Villanova Magazine - Value of Villanova

CREATING LIFELONG VALUE

Fourth in a five-part series on the Villanova University Alumni Association’s new platform for alumni engagement

By Christine Guerrini

Bob Merkert ’59 standing with Ashley Ferguson ’09 both holidng a large gavel
Bob Merkert ’59, outgoing president of Villanova University’s Engineering Alumni Society, passes the ceremonial gavel to incoming president Ashley Ferguson ’09.

When asked about their affiliation with Villanova University, alumni relate powerful stories of academic, professional and personal opportunities that continue to have an influence on their lives. And they’re willing to share their passion with today’s students.

Ashley Ferguson ’09 COE enjoyed a competitive edge when starting her career. In summer 2008, Ferguson interned for College of Engineering alumnus Joe Posillico ’81, CEO of Posillico Civil Inc. That experience helped her secure a position after graduation at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, where she was hired by Michael Bouve ’83 COE.

“My Villanova degree gave me credibility with my colleagues from day one,” Ferguson says.

She strengthened her industry relationships and leadership skills by joining the Engineering Alumni Society. Now president of EAS, Ferguson strives to inspire and mentor current students and graduates—as other alumni did for her.

Each year, more alumni can testify that Villanova’s national reputation and strong alumni network have positioned them for successful, rewarding careers. Over the past five years, the University has reported a successful placement rate of more than 96 percent, with graduates in diverse industries around the world.

 

Members of the Black Alumni Society at Homecoming standing together holding Villanova "V" signs and smiling.
Members of the Black Alumni Society meet for brunch to wrap-up Homecoming Weekend and discuss plans for supporting this community of students and alumni.

STRENGTHENING COMMUNITY

Alumni affiliation with Villanova can yield opportunities to engage with others and play a role in students’ experiences. Louis Manon ’97 CLAS transferred to Villanova during his junior year and never lived on campus, so he felt a different connection to campus from his peers. The friends, faculty and staff he met,
however, had a positive influence on his journey.

During Reunion 2016, DeVon Jackson ’00 CLAS, ’03 MA invited Manon to a happy hour for the VUAA’s new Black Alumni Society. “I was glad to learn that opportunities like this existed,” says Manon. “I realized that my best contribution as an alumnus is my involvement.”

As co-chair of the affinity group, he has spoken with students to learn how the society can be a resource for them. Manon also has explored ways to bring more BAS members back to campus. “I’m proud to help create a new outlet for Villanovans to engage, no matter how long they’ve been away.”

RETURNING VALUE

Alumni also understand the importance of reinvesting in the University’s future. Across the country, Villanova University Clubs host scholarship events to raise money for students from their regions, further cultivating Villanova’s community of scholars with diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

When John J. Reilly ’89 CLAS became chair of the Scholarship Golf Outing in Charlotte, N.C., in 2012, he saw an opportunity to increase results through collaboration with other clubs. “We’re all working toward the same goal,” says Reilly. “We started to swap best practices and have learned a lot from one another.”

In 2016, 14 clubs raised more than $312,000 through scholarship programming—a nearly 25 percent increase from 2015. Certain clubs, including Charlotte and Long Island, have been so successful that they have created endowed funds to support local students in perpetuity.

“The Villanova brand keeps getting better—from academics to athletics,” Reilly says. “I think we all feel a responsibility to keep pace and support that success.”

Two reunion crew students in pink Villanova tshirts stand together smiling.
Students who volunteer for the Reunion Crew create a welcoming atmosphere for returning alumni and offer support for events throughout the weekend.

INSPIRING NEW GENERATIONS

Through their engagement and support, alumni pass on a strong sense of community spirit. Mary Yachnik ’19 VSB had heard about the benefits of being a Villanovan from her parents, Catherine ’89 VSB and Michael ’89 VSB, and her sister Denise ’17 VSB. When it came time to choose a school, Villanova was a natural fit.

“It had everything I wanted: excellent academics, faculty with real-world expertise, and strong alumni and industry relationships,” says Mary, a Marketing and Communication double major.

Mary is a member of the Student Alumni Association and Reunion Crew—initiatives sponsored by the VUAA to forge bonds between students and alumni. The pride and loyalty of the Nova Network amaze her. “I have met so many alumni eager to offer advice or connect me with an internship opportunity,” she says. “With my education and the support of this community, I know I have a bright future.”

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