Delsite (second from left) poses with some of her Orientation Leader friends at the Freshman Follies.

A Hand in Everything

Meghan Delsite makes the most of her time at Penn State Altoona
By: Marissa Carney

There are some people in this life who have an unquenchable need to succeed. People who have their hands in every committee, activity, and organization available to them and who thrive on the hustle. Meghan Delsite is one of those people.

Meghan Delsite with Penn State Altoona Orientation Leaders

Delsite with Penn State Altoona Orientation Leaders

Credit: Penn State

You'd never know it now, but Delsite says she was incredibly awkward when she arrived at Penn State Altoona as a fresh-faced first-year student. Feeling shy and lost, she wasn't having any fun and thought about transferring or even leaving school altogether. But, "I got involved and that changed everything. I became more outgoing, I did much better in school, and I made friends. Once I joined one organization and had all these positive experiences, I kept joining. It spiraled."

Spiraled is a good way to put it. By the end of her first year, Delsite had joined fifteen clubs and organizations. She says each afforded her professional development and experience she wouldn't get in a classroom, but Orientation Leaders and Lion Ambassadors impacted her the most. "Having executive positions in both organizations really shaped and defined me. I learned a lot about leadership. Both were essential to getting where I'm at today."

And where is Delsite today? She is preparing to graduate in May with a degree in communications. On top of a big credit load, she currently serves on seven student organizations including Lion Ambassadors, Lamba Pi Eta, the National Communications Honor Society, and Orientation Leaders. She has a work-study position in the campus box office, an internship at the Bryce Jorden Center, a freelance gig with Pittsburgh Sporting News, and don't forget her continued work with Penn State Altoona's Center for Community Based Studies.

A little more than a year ago, Delsite, an avid Penguins hockey fan, responded to a Pittsburgh Sporting News ad for a freelance writer on the team. Instead, she was offered a position writing about Penn State sports including football, men's hockey and basketball, and occasionally women's volleyball. "That has opened doors for some other freelancing. I've written for the paper in my home town, and I've submitted some things for the Altoona Mirror." And through the job, Delsite was able to meet Audrey Snyder and Chris Adamski, well-established sports reporters in Pittsburgh. "That was so cool because I've been following them for a long time. I got to give them my business card, and now Chris even follows me on Twitter!"

Delsite's 2-credit internship dovetails nicely with her love of sports, writing, and communications. Every other Friday, Delsite heads to Bryce Jorden Center to work with Jen James, the assistant athletics director, on things such as media relations, event management, and support management for women's basketball and softball, and ice hockey. "I get to do a lot of observing and handling little projects on the side. It takes the things I love and rolls them into one. The opportunity was amazing."

Delsite hard at work in one of Penn State Altoona's Communications studios.

Delsite hard at work in one of Penn State Altoona's Communications studios.

Credit: Penn State

She has also taken advantage of projects offered through the Center for Community Based Studies, a partnership between the college and community. Students are able to work closely with organizations and individuals in the community while applying the skills, perspectives, and knowledge learned in the classroom. Delsite first worked with the CCBS in spring 2015 on creating an interactive map of Canal Basin Park in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. "They were looking for people to design a map and get involved with the history of the area. I like history, so I thought, 'I could do this.' I did a lot of graphic design and ended up heading the whole project." In fall 2015 Delsite agreed to work on another interactive map, this time of downtown Hollidaysburg. "As it turns out, the National Park Service and Blair County Historical Society are interested in using the project as a prototype for more projects. So I have the opportunity to continue developing that map with CCBS and potentially have it published through those services."

It's obvious Delsite has been putting the skills she is learning in her major to good use. She says there is not one aspect of communications she doesn't love, but when it comes down to it, it's a passion for helping students that will lead her to a career. "I'm drawn to mentoring and guiding other undergraduates because I was that student who was going to transfer, to go home, who hated it here. And if it weren't for people on this campus I wouldn't still be here or be as successful. So I want to turn around and use that experience to help other students find their niche and help them belong. I want to pour my experiences into others."

Delsite has applied to the Indiana University of Pennsylvania's student affairs and higher education master's program. And she's got big plans. "I'm going to get myself established with students through career development or student life, then get my doctorate, and then be the chancellor. That's my goal. I want to be Dr. Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry when I grow up."

Delsite is certainly focused on success and wired to excel.

"I'm so Type A. I think that the idea of not doing well just makes me panic. Not doing well in something is not fun for me. I just have an insatiable need to succeed in all things I do."

It seems clear that with all she has achieved just in her time at Penn State Altoona, Delsite will have no problem flourishing in the coming stages of her life.