PSA Minor Student Spotlight: Aaron Sandifer

Meet Aaron! He is a student in our Public Service and Administration minor! Here’s his bio:

I am a Division I Track and Field athlete and senior Communication major at Villanova University. You can find me most of my time on the track running over hurdles for the Track and Field team. I’m a team captain and during my sophomore year became Villanova’s first BIG EAST Conference Champion in the 110-meter hurdles since 1986. While off the track, I am active, working in the Center for Multicultural Affairs and serving as a track liaison for the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.

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1) What interested you in the PSA minor program?

To be honest, I have fought to expand people’s perceptions of what it means to be a black man throughout my life. Growing up as the son of a military officer, I believed in my freedom to pursue my dreams and knew that I must work to uphold and exercise that right. Experiencing life in a Southern suburban community taught me that social constructs and their implications on marginalized communities generate oppressive stereotypes that impede progress and engender sentiments of futility, which ultimately perpetuate inequality within society. I live in a society that was founded on the tenet of equal opportunity, yet continuously tries to benchmark me against my peers with hopes of being โ€œas goodโ€ or โ€œeducated enoughโ€ to obtain a job. Society continually binds me to the societal expectation of what it means to be โ€œblack,โ€ treating my racial identity not as a gift seated in rich culture and history, but a conviction. I have always felt it in my heart to want to learn how to change the status quo and be able to inspire those around me to recognized their voice and make a real difference in our daily lives. My undergraduate degree in communication has taught me to come to the service of others and examine the varying social conditions to best assess and aid the needs of others by being able to effectively lead by example.ย From the PSA minor, I hope to gain perspective on government and initiatives to enhance my understanding of the public sector and gauge sentiments of progress. Ultimately, I pursued this minor because I have been chasing a dream to make those around me think harder, learn from one another and try to make a brighter future for our children.ย 

2) Are there any particular courses or learning experiences during your time in the PSA program that stands out to you?

Hands down my favorite course that I was able to take under the PSA program was Public Policy with Dr. Lauren Miltenberger. What made this course so exciting and such an overall great experience was the semester-end public policy models that we had researched with our cohort groups that looked at different initiatives anywhere from healthcare to foreign policy. Our goal within each of our groups was to present an issue that was affecting our social area and find three policy alternatives that exist to combat the issue and present a solution, whether a single or hybrid model, that existed to explain how one’s initiative could be the solution a country needed on a universal level. This project allowed us to get creative, but most of all it showed us that true policy work is a process that needs hope to be equitable, effective, and gain the public’s trust to make real change possible.

3) What are your possible future career choices?

At the moment, I am a graduating senior and like my parents always told me growing up, “the sky’s the limit and never believe there is a peak that you cannot reach.” This saying has gone a long way for me and I am happy to say that I have accepted a job with Synchrony Financial working with the Sales and Relationship Management team as part of a 2-year Business Leadership rotational program. As for that lies for me in the future, I am not sure. Though, I have always felt a passion to want to work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, an intelligence agency, and of course run for state office. Again, I am not sure where I will end up but I know that the lessons and experiences I have gained from being a part of the PSA minor program have equipped me to be successful in any capacity that I serve to make a difference in my community.