2020 PA Student of the Year is Committed to Advocacy and Social Justice

Delilah Dominguez Has Dedicated More than 240 Hours to Volunteering

By Sarah Blugis

April 27, 2020

Delilah Dylan Dominguez
Delilah Dylan Dominguez, a second-year PA student at Quinnipiac University

Delilah Dylan Dominguez, a second-year student in the Quinnipiac University PA Program and AAPA’s 2020 PA Student of the Year, says she never thought she would have a career in medicine. But while she was studying drama in graduate school, her mother and grandmother died, altering her path.

She discovered social work, she says, and “felt invigorated by helping people face death.” Dominguez pursued a career as a social worker after drama school, and through that work, saw how health disparities and barriers to care contributed to poor health outcomes. So, to understand this more fully, she decided to enter a PA program.

The PA Student of the Year Award honors a PA student who has demonstrated exemplary service and leadership. Since becoming a PA student, Dominguez has been committed to advocacy and social justice, and has dedicated more than 240 hours of her time to volunteer work.

“The most rewarding aspect of being a part of the PA profession is having the privilege to serve a diverse range of individuals who entrust you with some of their most vulnerable concerns,” Dominguez says. “Every interaction with people is an opportunity to truly make a difference in their lives.”

Dominguez volunteers in a variety of settings including at community health fairs, a migrant farm clinic, regional food banks, biomedical engineering discovery programs, and dental health programs. She has also spent more than 125 hours volunteering at The Connecticut Hospice where she provides direct patient care, assists staff, and serves as a “loving whisperer” – offering bedside companionship for individuals who are actively dying without anyone present.

In addition to her academic work and volunteer hours, Dominguez is also committed to student leadership and serving the PA community. In 2018 and 2019, she was selected as a Student Delegate for the AAPA House of Delegates. She is the Student Director of PAs in Hospice and Palliative Medicine (PAHPM), is involved in the African Heritage Caucus and the LBGT Caucus, and serves on the Leadership Committee of the AAPA Student Academy.

Dominguez is a Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) Health Policy Fellow, which has influenced her interest in policy as a PA student. She was also appointed to the AAPA Joint Task Force on Burnout. At Quinnipiac, she serves as the president of the student society, and is on the Legislative Committee of the Connecticut Academy of PAs.

For Dominguez, her role with PAHPM is especially significant. “My overall goal has been to increase student engagement and interest in these growing areas of practice,” she says. “It is an exciting time to become involved in leadership in hospice and palliative medicine as PAs become increasingly recognized as vital leaders on these teams.”

Professors describe Dominguez as professional and fully engaged, with a “willingness to put in the work necessary to make a difference.” Dominguez says it’s important for her to find ways to engage her peers and excite classmates about the profession, because she is so passionate about it herself. And for her, this award is the culmination of years of hard work – despite hardships.

“As a first-generation college student, I have overcome a lot of challenges to get to where I am today. None of this would be possible without the help of family, friends, mentors, colleagues, and luck along the way,” Dominguez says. “Following the deaths of my mother and grandmother, I had a period of soul searching about what direction to take in life because I was devastated. I decided to transform my grief into a driving force behind my commitment to helping others.”

2020 AAPA Award Recipients