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Resilience Resume Project

The Resilience Resume Project is a collaborative effort of the Career Center and Office of Health Promotion designed to help Villanova students see that success does not happen overnight and the journey to it is often full of difficult moments - even for the most successful among us. To illustrate this, members of the Nova Nation have shared stories including things like jobs they didn't get, awards they didn't win, times when they failed a big test or ideas they had for a career that didn't work out. This is what we're calling an example of a "Resilience Resume," sharing defining moments in a career through a different lens.

We hope you will be inspired by their ability to embrace the challenges, summon their courage and resilience and willingness to vulnerably share these moments with you.

Jay Wright

Jay Wright

William B. Finneran Endowed Head Coach, Men's Basketball

"In November 2004, we were about to begin our fourth season at Villanova. We had yet to reach an NCAA Tournament. Over breakfast at the Villanova Diner, journalist Dana O’Neil told me she felt compelled to write that another miss might make Villanova consider a change. Although I was feeling none of that pressure from our Athletic Director, Vince Nicastro, I understood the narrative. We were hired to win and had yet to do so consistently. At that moment, doubt was perfectly natural. Yet what our staff was seeing each day in practice told us we were close. We elected to stay the course, and as our young team matured, we turned a corner, eventually posting a 24-8 record that allowed us to advance to the 2005 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16."

Coach Wright's Resilience Resume Social Media Post

Teresa A. Nance, PhD

Teresa Nance, PhD

Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion | Chief Diversity Officer | Associate Professor 

"I come from an aspiring middle-class Black family. That means that of my five sisters and brothers, three of us grew up in inner-city Cleveland and three in a more affluent suburb of Cleveland called Shaker Heights. My mom stayed at home—sort of. She was involved in all our various schools, our community and of course, the inner-city parish we never left even after we moved. Consequently, education and the civil rights movement were critically important in our household. The only way to improve the lives of our family and our race was through education. Implicit here is the obligation to do both, of course. 

I did well in school and the activity that gave me identity was debate. I was in a mostly white high school and my oratorical skills and teammates shielded me from the loneliness and isolation that seemed inevitable. 

With my success came the family belief that I was headed to law school. And yet, I also did a ton of service. I loved teaching and looked forward to any opportunity to volunteer.

When I went to college, while I continued to debate, I also prepared myself as a teacher (student teaching, etc.) My family, however, kept telling me that I was better than being 'just' a teacher. So, I took the LSAT, did the applications and even went on interviews. The moment of truth came in one interview when an admissions person at a law school near my home asked, 'so why do you want to be a lawyer?' I knew the answer I was supposed to say, and I even started to go through my carefully rehearsed presentation. Instead, 'the great debater' sat in silence, head down and just mumbled, 'I don’t know!' Needless to say, I was rejected from law school. More importantly, I applied to graduate school in Rhetoric and never looked back."

Dr. Nance's Resilience Resume Social Media Post

Dean Joyce Russell

Joyce Russell, PhD

Helen and William O'Toole Dean of the Villanova School of Business | Professor of Management

Throughout my life, I’ve had various professional and personal obstacles and setbacks that have called for resilience on my part and the need to pick myself up and keep going. I think the toughest obstacles were when they were totally unexpected and consequently, they threw me off.

One example was in a job situation where I was up for a promotion, expecting everything to go smoothly. I put together a strong portfolio for the promotion and I assumed it would be a slam dunk. And yet it wasn’t. One person was critical of my accomplishments. This really threw me off since I had no inkling he felt this way. Not only was I caught off guard, but I was disappointed, since I thought this person was a supporter of mine based on our interactions. I could not understand his motives or rationale. The whole experience caused me stress for months (my dentist told me I was grinding my teeth!)-I just couldn’t understand it.

While I did succeed in the promotion, the experience was really stressful. No matter how much we may want everyone to like us, not everyone will. I realized I could either stay consumed with why he was against me or I could just let it go and move on, knowing that I would never fully understand it. And that is what I did. It actually helped me later in life since I realized that not everything is predictable or that we have control over everything.

To me, resilience means calling on your support group–whether that’s your family, your friends and/or your faith, to help you stay focused each day, and to remember that you just need to stay strong that one day. Sometimes we worry about the next week or month or year, and this totally overwhelms us. For me, I prayed to stay positive each day and I still follow this today, many years later. This has taught me that tough challenges will be there and yet we must push onward if we really want to make an impact in the world. We can’t let others hold us back. If we are resilient, we can handle one day at a time.”


Dean Russell's Resilience Resume Social Media Post

Kathy Byrnes

Kathleen J Byrnes, JD

Vice President for Student Life

I graduated summa cum laude from college and a year later started law school at Duke University. I was on a trajectory for worldly success, coming out of a top law school and working for a prestigious law firm in Washington D.C., and at a law firm in Philadelphia. The problem was, I was miserable. Though I loved the study of law – its nuance, its power, its logic, its analysis – I did not like enjoy the practice of law, at least in the “big law firm” setting. When I thought about my situation, I thought –I’ve committed three hard years of my life to law school, and tens of thousands of dollars of student debt, what can I do now? I was a complete fraud and failure. I dressed up every day, I took depositions and reviewed documents, I holed up in the library to research caselaw, wrote motions and briefs, yet I despaired. This was not what I wanted with my life. I sought connection, meaning, purpose; for me, I was not finding those things in what appeared to others to be a very credible, reputable legal career that also offered significant financial compensation.

Ultimately, I realized I needed to walk away; I needed to find another path to explore. Since I was in my early 20s, I’ve had a mantra: If I died tomorrow, would I like how I lived today? I realized I would be most disappointed if I did indeed die tomorrow. I needed to change that. After some searching, I found the opportunity to work at Villanova – first at the law school, then in Student Life. When I first made the change, my salary became 50% of what it had been. But I lived simply and had some savings from my lawyering days. And I took the leap to a new career, to what became a true vocation. And I have not looked back. What I’ve learned from this experience is that it is hard to know what you want to do for a career when you are 18, or when you are 22 or even 32. It’s okay to explore, to try different things. Every experience we grow from – we learn, we develop, and we take those lessons with us to the next part of the journey. I also learned that life is indeed a journey – that’s not just a cliché. We continue to discover what fulfills us, what we are good at, how and with whom we want to spend our time. I’ve learned that this discovery takes time – and that’s okay too. In fact, it probably takes a lifetime. 

I can also say that I’ve learned to love aging: because every day I learn something new, I become a different version of myself, and collectively, over enough days, I am slowly becoming a better version of myself. That only comes with time, with patience, with the bumps and bumbles along the way, which have helped me. I’ve learned from them and acquired wisdom from them. And I feel grateful for both the successes and for the hard things because all of those things together make me who I am, and make me better at what I do in my work life and in my personal life … because of them. I feel blessed.


Kathy Byrne's Resilience Resume Social Media Post

Fr. Hagan

Rev. Rob Hagan

Senior Associate Athletic Director

“The world is full of success stories, and we know that life is also full of struggle. It is amazing when we come to realize how connected those two experiences are to one another. Success is so often the fruit of strife and struggle. When we see people, who make it to the top of the mountain, let us not forget about the climb, the missteps, the people along the way who help us overcome the obstacles on the road.

I have had the privilege and the joy of working closely with our Villanova Men’s Basketball team. The recent success is known to all, and everyone loves to point to the pinnacle of success culminating in the National Championships in both 2016 and 2018.

One year that people rarely talk about is 2015. The year when Villanova was knocked out in the first round…when we came up short…when we did not win it all! I can recall a locker room full of broken hearts and dreams. There were unfulfilled expectations, national media reporting using words like “failure”, crying flutists and yet another Villanova team coming up short.

It was inspiring to see each member of that team taking ownership of things that “I” could have done better. No finger-pointing but rather, with the passage of some time, renewed hearts, and minds…There came a humble desire to learn, grow and strive to get a better mind, body, soul and spirit.

The same fallen broken-hearted teammates went back to work in the summer with a renewed sense of urgency, humility, wisdom, and commitment to the core values that make up the Villanova Basketball family. The hardship and disappointment became the very catalyst for growth, and a spirit of unselfishness to accomplish a common goal. The goal was NOT to win a Championship but to become the best version of self and team we could possibly be.

It was Nelson Mandela who said: “I never lose. I either win or learn.” A friend of mine offered the insight he was given after wallowing in a recent setback for too long. “When depression sets in…through God’s grace we can rearrange those letter and spell: I Pressed On!”

Let us never be afraid to fail. Let us continue to live boldly and with courage to learn and grow. Let us strive for success, not by avoiding all setbacks but by moving through them to higher ground together!"

Fr. Hagan's Resilience Resume Social Media Post