Nurturing Resiliency at Villa

New Center for Resiliency at Villa Maria College helps students succeed.
A smiling young man in a gray suit coat and blue tie.
Duncan Kirkwood, Founding Director of the Villa Maria College Center for Resiliency

Today’s college students have experienced pandemic disruptions to their education, the threat of gun violence, environmental destruction, and – unsurprisingly – epidemic levels of depression and anxiety. These young people need tools to help them confront the challenges of the future. As the spring 2023 semester began, students at Villa Maria College had a new support service to help them succeed in college and beyond: a Center for Resiliency.

Founding Director Duncan Kirkwood, an expert in self-development, spent five years in service with the Alabama Army National Guard as a Master Resilience Trainer tasked with educating soldiers in mental toughness. Using his resilience training and leadership experiences across the country, he helps students understand:

  • the benefits of getting involved in school and community organizations
  • the importance of learning from setbacks
  • how to overcome the fear of failure
  • the immediate need to discover one’s life purpose
  • the importance of taking concrete steps to achieve dreams

An integral part of student life programming

At Villa, the Center for Resiliency will become part of the College’s Core 101 curriculum, which works to transform and empower students to realize all facets of their potential. Resiliency is now an integral part of student life programming, and Villa students can participate in empowerment sessions hosted by Kirkwood.

Villa Maria President Dr. Matthew Giordano praises Kirkwood’s ability to help young people with a message of passion and purpose. At Villa Maria College, education is more than academics, as the university aims to educate their students holistically, so that they can discover their potential to do good in the world. Learn more about all-inclusive student support at Villa by visiting

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Serving where needed since 1874

Founded in Poland in 1855, the Felician Sisters are a congregation of women religious inspired by the spiritual ideals of their foundress, Blessed Mary Angela Truszkowska, and Saints Francis of Assisi, Clare of Assisi and Felix of Cantalice. Arriving in North America in 1874 following Blessed Mary Angela’s directive “to serve where needed,” they helped to weave the social service system. Today, the Felician Sisters founded, sponsor or support through the presence of our sisters, more than 40 ministries – all continuing to evolve to meet the needs of the people they serve.

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