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!

Dan DiPaquale

Daniel DiPasquale

Hello, all!  My name is Dan DiPasquale and I am a graduate student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program here at Villanova.  For my undergraduate degree, I studied math at Fordham University in the Bronx. I just finished a masters degree in theology at Villanova while serving in the Campus Ministry Internship program, and I am very excited to continue my time here with with Multicultural Affairs.

At Fordham, I was very involved with Campus Ministry Programs, playing the piano for mass each Sunday night, leading retreats, participating in Christian Life Communities, and going to Romania and Belize on service trip experiences.  I also helped start a musical improv group my senior year with one of my best friends, and worked in the math help room many afternoons.

Between Fordham and Villanova, I spent two years as a live in volunteer at Cristo Rey New York High School in Spanish Harlem.  I taught math and computers while coaching soccer, coaching drama, accompanying the choir, facilitating the math club, and living in community with the other volunteers.  There, I became in touch with my Latino roots, recognizing the story of my mom's family leaving Cuba in my students' stories.  There I also met my beautiful bride to be (August 3rd!).

At Villanova and Cristo Rey, I realized that the most life giving things for me involve sitting with people, hearing their stories, and helping them recognize and actualize their full potential.  Whether I meet with students in large group settings or individually, it gives me a lot of excitement to continue to work with college students in the coming year.  Villanova has given me a lot of love, support, and nourishment, and I hope to return those gifts to you all as the year unfolds.

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!

Zikra Kaleem

Zikra Kaleem

Hi all! I am Zikra Kaleem and I am a Graduate student at Holy Family University. I am working towards a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology with a focus on Student Affairs in Higher Education.  I received my B.S. in Health Psychology at MCPHS in Boston, MA in 2010. I have come a long way from being born in Nigeria to migrating to New York, Florida and then Pennsylvania while being of Indian descent. My recent voyage has been to a conference in Lithuania where I met people literally from all over the world. These various cultures enriched my perspective and fueled my passion for diversity.

Beginning my diversity route in high school, I was a member of the Multicultural Club, Vice President of the Muslim Student Association at MCPHS and now an active member of the Graduate Student Advisory Board and the Student Affairs Council at Holy Family. By being a part of these organizations I am able to fulfill my desire to work with students of all backgrounds.

I am excited to continue at Villanova’s Center for Multicultural Affairs as an ACTIVE Retention Advisor through the Summer and Fall of 2013. I will also be an assistant summer program coordinator for the Unitas Weekend and VIEW Program along with other related responsibilities that involve developing programs for the next academic year.

When I am not in school, I enjoy reading, cooking, outdoorsy activities (skiing, hiking, white water rafting, etc.), and watching a good movie! Good Luck with your journey at Villanova University. I look forward to meeting and learning from you!

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.

Dantawn Nicholson

Dantawn Nicholson

I was born and raised on the south side of Chicago, IL. After college, I decided to get away from home, which brought me to the east coast. I am currently enrolled at Villanova University in the Masters of Sustainable Engineering program. I graduated from Cheyney University, Pennsylvania with a Bachelors Degree in General Science. I was heavily involved there as I was a Resident Advisor, member of S.G.C.A., and an active member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity incorporated.

In my time at Cheyney, I also founded two organizations called The Brotherhood and The Sisterhood. They were founded to first help change the culture of our student life and also to increase the freshman retention rate, furthermore our graduation rate. One of our main initiatives was to “give back”, as we volunteered at Boys and Girls Clubs and high schools, tutoring and mentoring students. The Brotherhood and The Sisterhood are actually now two of the largest organizations on Cheyney’s campus.

With all of my experiences, and sincere passion for mentoring and being a positive male role model, I was more than excited when I received the offer to work in the Center for Multicultural Affairs as a Graduate Assistant at Villanova. I will be responsible for Active Phase 1, AAP, and the Unitas mentoring program and will also be working with other GA’s and the CMA to develop programs for freshmen retention. I will be working hard and diligently with my team to assure that our students have the best first year experience that they could imagine. I am looking forward to impacting lives and starting our freshmen off on the path to success.

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!

George James

George James - Life Coach

George James, Jr., MFT is a Couple and Family Therapist at Council For Relationships. Mr. James specializes in working with couples, improving communication in relationships, affairs, addictions, sex & intimacy, spirituality concerns as well as issues of race, class, gender and societal pressures.

He has been an expert guest on many TV programs including, It’s Your Call with Lynn Doyle (an Emmy Award winning, issues-oriented talk show covering various topics with viewers from Maine to Florida) on the Comcast Network, FOX29, CBS3 and NBC10 programming (News & Entertainment programs on Philadelphia’s NBC, FOX & CBS affiliates). He has also been an expert guest on many radio stations including Philadelphia’s WURD 900 AM, WDAS 105.3 FM, and WPPZ 103.9 FM.

Mr. James is a nationally recognized speaker, workshop leader and lecturer on various topics. He has had over 250 speaking & media appearances in the past five years. His breath of expertise includes a special focus on topics geared towards athletes, actors/entertainers, college students, men, couples and people of color.

Mr. James is devoted to working with people to help them improve their quality of life, to be involved in the healing of their wounds and enrichment of relationships.