Before Daniel Delmonaco attended a single class at William & Mary, he started volunteering in the Williamsburg area, getting to know the community that he’d call home over the next four years.
Almost as quickly as he began working with organizations like Campus Buddies and the Nu Rho chapter of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, Delmonaco stepped into leadership roles with each, bolstering such important initiatives as the Campus Escort program and empowering others to lead, too.
“Having worked with Daniel over the past three semesters as an advisor of Alpha Phi Omega's Nu Rho chapter, I have seen him display true commitment, sound judgment, caring and enthusiastic leadership and a sense of maturity beyond many of his peers,” Director of First Year Experience Lauren Garrett said in a nomination letter.
Delmonaco, who graduated from W&M in December, has been selected to receive the 2017 James Monroe Prize in Civic Leadership at W&M’s 2017 Charter Day ceremony on Feb. 10. The award is presented annually to “a student who has demonstrated sustained leadership of an unusual quality, leadership combined with initiative, character and an unfailing commitment to leveraging the assets of the William & Mary community to address the needs of our society,” according to the award description.
“Dan’s commitment to community engagement at William & Mary has been marked by his constant efforts to include others and build up leadership that would thrive beyond his tenure,” said Melody Porter, director of the Office of Community Engagement. “We are proud to recognize someone who has constantly learned from and amplified the voices and experiences of those who are so often silenced or overlooked.”
A native of Metuchen, New Jersey, Delmonaco began getting involved in service during high school when he was required to complete a certain number of volunteer hours.
“Other stuff might not have stuck with me, but that was one thing that did, just being involved in the community,” he said.
When Delmonaco arrived at William & Mary, he participated in SHOW Day, an annual day of service for new students — typically before classes begin — hosted by the Office of Community Engagement. Soon after, he joined APO and became involved with the Campus Buddies organization, which brings W&M students and local children with disabilities together for art projects or sporting events.
“My younger brother is autistic, so I had experience working with people with special needs,” he said. “Right from the start, I knew that was something I wanted to continue to do in college.”
After just a semester with each organization, Delmonaco took leadership positions with both, stepping onto the executive board of APO and coordinating transportation and recruitment for Campus Buddies.
“I knew I wanted to do something more than just volunteer,” he said. “I wanted to be on the exec boards or have a say in how the organization was going directionally.”
Doing just that with APO, Delmonaco sought to improve the Campus Escort program, which provides rides or walking escorts to students across campus each evening throughout the academic year. The cart that APO had been renting was unreliable, and the demand for the service was increasing, Delmonaco said, adding that in the fall semester alone, the volunteer-staffed program gave more than 600 rides to students.
As the president of APO, Delmonaco worked closely with Student Leadership Development and the William & Mary Police Department to get a more reliable cart and improve coordination with the university. At the end of the fall 2016 semester, just before he was set to graduate, Delmonaco found out that WMPD ordered a new cart for the program that would belong to APO.
“With the renewed involvement of Chief Deb Cheesebro, Nu Rho is now confident that Campus Escort is a truly sustainable service practice to the W&M community, regardless of the membership numbers or account balance, and in support of the increasing importance of student safety,” said Garrett.
In addition to serving with APO, Campus Buddies and the Arc of Greater Williamsburg, Delmonaco worked with the W&M Mattachine Project: Documenting the LGBTIQ Past in Virginia. As a student researcher, he interviewed LGBTIQ alumni of W&M who are also members of other underrepresented groups in order to broaden the representation of the oral histories that are part of the Stephens Project in Swem Library.
“I just loved the idea, as a history major, learning about this history that is there but has not really been explored or presented further and just kind of giving a voice to all of these people who weren’t necessarily presented in Virginia history, American history,” Delmonaco said. “It’s something that’s been really important to me in my history work and the things I’ve been involved in. A great thing I learned from the professors here is that it is so important to have equal representation for everyone.”
Delmonaco, who will pursue a career in library science, plans on taking that lesson with him as he also looks for ways to continue serving the communities he finds himself in.
“No matter what I’m doing, I want to be able to talk with people and work with people and get really involved with whatever community I am in, be that a college or museum or a school,” he said. “That’s really important to me.”
As he leaves William & Mary for graduate school, Delmonaco encourages current students to look for ways to get involved in the community and not be afraid to step into leadership positions.“Don’t be afraid to take on more responsibility,” he said. “You should give yourself credit and know that you can probably do it and will be great at it.”