Delaney Savedge standing in front of the V C U letters next to the Shafer Court Dining Center.
Delaney Savedge on campus in late November. The Honors College and College of Humanities and Sciences student has been working in contact tracing for the Virginia Department of Health since June. (Kevin Morley, University Marketing)

Class of 2020: Delaney Savedge helps keep the public safe during the pandemic

The VCU student-athlete’s involvement at the Virginia Department of Health and on a study-abroad trip to Jamaica provided “an eye-opening experience to public health,” and a possible future career.

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VCU senior Delaney Savedge’s job at the Virginia Department of Health could be overwhelming if she had not learned early on how to maintain balance in her life. Savedge works full time supervising contact tracers in the midst of a global pandemic. She started with the health department as a contact tracer in June.

“Being a contact tracer, it’s hard not to think about work all the time when work is all around you all the time like COVID-19,” said Savedge, an Honors College student who will graduate in December with a bachelor’s degree in health science from the College of Humanities and Sciences. 

“This job has taught me how to best stay safe with COVID-19, but it has also taught me how to balance my mental health and how I am taking care of myself and my team around me,” she said. “Knowing how to take the time to take care of myself has been invaluable to me.” 

Savedge was recruited to Virginia Commonwealth University to run cross-country and track and field. Originally interested in physical therapy and medicine, the Surry County, Virginia, native has cultivated an affinity for public health thanks to her work at the Department of Health and a two-week study-abroad trip to Jamaica in the summer of 2019.

In Jamaica, Savedge taught health education in the schools and performed health screenings.

“It was an eye-opening experience to public health,” she said. “It made me consider public health as a career.” 

She said she has an interest in pediatric and maternal public health. “Also, contact tracing is very heavy on epidemiology — we are part of the epidemiology team,” she said. “It’s making me consider my options.” 

Savedge considers herself a hard worker, something she attributes to her parents and the values they taught her as well as her involvement in athletics.

“Track and field has had a large impact on how hard I work. There is no way to be successful as a student and an athlete at the same time if you don’t work hard. It has helped me with my career in whole,” she said. “I’m always striving to be my best self.”

Running is a lifelong sport that she plans to continue throughout her career.

“I would love to coach track and field sometime at a middle or high school,” she said. “It’s still a big part of my life.”