can be passed to a new generation of Wildcats!

 

But this year is special—I am serving as the co-chair for Candidates’ Day, meaning that I am one of two students who make sure everything is executed perfectly. I help make sure our Blue Key volunteers are in the right places, tours are leaving promptly, campus is decorated perfectly, clubs are present at the Activities Fair and performances are phenomenal. My job is to cultivate all these experiences for you, the admitted students, to welcome you to the Nova Nation and make sure you feel at home. I hope you enjoy the opportunity to get to know the Nova Nation, and if you see me around, say hi!

 

Talking about Candidates’ Day still gives me the chills. Love and excitement permeate from everyone involved. You could tell Villanova students genuinely love being at this school (not only this day, but every day). Please come and experience the ultimate Villanova holiday for yourself. I can promise you that you will not be disappointed.

 

Go Cats, go you, go Class of 2022! We CANNOT wait to see your shining faces here on campus!IMG_9082.jpeg

Groundhog Day – A Californian Experiencing East Coast Winters

My senior year of high school, I was giddy with excitement to tell my friends and family where I decided to enroll for college. There is such a buildup in the month of April when it comes to college decisions—making last minute visits, creating lists of pros and cons in your head and, if you’re anything like me, polling your family members on where you should go.

When I finally made the decision to go to Villanova, my family was overjoyed, knowing it was the right choice for me. It was everything I wanted in a school and more. And when I told my high school classmates I was going to Villanova, they were thrilled for me. They always responded with a huge hug and congratulations. Then came the joke: “Don’t you think you’ll get a little cold in Philadelphia?” Being from San Francisco, California, I know I’m spoiled when it comes to the weather. I get it. “Cold” for me at home is around 40 degrees, while “cold” for me in suburban Philadelphia usually entails a snow day.

Before coming to Villanova, I’d never experienced a snow day in my life. I never really considered the weather when compiling my college list, because I decided if the school was right for me, the weather wouldn’t matter. But everyone else’s concerns over the cold winter temperatures on the East Coast made me a little more concerned.

After two full experiences of an East Coast winter, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not the biggest fan of snow. For a week over winter vacation, sure. But not week-in and week-out.

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The first ever Groundhog Day was held over a hundred years ago, predicting either a longer winter or the early arrival of spring!

That’s why, this coming Groundhog Day, I’m hoping that Pennsylvania’s own Punxsutawney Phil will not see his shadow. I am more than ready for spring to come early, and I’m hoping Phil will pull through for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love a beautiful snow day. A blanket of white snow is always welcome, especially when I’m able to stay inside with my friends, enjoy a cup of tea, read a book and catch up on some work. The snow is not so welcome the days after, with bitter winds that make my walk to class feel like a trudge through the arctic tundra.

My first-year roommate, Brooke, is from Los Angeles. She had never seen snow before in her life, which I truly could not believe. People would ask me if I’d seen snow before coming to Villanova, to which I always said, “California isn’t just one big beach! We have mountains and skiing too, okay?” Brooke reinforced their notions, however, that some Californians really didn’t know what the snow had in store for us.

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My freshman year roommate Brooke and I loved our experience in Good Counsel Hall!

The first snow day we had at Villanova, Brooke and I were truly in awe. We woke up to alerts in our Villanova student emails that the school had been closed for the day due to the snowstorm. It seemed surreal. Both sitting in our beds, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. One whole day off from school?! This is paradise. What does one do on a snow day?

We eventually ventured out into the cold as we realized we needed some food. The short walk from Good Counsel Hall to Donahue Dining Hall on South Campus was filled with a lot of jumping and playing in the several inches of snow. Utilizing our Snapchat stories, we played to the fact that two Californians were having a ball on their very first snow day.

What took me a year to realize, however, is that the fun and excitement surrounding snow days was short lived. After our first snow day, Brooke and I realized what snow means for one’s daily operations. Snow is only beautiful for the first few days or so, which is a fact I was naively unprepared for. I imagined a winter wonderland from the months of December to March, but I have come to accept this may not be my reality. After the first day of a major snowstorm, people need to get on their way to work or school. The snow is then a nuisance. The trucks come out, prepared with salt, to move and melt the snow. What once was the snow Brooke and I played in quickly turned to slush.

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St. Thomas of Villanova Church surrounded by a blanket of snow!

Now in my junior year at Villanova, I’ve realized that being on the East Coast has made me adapt. I always contended that I would do just fine at a school that would have all four seasons. And once I enrolled at Villanova, it was time for me to live up to that. So to answer the question of whether I’d get a little cold in Philadelphia—yes. I have gotten a little cold in Philadelphia. It’s been more than worth it, though.

The cold winters are not as big a deal as everyone makes of it. I got a big coat, a nice hat and a good pair of boots. These additions to my wardrobe quickly remedied my hesitations about dealing with the cold. I didn’t want to limit myself by staying where the weather was always nice, because then that just means I would have stayed home. I wanted to explore something new, go to a different coast and see what I thought about going through a real winter. Snow is not my favorite, but Villanova is.