The late Marco Villa was one of the students who demonstrated leadership skills during his years as a pharmacy student at UIC. As president of the UIC chapter of Phi Delta Chi, he expanded the fraternity's community service projects and instilled a greater commitment to service among chapter members.

"He was extremely active in trying to get people to participate in community service, and he spent a lot of time promoting not only the fraternity but also pharmacy students," says Rob DiDomenico, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy and a classmate of Villa (1996).

Villa's leadership abilities went hand-in-hand with his outgoing personality. "He's the kind of guy you could get in an elevator with, and by the time you got off the elevator you'd feel he was your best friend," DiDomenico remembers.

Villa's drive and upbeat attitude are all the more noteworthy because he had been diagnosed with heart failure at age 19 and originally only given months to live. Although he beat that diagnosis by a decade, Villa finally succumbed to his condition in January 1996, just months from completing his pharmacy studies. He was 29. The College of Pharmacy awarded Villa his Doctor of Pharmacy degree posthumously May of 1996.

Since then, the members of Phi Delta Chi (Alpha Sigma) have been raising funds, primarily through an annual raffle. The money collected has been used to establish the Phi Delta Chi Memorial Scholarship Award. Brother Marco Villa's name is always mentioned during the annual presentation of the scholarship.

"The nice thing about this award was that it was student driven to honor Marco for his leadership of the fraternity and to remember him" observed Phi Delta Chi alum Amy Lodolce ('98)

Even though subsequent members of the fraternity never knew Villa, "it hits home to the students. Because they're such a close group now, they understand what it would be like to lose someone," Lodolce said. "It's that spirit of closeness and brotherhood that ties everybody together."

The endowment supplemented by ongoing contributions from Phi Delta Chi alumni, will provide for an annual award to a fourth-year student who has demonstrated leadership in the fraternity and other student organizations. "It's very important for students to get a lot of different experience in pharmacy than just studying, " Lodolce pointed out. "They benefit from getting involved in different communities and organizations to expand their horizons, so when they go on to their future careers, they bring more to the table."

(NOTE: The first presentation of the Phi Delta Chi Memorial Scholarship took place at the College of Pharmacy, March 2004)

© 2007 Phi Delta Chi - Alpha Sigma Alumni Association