In less than a decade, Ryan Costella has accomplished more than many people do in a lifetime. Before his current post as Director of Strategic Initiatives of Click Bond, Inc., Costella served as a special assistant to the U.S. Senate, did a master’s degree at the University of Cambridge, and spent time in China. He was a Rhodes scholarship finalist and a Fulbright recipient. Not to mention the fact that he is the founder of two non-profit organizations in Nevada, and was recently featured on CBS’s “60 Minutes” due to his work. Impressed yet?
Costella graduated from Villanova in 2004 with a B.A. in English and Political Science. During his time in college, he was a member of the swim team and active in the Honors Program. Earning a scholarship to Cambridge for Modern Chinese Studies, he spent 9 months at Beijing University in China as part of this program. He then served as a special assistant to U.S. Senator Bob Casey, advising on U.S.-China policy, new media development, and special projects. In July 2009, Costella decided to move back to his home state of Nevada to start his job at Click Bond, Inc., a global manufacturing firm that produces bonded fasteners for the aerospace, railway, shipbuilding, and renewable energy industries.
Particularly impressive is his work in the non-profit sector. Costella founded two organizations, the first of which is Dream It Do It Nevada, which links people in in schools and careers in the manufacturing industry. “The whole purpose of it is to engage effectively with education,” he said, “both at the K-12 level and the higher education levels, so that the programs that they’re designing for students are meeting the needs of the employers.” Right now, Nevada is facing a shortage of workers skilled enough for the manufacturing industry. At the same time, just over half of Nevada’s students graduate from high school, many lacking the skills that are needed in the workplace. “[Manufacturing] is a really exciting sector to be in,” he said. “It’s actually some of the highest paying career paths in the country and people just don’t know it.” Dream It Do It attempts to connect the dots between education and industry in Nevada.
Costella also founded Empowerment Nevada, which is a non-partisan political organization trying to “redefine the meaning of politics.” Through the program, he seeks to revitalize the power of the people to make decisions, formulate ideas, and solve problems in American society. The organization rests on the philosophy that the ordinary people can have more of an impact than politicians do on healthcare, the economy, and other issues in America. “We’re trying to remind people that it’s not the politicians or the heroes among us that sit on the top of the food chain in this country, but it’s the normal citizens,” he noted. Empowerment Nevada works to promote the political activity of the average person.
Costella was prompted to start this organization because he has always been passionate about the role of citizenship in the country. This interest stems from his time in the Honors Program, in which he enjoyed being challenged and questioning issues such as citizenship. “What I loved about the Honors Program,” he said, “was that it was a community where it was cool to learn and it was cool to be engaged, and ask questions and challenge, and think together… I loved the dynamic that it brought out.” He cites the Program as foundational in building his love of pursuing knowledge, and his confidence for learning, leading him to Cambridge and beyond. His degree has certainly brought him places, encouraging his wonderful work both around the world and right in his own back yard.
By newsletter Co-Editor, Alexandra Andreassen. Alex is a senior pursuing a B.A. in Sociology and Honors with a Communication minor.