Graduate Assistants 2016-17

We welcome 16 Graduate Assistants to the Department of Education & Counseling.  These young men and women, are as our mission states, “unique and valued individuals who are committed to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge.” GA’s are an extension of our dedicated faculty who not only are furthering their own education but providing support to the department by assisting professors with their academic research.  


Alexa Piccoli

Alexa is from West Milford, NJ and is expected to earn her master’s degree in Counseling, with a Clinical Mental Health concentration, in May of 2017. Alexa graduated from Rowan University, with a B.A. in Psychology. She was a member of the Research on Anxiety and Depression research lab at Rowan, where she specifically studied treatment preferences for depression. Alexa was also a research assistant for a study entitled “Pediatric Research in Service Models,” where she conducted assessments on parent/child interactions in a pediatric setting. As a graduate student, she is a member of Chi Sigma Iota, the counseling honor society. She enjoys working out and, as she says, attempting to cook! She loves spending time with friends and family, and doing anything outside. Ultimately, she would love to work as a Clinical Mental Health counselor in a college counseling center.


Vivianne Alves de Sa

Vivi is from Olney, MD and will graduate in May of 2017 with her master’s in Counseling, with a School Counseling concentration. Before coming to Villanova, Vivi attended University of Maryland and graduated in 2013 with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Human Development. Most recently, Vivi has been involved in research focused on mindfulness in the classroom setting, and on the experience of first generation college students. She loves to spend time outside—whether running, hanging out on the beach, or simply enjoying the outdoors. Vivi hopes to ultimately work in a job that will allow her to work with young children, and enable them to reach their fullest potential. 


Danielle Morro

Danielle is from Media, PA and plans to graduate with a master’s degree in counseling, with a School Counseling concentration in May of 2017. She also attended Villanova University for her undergraduate education, where she earned her degree in Psychology and Human Services. As an undergraduate, Danielle began working with Dr. Christa Bialka by participating in research focused on the collegiate experiences of students with and without disability diagnoses. She is thrilled to be able to continue working on research focused on disabilities studies, standardized testing in education, and assessment tools for couples counseling as a graduate assistant.  Danielle loves to spend time with family and friends in her spare time. Ultimately, Danielle would love to work as a school counselor, providing support for young students, as well as to their families. She is specifically interested in working with families with children with disability diagnoses of any kind.  


Emma Wilson

Emma is from Harrisburg, PA, and will graduate in May of 2017 with her degree in Counseling, and a Clinical Mental Health concentration. She attended the Pennsylvania State University for her undergraduate education and graduated in May of 2015, with a B.A. in Psychology. She spent three years as an research assistant in a clinical psychology lab, where she assisted in a research project which examined relationships between maternal social information processing variables, executive functioning, contextual risk, and at-risk parenting behaviors, especially child abuse and neglect. For this project, Emma interviewed participants and ran assessment measures with mothers and their preschool aged children. In her spare time, she loves to travel and explore new places, cook, bake, and run. Her dream job in the field of counseling would be to have a private practice working with children and adolescents experiencing anxiety, depression, and/or behavioral issues.


Gabriella D’Amico

Gabby is from Mullica Hill, NJ and plans to graduate with her master’s degree in Counseling, School Counseling Track, in May of 2017. She attended Fairleigh Dickinson University for her undergraduate education, and earned a B.A. in Communications. In the past, her research involvement entailed narrative interviewing, as she spent time listening to the stories of undergraduates on a college campus who had been impacted by traumatic events such as 9/11 and Superstorm Sandy. She loves to play, as well as coach, field hockey. Ultimately, she would love to become a school counselor, working at the high school level.


Jill Smilowitz

Jill is from Plainview, NY and plans to graduate in May of 2017 with a master’s degree in Counseling, School Counseling concentration. She attended the University of Delaware for her undergraduate education, where she received an Honors B.S. in Human Services with a concentration in Clinical Services, as well as a minor in Spanish. As an undergraduate, she conducted research with the National Center for Learning Disabilities, as she investigated trends in learning disability findings and the latest interventions. Additionally, she is currently assisting Dr. Markin in her Maternal/Fetal Attachment study.  In addition to school and graduate assistant work, she loves to walk dogs. Jill loves dogs of all shapes and sizes! Also, she enjoys hiking and eating ice cream. Next year, Jill will also be a member of the executive board for Chi Sigma Iota, the counseling honor society. Ultimately, she hopes to be an elementary school counselor in a school that values her work. 


Ryan Parsons

Ryan is originally from Broomall, PA, and plans to graduate from Villanova University with his master’s in Counseling, School Counseling track, in May of 2018. He attended  Saint Joseph's University, where he received his B.A. in Psychology, as well as his master's in Experimental Psychology. He worked on a wide variety of research projects while in college, including projects on skin tone bias in popular crime shows, the effects of first and third-person view in video games on immersion and emotional investment, and the effects of LGTBQ representation in popular media. His final project at Saint Joseph's was his master's thesis, which focused on the effects of gender, objectification, and alcohol on hookup expectations in college students. After graduating, he attained a position in a laboratory at Temple University working on research for Anger Management therapies and Borderline Personality Disorder. His favorite hobby is to practice playing the drums. Ultimately, his ideal job would be to become a school counselor in a high school, working with an underprivileged student population in order to provide services that may otherwise be unavailable.


Alexis Lawless

Alexis is from Egg Harbor Township, NJ and plans to graduate from Villanova with her master’s in Counseling, with a Clinical Mental Health concentration, in May of 2018. She attended Stockton University for her undergraduate education, and graduated in May of 2016 with a B.A. in Psychology, a minor in Behavioral Neuroscience, and a concentration in Forensic Psychology. Her research experience has focused on a Serial Killer database, an EEG lab, and Victim Impact Statements. She works as a server at Chickie's & Pete's, and also volunteers for the Juvenile Conference Committee. Ultimately, she hopes to earn her Ph.D in clinical neuropsychology, and work in a forensic setting, while teaching at the college level. 


Mikala Paige Morrow

Milaka is from Lewisburg, PA, and plans to  graduate in May of 2018 with her master’s in Counseling, with a Clinical Mental Health concentration. She earned her B.A. in Psychology at James Madison University, and graduated in May of 2016. Her first research lab experience involved using alumni transcripts to see what courses made past JMU psychology students successful. Additionally, Mikala was worked in a lab that used Facebook to see what made the freshman transition to college more successful. As an undergraduate, she was involved in Psychology Peer Advising, which was a group of students who worked within the Psychology Department as professional advisors for students. She was also involved in the InterVarsity chapter at JMU. Mikala loves to spend time running, drinking coffee, and reading when she can. Ultimately, she would love to open up her own private practice as an LPC by a college campus, in order to be a resource for college students. She also would like to see how she can get involved with higher education using her master’s degree.


Majd Subih

Majd was born in Amman, Jordan and is attending Villanova University to earn her degree in Teacher Leadership in May of 2018.  She earned her B.A. in Modern Languages (Spanish & English) at Jordan University in 2010 and also holds a master’s degree in Hispanic Studies from Villanova University, which she earned in 2014. One of her most recent research papers addresses the hybrid art of Jarchas as a space of feminine leisure, in order to show the female authorized agency and her renegotiation of the gender power system. She loves writing and performing spoken word poetry.  She has even had the chance to perform twice on campus! Another activity that she enjoyed was being co-president for the Middle Eastern Student Association (MESA). Ultimately, she hopes to be involved the world of academia and research, as teaching is what she is passionate about. She knows that no matter where she is living, she wants to be teaching. 


Marie DeRosato

Marie is from Norristown, PA, and is currently working towards her M.S. in Counseling, School Counseling concentration, and ise expected to graduate in May of 2018. She graduated from Alvernia University in May 2016 with a major in Psychology and a minor in Business. During her sophomore and junior year, she completed research on older adults and technology, and during her junior and senior year, she completed research on student involvement and GPA. Marie presented both of the previously mentioned research projects at the last two Eastern Psychological Association Conferences. As an undergraduate, she was involved in the psychology club and was part of the psychology honor society (Psi Chi). Marie held the president executive board position for both organizations during her senior year. In her spare time, Marie enjoys hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, taking pictures, and painting. Ultimately, she would love to become a school counselor. 


Emily Crawford

Emily is from Sayville, NY, and plans to graduate from Villanova in May of 2018, with a M.S. in Counseling, with a Clinical Mental Health concentration. She graduated from Lafayette College, in May of 2015, with a degree in Psychology and Women's & Gender Studies. Her past research focused on (a) investigating how toddlers learn over video chat, and (b) exploring college women's implicit and explicit self-stereotypes regarding leadership. She is interested in mindfulness, holistic medicine, reading, traveling, and hiking. 


Elizabeth Motich

Elizabeth is from Dillsburg, PA. She graduated with her M.A. in History from Villanova in May of 2016 after earning her BA in Humanities: History and English from Messiah College in 2013. She is now enrolled in Villanova’s Secondary Education program with Certifications in History and English, and is expected to graduate in September of 2017.  She is trained as a 19th century American historian and a public historian, and most of her past research involved the Civil War. Her research focused on locating demographic information pertaining to students and teachers from Philadelphia's 19th century Institute for Colored Youth. She even built a website about the school with several other grad students. In addition to loving Civil War history, she also enjoys sightseeing throughout the country with her boyfriend. Her dream job would be to teach AP Social Studies and English to public high school students from all sorts of backgrounds. ELL and multicultural populations really appeal to her, and she loves interacting with gifted and talented students. 


Alyssa Lombardo

Alyssa was born in Bethlehem, PA and graduated from Stanford University with a BA in Psychology in June of 2015. She is enrolled in Villanova’s master’s in Education program, and is expected to graduate in May of 2017.  At Stanford, she was a Research Assistant for the Social Learning Lab where she aimed to understand the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie the communicative interactions we experience in our everyday lives: between a teacher and a student, a caregiver and a child, or any provider of information and its recipient. Specifically, she performed teaching vs. learning perspective taking studies with pre-school children at the Stanford Bing Nursery School. During the summer of 2016, she held an Internship at Lehigh University, and worked in the Office of Student Affairs as an Office of Student Leadership Development intern. There she worked to advance the OSLD vision, “to prepare students to be positive examples of leadership excellence and social consciousness in a complex and ever-changing global community,” by researching and creating fun, engaging and experiential leadership opportunities. She loves to spend time with family and friends, stay active outdoors, and listen to music. Ultimately, she would love the opportunity to establish a career in student-athlete leadership development while also exploring and enhancing the world of leadership at all levels.


Marielle Alexander

Marielle Alexander is from Hilton Head Island, SC. She graduated from Villanova University in 2015 with a major in English, a concentration in Writing and Rhetoric, and a minor in Psychology. She plans to graduate from Villanova in May of 2017 from the Masters Plus Teacher Certification program. Since her undergraduate major was English, her research thus far has focused on British literature (specifically the original text of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight) and the effects of patriarchy and misogyny on fourteenth-century writing. In her spare time, she loves to draw and develop her photography skills. She was even able to travel throughout Europe last year to practice these skills. She also enjoys using her eye for design to teach art classes to young people. Additionally, she recently taught religious education classes to elementary school students and English classes to Spanish-speaking adults in Hilton Head. Her favorite experience so far, however, has been teaching two English classes at Villanova last year. Ultimately, she plans to move to Dallas, TX after graduation to teach English classes to high school students. She would also love to continue being involved with teaching English to Spanish-speaking adolescents and adults.


Brandon Epstein

Brandon is from Stoneham, MA and graduated from Boston University in 2014 with a BA in French Studies and a BA in Linguistics. He went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania where he earned a MS in Education in 2016. He is currently attending Villanova, and plans to graduate in the Spring of 2017 from the Masters Plus program.  His research experience has revolved around additional language development, game theory, language socialization pedagogy, Kid/YA lit, LGBT issues, masculinity, multimodality, and literacies. One of his theses focused on Foucauldian power structures—especially teacher talk and pedagogy—within the ESL middle grades classroom and how those affect or project first-language use in development of an additional language and (bi)literacy. His second thesis explored representations of White, gay men within YA fiction and picture books relating to gayness and masculinities. Outside of his research and education, he spent 20 years as a competitive gymnast and enjoys traveling, reading, photography, and music. Ultimately, he would love to be either teaching at a small, liberal arts institution in the Education, Gender Studies, and/or French departments or working in some capacity of Secondary education at an administration level.  

Retired Faculty

John H. Durnin, Ph.D.

Wm. Ray Heitzmann, Ph.D

Connie Titone, Ed.D. 

In Memoriam

Richard Coletta, M.S.

Beverly Khan, Ph.D.

Thomas Rooney Jr., Ed.D.