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Nontraditional Student Week



Villanova's College of Professional Studies is celebrating National Nontraditional Student Week from November 4-10. This week is intended to recognize and celebrate adult learners and their determination to reach their educational goals.

Every student that joins our community has a story to tell, so we invited our students to share how they are living our new tagline, "Pursue the Next You." Over the next few days, we'll share self-submitted stories, all culminating in a vote on Wednesday, November 6th. The winner of this competition will be recognized at the Villanova Football game on Saturday, November 9th!

Congratulations to our "PURSUE THE NEXT YOU" competition winner, Shelby Myers!


What is the next vision of myself? It’s a question that holds so many possible answers…though there is one which stands out profoundly to me – college graduate. Education, which I emphatically stress the importance of to my children, stood as an item on my “bucket list” of life that was never fulfilled. The name "Villanova" brings a lot to mind – a physical location which held life’s events such as my baptism, weddings, funerals and my Grandparent’s address. It is the pride evoked in my children’s eyes when they say where their mom is a “student”. It will be the institution which awards me a diploma, which I will share with the memory of one of my sons who we lost from an illness. It is “me” in the past, present and is the destination for a piece of my future. Villanova University was an unattainable dream which came to fruition, but I believe my journey to “the next me” is even more important than my ultimate destination.  

My vision of what I wish to become will be due to the culmination of my life’s experiences and the support which I have received. The mother to five exceptional children; a wife, daughter, sister, friend, co-worker and the list goes on of so many individuals who have bettered my life by their support and guidance. I am a woman who always wanted to attend Villanova, but life circumstances made this impossible until the College of Professional Studies was formed. 

I am a mother of a child who will never see college due to a horrific illness that cut his life short. I work as a special needs advocate who wishes to better herself for the patients/families (who my family once was) who are in need of resources and advocacy. When I accept my diploma, armed with a cap, gown, and resources for all my future endeavors, it will equally be his dreams that I now have the power to bring to life.

In looking over my journey, it began with a simple criterion, but evolved into a lifetime of lessons and moments. A prerequisite was that to achieve the next “vision” of myself, I would not sacrifice time with my children or family en route to my destination. While many nights and early mornings are spent on my studies – I fully accepted the challenge and, unintentionally, offered valuable gifts to my children. They are my greatest cheering section and witness firsthand the hard work required to follow your dreams. Words and lessons of perseverance, which previously were offered to them, are now coming back to me – “Mom great job; you got this; did you get your paper done?”; my husband throwing me a surprise family party after I made the Dean’s List and my parents proudly contacting family/friends when I was accepted into Villanova. One of my favorite memories thus far, the image of my children and their friends leaning over my computer to see a final exam grade appear on the screen and the thunderous applause and “high fives” which followed – a priceless “paver” on the road to my journey!

There are so many pavers on the path to my destination and I look forward to “cementing” more as my time at Villanova progresses. Each lesson learned, memory made, course completed, and opportunity presented has impacted my life and made me more appreciative of the “journey.” Thank you for the opportunity to be the best “vision of myself.”

Nick Langan

Self-confidence is something that has never been a strength of mine. A week after signing up for a full load of courses in Fall 2018, I thought there was no way I was going to survive, ready to chalk the experience up to a failure. I was just never cut out for college, I thought to myself. But I kept pushing and have realized that with a strong work ethic and a positive attitude, you can accomplish a great deal of things. Through the opportunity to take classes at a fantastic school like Villanova, not only am I surviving, but I am thriving.  Everything that for one reason or another I didn’t embrace my first time around in college I am getting to appreciate in a whole new light now. When I have a chance to reflect after this journey is finished, I know I am going to look at my life in two phases, before I enrolled at CPS, and from CPS onward.

Joyce Harden

When I think about “Pursuing the Next Me” my mind travels to when I began taking classes as an adult at the age of thirty-one. Being the oldest student in the classroom was intimidating, but I had a goal to pursue so I jumped out of my comfort zone and into a new chapter.

My goal is to be the first in my family to receive a college degree. For much of my life, I’ve been focused on the needs of others. I’ve raised my daughter as single parent, supported my family, and been a driving force in my community. Now it’s time for me to reframe my approach by positioning myself so I can bring my dreams to reality. I envision myself to be a career woman, a subject matter expert on International Relations, and a respected member of my professional community. My goal is to create a new version of myself, by awakening my dreams, so I can tell my story and write about my purpose and the benefits presently seeing my future today. In pursuing the next me, the first step has been taken by studying in the College of Professional Studies to achieve my bachelor’s degree in Leadership and I’m tremendously grateful for this opportunity.

Lenard Whitaker

While currently working as a truck driver for Republic Services, Villanova’s schedule has allowed me to continue to work and go to school. Although I have a paralegal degree, and have done internships at the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office and the Managers Director office, I still felt like I wanted to do more.

I'm a big fan of giving second chances, especially being an ex-offender. In my spare time I volunteer with MENTOR, and with the Philadelphia District Attorney's office youth-aid panel program. Both programs allow me to mentor adult and juvenile offenders to help them move forward with their lives.
I'm hoping to create policies focused on education, poverty, and criminal justice reform. And so far, Villanova’s College of Professional Studies has helped me with pursuing my goals. Last summer I won a scholarship to their Leadership Symposium and I recently completed Villanova on the Hill, a weeklong immersive experience that explores all aspects of the policymaking and political ecosystem of Washington DC. In addition, CPS staff have connected me with people who can help me to create my own nonprofit.

My favorite quote is from the movie South Central. "The cycle of hate is broken by giving. I give to you and end my own hate cycle."

Kristine Robinson

Age milestones remind us to reflect on our accomplishments in life, how fast time flies and finding your true purpose. My reflection led me to Villanova and the pursuit to find and invent what my friends have called the “Next You.” Through my studies at Villanova, that pursuit has led me from a successful 20-plus year career in Marketing to ignite my passion for the Human Resources Field specifically employee engagement, employee relations, onboarding and internal communications. A career transition can be challenging (as well as driving to Villanova from New Jersey at rush hour) but it has been well worth it! My studies have armed me with the knowledge and exposure to experienced instructors and students that have encouraged me to pursue my goal to take my “New You” from Villanova “U” and help an organization create a culture of connectedness as an HR Culture evangelist to-be.  

Marie Burns

My fiancé and I are both enrolled in the Facilities Management certificate program through the Villanova University College of Professional Studies, and are pursuing the Facilities Management Professional (FMP) credential from the International Facility Management Association (IFMA). The course is organized into four pillars of expertise: Operations and Maintenance, Project Management, Finance and Business, and Leadership and Strategy. Throughout his career, my fiancé has worked in warehouse management and construction so the operations, maintenance, and project management sections come easily to him, while I have more experience with administration and governance so I feel more aligned with the finance, business, leadership, and strategy lessons.

We both find the coursework to be challenging and the discussions in the classroom to be insightful and instructive. The IFMA textbooks will be valuable manuals for each of us as we pursue careers in facilities management and operations. The class meets over six weekends (Friday evening and all day Saturday), every other weekend. It is an ambitious timeframe to complete the coursework and on the weekends we meet, the program is intensive. Our professor, Kevin Phoenix, is engaging and encouraging and we have found the FMP program to be very rewarding. This Villanova University CPS certificate, and the IFMA credential, will provide a solid foundation for us to pursue new and advanced careers in the facilities management sector. The timeframe, while intensive, has allowed us to continue working fulltime while still pursuing higher education and furthering our knowledge base for future career opportunities.