Jun 28, 2017


Hypnotist Tom DeLuca — a University tradition

First-year welcome weekend highlight returns again


Hypnotist Tom DeLuca travels the country performing at college campuses and business events.


Tom DeLuca’s hypnotist show attracts new and old students alike year after year.

First-years are bombarded with a barrage of monotonous welcome packets, information sessions and orientation activities once they arrive on Grounds. But one event during move-in weekend is not like the other: Tom DeLuca’s hypnotist show.

A one-on-one hypnotist turned entertainer, DeLuca travels the country to perform hypnosis shows and conduct workshops for colleges and business corporations. With several entertainment awards under his belt, DeLuca is a nationwide icon in his industry.

DeLuca’s interest in hypnotism piqued when a professor inspired him to pursue a future in the industry while he was earning a master’s in psychology from the University of Illinois.

“When I started out in college, one of my professors helped me get involved in hypnotizing people for things like losing weight and quitting smoking,” DeLuca said. “That’s how I got into it. I was fascinated with it.”

After performing in hotels and nightclubs in New York City, DeLuca realized his niche was on college campuses. Visiting a laundry list of schools including Elon, Johns Hopkins, Virginia Tech, Tulane, William & Mary and Dartmouth, DeLuca spends the fall on a whirlwind with America’s college freshmen.

“Students are interesting and creative,” DeLuca said. “I felt there was more of a challenge and more of a risk doing the colleges and corporations because if they don’t like you, they won’t ask you back.”

Though performing night after night can be exhausting, with a crowd as large as the University, DeLuca says it is easy to stay energized.

“I get so wired for the U.Va. show [because] it is outdoors [and] the crowd is huge with big signs,” DeLuca said. “Those shows you just get so pumped for, but when you’re tired, you really just have to get yourself really focused. I try and get into a position before the show where I concentrate on what I’m going to do. Coffee helps too.”

DeLuca’s hypnosis show allows new first-years and new friends to bond over a common event. Asked back year after year by University Programs Council and other select organizations on Grounds, DeLuca’s show brings about a collaboration among University organizations.

“I think Tom DeLuca is one of our most successful events because it’s an unspoken collaboration with a lot of other organizations on Grounds,” said UPC chair Elly Roller, a fourth-year College student.

DeLuca is a University tradition — even commemorated on the University’s “Things To Do Before We Graduate” list.

“The show is a big camaraderie builder, a real bonding experience,” DeLuca said. “It’s magical; people talk about it as long as it’s something special. Especially at the alumni events, former students [tell] me they have never forgotten the event [where] they met their friends.”

Published August 19, 2014 in Life

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