Overcoming Disabilities, Exemplary Students Receive State Honors for Academics, Service

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Delaware County Community College students Gina DiLuzio and Scott Duffy have learned how to succeed, despite having to contend with disabilities at times. DiLuzio and Duffy are pictured with president Dr. Jerry Parker.

Best friends Gina DiLuzio and Scott Duffy have learned how to succeed, despite having to contend with disabilities at times. They were recently lauded for their academic prowess and unselfish service to Delaware County Community College and their community.

DiLuzio of Ridley Park and Duffy of Collingdale were among 49 community college students statewide named to the All-Pennsylvania Academic team. They were honored at a recent awards dinner in Harrisburg, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges in conjunction with Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society for two-year colleges.

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All-Pennsylvania students must have a minimum 3.5 grade point average, must have completed at least 36 college-level credits, and must be on track to receive an associate or bachelor’s degree. DiLuzio and Duffy have 4.0 GPAs, and will graduate from on May 18. DiLuzio also has been selected to address her classmates as the student speaker at this year’s commencement.

All-Pennsylvania students are eligible to attend one of the 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education tuition free for up to two years.

A psychology major, DiLuzio is considering transferring to a PASSHE four-year university, where she would major in psychology toward her goal of eventually becoming a neuropsychologist. A computer science major, Duffy participated in Delaware County Community College’s dual admission program and is now guaranteed admission at his PASSHE school of choice, West Chester. He plans to pursue a career in cyber security.

Duffy also has the distinction of being selected as one of only 20 students from two-year colleges nationally to be members of the All-USA Community College Academic Team, a recognition that comes with a $5,000 scholarship. He also was named a 2017 Coca-Cola New Century Scholar, which comes with a $2,000 stipend. New Century scholars are the highest scoring students in the state.

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DiLuzio’s and Duffy’s journeys to success have not been easy, though.

DiLuzio has Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, a rare neurological disorder that causes chronic pain in the hands, arms, and other parts of the body. In high school, she was confined to a wheel chair. She has had several surgeries and long stays in the hospital. After her kidneys failed in 2014, she was put on a list for a kidney transplant, and she receives regular treatments for her kidney failure.

However, DiLuzio remains undaunted, optimistic, humble, and compassionate toward others.

“For as long as I can remember, I have been the happiest when I am helping others,” she said. “I’ve learned throughout my life that your future can change in a blink of an eye. However, I promised myself to push through my illness.

“I want to help others cope with neurological conditions. I refuse to let a diagnosis hold me back, and I want others to have the same confidence.”

One person DiLuzio has helped is Duffy, who thanked DiLuzio for “pushing me to be my best” and said in reference to their both receiving the All-Pennsylvania award, “Gina, there is no one I would rather share this prestigious honor with than you. I look forward to a long friendship.”

Duffy has a learning disability, a visual tracking disorder, and has obsessive compulsive disorder, a brain and behavior disorder that causes severe anxiety. But Duffy has conquered his disabilities through a contagious zest for life, a spirited, goal-oriented attitude, and a genuine desire to help others.

“After all, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned during my time at community college is that it is my job to positively impact as many people as possible,” he said.

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