OSWEGO — Campus Compact recently named SUNY Oswego’s Joseph DiLuca, a fourth-year accounting/MBA major, one of only 268 Newman Civic Fellows nationwide for 2018-19, thanks to sustained community service he has done, including raising awareness of the dangers of food allergies as a way to share lessons from his cousin’s death.
The Newman Civic Fellowship is a one-year fellowship for community-committed college students from among the 1,000-plus member institutions of Campus Compact, a Boston-based non-profit working to advance the public purposes of higher education.
In nominating the Lynbrook, Long Island, student for the award, SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley noted his work supporting cancer awareness through the college’s Relay for Life program, his service with the college’s student-run ambulance corps and his efforts to boost attention to food allergies.
“After tragedy struck his family, Joseph’s servant leadership emerged and he has led efforts to engage his fraternity, Sigma Tau Chi, and our campus community in awareness of the dangers of food allergies,” Stanley wrote. “Joseph has worked tirelessly to educate his peers, to engage our local community, and to support the foundation founded in honor of his cousin. His commitment to service and community engagement is remarkable.”
DiLuca, who is scheduled to finish his MBA degree in public accounting in the next school year, said he was part of his high school’s Character Council and helped with food drives. But it wasn’t until his senior year in high school — when his cousin, Giovanni, died of anaphylactic shock due to a peanut allergy — that DiLuca felt a stronger draw to service.
“My journey began with the hopes of saving at least one child from a preventable death,” he said. “I set out and began fundraising for ‘The Love of Giovanni Foundation,’ an organization created by Giovanni’s mother to spread allergy awareness. Knowing the target group is young adults around my age, my goal was to teach my peers about the significance of allergy awareness.”
Last year, DiLuca organized a balloon sendoff that gathered about 180 members of Greek organizations at the college. The messaging and fundraising effort enabled Giovanni’s mother to speak about the dangers of food allergies at a conference in Texas.
“I’m grateful to my fraternity — all of Greek life — for jumping in to help,” he said. “My aunt can only take this cause so far on her own dollar.”
Young adults can be highly vulnerable to their food allergies once they leave the structure and constant vigilance of home and family, DiLuca said.
Friends could help save a life.
“Be aware,” he said. “Know who has allergies and what they are. Know who has to have a life-saving EpiPen (epinephrine syringe) nearby. Be ready to get them to the nearest hospital. You can’t mess around if an allergic reaction happens.”
DiLuca’s plans include another balloon sendoff, a police basketball tournament and using his Newman Civic Fellowship to help advance the cause.
He urged students to get involved in service.
“This campus prides itself on being like a family,” he said. “If one member needs help, we all try to pitch in.”
Beyond college, DiLuca has not settled on a career path, though he has had internships with downstate wealth management and forensic accounting firms.
“Accounting is the foundation for all of business, so I’m set on learning all I can about businesses,” he said. “I leave all doors open.”
Newman Civic Fellows attend an annual conference in the fall, and have access to scholarships and a network of past honorees and others focused on building campus-community partnerships to address public problems and build equitable communities.
The fellowships honor Campus Compact co-founder Frank Newman, who was a passionate advocate for broadening opportunities for diverse and economically challenged students to have access to a college education.
He was equally passionate in his advocacy for educating students to fulfill their roles as active citizens.