1. The Seeker

When Jessica Potter ’19 CPS was considering going back to school to pursue a bachelor’s degree, she already had nearly 20 years of operational business experience, including expertise in human resources, accounting and payroll, across multiple industries and organizations. Still, there were gaps that she wanted to fill.

“I was looking to develop my networking and leadership skills,” she says. A Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in Leadership in Villanova’s College of Professional Studies offered a comprehensive, practical curriculum that she could put to use immediately in her position as director of Business Operations at FourStone Partners, LLC, a West Chester, Pa.-based consulting firm. It also offered the flexibility she needed for full-time work and parenting.

2. The Navigators

The Leadership Capstone course gave Potter the opportunity to integrate what she’d learned over three years of study. Taught by Marv Meissner, professor of practice in CPS, this course examines leadership strategies and helps students develop their personal network of leadership mentors. To complete the final project of a Personal Leadership Development Plan, students interview five leaders who inspire them and produce a detailed roadmap for achieving their own career goals.

3. The A-ha Moment

Learning about other leaders’ career paths spurred Potter to think creatively about incorporating her talents, interests and life goals into her career.

“In the past, I’d worked to earn a living and support my family, but I realized that I wanted to do more than climb the corporate ladder,” she says. She developed a business plan for channeling her passion for food and music into owning a jazz-themed wine and coffee cafe, a dream she’d nurtured for more than a decade.

4. The Impact

“Jessica was dedicated to her coursework while juggling work and family life, and she did a wonderful job of synthesizing everything she’d learned by creating a detailed plan of where she wanted to go,” says Meissner.

Potter, who graduated with high honors, is continuing to take steps toward realizing her dream by researching funding sources, taking local classes on wine pairing, registering her business with the state and obtaining an internet domain.

She credits Villanova for helping her visualize herself as a business owner and find her true calling.

“Learning from other leaders helped me focus on the values that were most important to me,” she says. “It also helped me take practical steps toward realizing a dream and giving me the confidence to make it come true.”

Each issue, Villanova Magazine will give readers a glimpse of a culminating project for a Villanova student or group of students. In these experiences, students get to apply what they know, pursue what they love and present what they discover.