AN ENDURING SENSE OF COMMUNITY
Final installment of a five-part series on the Villanova University Alumni Association’s platform for alumni engagement
By Christine Stackhouse
Wherever Villanova’s alumni are around the world, they are always connected to the University.
Commencement is bittersweet for most graduates. Their eagerness to go out into the world and make an impact is tempered by sadness at leaving the campus that has been home and the people who have been family.
Fortunately, that feeling is short-lived. New alumni quickly realize that one of the many benefits of belonging to the Nova Nation is that they never leave the Villanova community behind. Wherever they go, it will be there for them—and they will be there for it.
The days when the majority of Villanovans came from, and returned to work in, cities in the Northeast are gone. Villanova attracts students from across the country and around the globe, and it has more than 123,000 alumni worldwide. For example, today, thousands of Villanovans live in California, which boasts the University’s fourth-largest alumni population.
Edgar Grey ’67 CLAS, who was born and raised in Sewickley, Pa., outside of Pittsburgh, is one of those thousands. Grey went west to work after graduation. Through a chance encounter with a fellow alumnus, he became involved in the Villanova University Club of Orange County.
“I take great pride in being a part of this community, so I wear a lot of Villanova gear,” Grey says. “The man noticed my clothes and struck up a conversation about the club. It was that easy.”
Edgar Grey ’67 CLAS reconnected with the University through the Villanova Club of Orange County, Calif., and through his son Aaron ’12 VSB.
In addition to alumni moving to the West Coast after college, the University has received an increasing number of applications from the region over the past decade. One such case is Grey’s son Aaron ’12 VSB.
The father-son duo returned to campus to celebrate milestone reunions this past June.
“It was my 50th reunion—and the first Reunion Weekend I’ve ever attended,” Grey says. “I was happy to see how far Villanova has advanced—academically, culturally and physically—while remaining true to its foundation.”
Patricia Rodriguez ’10 CLAS also knows what it is like to feel connected to her alma mater and other alumni. Rodriguez, who came from a close-knit community in Puerto Rico, felt right at home at Villanova. When she returned to the island after graduation, she wanted to find a way to bring her two worlds together.
Rodriguez has helped to reinvigorate interest in the Villanova University Club of Puerto Rico, of which she is currently president.
“We’re modeling events after what we loved on campus—meeting new people, participating in community service, cheering on our teams during game watches,” she says.
(See Class Notes to learn about the many ways Villanovans have contributed to hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico and elsewhere.)
Cmdr. Kim Shaughnessy, CNM, ’97 CON, ’17 DNP has traveled extensively for her work as a nurse midwife in the US Navy but has always stayed connected to Villanova.
Alumni often build community because they share common ground or interests. Thanks to the University’s deep connections with the nursing and military communities, Navy nurse Cmdr. Kim Shaughnessy, CNM, ’97 CON, ’17 DNP has moved across the country—and the world—but has never been far from fellow Villanovans.
“The College of Nursing has a strong presence in the Navy,” she says. “I’ve been fortunate to meet and work with other alumni at every hospital where I’ve been stationed, from San Diego to Okinawa.”
While working at US Navy hospitals in Japan from 2007 to 2012, Shaughnessy also began to use Facebook—including the Villanova University Alumni Association’s page—to keep in touch with classmates, share news and see campus updates.
Now back in Virginia, Shaughnessy has taken advantage of opportunities to attend events with the Club of Greater Washington, D.C., and serve on the board of the new Villanova Vets affinity group.
“I went to the NROTC reception at Reunion 2017 and met many current students and older graduates in the Navy,” she says. “It expanded my network and made me feel part of what’s happening now.”
Paul Parisi ’09 VSB (left) frequently hosts fellow Villanovans like Joseph Martyn ’09 COE who are visiting or working in Hong Kong.
“Villanova gave me the greatest gift of all—the confidence and the connections to pursue my career halfway across the world.” —PAUL PARISI ’09 VSB
In addition to a strong Club presence within the continental US, the VUAA sponsors Villanova clubs in several other countries, including Ireland, England, the United Arab Emirates and China. Even abroad, the Nova Network continues to help the next generation make big moves.
Originally from New Jersey, Paul Parisi ’09 VSB moved to Hong Kong for a job within months of graduation. Eight years later, he still lives there and regularly networks with Villanova students who come to the city on short-term and semester-long study abroad programs.
Parisi encourages those interested in working abroad to start exploring opportunities and reach out to fellow Villanovans for support.
“Villanova gave me the greatest gift of all—the confidence and the connections to pursue my career halfway across the world,” he says. “There are Villanovans everywhere who are willing to help you acclimate and succeed.”
The Alumni Association offers numerous opportunities to get involved and stay connected. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.