At 26, She’s Already a Political Veteran

Posted in Crosswalk, Summer 2015, Rad Grad

Victoria Napolitano was sworn in this year as mayor of Moorestown, New Jersey — making her the youngest chief in the town’s recorded history.

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.

Napolitano, who completed a master’s degree from Drexel in teaching, learning and curriculum in 2010, was sworn in earlier this year as Moorestown’s mayor after serving two years on the town’s council. She is believed to be the youngest mayor in the South Jersey town’s history.

“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.” The Drexel experience helped, she says.

“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.”

“Credibility isn’t a gift handed out on your 30th or 40th birthday. It’s something you can earn at any age. An articulate, respectfully delivered opinion should be welcome from anyone.”

The accelerated nature of Drexel’s system was especially appealing to Napolitano, who began on campus in 2006 and finished her five-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 says. “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 says she wasn’t very politically active during her time on campus, though she was “politically aware.”

Around the time she was finishing her degree in 2010, Napolitano joined Moorestown’s Republican County Committee and volunteered for Jon Runyan’s Congressional 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 with political aspirations.”

Now six months into her term, she says that what’s been most surprising thus far is being so in demand.

“I think I underestimated just how exciting it is to be able to participate in so many events around town,” she says. “[Recently], I participated in Read Across America, and I also attended a woman’s 100th birthday party and got to see her dance. It’s been a little bit of an adjustment to have people want me to come to things like that. But, it’s been the best part of the job so far.”