Meet Graduate Student Ambassador Marissa Luca
"While I was terrified I would not fit in, I found that my cohort has been like a little academic family to me. I think that the school can seem quite intimidating, especially to people who, like me, have not had economic privilege, but I want you to know that there is a spot here for you!"
Describe your interest in your academic program and what you hope to gain from it.
Since losing my mom in 2021, I have become very interested in the roles of collective memory and social rituals in the grieving process. Studying Communication has offered me many avenues to explore these topics. I have become a better intellectual, and person, from my time in this program, and I hope to carry what I have learned with me as I pursue a PhD.
What is your favorite course you’ve taken so far? If you are in your first year, what course are you most looking forward to in your program? Why?
My favorite courses include Communication and Advocacy, taught by Dr. Murray; Communication and Identity, taught by Dr. Crable; and The Communication Perspective, taught by Dr. Coonfield. Comm & Advocacy really gave my classmates and I tools we need to be better activists. Comm & Identity made me think more deeply about what it means to be part of a collective, one that does not always share a common goal. The Communication Perspective gave me a broad overview of the field, and while some of the readings were quite difficult, I feel as if I learned some of the fundamental things that all Comm students should know.
What are a few things you would like to share with prospective students regarding the Villanova student experience?
Villanova has so many resources to help you succeed. We have several tutoring centers (come say hi to me at the Center for Speaking and Presentation!) that will help you navigate classes. People genuinely want you to succeed here, and we'll do all we can to help you do so.
How do you maintain a good school/life balance?
I try to break my schoolwork down into easy, manageable steps; if I look at it from too far of a view, I get overwhelmed. Pacing yourself is really important!
If you’re living around Villanova, what are one to two “must do” experiences you would suggest to students new to Villanova and the surrounding area including Philadelphia?
Visiting South Street is a must. It's a hub of culture and art; there's so much to explore there! Philly also has several museums, one of my favorites being The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University— who doesn't love dinosaurs? I'd also recommend seeing a concert on the lawn of The Mann. Oh, and Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House is life-changing. Go try their noodles ASAP!
Describe what it means to be a graduate student at Villanova. In other words, why Villanova?
As someone who is working class, I was nervous about coming to Villanova, given its relatively affluent population. The majority of people in my grad program are in the same boat as me; we are all lucky to have assistantships and other funding opportunities, and so while I was terrified I would not fit in, I found that my cohort has been like a little academic family to me. I think that the school can seem quite intimidating, especially to people who, like me, have not had economic privilege, but I want you to know that there is a spot here for you!