Erin Delaney, Class of 2017

Ten years of service learning at The Ellis School inspired Erin Delaney to roll up her sleeves and combat hunger in Pittsburgh for her culminating senior project. Determined to reduce food waste and educate her peers, Erin partnered with the 412 Food Rescue to redirect leftover food from the Ellis cafeteria and transport it to those in need in the local community. But her commitment and dedication to helping others doesn’t stop there. She also serves as President of the Peer Tutoring Club where she has helped students with their studies for the last four years. Set to attend the College of Wooster in the fall, Erin shares more about her fight to end hunger and her passion for music.
Tell me about your work with food insecurity. How did you get involved?
Last year I took the mini-course “Coloring, Convo, and Current Events” with Ms. Yam and one of the topics was food insecurity. I found 412 Food Rescue and decided to work with them for my senior project. I contacted the chef at Ellis to get the legal details squared away and once that was done, I started delivering leftover cafeteria food to the Glen Hazel High Rise. It’s something I’m really passionate about, rather than throwing food away, we can deliver it to people in need.

What inspired you to become involved in the fight against food insecurity?
The amount of food I see thrown away. Right now, I work at Aladdin’s and I see it all the time. People in our community don’t have enough to eat and we’re throwing perfectly fine food away. You never know, your next door neighbor could be food insecure.

Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant to date.
My senior project. The project culminates in an upcoming mini-course where we will look at hunger all over the world. We’ll also talk about food insecurity in Pittsburgh and what we can do to help. Week one is a news-based discussion and week two is project-based where we will create an installation at Ellis to remind the community to be mindful of what they’re throwing away.

How did you get involved in Peer Tutoring at Ellis?
In Middle School, I needed a lot of help in Spanish and my teachers prompted me to get a peer tutor. It really helped because my tutor had gone through the same thing as me. In grade 9, I still had a peer tutor myself and started helping Middle Schoolers. I always try to make it clear to everyone that you can get a tutor for whatever you want, whenever you want. Even if you just want to raise your grade from a B to an A, there’s no shame in it. Now there are about 25 tutors for varying subjects, mostly languages, who work with students on a volunteer basis. It’s been great because you get to know the younger classes and act as a mentor and leader to them.

What do you hope to do after graduation?
I’m going to the College of Wooster to study music therapy. I would love to someday be a music teacher. I’ve played the classical guitar for ten years now and recently picked up the trumpet. I’ve been playing in the Ellis Orchestra for six years.

If you could do anything after graduation, what would you do and why?
I would take a trip to different parts of Europe and Asia. I don't know a lot about the culture, food, and music there and I would really like to.

What is your best Ellis memory?
There are a lot! One time last year, it started raining out of nowhere and instead of everyone going back indoors, five or six of us danced outside in the rain and were as loud as we possibly could be!

Was there a teacher or teachers at Ellis who had a particularly strong influence on your life?
Definitely, Ms. Hill. She’s the reason I want to be a music teacher. She can play every instrument! Also, Mr. Bisno because he’s hilarious and has made history really fun. His AP European History class is my favorite. At first, I didn’t know if I wanted to take the class but it turned out to be the best choice for me. It’s been a lot of work but it’s also a lot of fun and student-driven.

If you could interview anyone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Honestly, probably Mr. Bisno because he’s given us snippets of his life, and ends it with “my life is not that interesting.” His whole life story in one book, would be the best book ever.

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Hardworking. Fun. Quiet.

Last book you read?
North and South by Elizabeth Haskell for my senior thesis.