In May 2018, Nick Langan set a goal. By enrolling full time in Villanova’s College of Professional Studies, he set out to earn his earn his bachelor’s degree in two years.
Along the way, that goal evolved. His eyes were opened to a field, and a style of learning and collaborating, that made him eager to keep going past his bachelor’s. Now, with his undergraduate degree in Information Systems in hand and as the recipient of CPS’ 2020 Grit Award—given annually to the graduate who has shown dedication, courage and character throughout their studies—he’s decided to continue on at Villanova for his master’s in Software Engineering.
“I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to do this at this stage in my life, after having been out of school and working for so many years,” Langan says. “I found a new perspective and a new excitement for my classes that made the whole experience so valuable.”
Before enrolling in CPS, Langan, who lives in Tabernacle, N.J., worked in radio and as the operations director at an IT company. When he decided to return to complete the bachelor’s degree he had started years earlier, he went all in, leaving his full-time job and committing to his studies. Soon after he enrolled, a computer programming course with Mary-Angela Papalaskari, PhD, assistant professor of Computing Sciences, helped him to chart his course.
“I remember spending hours upon hours on assignments because I found them so captivating,” he says. “I was really able to unlock my creativity and tap into my interests.”
This semester, Nick was selected to work full-time time on a research project with Moeness Amin, PhD, Director of the Center for Advanced Communications in Villanova’s College of Engineering. The project aims to develop an accurate, easy-to-use technology to monitor at-risk individuals, including seniors, for early signs of COVID-19—before the infection progresses to a dangerous and potentially irreversible degree.
The relationships Langan developed with professors along the way were a key to his success.
“They were always available to me, and I feel like I have connections for life now,” he says.
Langan’s academic experience was further enhanced by his activities outside the classroom. Through a communication course, he was offered the music director job at the campus radio station, WXVU, where he can indulge his lifelong passions for radio and contemporary jazz. He also worked in the College of Engineering as an operator for the college’s online courses, a job that became even more vital as the University shifted to virtual classes this spring.
CPS Director of Academic Programs, Susan Leighton, has gotten to know Nick during his time at Villanova, saying “Nick started with the College of Professional Studies as a strong student, but unsure of where this path might lead him. Over the last couple of years, he has worked incredibly hard in dedicating himself to his studies, found several passions, and truly dove headfirst into becoming a part of the Villanova community. I’m so proud of Nick and can’t wait to see where this next challenge takes him in life.”
“I’m getting the college experience I never thought I’d have. I’ve been able to combine all of my interest areas, and I have so many more options than before,” Langan says. “Villanova has definitely changed my life. It’s the best decision I’ve made to date.”