Villanova MPA Students Win NASPAA Simulation Competition

In-person participants at the NASPAA Student Simulation Competition
Melanie Menkevich, third from left, and Corie Alicea, fifth from left, were two of the three Villanova MPA students on the winning NASPAA competition team. Evan Butts competed virtually.
Screenshot of the six members of the winning NASPAA competition team on Zoom.

Five Villanova Master of Public Administration (MPA) students participated in the 2023 Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) Student Simulation Competition Northeast Regional hosted by the University at Albany (SUNY) on March 4. Corie Alicea, Evan Butts and Melanie Menkevich joined three students from Syracuse University on the winning team. This team also won second place in the Global Super Judge Round, in which NASPAA judges evaluated each of the global site winners. Mark Donovan and Ellen Speake also competed and performed well at the competition.

“We are so proud of Corie, Evan and Melanie and their Syracuse team members in their win at the University at Albany site and their impressive second-place finish in the Global Round," says Villanova Public Administration Department Chair Catherine Wilson, PhD. "Participation in NASPAA’s annual simulation is a wonderful experience for our MPA students to apply what they have learned in our program and throughout their professional life, as well as to work collaboratively with team members in their response to an issue of public importance.”  

In this year's competition, players used their communication and negotiation skills to collaborate on a joint wildfire mitigation plan. Each player was responsible to represent a specific role with personal objectives that were in conflict with other team member's roles. Teams were evaluated by the communication, negotiation, teamwork and critical thinking skills needed to excel in public service.

"It was a long and arduous competition, with eight hours of virtual simulation play, but the experience was very productive," says Alicea. "It was wonderful to network and learn alongside my teammates and competitors, and I am inspired by what we all represent as public administrators."

More than 50 MPA students took part in the Northeast Regional, hailing from Columbia University,  John Jay College, Marist College, Rutgers University, Syracuse University, Villanova University, University at Albany, University of Connecticut and University of Massachusetts at Amherst. There were 11 regional sites across the world, as well as a NASPAA virtual site.

"This NASPAA competition is a phenomenal opportunity for students to put theory into practice," says Villanova MPA Director Adam Kuczynski, PhD, JD. "We are proud of all of our students participating: Corie, Evan, Melanie, Mark and Ellen. Each represented the program in a way that all of our students would - showcasing the dedication to the mission of Villanova and public service. We also congratulate Corie, Evan and Melanie - along with their Syracuse University team members - for being selected as the winning team at the University at Albany site and their second-place finish in the Global Round."

This year's win adds to the list of successful NASPAA Simulation competitions for Villanova MPA students, who have also been on winning teams in 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Learn more about Villanova University's graduate programs in Public Administration.

About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenged and changing world. With 39 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.

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