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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Elizabeth DeLuca: Re-learning to walk, continuing to fly

Professor DeLuca overcomes all odds to return to MU.

Elizabeth DeLuca, an adjunct professor in communication studies, spends about 60% of her week in an airport.

“You have to pack your patience,” DeLuca said. “I get to meet a lot of really fun people, a lot of nice people.”

She travels to Marquette once a week to teach leadership and communication on Tuesday nights from 5:30 to 8:10 p.m. She said students will usually see her with a backpack or suitcase because she either leaves Milwaukee after class or the next day.

DeLuca got the opportunity to teach from Kati Berg, associate professor of strategic communication, and first began teaching in the spring of 2020. When the opportunity came up again for this year, DeLuca decided to fly in every week because she enjoys working with students and wants to give back.

After her first semester of teaching, in May 2020, DeLuca woke up completely paralyzed and blind and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

After tests, steroids, regaining mobility and relearning how to walk, DeLuca began running. In the summer of 2021, DeLuca ran seven marathons in seven days. She ran 188 miles from Pennsylvania to New York City.

“You never know what life is going to bring to you,” DeLuca said. “So every day that I can run, and that’s a very big part of my personal mission.”

To balance everything, DeLuca said she spends time with her family and she runs ultramarathons.

When the opportunity to teach came up again, DeLuca said she chose to teach at Marquette for the same reasons that she chose to attend Marquette as a student.

“I love the aspect of community that Marquette has given me the students here and having the privilege of working with them is an awesome experience for me, and that’s really why I chose to come to Marquette for my undergrad,” DeLuca said. “I felt very at home here. I still feel very at home here.”

DeLuca grew up in northern New Jersey but chose to attend Marquette both as an undergraduate and graduate student.

“We took a visit out here in November of my senior year and the long and the short of it was I got a really, really nice day in November. It was like 60 degrees and like of course I can come to Milwaukee and then wound up accepting the opportunity to come to Marquette,” DeLuca said.

After schooling, DeLuca returned to New York and worked in broadcasting for the Today Show, media relations at Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall.

“Then just something kept kind of drawing me back to Milwaukee, moved around quite a bit after and then wound up at Northwestern Mutual in 2014,” Deluca said.

Sophie Campbell, who met DeLuca during her internship at Northwestern Mutual, said that DeLuca not only encouraged her but challenged her.

“When I came to her with questions, her response was often ‘Well, what do you think?’ While it felt frustrating in the moment, it helped me grow into a more critical thinker because I was challenged to think through potential solutions on my own before asking for the answers,” Campbell said.

Campbell said DeLuca has taught her many things that still stick with her. One of DeLuca’s quotes that she still remembers is, “It’s PR, not the ER.”

“In other words, mistakes happen and while the work we do is important, nobody’s life is at risk and it’s okay to mess up,” Campbell said. “This is a reminder that was extremely beneficial, especially for a young professional starting out her career during the pandemic.”

Zoee Arreguin, a senior in the College of Communication, is taking DeLuca’s leadership and communication class. Arreguin said that the class is extremely informational and interesting and describes DeLuca as a perfect professor.

“She said something along the lines of, ‘Volunteer your time because then no one is ever forcing you to do something,'” Arreguin said. “It’s not really related to course material necessarily, but it stuck with me. I think we all think we have to go to work or have to satisfy our responsibilities, but this quote reminds me that we get to do things. It makes life interesting.”

DeLuca said her favorite part about working with students is that they continue to challenge her and bring fresh perspectives.

This story was written by Hannah Hernandez. She can be reached at [email protected].

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