Envisioning the Future: Nick Carney ’16 VSB Strives to Positively Impact Public Health, Arts in Rwanda

Community and service drew Nick Carney ’16 VSB to Villanova. The Santa Barbara, Calif. native was uncertain about his future as a high school senior in 2011-12. He thought about going the medical route after volunteering at a clinic and as a lifeguard, but an experience marketing for a local nonprofit swayed him. His ultimate goal was to make an impact by using marketing and business skills to help people.

While at Villanova, Nick received the Goizueta Scholarship and the Andrew J. Markey Scholarship, providing tuition support that further inspired Nick to make the most of his time on campus. He majored in Marketing with a concentration in Peace & Justice, which gave him a broad academic perspective and worldview. Nick volunteered his time tutoring children in Philadelphia, serving as the Vice President of LEVEL and making an award-winning documentary for the annual Special Olympics Pennsylvania Fall Festival.

“I dipped my toes into anything I had the opportunity to be involved in,” Nick said. “That service experience got me thinking about how I could continue to dive into doing more.”

Following graduation, he secured a digital marketing position in a leadership program at HubSpot, a software developer and marketing company in Cambridge, Mass. He gained valuable experience with email marketing, social media, video and leveraging digital content at the company. It was a crucial step for his professional development, but part of him envied his friends and peers who committed a year to volunteering around the country and world.

“I felt like I lost part of my connection to community and service,” Nick said. “I was looking to reconnect with the roots I created at Villanova.”

Nick knew that he could be making a difference and asked himself about the issues he deeply cared about. His response was to join AmeriCorps as a housing and outreach specialist, tackling the issue of homelessness in his hometown of Santa Barbara. He revisited his initial interest in health care as he spent time in hospital rooms, clinics and doing street rounds with the medical team. He saw how the public health system was failing homeless people, yet still felt helpless at fixing the problems. Nick pictured the health care difficulties in his own community on a global scale and sought to confront the systemic issues with a larger organization, using his skills learned at Villanova and HubSpot.

“The beautiful thing about the experience I’ve had since graduating from Villanova is how everything continued to build upon the previous step,” Nick said.

Influenced by a summer abroad trip to Ghana as an undergrad, Nick joined Global Health Corps as he moved to Kigali, Rwanda in July 2019. His background in the private sector and digital marketing made him an ideal candidate. He worked as the communications, marketing and media relations coordinator of the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE), directing marketing campaigns and building relationships in the community and with the press. 

While Nick has moved on from UGHE, he continues to work with global health organizations and other nonprofits in his new full-time role at Envision Rwanda, where he serves as head of communications and business development and as a multimedia producer.

“The name ‘envision’ is embedded in all of the work that we do,” Nick said. “Envisioning what we can be in the future.”

Envision Rwanda partners with artists from all different walks of life and mediums to tell stories for local organizations. As a filmmaker and photographer himself, Nick immediately felt a connection to the painters, sculptors, musicians, fashion designers and fellow filmmakers and photographers.

“They’re all people with a dream, and we get to see the potential of our work through them and what they can be in the future,” Nick said. “We also get to see what Envision can be as an organization and how we can impact the art scene in Rwanda.”

Nick has been in Rwanda for nearly two years now and would like to continue working in the social enterprise or with a nongovernmental organization.

“I’ll always be drawn back to the original idea that brought me to Villanova,” Nick said. “I want to make an impact.”

Nick Carney ’16 VSB

Nick Carney ’16 VSB  

“The beautiful thing about the experience I’ve had since graduating from Villanova is how everything continued to build upon the previous step.”