Hometown: Cheshire, Conn.
WCSU Degree: Bachelor of Arts in History
Activities: Orientation leader, member of Women’s Swimming and Diving Team for four years, Student Government Association senator, member of the inaugural cohort of the Hancock Student Leadership Program, president of WCSU’s Student Athletic Advisory Committee, chair of Little East Conference Student Athlete Advisory Committee, Alpha Delta Pi International Sorority, philanthropy and fundraising chair and recruitment and publicity chair of Greek Council, President’s Athletic Advisory Committee, student ambassador at WCSU’s Office of Admissions, Bridge Program tutor, work for Cheshire Youth and Social Services as a program assistant
Honors and Awards: National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Phi Alpha Theta Honors Society, WCSU Honors Program, Eastern College Athletic Conference Award of Valor, Student Athletic Advisory Committee Scholar-Athlete Award, College Swim Coaches of America Academic All-American, Little East Conference All-Academic Team, WCSU Scholar-Athlete Award, Academic Citation from the General Assembly of Connecticut, Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities, John Tamas Memorial Emerging Student Leader Award, Most Valuable Player Women’s Swimming and Diving 2007-09, All New England Swimming and Diving Team, All Little East Conference Swimming and Diving Team, Dean’s List for six semesters
When she was in high school, Francesca Testa decided to attend the University of North Carolina at Wilmington for swimming. After contracting meningitis her senior year of high school, however, she was unable to attend a school so far away and needed another option. "I looked at WCSU and spoke with the swimming coach, Jill Cook, and soon realized Western would be a perfect fit," Testa says. "The athletic department was extremely accommodating and the academic faculty was all devoted and enthused about what they were teaching. Although Western was not my original plan, I would not change my choice and have had an incredible undergraduate experience."
Testa decided to major in history because "history is everywhere and the basis for everything we learn." Testa believes that "in every subject, whether it is math, science or English, there is a foundation of history, which has influenced the information we learn today. This connection between history and our everyday lives has interested me since I was in high school," she says. "I also had the privilege of having some enthusiastic and inspiring history teachers in high school, which influenced me to pursue my interest in the subject."
During her four years at WestConn, Testa says she formed strong relationships with many of the faculty members, and she believes this has allowed her to excel. "Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Walter Bernstein has definitely become one of my mentors at the university," Testa says. "Throughout my experience at WestConn he not only has made himself available for questions or concerns about my undergraduate experience, but he is always reaching out to help every student he can. When I was accepted into the Hancock Student Leadership Program, Dr. Bernstein became my mentor and helped me to create my applied leadership project, 'Superfan.' During the past year I have excelled as a leader and been able to construct a new program and implement it into the athletic experience of the students here. Without Dr. Bernstein to help guide me and foster my leadership skills, I would not be the person I am today and would not have been able to accomplish my goals."
Asked what she will remember most about her WestConn experience, Testa says, "My most memorable experience was accepting the Eastern College Athletic Conference Award of Valor. The Award of Valor is given each year by the conference to students who exemplify strength of character and perseverance. I was chosen for this award after the obstacles I had overcome to be able to participate in sports after having meningitis in high school. I went to Hyannis, Mass., with my swim coach to accept the award and met the other recipients and learned of their inspirational stories as well. To be able to be recognized in the company of such incredible people was an honor and no one ever strives to achieve an award such as this, but when I was chosen by the ECAC, it was one of the most memorable experiences for me at WCSU.”
After graduation, Testa plans to attend Springfield College to pursue a Master’s Degree in Physical Education and Athletic Administration.
Testa’s advice to new students entering WCSU is: "Get involved and get involved as early as possible. Western has intercollegiate sports, club sports, Greek life and 80 or so other clubs on campus to join. Four years of undergraduate work goes by quickly and the more you get involved not only will you enjoy yourself more, but you will grow as a person, a leader and create invaluable networking skills for your future.”