Student goes from being a selective freshman to a selfless leader

Photo courtesy of Anil Dalling
By Janette Neuwahl Tannen

Photo courtesy of Anil Dalling

Student goes from being a selective freshman to a selfless leader

By Janette Neuwahl Tannen
Senior Anil Dalling made his mark as a member for a host of campus organizations and evolved as a leader during his time at the University.

When Anil Dalling began applying to college, he was looking for a few things. 

First, he wanted to be in a place with a larger array of cultural diversity than his hometown of Montgomery, Alabama. He also wanted a place that would help him prepare for medical school, since he has always wanted to be a doctor. And, he wanted to attend a college with a football program, since his high school did not have a team.  

“I knew if I stayed in Alabama, I would be running into the same kind of people,” said Dalling, who was born in Jamaica to a mother of Indian descent, and a father of African descent. “And I love football, so coming here it was really lucky that during my sophomore year our team was really good.” 

But when he made a decision in favor of the University of Miami, Dalling watched his mother’s reaction. 

“My mom really liked the campus, and she is very picky. So, I knew it was a good decision,” said the Ronald A. Hammond scholar, who is also a mathematics major. 

Today, Dalling is glad he took her advice. In his time at the University, Dalling has met lifelong friends and honed his leadership skills as president of the Honor Council, secretary of the Caribbean Students Association, and treasurer for the Catholic Campus Ministry. He also learned about campus resources and professionalism while serving as a student employee in the Dean of Students’ office.  

“I have a lot of friends who came here and grew up loving the U,” he said. “I never had that passion before, but it grew. And I attribute that to my involvements on campus. They have shaped me and helped me grow in my faith, leadership, and character.” 

Dalling said his first job was working at the Dean of Students office, and it dramatically influenced his college experience. 

“I learned how to develop professional relationships with my supervisors and the deans. Once you develop those relationships, they improve,” he said. “They also helped me get involved in a lot of student affairs activities, and I developed a passion for that. It made me think about maybe becoming a dean one day.” 

Ryan C. Holmes, the dean of students and associate vice president of student affairs, said Dalling’s attitude and work ethic is unmatched. Although most people are first struck by how nice and approachable Dalling is, he is also incredibly focused and goal-oriented, Holmes remarked. He has watched Dalling show other students how to be accepting, even if they differ in opinion. And, Holmes  has no doubt Dalling will be a successful physician one day.

“He works tirelessly because he wants to be the best at everything he does,” Holmes said. “You don’t see it on the surface, but over time you can see how tenacious he is. Anil is also the epitome of a servant leader. He gives of himself and doesn’t ask for much.”

Through his job, Dalling learned about the Honor Council. And soon, he was asked to join the student-led group—where members educate other students about academic dishonesty, as well as vote to determine a student’s future at the University, if they are suspected of cheating. These hearings can result in the student getting as little as a warning, or as severe a punishment as expulsion. Therefore, he is now well-versed in courtroom procedures, as well as how to state the facts clearly, explain his position, and defend it—all skills Dalling is thankful to have gained. 

“You learn to make very tough decisions that not only affect the student, their life, and their academic career, but you also have to think about what effect it will have on the entire UM community,” said, Dalling, who was elected president at the end of his junior year. 

Dalling also relished the chance to meet students from a variety of backgrounds through the Caribbean Students Association. He spent each fall helping to plan the group’s kickoff week leading up to the Miami-Broward Carnival in October. He also attended mass three times a week at St. Augustine Catholic Church with the Catholic Campus Ministry. In addition, he formed great bonds with his freshman year roommate, Jacob Steirer, and some neighbors from the Hecht Residential College.

“I met some of my closest friends through the leadership positions I’ve held,” he said.  “I can’t even put into words how much these organizations have helped me grow.” 

Charis Pitter, president of the Caribbean Students Association, said when she started at the University the organization seemed like it was starting to falter, but along with a few others, Dalling helped reinvigorate the group.

“He is one of those people that really made the organization feel like a family,” she said. “He made everyone feel very included, welcomed, and comfortable. And he was always there to support me.”

Because of his commitments, Dalling often did not have time to relax in the past four years. Most days he would leave his apartment early in the morning and not return until 11 p.m. Still, in between meetings, work, and his pre-med academic responsibilities, Dalling made a point to be at most football and basketball games. He describes the 2017 Hurricanes-Notre Dame football game as “the greatest sporting event I have ever attended.”

“Nobody expected that year for the ’Canes to be that good,” he exclaimed. “And we absolutely destroyed them in a stadium that was packed to the brim. I could feel the entire stadium shaking. It was an out of body experience.”  

Others noticed Dalling’s dedication to improving campus life, and this past fall he was tapped to be a part of the Iron Arrow Honor Society, one of the highest honors at the University. Like his classmates, Dalling is a bit disappointed about not being able to attend commencement this spring. But he is staying with his sister who lives just 40 minutes from campus, so he will be close enough to attend homecoming and graduation. In the meantime, Dalling hopes to become a medical scribe, while he applies to medical schools for fall 2021. His top choice?

“To me, UM is the greatest college ever,” he said. “I couldn’t see myself anywhere but here. And I want to go to Miller so I can graduate as a double ’Cane.”