Engaged learning is central to a Gettysburg College education—it means moving beyond the classroom and out into the world to grow and make a difference.
Christopher Dellana ’14 is doing just that.
Since arriving on North Washington Street as a first-year in the fall of 2010, Dellana, a Spanish linguistics and globalization studies double major, and philosophy minor, has felt at home at Gettysburg.
He’s participated in numerous activities, including serving as a resident assistant, a contributing writer for the Gettysburgian, and a program coordinator for the Center for Public Service (CPS)—where he works in the Lincoln Intermediate Unit 12 migrant education program. He's also a member of Alpha Phi Omega, the mock trial team, and the ultimate Frisbee team.
But it was his Heston Summer Experience in Nicaragua that truly changed his life.
“My service-learning trip to Nicaragua was an experience that I have often cited since as the most transformative experience of my time at Gettysburg; it changed my mindset and perspective,” said Dellana, a Presidential Scholarship recipient.
“I learned what no academic lesson could impart. I spent the summer in the Western Hemisphere’s second poorest country, yet the people I encountered were unfailingly optimistic and always gracious to a point where I was forced to reexamine my own attitudes and beliefs about life and its privileges, its opportunities and difficulties, and my own entitlement.”
While abroad, Dellana worked in the Oscar Danilo Rosales Aguilar Hospital—the largest teaching hospital in the country. He was tasked with performing vital assessments as an auxiliary for worn, overworked doctors in the Internal Medicine Emergency Department.
The previous summer, Dellana was a cabin counselor at a summer camp, but now he was charged with tending to dozens of Nicaraguan patients in desperate need of medical attention.
“I was a 20-year-old intern,” Dellana said, “yet there I stood in my white lab coat, sweating in the open-air building and watching the battered door to the emergency room swing open again and again, as the ill—many too infirm to stand—crossed the threshold to fill the beds.”
On days away from the hospital, Dellana still found a way to lend a helping hand. He would travel east of León to isolated mountain communities—such as Santa Rosa del Peñón or Estelí—to collect data on water quality, or visit existing water project sites to ensure their continued functionality.
The experience opened Dellana’s eyes to the realization that, with so many career options before him, he really just wants to be involved and help people.
It’s also why his work has been turning heads.
On Fall Honors Day, Dellana received the Keith Pappas ’74 Memorial Award for scholarship and campus involvement, and he was recently accepted into the University of Pittsburgh Law School, where he will attend upon graduation.
While at Pitt this fall, he will also be enrolled in a dual degree program with the School of Public Health.
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
Contact: Mike Baker, assistant director of communications, 717.337.6521.
Posted: Thu, 24 Apr 2014
Share this story: