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Students Attended Villanova on the Hill over Fall Break

Over Fall Break, a passionate cohort of Villanova students traveled to Washington D.C for the immersive program, Villanova on the Hill. During the week-long trip, students had the opportunity to explore various careers in Washington D.C in advocacy, government, political communications, law and more. Throughout the trip, Villanova students met with alumni and community members who serve in these roles and have established a successful career on the Hill.

Members of the cohort visited George Washington Law School, the White House, Politico, the American Red Cross, the House of Representatives and the Washington Nationals Park. The trip was led by Villanova faculty and staff. This included Lauren Miltenberger, Bennett Nesley, Chris Kovolski, Rebecca Rebalsky and Christie Vuoto. Two students, Dean Millard and Lauren Pels, also co-led the trip, working with staff and students to ensure a smooth and successful experience. 

Joined by 13 of my exceptional peers, I met and engaged with politicians, lobbyists, lawyers, issue advocates and leaders in Washington, D.C.,” Millard said. “I was extremely proud to network with various Villanova University alumni who are committed to assisting students in their career endeavors.” 

Millard and other cohort members mentioned that one highlight of the week was the Building Bridges Reception hosted for students and Villanova alumni in Washington D.C. This year’s reception was focused on bridging the gap between political parties and working to end continuous polarization that limits unity in today’s political culture. The Villanova community welcomed former White House Chiefs of Staff, Joshua Bolton and Mack McLarty, to share their experiences in politics and visions for unity. The reception also featured University President Rev. Peter M. Donahue, O.S.A, Ph.D. and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Adele Lindenmeyr, to share their thoughts. 

The former White House Chiefs of Staff centered their discussion on the need for bipartisan collaboration in the future of politics. Many students of the cohort mentioned their motivations in pursuing careers in government and advocacy to help be a part of that positive change. 

“I came out of this week with a clear mission and reinvigorated motivation to use my intellectual skills and time to serve others,” junior Olivia Hansen said. Despite increasing polarization in politics, Hansen added that this week positively expanded her understanding of the inner workings of policy, advocacy and communications to be able to work towards bipartisan collaboration.

Another memorable part of the trip was meeting Associate Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh. Villanova students ventured to the Supreme Court and started their visit with a private tour of the building. Then followed a conversation with the justice on many relevant issues in today’s Court. Considering recent controversy surrounding the Supreme Court, students were grateful for the opportunity to learn from one of the justices in a more informational setting. 

Spending time at the Supreme Court and having the honor of leading the question and answer with Associate Justice Kavanaugh was an experience of a lifetime,” sophomore Gabe Donovan said. 

Other sessions of the trip included informational panels with Villanova alumni in various career focuses. This week, students were able to get a firsthand experience into the wide array of careers available to students with interests in politics, law and government. 

Through this immersive program, I had the chance to connect with seasoned experts, delving into pertinent questions that hold significance in our government and global landscape today,” junior Lezlie Hilario said. 

In addition to learning about the inner workings of our government, many students felt a stronger sense of direction for their life post-graduation. 

“This experience has clarified my path post-graduation, emphasizing the urgent need for unity in our divided government and society amidst growing polarization,” Hilario said. 

Like Hilario, senior Tommy Bakos felt more confident in his career path and future career possibilities after graduation. 

“Through this I have been able to make meaningful inroads for a future career in government, international politics and environmental policy,” Bakos said. “This has also helped me to sharpen my focus for my trajectory in D.C., not just as a public servant but as a citizen as well. I am thrilled for my future in working with the U.S. and in shaping its future going forward.”

The cohort of students reflected on the bonds they built with each other. 

The best thing is the connections you make with the cohort,” Donovan said. “These trips really bring people together.”

Other students echoed Donovan’s enthusiasm. 

While I was here, I had the privilege to be alongside some of the most talented and hardworking individuals,” sophomore Martin Sanchez said.

In a time of growing polarization and division, Villanova students are consistently working to ignite change and take advantage of their education.

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    Jerry QuinnNov 3, 2023 at 9:25 am

    It was great to meet the future leaders that were among this year’s VoH group. Looking forward to following them after graduation as they will certainly be igniting change!!!