University provides solid foundation for Villanova’s finest

Melissa Leach

One day there will come a time when we will no longer be students studying for exams, writing papers or giving presentations. One day there will come a time when we stop wondering what we are going to do with the rest of our lives and start wondering about the lives around us.

One day there will come a time when we must accept that our greatest challenge will not be how we can utilize our education to help ourselves, but how we must use it to help others.

One day we may win a Putlizer Prize like Diana Sugg ’87, start an international volunteer organization like Estelle Benson graduate class of ’78, become an admired administrator like Dr. Craig Wheeland or be recognized for vital scientific development and design like Dr. David Mazzo. One day we will be honored by and for our work. One day we will recognize that our success stems from the education and nurturing we received at Villanova.

Last Saturday night, the Villanova Alumni Association honored Sugg, Benson, Wheeland and Mazzo with the presentation of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Alumni Awards for their accomplishments and contributions to society.

The night was marked by applause and admiration from family, friends, professors and mentors who watched the honorees accept their coveted awards. It was a night set aside to not only celebrate these accomplished men and women but to celebrate Villanova for its contribution to their lives. “The awardees are always humbled and honored to receive the award.” said Christine Acchione, assistant director for campus alumni programs and organizer of the night’s events. “They are proud to represent Villanova in their various fields of expertises.”

Sugg, a medical reporter for the Baltimore Sun, was honored, as the first Villanovan in history to receive the Pultizer Prize for journalism. During her time at Villanova, Sugg was a double major in honors and English and began her journalism career as an editor of The Villanovan.

As she stood to accept her award she exclaimed, “This almost feels as good as the day we won the National Championship in 1985!” Sugg’s articles capture the heartache of still birth, sepsis and the practices of allowing families to be with loved ones in the emergency room. Her pen has left an indelible mark as her words continue to comfort, inform and give hope.

Benson is a woman who embodies the philosophy that it is never too late to make change. In 1978 Benson, then in her 50s received a Master of Arts degree in educational administration from Villanova. Just before her last exam she got a call from her husband; he wasn’t feeling well.

Benson would spend the next 8 months in the hospital with her husband, who had fallen ill to a rare neurological disorder known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

Motivated by the lack of research on the disease, Benson and her husband vowed that they would help others battle the loneliness they experienced through lack of research and knowledge on the subject.

Benson and her husband Robert founded the Guillain-Barre Syndrome Foundation International in 1980 and for over 20 years have been providing support for families and funding research for the Syndrome. The self-financed organization has over 23,000 members in 160 countries.

Wheeland, chair of the political science department, has been making strides both administratively and academically since 1990. Wheeland serves as the director of the Master of Public Administration program and has moved it from being a part of the Human Organization Science to its own separate degree in the department.

Since this advancement, the number of students enrolled in the program has doubled. Along with the assistance of his colleagues, Dr. Wheeland has developed a five-year combined bachelors/Masters degree in political science.

His dedication to the academic achievements of his students is unwavering as he continues to challenge and motivate change.

Mazzo has taken his love for science and propelled it to unparalleled heights. As a chemist, he was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Chuagi Pharma USA LLC, which is the fourth largest pharmaceutical company in Japan.

Mazzo dedicates his time and knowledge as an educator at the University of Massachusetts and Temple University and as an editor for International Stability Testing. His lists of accomplishments are endless and his work is invaluable to the world.

As different as night is to day and winter is to summer these men and women have inspired, educated and served as compassionate leaders in today’s society. Yet as different as they are, as different as their work has been, they all attribute their successes, in large part, to Villanova. For Villanova is the place where they learned that with truth and love the challenge to help others is not only overcome, but triumphed.

One day there will come a time when Villanova is just a distant memory, one day there will come a time when we long for the days of projects, papers and exams. One day we will realize that our every day successes are a part of Villanova and we will remember every day, that we are Villanovans.