Where Are They Now: Beth Awalt Class of ’10

Beth

Beth

Cassie McHugh Co-Editor-in-Chief

Did you know that the CEO of Wawa went to Villanova? Or that NASA astronaut Andrew M. Allen is a Villanovan? Villanova has a network of more than 123,000 alumni, many of whom have gone on to do incredible things. They have stories to tell, advice to share, and amazing memories of their own Villanova experiences.  

In this column, we will share their stories, both of their time here at Villanova and beyond. This week, we feature Beth Awalt, a 2010 graduate. After graduation, Awalt spent a year of service in Ecuador. Her experience there inspired her and a friend to co-found The Starfish Foundation, which now provides educational support to 150 students in Ecuador through scholarships, tutoring, and leadership development. Awalt currently serves as co-director for the foundation while also working as the communication coordinator for Cathedral of Mary Our Queen parish and school in Baltimore, MD.  

The Villanovan (TV): What is your best piece of advice for a current Villanova student?

Beth Awalt (BA): “Get involved, do everything. There is absolutely no time like college to be involved in activities and to meet people. Some of the people that I’ve stayed in touch with or ended up reconnecting with from Villanova are some of my most special friends. They’re people I met through service break trips, or with the SEARCH retreat through Campus Ministry or in classes, you name it. Time in the real world is nothing like time in college and having the opportunity to be involved and go to different things is such a blessing that I definitely would encourage folks to not take for granted. 

TV: Is there anything you regret not becoming involved with during your time at Villanova?

BA: “No, I don’t think there’s any regrets. I think it’s important to share, I got rejected from a bunch of things, as does every Villanova student. That’s part of the Villanova experience because there are a lot of people who want to be involved in certain activities. Even when there are quality candidates, there sometimes isn’t enough room, but every opportunity that I was turned down from gave me the opportunity to get involved with something else that I knew was what God meant for me to be involved with.”

TV: If you could relive one year of your Villanova experience, which year would you pick?

BA: “I’d have to say sophomore year. I led SEARCH for the first time, which was a really powerful and magical experience. I made a great group of friends, and we watched Grey’s Anatomy every single Thursday night in Alumni. I ended up doing RCIA that year and being confirmed Catholic, so that was really special. And I just loved living on main campus. I’m super extraverted, and when you live on Main, you can do everything, go a bunch of places. There’s no commute time.”

TV: What’s the best connection you made during your time at Villanova?

BA: “The Peace and Justice Department and Campus Ministry. I’m going to tag for two because social justice is really what shaped my Villanova experience. There are a bunch of people in Peace and Justice who weren’t staff members when I was there, but I’ve connected with them and met them since. The different staff members in Campus Ministry are always super loving and helpful. I go back every year for the Peace and Justice alumni dinner. That’s been a really nice tradition. It’s really special to be able to stay connected with two groups who really shaped my Villanova experience.”

TV: If you came back to Villanova as a professor, which class would you teach?

BA: “I would definitely teach a Peace and Justice class, maybe a Social Justice in Latin America class. My second semester senior year, I took an 8:00 AM class called History of Latin America. While I am a morning person, 8:00 AM is always very early, but that was one of the most fascinating classes I took at Villanova. I don’t usually care for history, but learning about Latin America—and then when I lived in Ecuador after graduation—there are just so many complex issues: poverty, domestic violence, hunger, education, the water crisis. Just so many things that you could probably spend a semester on each of those topics. Maybe a social entrepreneurship class as well. Starting ‘Starfish’ has obviously been super monumental and the business school has been really supportive. I’ve learned a lot from them, but I think there’s a lot I could also share. We’re six and a half years in, and there’s so many things that I can’t believe I didn’t know when we started and things we’re still learning every day.”

TV: What’s your go-to Campus Corner order?

BA: “Oh my gosh, wings. So many wings, which is hysterical because I’m a vegetarian now, but those wings were so good. That was the best.”

TV: What is your favorite Villanova memory?

“Senior year, I was in charge of the SEARCH retreat. Myself and a friend co-led the leadership team and put on this retreat, and this was the year of ‘Snow-pocalypse,’ so everything was canceled that weekend. We moved up the time to leave and left early to beat the blizzard. We were literally snowed in at our retreat center all weekend and had this incredible SEARCH retreat. It was really the culmination of the leadership skills that Villanova taught me. My faith grew so strong in that experience and some really incredible people were on the leadership team.”        

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. To nominate an alum to be featured in a future edition of ‘Where Are They Now,’ email [email protected]