Reflection: Living the life of a legacy

Melissa Leach

Imagine this scenario: You are on your way to a basketball game: you, your dad, your friend and siblings. Just for the sake of argument let’s just say it’s a Villanova basketball game. Instead of listening to the car radio, your dad starts signing the Villanova fight song and queues you to join in. You obviously refuse. You are only 11 and you are definitely way too cool. However, no fight song equals no game. You just can’t take the nagging so you join in; the chorus repeats and repeats, and repeats … Cool: definitely not. Embarrassing: you have no idea. This was my life – or what I like to call the beginning of my Villanova experience.

My dad, Jim Squarcia, is a ’74 grad and a proud lifetime member of the Villanova fan club. While my family now lives in Pittsburgh, we were originally from southern New Jersey, just a 35-minute ride to campus. I remember visiting here and peaking through into a dorm window in the Quad that used to be my dad’s room. I remember listening to old Villanova stories and my dad’s supposed “superb” athletic abilities in intramural sports. But most importantly I remember seeing and feeling the love, joy and pride my dad associated with Villanova.

Something most of crept inside of me because when I started the college search I could think of no better place to continue my education than here at Villanova. I attached myself to the fond memories my dad had shared with me and saw a wonderful opportunity to make a set of fond memories of my own.When I arrived here in the fall of 2000, I felt I had a little bit of an edge over everyone else. And no, it wasn’t because I was the only freshman who new all the words to the fight song. It was because I already felt a sense of family at Villanova. Knowing that I was sitting in the same classrooms my dad once did, eating in the same cafeteria and walking the same pathways was an amazing feeling. I saved an e-mail my dad sent to me, and I often go back to it when I feel the need. It said: “I often think at 7 p.m. that the bells in Corr Hall are playing the Alma Mater and you are right there – like I was – to listen.”

Yet that feeling and those memories were only building blocks. I wanted to make Villanova my own unique experience. I wanted to make my own memories and extend that feeling of family beyond the walls of my dad’s memories. I had always been very active in my community and school, and saw no reason to stop when I came to college. I broke my activities into four simple categories: faith, fun, for real and for others.

For me my faith is my most valuable asset. It keeps me grounded and gives me strength. As a liturgical minister I participate in the rituals of Mass. Along with my fellow classmates we share in word, song and meal as we come together as a faith community to give each other support to start a fresh new week.

For fun, I attend basketball games. This I can say, I took from my dad. As a member of the Basketball Club, I attend away games and organize meetings with players and students. It is absolutely one of my favorite things here at Villanova. To me, it is so incredible and awesome to stand in the bleachers and be a Villanova fan and cheer as loud as I can for my favorite team.

I call my work as an editor for The Villanovan and an employee of the Alumni Office my for real aspect. As an aspiring journalist I wanted to get hands-on experience and The Villanovan offered me that. I am firm believer in the fact that everyone has a story to tell, and as journalist I not only have the ability but the privilege to pass their stories onto others. As an employee at the Alumni Office I have had the opportunity to meet alumni that have made Villanova what it is today. As well I have realized that what were at one time their sacrifices are now my benefits.

Lastly, I realized that I not only needed to serve the University community but those outside of the University as well. For others, I have donated my time in the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity. From playing bingo with the elderly to tutoring and mentoring young kids, as a group we go out into the community and give back to those we do not share the same luxuries we enjoy.

All of these activities, all of these services have enabled me to form relationships and create my own irreplaceable memories. I have found my place in the Villanova family.

However, I can not neglect the fact that parents also share in a re-experience of Villanova. My dad has often told me that my attending Villanova has enabled him to reconnect with the University in a more meaningful way.

Being a legacy has been a wonderful experience for me, but if I have learned one thing it is this: Create your own pathway. But remember on that pathway are footsteps in front, behind and alongside of you. Follow those who have come before you when you get lost, seek the advice of those who walk alongside of you, and be a leader for those who walk behind you.