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Rayleen De Luca

Rayleen De Luca

For most children, the scrapes and bruises of childhood heal quickly, leaving only the occasional scar and some good stories about the adventures behind any lasting marks.

But for others, the story is different. In Canada each year, thousands of children are harmed by family members, caregivers, neighbours, and strangers. Child abuse can leave emotional scars that last a lifetime, long after bones have knit and cuts have healed.

As a clinical psychologist, as well as mother and grandmother, Dr. Rayleen De Luca (BA (Hons.) ’79) knows what it takes to raise a healthy, happy child—and what happens when a child’s needs aren’t met and a relationship of trust is broken.

It’s her job to help repair the damage, and to prepare the next generation of psychologists to do the same. “I feel so gifted that I’m able to be a professor and work with young people,” says De Luca, who teaches psychology at the University of Manitoba. “But the wonderment of seeing children who have experienced challenges in their lives be able to overcome them and be resilient is the most gratifying of all.”

De Luca, already a parent herself when she started her studies at UWinnipeg in 1979, knew right from the start that she wanted to follow her passion for working with kids. Studies with professors Ron Norton, Harry Strub, Evelyn Schaeffer, and others fueled her fascination for psychology, and helped her find her way to the career she now finds so fulfilling. “So many of my professors were such wonderful role models,” says De Luca, who stays in touch with many of them to this day.

In addition to her research, which covers the spectrum of trauma that can occur to children, De Luca is also much sought after as workshop lecturer, including presentations on such timely issues as divorcee and children, fetal alcohol syndrome, children’s responses to terrorist attacks, and the warning signs of youth violence. Recently, De Luca was part of a delegation from the Catholic Women’s League that brought the issues of child safety, poverty, and human trafficking before the Prime Minister of Canada. “It was an incredible opportunity to take my research and have it help in a social policy kind of way,” says De Luca.

“The Alumni Association is proud to have Rayleen as part of our family of alumni,” says Association President Jason Pusiewich. “Her list of accomplishments is remarkable—she has made her mark on every front, from her academic and professional work to her community spirit and personal leadership.” For her many contributions—teaching, research, counselling, and her ongoing contributions to the community—The University of Winnipeg is proud to present Dr. Rayleen De Luca with the Distinguished Alumni Award today.