BS Learning/Curriculum and MS Teaching 2010
Although she's only 26, the responsibility of serving as the leader of a town of approximately 20,000 people doesn't faze Victoria Napolitano, BS '10, MS '10.
Napolitano already has two years of serving on the town council of Moorestown, New Jersey, under her belt and was sworn in earlier this month after being elected by the council as mayor.
"Credibility isn't a gift handed out on your 30th or 40th birthday," says Napolitano. "It's something you can earn at any age. An articulate, respectfully delivered opinion should be welcome from anyone."
That attitude was helped by the atmosphere at Drexel, according to Napolitano.
"I think that Drexel students mature a bit faster than their counterparts at other colleges because the fast-paced environment and the co-op programs teach us to be organized and take charge of our own lives at an earlier point than someone in a more traditional college environment," she says. "When I graduated, I didn't feel like a stranger in the adult world."
The accelerated nature of Drexel's system was especially appealing to Napolitano, who began on campus in 2006 and finished her 5-year combined master's and bachelor's degree program in just four years with one extra term.
"I was really busy with classes but I still found time to participate in the University Chorus and Naturally Sharp, the vocal jazz ensemble," Napolitano said. "I learned a lot, had a great time and made lifelong friends in those groups. I always recommend to high school students who are searching for colleges to take a look at Drexel."
Spending so much time in classes and with activities, Napolitano said she wasn't very politically active during her time on campus, though she was politically aware.
It was in 2010, at the end of her time in college, that Napolitano joined Moorestown's Republican County Committee and "did a lot of volunteering for the Jon Runyan for Congress campaign."
Just a few years later, when she was 24 and working as an instructional technologist in the LeBow College of Business, Napolitano began serving as a councilwoman for her town.
"I really enjoy being able to serve my community and it's something I can see myself doing for a long time," Napolitano says. "In particular, being a woman in elected office is something that I take very seriously and I would like to continue to serve and be a role model and a mentor for other young women who have political aspirations."
But that doesn't mean Napolitano is quite ready to think about taking on the next political position after serving as potentially the youngest mayor ever of Moorestown.
"I'm taking my career one office at a time," she emphasizes. "I am not looking to leap up the ladder. If I run for higher office, it will be because I feel I'm the right candidate at that time."
Asked about her quick jump into politics and what advice she'd give to students interested in following her path, Napolitano kept it simple.
"Get involved at the local level," she says. "And don't be afraid to speak up."
By Frank Otto, staff writer, University Communications