Capacity to Serve

PROVO, Utah – Sep 27, 2018 – For most eighteen-year-olds, graduating high school means freedom. For Daniel Villanova, it meant more responsibility. When he graduated high school, Villanova received a calling to teach seminary in his local ward in Brazil. This was the first experience to shape his leadership abilities, and Villanova learned that “great leaders lead their people from among them.”

Villanova has continued to fine-tune those leadership skills throughout his education and inimitable work and life experiences. As a Cardon International Sponsorship (CIS) recipient and a second-year student in BYU Marriott’s Masters of Public Administration program, Villanova plans to return to Brazil to lead and innovate in his community after he graduates.

“All CIS students should be committed to help build the kingdom of God in their home countries,” Villanova says. “I got the CIS because of my commitment.”

After teaching seminary for two years, Villanova served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ then returned to Brazil to start college. A year later, he decided to move to the United States to attend LDS Business College in what was meant to be an exchange program to learn English. However, he met his wife, Leilane, that year, and they decided to both transfer to BYU.

“I felt that my career aspirations and personal development would be accomplished best by coming to BYU,” Villanova says. “And I felt clearly that the Lord wanted me here.”

Villanova graduated from BYU Marriott with a bachelor’s in business management. He then decided to get an MPA because he wants his career to intersect the private and public sectors, and he knew the MPA program would help him become a better decision maker and accomplish his goals.

Villanova has past work experience ranging from consulting to education to LDS Philanthropies. For his internship this summer, he was officially appointed by the mayor of São Paulo as a team lead to work for the secretary of planning and management. This gave him opportunities to collaborate, make calculated decisions, and prioritize time and budgets.

Along with his education and work, Villanova seeks out unique experiences in his personal life to learn and grow. He and his wife have three children, and they have moved seven times in the last seven years because of school and internships. He and his family learned Spanish—their native language is Portuguese—and attend a Spanish ward in Provo. Being trilingual helps Villanova leverage his network around the world among different cultures. His family has also hosted five foreign exchange students in their home—from Saudi Arabia, Germany, Mexico, Chile, and Brazil.

“We love to interact with people coming from different backgrounds,” Villanova says. “We have so much to learn from them.”

Villanova plans to use the skills he has learned at BYU Marriott to serve, innovate, and improve lives. He is particularly interested in education, economic development, and social programs.

“My dream job would use my capacity to train, influence, communicate with, and engage people,” Villanova says. “Generally speaking, I want to help improve people’s experiences here on earth.”

Daniel Villanova
Daniel Villanova
Villanova studying with his kids around him.
An average day of studying for Villanova, an MPA student and father.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Katelyn Stiles