Natalie Lara ’25 is a first generation Mexican American whose parents both came to the United States as young adults. Natalie was the first in her entire extended family to attend undergraduate school and now is the first to attend law school.
Jackie DelliSanti ’20 started her academic career as an undecided major. “Pace offered a wide variety of majors that could be possibilities for me—some that other schools do not have,” she explained. It was only natural that she would gravitate toward the women’s basketball team, having played in high school.
When I came to campus, everyone was friendly and very welcoming. The coaches and other staff were very honest, [and] I felt that they truly had my best intentions at heart.
By then, DelliSanti already had a long history working with children through sports camps, which is how her plans for the future began to take shape. That and the fact that she knew she didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk. “I wanted to be of use to people,” she told us. “Teaching gives me the opportunity to do this.” Ultimately, DelliSanti chose to major in teaching students with disabilities, a cause that has always been near and dear to her heart. “In high school, I was part of the Special Olympics,” she said. “It is the best feeling to see someone you helped be so thankful and happy.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows DelliSanti that she ultimately chose to pursue a career in teaching, or that she will continue her education at Pace for a master’s in special education. Teaching requires equal parts discipline and patience, two attributes that are absolutely essential for any successful student-athlete. And DelliSanti has played not just basketball, but also soccer, lacrosse, and even volleyball! “I would not describe myself as someone who quits when things get tough. I like to rise to the challenge,” she explained. “Having a good game and being recognized for my hard work is something that drove me even further.”
She’s been named “Setter of the Week” by Pace Athletics numerous times, and she even caught the attention of the Patch local news station, which interviewed her recently about her time at Pace and plans for the future. “Time really does fly,” DelliSanti said, reflecting on her incredibly successful sports career with 1,298 points, 724 rebounds, and 248 assists in 111 games. She was named team MVP in her junior year, and as a senior, she was second in assists. And she had a lot of wisdom to share.
“Get involved and meet new people,” DelliSanti advised the incoming first-year students in Fall 2020. “Clubs, school events, and other activities [are] available on campus help you build a network that you will need when you will eventually graduate. Professors and other personnel can be good references when you need a job, too, so talk to them. They won’t bite!” She added that rather than let intimidation overtake you, focus on your ambition and go for what you want. “College is what you make of it.”
DelliSanti is still deciding whether to continue her stellar sports career and take up coaching one day, but really, it’s clear that she will always take the court with her. She is passionate, motivated, and focused thanks to her immense athletic skill and the support she received from her friends and coaches. “Being on a team is an experience I would not trade,” she said. “Through basketball, I made so many friends that I still have today.”
We’re excited to see what the future holds for DelliSanti, and for all her fellow Pace graduates from the Class of 2020!