Upbringing, Education and Experiential Learning Gives Daniel Ortiz ’20 a Global Perspective

Perspective is a beautiful thing. Ask Daniel Ortiz. The 2020 Dean’s List and summa cum laude graduate of Holy Family University credits the diversity of his family, the challenges of his autism spectrum disorder, and the experiences of his internship with the Global Philadelphia Association with giving him a unique vantage point of the world, and its endless possibilities, at such a young age.

“I am an ‘Irish O’Rican,’” Ortiz said jokingly.  “My mother, Christine McShea, is Irish.  My father, Miguel Ortiz, is Puerto Rican. Both of my parents were Philadelphia police officers. I also have a form of autism that presents anxiety and socialization issues. I was raised, along with my two older sisters (Teresa ’19 and Amanda) on the straight and narrow and taught to be tolerant of everyone.”

That tolerance was reinforced through the values that Ortiz encountered at Holy Family, where he studied communications, with an emphasis on social and emerging media, and minored in history. Among his undergraduate accolades, Ortiz was named the recipient of the Core Values Award for Integrity and the Lambda Pi Eta Award for scholarship and commitment to public service. 

So, it made sense when Angela Cutchineal ’06 and Brett Fucci, professionals in the University’s Career Services Office at the time, approached him about an interesting internship opportunity with Global Philadelphia Association (GPA), a nonprofit dedicated to promoting Philadelphia as an influential World Heritage City and as a vital, diverse center for global affairs. The organization works to help those who think globally create valuable benefits and connections, both economic and cultural, for the Greater Philadelphia region.

“I started out as a communications/marketing intern at GPA for my internship and then was brought on by President Zabeth Teelucksingh to be the social media specialist,” said Ortiz, who worked at GPA from May 2019 to August 2019, and then again from April 2020 to May 2022. “I was responsible for managing all the social media output (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok), and I managed a team of social media interns from different colleges and backgrounds.  I also met a variety of people from a bunch of different ethnic backgrounds, and I encouraged them to incorporate their ethnicity and language into their social media posts.  It helped expand our fan base online and brought attention to our live events and livestreaming.

“The experience with Global Philadelphia Association was the best, especially working with Zabeth,” he continued.  “I have been forever grateful to Zabeth for getting my career started.  She was a terrific leader and exactly the person you would want to have as your leader. She was very helpful and gave great feedback. I always loved to hear what she had to say. She often had really good ideas about social media management.  The position gave me an opportunity to be creative and to be a leader among my peers.”

The respect was mutual from Teelucksingh who noted, during a recent taping with Holy Family President Dr. Anne Prisco for an upcoming podcast episode of “Asked & Answered,” that, as her first intern from Holy Family University, “Daniel was a great asset to Global Philadelphia and shed new light on many aspects of our social media.”

The GPA experience, as well as recent freelance social media, communication and blogging roles, has left Ortiz, a fourth-degree blackbelt in karate and a video game enthusiast, confident that his career path will continue to call upon his communications degree (he hopes to pursue a master’s degree in marketing), and may incorporate his love of history and museums.

“I am not motivated by money as much as I am about finding a position where I can make a positive impact and be happy, where I can be a positive contributor and can be the best person I can be,” Ortiz said.  “I have learned to just be myself and to always be ready and open to learning new things, to stay on top of trends and to incorporate my own creativity into my assignments. I know that because of my background, I see things differently than others might see them.”

Which, as Ortiz can attest, is not necessarily a bad thing. It all goes back to that beautiful perspective. The way we choose to see the world, does indeed, create the world we see.


Jan Giel