Andrew Denecke, a sophomore psychology major who serves as chaplain for Valparaiso University’s Social Action Leadership Team (SALT), has been selected for a fellowship program that will help equip and inspire young leaders to make a difference in the global effort to end deaths caused by malaria.

The Lutheran Malaria Initiative Fellowship, through Lutheran World Relief, will provide opportunities for students at Lutheran campuses to manage awareness and fundraising campaigns in their campus communities. Denecke will receive a stipend and a program budget, as well as funding to travel to Africa to learn firsthand how malaria affects communities.

Malaria is a treatable and preventable disease that is killing more than 800,000 people a year. The goal of the Lutheran Malaria Initiative is to end malaria deaths by 2015. Through this program, the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod helps to provide mosquito nets, insecticides, medication, health care, education and more to eliminate deaths caused by this disease.

Denecke also serves as house manager, steward and chaplain for his fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi. After learning of the fellowship opportunity from University Pastor James Wetzstein, Denecke shared his joy of serving and expressed interest in the opportunity to do so globally.

“I hope to transfer my passion for this project to the campus as a whole,” said Denecke. “Malaria is completely preventable, but we need to work to change behavior and to spread awareness.”

Wetzstein said that there has been an ongoing relationship between LWR and SALT, and that LWR has been increasingly interested in developing young leaders. He believes that having a student from Valpo involved with LWR at this level will benefit SALT.

“Andrew has a deep commitment to human service that is deeply formed by his own faith as a Christian, and that makes him a great fit with Lutheran World Relief,” said Wetzstein. “He has solid leadership skills and communicates with passion and clarity.”

Denecke is planning his fellowship and is in the process of recruiting a student action team to help coordinate events. The focus of the action team for this semester will be to develop a strategic plan for the next 18 months to help raise funds and educate throughout the campus. Denecke said there may be an opening event at the end of the spring semester, and that most of the events will be held during the fall semester.

The second phase of the fellowship includes a trip to Tanzania to work on health education and learn more about the effects of malaria. Denecke will join other student fellows and a group from Lutheran World Relief to teach people how they can change their behavior to help prevent malaria, and to reduce and eventually eliminate deaths caused by this disease.

About Valparaiso University
Valparaiso University is a comprehensive independent Lutheran university with more than 4,000 students on its campus located in Northwest Indiana, an hour from Chicago. Valpo is a community of purpose-driven, service-minded and ethical individuals who embrace the pursuit of truth with freedom, humility and compassion. Valpo has been identified as one of the top master’s-level institutions in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report magazine for the past 22 years. Valparaiso University offers 110 undergraduate academic programs through the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Engineering and Nursing. Valpo also has a distinguished honors college, a School of Law and more than 40 degree and certificate programs in its Graduate School and Continuing Education Division. Valpo has been recognized for its commitment to outstanding teaching, preparing thoughtful leaders with strong cross-cultural skills and global awareness, and dedication to serving others.