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Student Spotlight | Cassandra McSweeney | #VUHRDStory

I always knew that I would want to go back to school to pursue my graduate degree. In an ever-changing market in the DC metropolitan area, I knew that I would need to stay competitive to grow and develop in the human resources field. I received my undergraduate degree and PHR certification while working full-time, so going to graduate school while working was not new to me. With that in mind, I knew I wanted a graduate program that would welcome my desire to attend classes in the evening and preferably online. I also wanted a program that would appreciate my 9 years of HR experience at the time. While conducting my research online, I learned about the Villanova HRD program. I instantly became very interested as it was a Master of Science program, which was very important to me, and the fact that it blended being an online program with the ability to connect with your professors and fellow students weekly. I did not make the decision to apply immediately but when I received validation from a colleague, Vik Ahmed, a fellow 2017 graduate, who spoke about how awesome the program was, I knew I had to do it. (Here, I am pictured with my mother on graduation day in May 2017!)

I was very nervous to begin the program, as I was not only a new employee (I had just started a new job), I also was a new mom to a 13-month-old son. Being a full-time working mom and a student was uncharted territory for me. However, Vik assured me that the workload could be handled. Thanks to his reassurance, I signed up for my first class in August 2015. From there it was pretty smooth sailing; the workload is tough, but it is manageable. What I enjoyed was the ability to get to know your fellow students including where they are from, their career in HR, and other information that allows you to bond during the 8 weeks of class.

As my friend and fellow 2017 graduate, Layan Khalek, mentioned in her #VUHRDStory, being able to make life-long connections and friendships is something amazing that comes from the Villanova program. I had not expected to not only meet someone awesome and selfless but to even find someone in my geographic area. Once I met Layan (pictured on the left at graduation, and I am on the right), I felt so at ease with the program. Layan is a fellow full-time working mom, who understood my struggles. She even convinced me to attempt two classes per session, something she had done throughout the program. I knew with her support, I could, in fact, do it. And guess what, I did! I was able to finish the program in 16 months.

Lastly, I would like to say the real-world application that is provided throughout every single course is wonderful. I can easily apply everything I learned instantly in the workplace. If you are currently in the program, my advice is to stay the course, even if you must take one session off because life happens, you will be glad you did. If you are considering the program, do it--what are you waiting for?!

Please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn!


If you would like to participate and tell your #VUHRDStory, or nominate a classmate, please contact us at!

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