Meet Students and Alumni

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Marquis Coates – Alumnus

For those interested in public service leadership, the MPA degree is a valuable degree because it is a transferable degree. By this, I mean that it allows you to transfer what you learn from the various theories and practices of public administration to the numerous types of public service work that exists under the nonprofit umbrella.

It is easy to get lost in the "crowd" of students who are striving to achieve at the highest level at many of the major colleges and universities around the world. However, in Villanova’s MPA program, you will never feel like you are striving to achieve all by yourself. From the first day of class to the close of your final examinations before graduation, every single professor is engaged in your overall learning and personal development as both a student and a professional. Likewise, your peers are just as supportive in building a team approach to learning.  

The MPA program has the unique ability to blend a family-like culture with a pure focus on professional practice. It gives students a true sense of belonging and it provides them with a strong support system that helps them succeed. It also gives students a sense of responsibility while encouraging and challenging them to become true practitioners in their specific degree concentration. In the MPA program, no door is ever closed, and help is always available!

As a CEO of my own nonprofit organization and having worked in an administrative role as a coordinator in the education sector, much of what I have learned from courses like “Structure and Theory of Organizations,” and “Public Personnel Management,” has been a part my professional practice. Two things in particular stand out, which have been most applicable to my work as a manager/leader in the nonprofit sector:

·       Conducting “Reflective Practice”- From “Structure and Theory of Organizations,” I learned how to engage in “reflective practice,” which is to first assess what it is I, as the leader, need to improve or change, before demanding it of my staff.

·       Determining Staff Needs- In the “Public Personnel Management” course, I learned the importance of determining staff needs in order to help them work more effectively and efficiently. Learning from theorists such as Edgar & Schein has given me insight into how I can better manage staff in the workplace.

With his love for education and mentorship, Marquis is now the CEO/Founder of Tools For Success, Inc., his own 501(c)3 non-profit organization, dedicated to providing mentorship and academic and professional support for youth in Philadelphia. He is also an author, having recently released his first book entitled, Tools For Success: A Young Man’s Guide To Professional Development.

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Sean Halbom – Current Student

Since beginning the MPA program at Villanova, I have gained a great deal of practical skills that I now use on a daily basis. The program has allowed me to improve the methods my office utilizes to deliver services to veterans in Montgomery County. The faculty have also introduced me to a network of local government officials and non-profit partners my office now frequently works with to advocate for veterans.

Like the faculty, the student body of the MPA program is a diverse group of individuals dedicated to public service in almost every imaginable field. The students offer unique perspectives on social issues discussed in classes from their multiple fields offering each student a chance to gain new insight on how to improve industry function.

I hope to continue my career in local government work with veterans and, with the help of local partners and the tireless efforts of our dedicated staff, end veteran homelessness within the county by December 2015. With the help of faculty and fellow Villanova students, we will also be starting the first Student Veteran Organization this fall semester.

Isham

As a retired U.S. Marine Corps officer, many of the skills in management and leadership I learned while on active duty were transferable to my current position. However, I realized if I wanted to advance my new career in public service, I needed additional education and training.

From a practical perspective, I selected the Villanova online MPA Program because of Villanova's academic reputation and because the courses offered were exactly what I needed. Many people expect an online program to be simple, but I have found this program to be extremely challenging. Students are held accountable to do all the required readings, video lectures, projects and assignments. Because of the Socratic-style of associated learning, I have found each of the courses extremely useful and implemented several of the concepts into my current role. Strategic planning, communication, financial analysis, human capital and organizational theory concepts have all contributed to my current managerial role and are now part of my daily activities.  

More importantly and of greater value, this program has opened my mind to greater opportunities and potential career changes. I have become more interested in nonprofit and local government management. At the same time, the online venue has allowed me to virtually meet new colleagues from diverse backgrounds and cultures as well as increase my professional network. Despite the online nature, we students and professors still build a bond of friendship through our academic studies and discourse throughout the program. The MPA staff is incredibly approachable, professional, and engaging. I am incredibly thrilled to be a part of the Villanova MPA community and I am excited about my future in public service.    

Jill

My journey to Villanova Theatre is directly related to the creation of the dual certification through the MA Theatre program and Certificate in Non-Profit Management. I was in the process of applying to online Arts Administration programs when I discovered the opportunity at Villanova and decided to apply.

My background is in performance, having earned my BFA in Acting with a Music Minor from Arcadia University in 2009. Since then, my focus has been non-profits, specifically the Please Touch Museum, where my already growing love for arts education become my major focus. For my future career, I am interested in staying within the Arts and Culture branch of the non-profit sector and hope to work mainly in Marketing, possibly fundraising, with an overarching goal of reaching high leadership at the VP or CEO level for a non-profit institution. Most specifically, I am intrigued and impassioned by Arts Education and hope to work for an organization with this vision.

The Non-Profit Management Certificate is completely necessary to my future career and has allowed me to continue studying theatre, my first passion, while gaining the knowledge I need to succeed within the business and administrative side of the non-profit sector. Throughout the program I've gained knowledge in effective management for all non-profits, specific arts administration, marketing, fundraising (including grant writing), and increased financial and tax understanding. The Non-Profit Certificate program has given me necessary knowledge, countless items to add to my portfolio, as well as connections to non-profits in the area through project based work. The first course I took called "Effective Non-Profit Management", connected me with Theatre Ariel through a marketing and branding project. This led to my current part-time position with that organization, doing everything from website development, to social media marketing, to photography.  

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Brian McLaughlin – Alumnus

As a freshman in college, I realized that I wanted to work in court administration and be an adjunct professor. Since that point, every decision I made focused on reaching those goals.

Villanova’s Master of Public Administration program had a tremendous impact on me, both personally and professionally. Two things make Villanova’s MPA program distinct:  the interdisciplinary mission, and the people. Interacting with the MPA faculty, staff, and fellow students cultivated my public service motivation, and empowered me to pursue my dreams. I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of the MPA community, with its focus on ethical, intelligent, and creative leadership in public service. 

The MPA program offers a diverse curriculum that prepares students for many roles in public service. With coursework focusing on both theory and practice, I felt well equipped to meet the challenges and opportunities in the management of modern government. Studying in the MPA program was a challenging and rewarding experience that has been very beneficial to me in my career. On a daily basis, I use what I learned in the MPA program in the workplace.

Among many wonderful educational experiences, a few classes stand out. As collaborative public management is an important component of modern public administration, I really enjoyed the engaged learning in Managing Public Networks. The case study method used in the Public Administration Theory course offers an exciting opportunity for students to use theories and practices to analyze real events. I now teach this course in the online format of the MPA program, and have witnessed the positive impact the method has on students. Additionally, the two-course series in Analysis and Research gave me advantage in government, where data-driven decision-making is an increasingly utilized tool.

For students interested in a career in government service, Villanova’s MPA program provides the skills and practices needed to be a successful professional. I encourage students to learn as much as they can about the field they want to work in, and then tailor their professional development accordingly. Aspiring public administrators should be genuine about their interests and passions when networking with practicing professionals. All levels of government need new dynamic leaders who are driven to elevate organizational performance to better serve the public.

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Stephanie Myers – Current Student

As an undergraduate at Villanova, I took Dr. Lauren Miltenberger’s Public Administration course and fell in love with the public service vision that public administration offered for my future. Growing up, I always wanted to help people, and I envisioned a collegiate degree that would help me do this day in and day out. I am so glad to have enrolled in the Public Administration program at Villanova University where I have met extraordinary faculty, staff, and colleagues that consistently go out on a limb to help me achieve my employment goals and ambitions.

When I began the MPA program in January, Dr. Palus suggested that I apply for an internship at the Hatfield Township offices in Lansdale, PA. Looking for experience, (as I played Division I soccer at Villanova which limited the time allowed for job experience within the field) I happily applied and later was offered the internship at this office under the supervision of Aaron Bibro, Township Manager, Villanova MPA alum, and a part-time professor in the program.

For the first couple months of this internship, I worked on formulating a spreadsheet to use for the upcoming police contract negotiations within the Township. From this assignment, I was most excited to learn that Township Managers need to be experts in every single realm. Managers need to have financial, social, and administrative intellect in order to perform police negotiations or any other task they may confront on the job. After the spring semester, I continued this internship into the summer months, mainly working on Parks and Recreation activities with Devan Stewart, a Villanova MPA student and Hatfield Township’s Assistant Manager and Parks and Recreation Director. The main projects that I worked on were preparing for our Township summer concerts and the Hatfield Aquatic Center pool opening. Through these tasks, I learned how to effectively communicate with constituents, problem solve, make use of limited resources, and time manage.

Overall, this internship has allowed me to gain insight into what it takes to be a Township Manager working in local government and what constituents expect when working on a larger scale in state and federal government. This internship has provided me with many great networking connections and friends as I move into my future career. Having a little taste of local government has inspired me to see how other levels of government are organized. This summer, I also interned at the U.S. Department of Education Office of Communications and Outreach under the supervision of Elizabeth Williamson, the Northeast HUB leader. Both of these experiences have given me essential skills and have made me realize that I would love to have a future career in the federal government down the road.

Additionally, I took two MPA classes this summer, Organization Theory and Individual Research where I am working on a business plan to begin my own nonprofit. All of the knowledge I have obtained in the MPA program and through these internships will allow me to (hopefully) run a successful and healthy nonprofit. I plan to continue to work on my nonprofit formulation throughout the Fall 2014-Spring 2015 school year and will use class projects and activities to further my nonprofit initiative. Overall, throughout this MPA program so far, I have learned that you can make your education work for you. Make the time you spend in class worthwhile. We all are dedicated to public service for many reasons, now go out and change the world. J

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Unique Saunders – Current Student

I relocated to Philadelphia from Seattle, Washington in the summer of 2012 to join the Admissions team at Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School, which opened that upcoming fall. In January of 2013, I joined the Villanova University family in pursuit of a Master of Public Administration with a certificate in Nonprofit Management.

From the first day I walked into Father Jacobs’ Leadership Ethics class, I knew I was in the right place. I felt comfortable and was surrounded by wonderful people. The relationships I have built at Villanova have added to my overall quality of life. Being around other like-minded individuals who encourage one another has made the balancing act of school and work much easier. My cohorts have supported me in so many ways, and my professors have helped me find my way professionally.

 

The best part about the program is that I have been challenged to think outside of what I thought I knew. Changing my mind about what I believed to be true about the world around me, while uncomfortable, has helped me along my journey for growth and understanding. The program has given me the tools necessary to become an effective leader both in my job and in the community.

 

This fall I will be able to put more concepts and theories into practice as I move into the role of Director of Admissions for Cristo Rey Philadelphia. I have spent enough time dreaming of how to motivate others, manage programs, and improve organization structure, and I feel confident that Villanova has adequately prepared me to take on this new endeavor. I have three classes remaining until I complete my degree. It has certainly been a challenge, but it has been an awesome journey that I would not change at all.

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Sally Slook – Alumna

I am a 2008 graduate of the MPA program and hold two graduate certificates - in City Management and Politics and American Government. Currently, I work as the Assistant Township Manager in Upper Merion Township. During my time at Villanova, I had an internship at Upper Merion, which proved to be an invaluable hands–on experience in learning local government practices, as my career since the program has been in the field of municipal management. After graduation, I was appointed the Assistant Township Manager for Upper Gwynedd Township. In 2012, I was hired as the Township Manager for Upper Makefield Township. In 2014, I returned to Upper Merion Township in my new role.

The faculty and their commitment to the students is what makes the MPA program at Villanova distinct. My professors were always available to answer my questions and provide career advice and encouragement. Some of the courses that I’ve found particularly applicable to my work in local government were Financial Management, Strategic Planning, and Effective City Management. The MPA is a valuable degree for students interested in local government as it provides the needed knowledge and skills through courses that combine both theory and practice.

What Our Graduates Had To Say About The Program

“Through the faculty’s, students’, and Alumni/ae’s shared vision of success, Villanova’s MPA program is rapidly evolving into one of the country’s premier graduate programs for current and aspiring public sector leaders. By focusing on both innovative and proven theoretical and practical approaches to organizational leadership and management, graduates—the next generation of leaders—are well prepared to tackle the mounting challenges facing the public and nonprofit sectors. Moreover, the intimate nature of the program ensures that no one gets lost in the shuffle. We are all part of the MPA family and all help each other succeed. This unique feature sets Villanova apart from many other competing programs. I cannot overstate how influential this program has been on my career success thus far and how influential it will be well into the future. I enthusiastically recommend the program to any one who is truly passionate about public service, and to anyone who strives to take their career and the profession to the next level."

Chris Campbell, May 2010
Administrative Analyst
Boulder County, Colorado, Department Housing and Human Services

“Thanks to the Villanova MPA program's design, I was able to calibrate my family and professional needs and interests with the expectations of the program. On a daily basis, the coursework is relevant to whatever challenges you may face in your career. The courses are a checklist of the leadership qualities and skills sought after in a career dedicated to public service. The instructors are respected experts who set high standards that extend beyond the classroom.”

Jonathan Kassa, December 2009
Executive Director,
Security On Campus, Inc.

"Pursuing an MPA degree at Villanova presented me with the opportunity to learn from amazing faculty who are not only knowledgeable about their subject, but have a passion for it as well. Every faculty member made themselves available to the students, and offered practical advice and counsel in both the academic and career environments. Interaction with fellow students from diverse backgrounds and with varied interests also enriched my academic experience. The most rewarding aspect of my education at Villanova was that it presented me with a chance to learn more about myself, and how I can use this education to make a difference wherever my professional life takes me."

Carolyn McCreary, May 2008
Township Manager,
Plumstead Township

"My experience in the MPA program at Villanova has been invaluable. The mix of experienced academics and practitioners is the perfect balance for learning public administration theories and best practices. As a working professional it helped develop my skills and gave me the necessary tools to pursue my career goals. It also facilitated the establishment of strong networks with my peers. I commend the faculty of the MPA program for giving me such a positive experience!"

Rick Mellor, May 2008
Township Manager,
Lower Moreland Township

"Villanova's MPA program provides everything a graduate student could want - excellent faculty, a strong sense of community, preparation for the future, and a sincere investment in its students. Beyond my degree, I developed lifelong friendships with both my fellow students and the dynamic faculty. I encourage any potential graduate student to seriously consider attending Villanova's MPA program. As a proud alumni, I look forward to representing Villanova throughout my career."

Aaron Bibro, May 2007
Manager
Robinson Township, Allegheny County

"Choosing to pursue an MPA at Villanova was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Classes are taught by an extremely knowledgeable faculty who genuinely care about the success of students. While achieving a firm foundation in the discipline of public administration students are also given the freedom to tailor their learning to suit their individual needs. During my time at Villanova I was able to undertake a series of interesting internships which allowed me to gain practical understanding of the theories I was learning in class. I would thoroughly recommend the program to anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in public service."

"Villanova's MPA program was everything I hoped for and more. I chose Villanova's program for the range of elective courses that would meet my professional needs. The ability to focus course research in public health and obesity prevention gave me both a health and government background. The chance to work on research and evaluation projects, present at conferences and interact with professionals, were just a few of the opportunities available to me at Villanova. Faculty in Villanova's MPA program are extremely knowledgeable and some have decades of experience as practitioners. I would highly recommend the MPA program at Villanova to anyone interested in pursuing a Masters degree."

Robyn Ricketts, May 2006
Health and Physical Education Teacher
Central Dauphin County School District, PA

"Villanova's MPA program is top-notch! Not only does a student learn the foundations of the field of Public Administration, but he or she also learns how to link those theories pragmatically to one's working environment. This program caters to all students from the college graduate to the working professional. The faculty is top-rate and extremely helpful in guiding you on your career path. Overall, the program is spectacular and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in reaching his or her career goals!"

Amanda Ostrander, May 2004
Assistant Manager
Borough of Swarthmore, PA

"The Villanova MPA program surpassed all of my expectations. Dr. Wheeland and the faculty were incredibly supportive. The classes were dynamic and the course topics were relevant for working professionals. It was such a positive experience, I am glad I chose Villanova."

Jennifer M. Doyle, May 2004
Manager of Adult Learning and Workforce Development
Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology

“I found the MPA program to be exactly what I was looking for, both academically and in preparation for a professional career. The program offers courses that challenge the students while prepare them for future careers. The program offers students many professional and valuable opportunities through the management internship program. I found the faculty to be one of the best parts of the program. I have never met a more dedicated group of individuals who truly want to see a student succeed. I believe the MPA program has prepared me quite well for my future career in government service. I would enthusiastically recommend the program to anyone who is interested in government or non-profit work.”

Ryan C. Heffernan, May 2004
Intelligence Operations Specialist, Counterterrorism Division
Federal Bureau of Investigation

"Earning my master's degree in public administration at Villanova University was a wonderful experience. The caring and professional faculty prepared me well for a future career of service. Interacting with quality students from diverse backgrounds challenged me and made the program even more rewarding."

Matthew J. McKenzie, May 2004
Manager, Field Service
Engineered Arresting Systems Corporation

"The MPA program provides graduate students with a well developed theoretical foundation of knowledge in many aspects of management and administration theory. Additionally, the program incorporates a practical internship that allows students to apply acquired knowledge to real-life situations. The courses offered in the MPA program are not only interesting, the information learned in each class can be easily used by managers or leaders of any type of organization. I recommend this program to anyone without hesitation."

Alexander Henderson, May 2004
Assistant Professor of Health Care and Public Administration
Long Island University

"During the MPA application process I met with Dr. Wheeland. We discussed career options. He told me about the Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) program (United States Government) and encouraged me to apply. As fate would have it, two years later on the day of my graduation from Villanova I officially became a PMF."

J. Bryan Smith, December 2003
Director of Community Based Programs
Mental Health Association of Monmouth County

"Villanova's MPA program provides students with the real tools needed in government today: policy analysis, financial management and ethics to name a few. The professors are well versed in their field, committed to their students and public service. The class schedule is flexible, allowing me to work full time and attend class. I firmly believe that the concepts and skills learned in the MPA program enhance my everyday performance as well as my resume."

Christina Graff-Eckenroth, December 2002
Team Leader Workforce Development Specialist
US Department of Labor

"In class, it was explained that one enters graduate school with the technical expertise gained at the undergraduate level - for me, this was journalism. To acquire a Master of Public Administration was to add to that technical foundation a broad-based professional perspective on issues such as management, policy, ethics, statistics, decision-making, and community service. Villanova's MPA curriculum enables each student to master the field while focusing on areas of individual interest and the degree is wide enough to encompass career pursuits in government, non-profits and academia. Armed with my MPA, I continue to use the skills gained from a BS, and have the real opportunity to pursue a Ph.D. Is the MPA valuable? Exponentially."

Melanie Brady, September 2002
Founding Partner and Chief Executive Officer
The Cake and Pi Company

"The Villanova MPA program provides the right environment for anyone interested in public service. Valuable internships can be found that further your course work and future career goals. The faculty are very supportive and share many insights in the various fields of interest. The course work provides a solid foundation for any future public administrator by providing you with broad spectrum of knowledge. But beyond that, the size of the program allows for a great deal of sharing with fellow students and the faculty which makes Villanova unique. There is a real camaraderie that fosters a great academic environment. The friendships I have made during my time in the program have been invaluable. I recommend the Villanova MPA without hesitation."

William Martin, December 2001
Manager, Tredyffrin Township, PA

"I cannot say enough about the positive experience I had in the Villanova MPA program. Opportunities to challenge myself were always readily available, and I was aided by a supportive faculty and a collaborative learning environment. The academic program provided a solid background in public management that is relevant in any field. But not only did the program focus on the essential skills, the associated theory, and the interwoven history of public management, it taught me to consider the overarching importance of ethics in relating to others in the professional realm. These elements I was able to apply to my invaluable internship experience, and will be able to utilize throughout my career."

Meredith Fretz, December 2001
Assistant Township Manager
Middletown Township, PA

"Villanova's MPA program prepared me for my professional career by helping me build a foundation of knowledge in the theory, history, and practices of public administration, and enhanced that foundation through the real-world applications of my internship."

Gina Delmont, May 2001
Operations Manager
Friends of High School Park

"Villanova’s MPA program has been an enriching and rewarding experience for me professionally and personally. My internships coupled with the broad and challenging curriculum has provided me with the tools necessary to succeed in the complex world of local public administration."

Bradley Boyd, May 2000
Independent Contractor
Bradley M. Boyd Educational Services

"The MPA program at Villanova is perfect for any stage of your academic career - be it straight-out of undergraduate school, a few years out of college, or mid-career. I liked being in a program where everyone knew each other and the faculty wanted to see you succeed academically and professionally."

Veracelle Vega, May 1999
Senior Director, Corporate Human Resources
News Corporation

"I learned a great deal in the MPA program. I felt challenged and I have a real sense of accomplishment by completing a masters program in an area I have real interest in. I am a better person for this experience and thankful for having had the opportunity."

Kevin Wall, May 1999
Major
US Marine Corp

"The public administration program thoroughly challenged and excited me. It is both intellectually rigorous and provides practical training. I feel tremendously well-prepared to enter into a Ph.D. program in public administration. In addition, the program provided many skills I use today in my position, including training in personnel issues, governmental relations, legal and contract issues and others."

Karen Isaacs Beaudway, May 1997
HR Communications Specialist
Carnegie Mellon University

"Being a working professional, the public administration program really met my needs. It gave me the credentials I need to further my career."

Gary Daugherty, May 1995
Fire Chief - Mercerville County, NJ

"Dr. Wheeland gave me special attention to help me prepare for my interview. This program prepared me for the daily things I encounter in working with the Commonwealth."

Monique Hales, May 1995
Management Intern - Governor's Public Administration Management Intern Program
Harrisburg, PA

"The active encouragement of an internship yielded a lot of networking and was invaluable in attaining this position. Combined with solid classroom teaching, the program provided a very well- rounded education."

Thomas Ryan, December 1994
Township Planner
Towamencin Township, PA

"Studies within the public administration program provided me with a complete theoretical and practical knowledge base, enabling me with the skills and confidence I need in working to fulfill my organization's mission."

Brent E. Haddix, December 1991
Program Administrator
Philadelphia Leadership Foundation