Five years ago, I never expected to be at Villanova.
Growing up, college was a dream, not an expectation. I was raised for much of my life by a single mother providing for three children, so I didn’t think I would be able to afford a four-year university. Still, I applied to Villanova with the hope that I would get enough financial aid to afford it.
I was fortunate to receive two scholarships at Villanova: Freshman year, I was awarded the Goizueta Scholarship, which covered part of my tuition and made it possible for me to come to Villanova—but I still worried about debt. Then, sophomore year, I received the Andrew J. Markey Scholarship, which covered full tuition. When I received the second scholarship, I called my mom and told her we didn’t have to worry anymore--I could pursue my dreams and pay it forward.
Throughout my time at Villanova, I have been blessed with many opportunities to serve others. I volunteer with the annual Special Olympics Pennsylvania Fall Festival, which transforms campus into a place of opportunity for people with intellectual disabilities. I also participate in a student group called LEVEL, which connects Villanova students of different abilities. LEVEL has been particularly meaningful to me, because it gave me a new perspective on what it means to be a Villanovan, and how we can all come together and contribute to making Villanova greater, regardless of the challenges.
My involvement in LEVEL also introduced me to the social justice documentary film program at Villanova. A few years ago, students in the program produced a documentary about Frankie Kineavy, a founding member of LEVEL. When Frankie came to campus, he couldn’t walk, talk or write. Because of the Office for Disability Services and LEVEL, Frankie had an incredible Villanova experience and was a beloved member of campus. Frankie became one of my closest friends, and the documentary about him changed lives at universities around the world.
Inspired by Frankie’s film, I enrolled in the social justice documentary film class. As a junior, I was fortunate to work on a film about former Villanova Basketball player Tony Chennault and his efforts to support youths in inner-city Philadelphia. Through the process I was able to meet and work with incredible Villanovans, including George Raveling and the man himself: Jay Wright. At the end of the semester, we created a film that was nominated for a Student Academy Award. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget.
All of these experiences have something in common: They would not be possible without support from donors.
Villanova students have so many talents and skills to offer, and this support truly allows us to reach our potential. When I look at the Villanova seal, I see the heart, right in the center. And when I look at our alumni community, I see a perfect example of what that symbol embodies— people who are proud of who they are and want to give back to a place that gave them so much.
I am thankful beyond measure for the opportunities I have been given, and I only hope that I can make a fraction of the impact Villanova donors have had on me.