Meet Your GA's

Okichie Davis - Graduate Assistant

Okichie Davis

Hi! I'm Okichie and I am a graduate student at Villanova University, pursuing a degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I'm a Wildcat to the bone, having also received my B.A in Humanities, with minors in English and Theatre, from Villanova in 2012. During my undergraduate career, I spent my time outside of the classroom practicing martial arts as a member of VU's Yama Arashi Judo Club and further pursuing my interest in the Arts as a member of the Villanova Student Theatre group. After my graduation, I spent six months of my gap year working as an assistant teacher in a Main Line school, a job which I found incredibly fulfilling. Working with children and youth is a passion of mine, one that I hope to incorporate into my graduate study.

I am very excited to be a part of the Center for Multicultural Affairs team and will be serving as the graduate assistant for  ACTIVE Freshmen Retention and Project Red during the 2013-2014 academic year. I look forward to being able to offer incoming students the support that they need to take a successful first step toward higher education.

When I'm not studying, I enjoy creative writing, reading historical fiction and science-fantasy novels, experimenting in the kitchen, and breaking out my stash of Crayolas and coloring books. I also enjoy taking in stage plays whenever I can, going dancing, and traveling the U.S. I plan to tackle the Midwest next.

I look forward to getting to know everyone who walks through the CMA doors!

Kalonya Jones

Kalonya Jones

Hi! My name is Kalonya Jones, and I am at the beginning stages of my journey here at Villanova University as a graduate student. I am currently enrolled in the Master's of Science School Counseling Program. I received my undergraduate degree from Millersville University in Lancaster, Pa. I will be working as a Graduate Assistant in the Center for Multicultural Affairs as a Community Outreach Programmer. It is wonderful to be apart of something monumental.

Previously, while attending Germantown HS I volunteered at the Germantown Boys and Girls Club. I tutored, mentored, and motivated the youth that attended this facility. After graduating HS I went onto higher education at MU; here I was involved in various enrichment opportunities. I took part in the monthly meetings in the Black Student Union on campus, volunteered in Soup Bowls, a food program for low-income families, at MU campus, and also took part in leadership development as a Resident Assistant in the residential life program. Additionally, I was in a dance group called Unpredictable; our dance styles focused on hip hop, and jazz. We had tri-state competitions with other competing universities surrounding our area.

Shortly after receiving my Bachelors degree in Psychology I took on my first professional position overseas as an ESL Instructor in Anyang, South Korea for over a year. This experience enabled me to meet an array of people, as well as take notice that dedicated individuals can really change the life of others in positive ways. This was an even bigger drive to stay in the path of mentoring, guiding, and counseling others in making uplifting changes throughout life.

Congratulations on your endeavors as we all continue to grow, and partake in our dreams of different directions at Villanova University! I look forward to joining the Center for Multicultural Affairs, and meeting wonderful individuals!

Mike Pflueger

Shonna Kydd

I am a first year graduate student pursuing a Master’s of Arts degree in Communication. I grew up in Jenkintown, PA and graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a B.S. in Psychology.  I have always been fascinated by media production, and the elements that go into creating a broadcast, including research, writing, directing, and editing. I aspire to one day work in television production for major broadcasting network. My academic interests include race, identity, and representation, and children and television studies. Prior to beginning the graduate program at Villanova, I worked as a Research Coordinator managing media research projects at the Annenberg School for Communication and Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania. During my six years at Penn I managed a number of projects, including the research activities for a city-wide media campaign initiative to reduce obesity in Philadelphia (Get Healthy Philly), and the Annenberg Sex and Media Study.

In addition to my background in research, I have years of experience in television and radio broadcasting, having worked at NBC-10 Philadelphia, and ClearChannel Communications (Power 99 WUSL/105.3 WDAS FM). My passion for media and the desire to develop my critical thinking and writing skills has led me to further my education here at Villanova. From my very first encounter with Villanova faculty, I knew that I was entering a program full of warmth, support, and encouragement. Beginning in the Fall of 2013, I am looking forward to assuming the role as Diversity Programming, & Communication Graduate Assistant in the Center for Multicultural Affairs.

Trained as a dancer from a young age at Philadanco Dance Company, I have a passion for music, dance, and theatre.  In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my husband and two little ones (4 year old, 8 month old), baking specialty fondant cakes, salsa dancing, and extreme couponing. I am delighted to have this amazing opportunity to learn from some the most distinguished scholars in the field of communication, and I look forward to an enriching academic experience while here at Villanova.

Stephanie Pharo

Stephanie Pharo

My name is Stephanie Pharo, I am from Southern New Jersey. I am a first generation college student; I have received my Bachelor’s Degree in Law and Justice from Rowan University. During my time at Rowan University I held various leadership roles and helped to promote leadership and academic success amongst my peers. I served as the Student Body Vice President, a leadership mentor, Orientation Assistant, and Student Patrol Officer.

Throughout my time as an undergraduate I was able to facilitate leadership and diversity training sessions, help students get acclimated with college life, and promote strong academic achievement through time management and goal setting. Upon my graduation I was awarded the Thomas E. Robinson Leadership Medallion Award as well as the Law and Justice Distinguished Senior Award.

I will be a first year graduate student seeking a master’s of public administration degree at Villanova University this fall. My focus as an undergraduate student has always been with an eye toward graduate school and a career in public administration. While embarking upon my career aspirations I know I want to be the type of employee that contributes directly to solutions for the public hardships of our time. I want to find an equilibrium between working hard and motivating the people around me.

I have a strong passion for education, and hope to inspire future students I meet to also have both respect and passion for education. I believe that the college experience is one that is life changing, and I hope to assist students in finding success and comfort in their experience. My undergraduate journey was the best experiences of my life and one that I will value infinitely. I hope to help students at Villanova to have that same positive experience as I did as an undergraduate. I am very excited to continue to work with students, and I am looking forward to starting my Graduate Assistantship at Villanova!

Olesya Tarasenko

Oleysa Tarasenko

Hi! I’m Olesya and I’m an international student at Villanova, pursuing a master’s degree in Human Resource Development.

I grew up in a small town in the north of Russia – in a beautiful place close to polar region. I have always dreamed about going far in my life and breaking the boundaries. My ambitions for the world exploration came to my mind at the age of seventeenth, when I left my family and moved to Moscow to start a bachelor’s degree in one of the best schools in Russia – the State University of Management. My educational experience also included studying business and communications in Germany for six months while being a part of the international exchange program Erasmus, and then three months in Central America, volunteering and perfecting my Spanish skills. I love different cultures, different languages, and how the world is so easily achievable, despite being so wonderfully immense! My trips have opened my mind to a world of countries and cultures and I decided to continue experiencing such diversity with an international career. That is why I applied to Villanova and now I am pursuing my master’s degree in Human Resources Development. I am confident that I took the most from my college years  - while studying hard I also embraced every single opportunity to grow personally, enrich my college experiences and realize my dreams.

Now, I am very excited to help upcoming Villanova students to take the most from their college experiences too, starting from their first year in college. I am thrilled to become a part of the Center for Multicultural Affairs team and to serve as the graduate assistant for ACTIVE Freshmen Retention during the 2014-2015 academic year. I can’t wait to meet all of the young and ambitious people who came to Villanova as freshman and to discover their diverse talents and potential! I am very interested in listening to their personal stories, fears and dreams; to learn about their endeavors and goals for college. I am also eager to give students all of my support and make any tough period of their transition to college as smooth as possible.

Sharing positive attitudes, making students discover the best within their personalities, increasing their productivity, guiding personal growth, and thus, bringing more happiness to their first college year are my main goals and what I would like to bring to the Center of Multicultural affairs. I look forward to meeting all of you, dear Villanova freshman, and sharing a lot of great moments together!