Moments of Gratitude on Day of Service

What do you think most college students are doing at 8:00 on a Saturday morning? I’ll admit: It can be difficult to start your weekends at an early hour. For the past five days, exams, club meetings and coffee breaks with friends have overwhelmed your schedule. For many students like myself, a Saturday morning is the time to get some rest and relax before another busy week. There is one Saturday morning in particular, however, that has students focused on something different.

Every September, the St. Thomas of Villanova Day of Service gives Villanova students the opportunity to give back to the community surrounding our university. When I signed up for Day of Service with my freshman orientation group, I remember feeling a little hesitant. Do I really want to get up that early on a Saturday? What kind of work are we going to be doing? Can one person really make that big a difference?

I had an absolute blast during my first Day of Service. I remember spreading mulch around a newly built playground in Philadelphia and picking thousands of weeds out of a community garden. Of course, I’ll never forget how appreciative the people were to receive our help, but what was just as rewarding were the memories I had made during that day. Freshman year, it was great to spend the day with the first friends I had made at Villanova. Sophomore year, I became even closer with members of my sorority who I thought I already knew. I saw that by working as a team, we were able to do something that much greater than ourselves, and the ability to see exactly how I can make a difference is comparable to that extra hour of sleep.

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Villanova University takes great pride in its dedication to service, and Day of Service represents just a slice of all the work students contribute. What I love most about Day of Service, however, is how much it reminds me of how grateful I am to be a member of the Nova Nation. One of my goals recently has been to focus more on the things I do have as compared to the things I might want. Nobody’s life is perfect, and as we complain about a stressful assignment or an argument with a friend, it’s important that we take a moment to look around and see what we already have. I have great friends. I am receiving an excellent education. I can make the choice to sleep in on a Saturday morning. Day of Service reminds me to not only embrace what I have, but help those who might not have what they need.

As I finish up my third year participating in Day of Service, I am that much more humbled by the work the Villanova community has done to help the larger one. There is nothing better than knowing you can make a difference in someone’s life. I can never fully repay Villanova for the opportunities it has given me, but I can use those opportunities to give back to someone else. Looking around and seeing the difference my friends and I can make in someone’s life is what makes picking weeds, spilled jars of paint, and one less hour of sleep completely worth it.

Summer Spotlight: Morgan Goodman ’18

As the sun sets on another amazing summer vacation, there is still something to celebrate. Another year at Villanova University is about to begin, and students will have plenty of great stories to share with their friends when they get back. Villanova students are spending the summer all over the country and even the world. Some students are already back on campus, preparing for New Student Orientation. Some are traveling around the world through study abroad programs. Some, like me, are working and interning to gain great experience for the future. My communications internship in a local theatre has given me important skills and incredible memories that I will bring to campus this fall, and I know plenty of other students are doing the very same.

One of those students is Morgan Goodman, a senior marketing major and business law minor from Westchester, NY. She’s spending her summer in New York City as an intern in the Global Partnerships department at the NBA. As an intern, she works to find prospective partners and find areas of opportunity to work with other companies. She then helps develop outreach plans, which show how a company’s objectives can easily align with the selling points of the NBA.

Goodman explained that while her application process did consist of turning in resumes and cover letters and multiple interviews, the process became a lot easier with the help of Villanova alumni.

“Villanova alumni who worked at the NBA or in the sports industry were extremely willing to connect with me and provide advice,” she explained. Villanova alumni love helping out current students. It can be really rewarding to make connections with different organizations and companies through an internship, and getting to know alumni can be extremely beneficial as well.

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Morgan Goodman ’18 (second from left) interned with the NBA this summer.

While it’s clear that Goodman has been working extremely hard at her internship, she has had plenty of memorable experiences. She got to work with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum. She even got to attend this year’s NBA draft, and watch recently-graduated Wildcat Josh Hart get selected! Goodman explained that an internship is “a fantastic way to get a taste of an industry you are interested in.” It can provide you with amazing opportunities to “network, present your personal brand and learn from experts in the field.”

When I asked Goodman how Villanova had prepared her for such an incredible opportunity, her answer couldn’t have summarized it any better. “Villanova has truly enabled me to grow as a leader, both personally and professionally. The community at Villanova has [given me the determination to search] for ways to grow and learn. There is an incredibly supportive and collaborative culture, which has allowed me to strive to my fullest potential.”

While our internships are very different, I can happily agree with Goodman on how Villanova prepares students to take on any challenge. It’s important to do what you love, and Villanova has prepared students again and again to do just that. Whether you’re working with one of the biggest organizations in the country or taking on a more local company like myself, the experiences you can gain on campus and off are going to make your time at Villanova even more memorable.

The opportunities are endless at Villanova, but there are plenty of other places to visit and activities to try. While I’ve enjoyed relaxing and recuperating this summer, my time as an intern has been extremely rewarding. Seeing the amazing work that other students are doing has only encouraged me to work harder at what I love to do. So remember to do what you love and take advantage of any chance you’re given. I can’t wait to hear more about the awesome things Villanova students got to do and see this summer. I know for certain that it’ll be a summer worth remembering.

 

A Letter to My Freshman Self

To My Freshman Self:

Well, here you are! Welcome to college. Take in the surroundings of your new dorm room, decorated from wall to wall with three girls’ worth of clothing, picture frames and toiletries. You sit quietly on your bed, desperately trying to conjure up something that will spark conversation among you and your roommates, but you can’t stop thinking about how much easier it would be back home. How did the idea of freshman year go so quickly from something planned months in advance to your new reality? The questions start filling the empty spaces of your room: Will you make friends? What if you get lost on campus? What if you get rejected from every activity you apply to? You’re overwhelmed. You want to go home. I remember it like it was yesterday.

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Abby, Katherine and I have been friends since freshman year!

Well, Freshman Self, I am here to tell you that you’re going to be just fine. I know, you were not very happy when you were assigned a triple with two roommates, but it’s going to work out. The three of you do not have to be best friends, but you do have to communicate and respect each other’s space. Find out what you have in common, and learn more about what makes you all different. Give your roommates a chance. I guarantee they feel just like you do right now.

Be sure to leave your door open while you’re doing homework or listening to music. The literal opening of your door will metaphorically open you up to meeting a lot of nice people. Ask others in your building to grab dinner or walk to class with you. You can easily curl up in bed, texting your friends from home, but there are so many interesting people to meet! Say hello, and the rest will take care of itself.

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Cheering on the home team at Wells Fargo

On your first day of classes, you’re probably going to feel lost and overwhelmed. That’s normal. Don’t be surprised if your classes seem difficult. You go to Villanova University, after all, and nobody said that was going to be easy! Don’t be afraid to go to the library alone and study. Ask a professor to meet with you during office hours. Raise your hand and ask questions during class. Work harder than you’ve ever done before.

That being said, remember to have a good balance between schoolwork and a social life. When your new friends invite you to watch a movie, take a study break! You deserve it. Go out to dinner. Take the train into Philadelphia. Relieve some stress at the gym. You’re going to find your fit, and you’re going to feel a lot happier and healthier when you balance school work, friends and activities.

The biggest change you’re going to see in two years is how much more independent you’ll become. You’ll be balancing academics with friends, meetings, sorority events and plenty of deadlines. Of course, your parents will answer the phone no matter what time it is, but sometimes you need to make your own decisions. Should I stay in or go out? What classes do I want to take? Which activities are going to be the most fulfilling? Remember, Freshman Self, that the most important person to please is yourself. If I could go back, I would’ve started realizing that a lot earlier.

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Welcoming prospective students with other Ambassadors!

I know that you’re feeling lonely right now, but one day you’ll find yourself as a tour guide, walking past the quad on a beautiful day and waving at people shouting your name. Or you’ll sit at the Oreo chatting with friends or raising money at Greek Life events. You’ll take a class that completely changes your perspective. You’ll see that at Villanova, your identity has not only been found again, but it’s stronger than ever.

Remember, you are not alone in this. Before you know it, you’ll be a rising junior like me, wondering how those first two years went by so quickly. You’ll experience the highs of late nights spent with best friends, acing a test you spent hours studying for and running across East Lancaster Avenue after a National Championship win. You’ll experience the lows, too. You’ll struggle in a class. You’ll go out with someone who turns out to be a jerk, even though your friends already knew that. You’ll question many things you were so certain you knew. You should be really proud of yourself, Freshman Self. You’ve already made great strides just by coming to Villanova. You have so much more to do and see. You just have to walk out of that dorm room, take a deep breath and start making Villanova your home away from home. I know you can do it.

Sincerely,

Molly Reff

 

What You REALLY Need to Make Freshman Year a Success

As the countdown to move-in day at Villanova continues, you’re probably getting excited to shop for the essentials of on-campus living. While your family is thinking about warm blankets, flip-flops for the shower and extension cords, there are many vital items you may not find on the shelves at Target or Bed Bath & Beyond. Here’s what you really need to have as you make Villanova your home away from home.

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Ready to cheer on the Wildcats!

Plenty of Villanova Gear: At Villanova, we wear our Wildcat gear with pride. Whether you’re walking across campus on a chilly day in your Nova sweatshirt or cheering on the basketball team in a jersey, you’ll want an array of Villanova clothing and accessories. After one visit to our University Shop, you’ll be ready to represent the Nova Nation on and off campus.

First Aid Kit: Let’s face it, at some point in the coming year, you’re going to get sick. Pack a shoebox full of cold medicine, Band-Aids, pain reliever and cough medicine so you don’t keep your roommate up all night. Keep hand sanitizer, tissues and cough drops within close reach, too. Remember: If you pack it, hopefully you won’t need it — and it will save you a midnight run to the drug store.

A Subscription to Amazon Prime: Whether it’s a present for your new friend’s birthday or a restock of your favorite shampoo, Amazon Prime can deliver — and fast! Best of all, college students receive a free six-month subscription, and anything you order can arrive in two short days. I use my Amazon Prime account so often that I renewed my subscription after six months. It’s a must-have while living away on your own.

Something Comforting from Home: No matter how excited you are for college, at some point, you’ll miss the comforts of home, so it’s nice to have something that reminds you of where you came from. For me, it’s a stuffed elephant that sits on my bed. For you, it could be photographs of family and friends, your most comfortable pillow or a favorite hometown T-shirt.

The Uber App: Eventually, you’ll want to venture off campus. Of course, the Villanova shuttle can help you get around, but sometimes it’s easier to grab an Uber when you head to a local diner for Sunday brunch or to nearby Suburban Square for some shopping. If you’ve ever used Uber, you know it’s a quick, easy and inexpensive way to take you door to door.

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Never forget your Wildcard!

NOVAbucks: Before you come to school, be sure to load NOVAbucks onto your Wildcard account. That way, a coffee from Holy Grounds or a pack of pencils from the bookstore is just a swipe away. The best part? You can use NOVAbucks at certain restaurants in the local area, too! With NOVAbucks, carrying cash or cards around has become a thing of the past.

Rented Textbooks: Before you crack open your piggy bank to purchase another textbook, be sure to check the prices of rental books online. Start with the Villanova bookstore, and be sure to compare the prices elsewhere online, too. You’ll probably find significant savings by renting for the semester, rather than buying new. You can use the books all semester, and simply turn them in right after finals. And really, are you ever going to read that 600-page textbook again?

Formal Wear: When you’re deciding how much clothing you can fit into your new closet, bring a dressy outfit or two. Guys, don’t forget your jacket and tie! Girls, remember to pack that little black dress and your most comfortable pair of heels. You never know when you’re going to give a presentation or get invited to a social function that requires more than jeans and your Villanova sweatshirt.

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I love giving tours as a member of Blue Key Society.

A Willingness to Get Involved: At Villanova, students love to be involved. For me, it’s Greek Life, Blue Key Society and a Learning Community. For others it might be community service, a cappella or helping with Orientation. The activities you join at Villanova are often the places where you’ll find some of your closest friends and make your greatest memories. Take a chance and try something new! You might be surprised by what the Nova Nation has to offer.

Of course, the flip-flops and the extension cords are important, but hopefully these items will help you start your college experience off on the right foot. Before you know it, Villanova’s campus will truly be your home away from home.

 

Moving Out and Moving On

Ziploc bags. Packaging tape. Rolled-up extension cords.

I’m ecstatic to see my parents pull up in front of my building. I jump eagerly into the car as we head to my favorite diner in town. I think about how much I’m going to miss the omelets when they’re four hours away. We celebrate the end of another year, reflecting on good grades, good memories and the adventures in between. I tell them all about my final exams and how late we all stayed up each night studying. I’m sad to leave, but finally getting to see my parents makes me more excited to get home.

A rug. A microwave. School supplies stuffed in a backpack.

Suddenly, the amount of stuff looks overwhelming, as I recognize how much material was packed into a dorm room. We tackle it one area at a time. Box by box, my dad and I make our way downstairs to the car. The car looks like a jigsaw puzzle, and I plop heavy boxes and soft pillows into any crack we can discover. I’m tired, but there is still more to do.

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Saying goodbye to Fedigan Hall!

A comforter. Dress bags. Wall decorations dismantled.

The room starts to feel cold as all of my colorful decorations and storage bins make their way down to the ground floor. Friends pop in and out, offering to help. My mom organizes like a professional, as each box and bin is filled to the maximum capacity. I push my glasses back up my nose and struggle with another bag full of toiletries. We once again venture down from the fourth floor. I want to complain, but I remember that I probably won’t go up and down these stairs too many more times.

Shoes and socks. A laundry basket. Snacks to save.

Exhausted, we prepare for another trip. The room is growing in size as the number of materials within decreases. Desk and dresser drawers once filled to the brim are now empty. I make a mental note to bring fewer clothes next year. I wonder how we even got these items up the stairs back in August. “We’re almost done,” my mom confidently responds to the tired look on my face. I smile, but all of a sudden it’s almost time to say goodbye.

A garbage can. An earring tree. The first aid kit that Mom so kindly made.

My parents hop into the car, and I’m suddenly faced with climbing the stairs alone one last time. The trip to the fourth floor doesn’t seem so bad anymore. My friends quietly follow me into the room where we laughed, cried, and danced too many times. It’s time to say goodbye. We hug and say, “I’m going to miss you,” but it still doesn’t seem like we’re actually leaving for three months. My friends follow me down the stairs one last time.

A backpack. A sweatshirt. Phones filming Snapchat stories.

Each hug lasts a little bit longer and feels a bit tighter once we’re in front of the car. I think about how long three months are, but then I remember how quickly the past eight flew by. I hop into the car, surrounded by the materials and memories that this year has provided me. I wave goodbye as my friends make their way back into our beloved dorm. I’m ecstatic to go home, but part of me wishes move-in day would come a little sooner.

*Originally posted on The Odyssey by Molly Reff on May 9, 2016

*Edited by Molly Reff for the Villanova Office of University Admission’s Blog on May 19, 2017 

Aca-Amazing Activities

“I think we’re going to be aca-awesome.”

In the Pitch Perfect world, a cappella means serious business. From song choice and arrangement to choreography and performance, a cappella groups need hard work, dedication and incredible talent, and our groups at Villanova are no exception to this rule.

On Friday, March 24, our seven a cappella groups took to the stage in Jake Nevin Fieldhouse for the annual A Cappella Palooza. Hundreds of students and family members gathered to watch some outstanding performances, and while it isn’t as competitive as you might see on the big screen, A Cappella Palooza is to be taken very seriously. Our seven groups, two co-ed, two all male and three all-female, spend months perfecting each performance and wowed the audience with new renditions of their favorite artists, from Bruno Mars to Ariana Grande, and even a Kanye West versus Taylor Swift mash-up. It’s every a cappella fan’s dream, and one of the most exciting events each spring at Villanova.

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Vocal Minority, one of Villanova’s all male a cappella groups

While students involved in a cappella are rehearsing and performing all year round, A Cappella Palooza is the chance to show off the unique styles and talents each student and group possesses. Students take to the stage with their best moves, hitting the highest notes and celebrating their long awaited reward after countless late night rehearsals and cups of hot tea. Seeing the Jake Nevin Fieldhouse filled with cheering students and music fans makes A Cappella Palooza a hit for students attending for the first time and those who come back year after year.

“My a cappella group is my home away from home. Joining it as a freshman immediately integrated me into the university and made me feel like I was a part of something. It’s a great opportunity for me to continue doing what I love with the people that mean the world to me!” – Madison Barella ’20

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Nothing But Treble

While Villanova is known for its challenging academics and exciting athletic opportunities, our campus is filled with various musical activities for students to get involved in! Aca-scuse me? Whether you’re interested in a cappella, playing a musical instrument or acting on stage, Villanova has a number of ways to get involved. Students are dancing, rehearsing lines and singing the days away here on campus. Activities like a cappella bring campus to life as students are seen performing outside during a warm day in the fall semester or serenading prospective students on Candidates’ Day. A Cappella Palooza gives students at Villanova something to sing about.

From a cappella to musical theatre, Irish dance to choir, music activities are promoted and enjoyed by a large population of Villanova students. While A Cappella Palooza is one of music activities’ biggest events, there are always chances to see or participate in a musical performance on campus. Whether you want to be a star on stage or just enjoy sitting back and watching a performance, there are plenty of ways to appreciate the arts at Villanova. If you’re interested in performing with our talented a cappella groups, you can audition as soon as you arrive on Villanova’s campus. If you’re not one to get on stage and perform a fantastic Ed Sheeran remix yourself, then sit back, relax and enjoy the show!

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An Open Letter To The Dog I Spotted On Campus

*Originally published on The Odyssey by Molly Reff on April 26, 2016

Dear Furry Friend,

I’m sorry to interrupt your stroll. It’s a beautiful day, and despite the stresses of schoolwork and classes to get to, I couldn’t help but notice as you were happily walking along the campus. After my friends and I settle our excitement, we make our way over. I kindly ask your owner if I can pet you, and I try to hide back a joyful yelp as he or she says yes. My friends and I quickly gather around, and your tail begins to wag as we pet you.

 unnamed-e1490229895144.jpgThank you for giving us a few minutes of your time. You probably don’t realize it, but your wagging tail and ever present smile can turn a college student’s day around. Thanks for visiting our campus. I’m glad you and your owner appreciate the beauty of it as much as the students do. No matter the weather, students trek back and forth along the same path every morning, and it’s nice to see you come around and change our routine up every now and then. Be sure to thank your owner again tonight.

Thanks for also being so humble. You don’t ask for anything, just a soft pet in return for your curious sniff. You make people smile endlessly without anticipating a prize in return. It’s nice to know there are still humble people, I mean animals, around.

I love how happy you are to see everyone that walks your way. Even if I don’t get the chance to pet you, know that I am so glad you’re here. I really am. You remind me of my own dog. I know! We just met, but it’s true. Seeing you helps me keep going until I get to see my dog next month. I talk to my parents every day, but I can’t talk to my dog! I can’t ask how her day went or pet her fuzzy head. When I’m homesick, you come along and give me a pick me up. I can’t wait to get home and spend time with my family, but until then, I’m glad surprises like you can make us all smile.

Thank you for teaching me to appreciate the little things. It sounds corny, but we can’t forget it. As you walk, you like to take your time. You stop, say hi to every person that smiles at you, and continue to stroll. You smell each and every flower that lines our campus sidewalks, and you bounce happily along as the wind brushes against your soft fur. You indirectly teach busy and self-concerned students to take a step back and look at the world around them.unnamed.png

Amongst the humility, the soft fur, and your appreciation for those around you, you’re simply a cute animal that I love to see every day. My friends and I will talk about you days after our meeting, and I hope I’ll get to see you again soon. Thank you for visiting, and I hope you enjoyed your stroll as much as I did.

Sincerely,
College student.