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Student Spotlight | Maddie McClay | #VUHRDStory

In HR, we are always focused on people - whether that be employees, employers, other HR professionals - and how to make their work experiences better. At Villanova, the HRD program does the same. Our students, the people, are the backbone of our program. Our students come from different backgrounds and have unique experiences, many of which enhance and influence their experience in the program and in their careers in HR. The goal of our student spotlight series is to highlight those unique experiences and to hopefully bring our students together in ways other than strictly through classes.

Our student spotlight this week is Maddie McClay, a second-year student in the MSHRD program and a graduate assistant in the HRD office!

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

My name is Maddie McClay, I’m originally from Exton, PA where my parents still live! I have one younger sister, two brothers, and the sweetest puppy named Margot. My little brother is actually a Sophomore at Villanova University and I have enjoyed sharing this space together as we both grow into these new chapters of our lives! I frequently visit with him when I’m on campus and sometimes even just run into him around the academic buildings!

Currently, I am a graduate assistant and second-year graduate student in the HRD program. I came into the program as a combined student and during my senior year at Villanova undergrad, I started taking graduate classes with the program. When I’m not working in the HRD office or taking classes, I love to take walks outside, visit new coffee shops, read new books, and research the latest fashion trends!

What drove you to choose the Villanova HRD program?

Initially, I learned about the Villanova HRD program during one of my undergraduate courses taught by the program director, Dr. Gerry Brandon. I took his course, industrial and organizational psychology, and was surprised by how much I loved the material! I was fascinated with understanding how human behavior and psychological principles could be applied to enhance workplace dynamics, employee performance, and organizational effectiveness. Taking this class inspired me to research the different courses offered by the HRD program where I found a plethora of topics that fit my passion for HR. Ultimately, I was drawn to Villanova’s HRD program due to the variety of interesting classes and the esteemed faculty who design and teach these courses. Once I was admitted in the program, I was thrilled to continue my Villanova career through this new of HR!

Tell us about your current job and role, or any past HR experience that you have.

Currently, I am a graduate assistant in the HRD program where I help assist Dr. Gerry Brandon on a variety of different tasks and projects. The bulk of my work includes helping to support several different research initiatives as well as and program developments. One of our biggest projects this fall has been designing and implementing the HRD fall development series where we provide students, faculty, and alumni the opportunity to connect, learn, and network outside of the traditional classroom experience. As we move through the year, I am excited to see how this series continues to grow and develop.

In addition to my work with the HRD program, I am also an officer for the VU SHRM chapter where we work together to plan networking events, professional development, community service, and mentoring opportunity for our students. Within our chapter organization, I serve as the Director of Finance as it is my responsibility to run the VU shop, budget for events, and manage the financial logistics for the organization.

​How do you hope the Villanova HRD program will benefit your career trajectory?

As a second-year graduate student, I am really excited to be returning this year to finish my degree with Villanova HRD. I feel that having my MS from Villanova HRD has helped me acquire specialized knowledge that is crucial in today’s dynamic business environment. I really appreciate how the program’s curriculum is designed to provide students with in-depth insights into emerging HR trends, strategic workforce planning, and organizational development strategies. These dynamic classes have been extremely helpful in deepening my knowledge of HR and then challenging me to apply classroom knowledge to real-work HR scenarios. This hands-on approach has challenged me to think more complexly about classroom topics as well as boosted my confidence in tackling complex HR issues in my future career. Overall, I am confident that this thoughtful curriculum has helped to open doors to an exciting career in HR.

What has been your favorite course in the program and why? Or what course are you most looking forward to taking and why?

One course I am looking forward to taking in the program is Diversity in a Global Economy with Kylie Ali. During my undergraduate career, I took a similar course called Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace and I really enjoyed loved the class readings and student-led discussions! With this upcoming Villanova HRD course, I am really excited to dive even deeper into the topic and learn how HR professionals can meaningfully impact diversity and inclusion across corporate organizations. This will be my first course towards earning a graduate certificate in Inclusion and Diversity Strategy and I looking forward to challenging myself within this academic journey!


Maddie McClay is a Graduate Student in the MSHRD program at Villanova University. She is also a Graduate Assistant for the program. Connect with Maddie here!


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