A Conversation with Jennifer Dellapina

Jennifer Dellapina

Former student council member and group strategic planning director at Conill, one of the nation’s leading Latino marketing agencies

Advise: When did you first know you wanted to participate in student council? What did you hope to gain from the experience? 

I noticed that the people involved in student council were the ones who were always doing something. I had the desire to broaden my knowledge of and experience with people and cultures of differing viewpoints (and the world in general), and student council seemed like a good way to do that. I still have that desire.

Advise: How did your involvement in the National Association of Student Councils (NASC) help shape your high school, college, and career experiences?

It was amazing. I attended high school in a small town in rural Pennsylvania. When I was a junior, the NASC Conference was held about an hour from me, in the city of Pittsburgh. Attending this event was a turning point for me. It made me realize how much more there was out there, how much I could accomplish, and that there were so many inspiring people that I could learn from.

Advise: Conill is a full-service, Latino-focused advertising agency. Could you expand on some of the unique contributions the Latino community offers in this space? In the student council space as well?

Latinos in the United States are shaping our culture in every aspect. From music and food to government and medicine, Latinos are making significant contributions. This reaches the student council space because Latino students are establishing themselves as the leaders of their schools and communities. And not just in expected places like California and Texas, but all across the country.

Advise: In your own words, why is it important that today’s students focus on the idea of being global citizens? 

There is absolutely no substitute for this kind of experience. You will be a better person, and contribute to the world being a better place, if you understand more perspectives. You can only do that by getting to know more people, from more cultures, with more varied backgrounds.

Advise: What would you say to a student who is considering joining student council?

That’s a no-brainer: Do it. Why would you pass up the chance to broaden your worldview and learn the skills it takes to become a leader?

Advise: How did your involvement in student council make you a better leader? 

Before student council, I thought I had a clear understanding of what needed to be done to make the school stronger. But once I joined, I learned so much about what others needed-things I hadn’t considered, given my limited perspective. Once you start to see the world through others’ eyes, you can relate much better. And a great leader has to consider her constituents. She might have an incredible vision, but it isn’t worthwhile if people can’t relate to it.

Advise: Did the service work you did with student council ignite an interest in helping others? How so? 

Rather than ignite an interest, I think it stoked it—many of those who joined student council, including me, already had a desire to make a positive impact on the community. Student council gave us the opportunity to do that and taught us how to create successful philanthropic campaigns. —