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A Calling to Serve

By: Sandro Frenguelli (DEL 08)

Enter to learn. Leave to serve. These are the words that Lasallians live by. Their seemingly simple syllables guide us through our time within the gates and propel us to achieve greatness when we no longer call “Oaklands” our home.

New Lasallians enter the community to learn from some of the best, most dedicated, and knowledgeable teachers that the profession has to offer. Young minds are primed to absorb a wealth of new material and yet sharp enough to already begin questioning how the world works. Time spent in our classrooms is truly transformative. We change here. We become smarter, wiser, and kinder.

Though students have the distinct pleasure of graduating, this does not mean that their work is done. On the contrary, it is just beginning. Our mission and ever-expanding legacy are firmly based on continually stimulating minds, touching hearts and creating a sense of leadership.

These values can be found within every Lasallian; however, there are a special few who dedicate their lives to lighting the path to greatness, guiding others in their wake.

Hannah Beltran joined the De La Salle community in Grade 9, but she already knew in Grade 7 that she wanted to make a difference. Her time in grade school was both academically and spiritually formative, but her learning did not stop with the ringing of the final school day bell. Hannah volunteered in soup kitchens for Out of the Cold Foundation and Holy Rosary Church, feeding the less fortunate. She was already serving her community at a young age.

This drive to give back intensified during her time at Del. Under the generous and compassionate leadership of Mr. Iacobazzi, Hannah became fully immersed in the school’s connection to the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. While she enjoyed preparing and serving food to those experiencing homelessness, she was even more moved by her time spent conversing with people. It was through these interactions that Hannah saw the importance of truly connecting to others in order to uncover their actual needs.

Hannah Beltran pictured with members of the Lasallian Youth Team during her time at the College

Her discoveries galvanized her to push the boundaries of change through service. She co-founded the Lasallian Youth Team, which runs faith-based outreach programs for students as well as the community at large. The Team was composed of students from Grades 5 to 12, all looking to make a difference through service. Together, they organized fundraising initiatives such as running the school’s Meagan’s Walk activities, benefitting brain cancer research. Under Hannah’s leadership, the Team saw a steady increase in donations to the cause.

Hannah’s gifts to her community also took a pedagogical form. Following in St. John Baptist de La Salle’s footsteps Hannah and her Lasallian Youth Team ran a local homework club. They would meet with students from Holy Rosary Catholic School in the basement of the school’s parish to tutor them on challenging subjects.

As had become the pattern, Hannah’s outreach knew no bounds. In 2017 Hurricane Harvey hit Texas with the full force of its Category 4 rating. In its wake, the hurricane left countless homes and communities in ruin. Among those affected were fellow Lasallians. Hannah quickly mobilized the Team, and together they were able to raise much needed funds that aided reconstruction efforts.

While anyone would view Hannah’s work up to this point as an absolute triumph during a school career, one of Hannah’s proudest accomplishments was fostering a relationship between the Lasallian Youth Team and Out of the Cold Foundation. Through working to meet the needs of those experiencing homelessness and food insecurity, she was able to deepen her understanding of how best to serve the city’s stakeholders. Despite her youth, Hannah understood that a city’s stakeholders are not just the fortunate and the powerful. And so she began to fight for the voices that are too faint and sore to be heard over the almost deafening noise of a busy city. Instead of yelling louder than everyone else, Hannah already knew that the path to change starts with listening.

Mr. Bellisario’s debate team proved to be the perfect place for Hannah to hone her listening skills. On the face of it, debating is arguing, and anyone can argue. However, at its core, debating is based on listening. One cannot accurately and effectively respond to another’s arguments having not fully understood them. Moreover, great debaters are able to anticipate their opponent’s questions before they are even uttered. This is chess with words. Just as Kasparov and Fischer were able to master the nuances of their craft, Hannah did the same with hers.

Hannah Beltran pictured with her fellow De La Salle debate team members.

During her four-year stint on the debate team, Hannah was an instrumental piece in its successes, culminating in the winning of the 2015 Ontario Pro-Con Debating Forum. Through the course of debating topics as diverse as “Is Justin Bieber a good role model?” and “Should chickens be allowed to be privately raised in Toronto?” Hannah developed her public speaking and analytical skills.

She built on these skills during her time on student council and as the lead editor of Oakleaves, the student-run school newspaper. Hannah also performed in Del’s lauded theatrical productions, landing the role of Crony #3 in the school’s rendition of Beauty and the Beast. She felt at home on stage and was proud to see students from all grades coming together to mount a production.

Hannah’s favourite days on campus were spent with Mr. DeSanctis and Mr. Neto, examining world issues through a critical lens in law class, talking shop with Mr. Russell in politics class, and debating all she had learned with Mr. Bellisario and Mr. Iacobazzi. But the rush and adrenaline of being on stage and in front of a captive audience would remain with Hannah.

Harper Lee created the character of Atticus Finch to be our guide through a world that has lost sight of what is truly important. While much has changed since the residents of Maycomb, Alabama debated the sentencing of an innocent man in the sweltering heat of the American South, much has sadly remained the same. Like Atticus before her, Hannah is dedicating her life to serving those less fortunate and protecting our mockingbirds.

Hannah’s graduation in 2018 was punctuated by the winning of awards in business and politics and, most notably, the Signum Fidei Award; which is given by the school’s President to a student who exemplifies Lasallian values. Shaking Br. Dominic’s hand in front of her graduating class while accepting the award was not only a sign that she was on the right path, it was also a precursor to many great things to come. Another rush of adrenaline. 

Hannah’s passion for learning led her to study Public Policy at Carleton University in Ottawa, where she is currently in third year but holds a fourth-year standing, in part due to her Advanced Placement credits earned at Del. She is focusing her research on Canada’s relationship with other countries, specifically the Philippines and those in Latin America. In what seems to be her regular fashion, she is already making a name for herself in our nation’s capital.

In 2019 Hannah became the youngest in her cohort to reach the quarterfinals of the Capital Cup Undergraduate Mooting Tournament. She went on to win the same competition outright in 2020 along with being named a Distinguished Oral Advocate within the moot team, becoming a Double Quarterfinalist in the Osgoode Cup National Undergraduate Mooting Competition and reaching the Dean’s Honour List both in 2019 and 2020. Yet another shot of adrenaline.

Hannah is part of the Golden Key Honours Society which recognized her as part of the top 15% of students in the Public Affairs & Policy Management program. She has received scholarships for academic and extracurricular involvement as well as for exemplary achievement on three or more Advanced Placement exams.

Innate talent serves an undeniable part in Hannah’s successes. However, she also credits Del, her high school, our high school, with preparing her for her next chapters in life. She fondly remembers Mr. DeSanctis’ passion for the study of law, and to this day, she references concepts learned in his class. Moreover, studying for her LSAT exams was made much easier by remembering techniques for tackling logical flaws taught to her by Mr. Bellisario.

Much like Atticus, Hannah is at home in a courtroom. Mooting at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Ottawa opened her eyes to a world of possibilities. Sitting where real lawyers sit, presided over by a real judge, walking to the podium decorated with the seal of the Crown, she took her first breath. She thought to herself, “I could really do this.” The whole bottle of adrenaline.

She can do this, and she is. The years that follow for Hannah will be filled with law school classes aiming her at a career in human rights law and working for federal ministries. But she has not forgotten her roots, for they are what ground her in a world trapped in the eddies and swells of consumable philosophy. Her experience as a TA for Carleton’s Introduction to Legal Studies course has shown her that, like the teachers at Del, she can make a difference. She has inspired several others to moot and to follow her path to change.

Atticus Finch said to his children, “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand.” (Lee, 1960). Hannah’s journey can teach us much the same. True courage is a woman with a pen in her hand standing before us all, defending everyone’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The difference is her journey is far from over.

Enter to learn. Leave to serve.

 

  • Spring 2021