Social sciences students step back in time, reach out to elderly

May 16, 2012

Newburgh, NY -

J. LellisWearing a World War II flight suit, Mount Saint Mary College history major James Lellis leads tours for school children.

At the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in New Windsor, NY, where he is employed, he teaches them about different wars.

The Hall of Honor commemorates the extraordinary sacrifices of America's servicemen and servicewomen who were killed or wounded in combat, through collecting and preserving stories of Purple Heart recipients from all branches of service and across generations.

Lellis (right), a social sciences student seeking education certification, will put this experience to good use someday when teaching in his own classroom.

“I guide tours with mainly kids in school, ranging from third graders to high school students involved in ROTC,” said the Washingtonville, NY resident.

Lellis said he “loved the student teaching he did during his senior year at the Mount because it was the true “litmus test” of whether or not I wanted to teach. Getting first-hand experience in a classroom reinforced my love for teaching students.”

Although his role at the Hall of Honor involves historical research in preparation for leading tour groups, Lellis said he “prefers the psychology of history.”

“I love to learn about what set the stage for conflicts, how wars were fought, what psychology was involved, and what alternate realities could have happened if one pivotal event did or did not occur,” Lellis noted.

He thoroughly enjoyed a class on the Cold War taught by Thuy Linh Nguyen, who he named as a favorite Mount professor.

Lellis also cites history professors Stanley Pycior and Glenn Reynolds as his top two instructors.

“They are both well spoken and intelligent,” commented Lellis.

“Pycior’s expertise” translates well to reaching students at their level, he added.

“He's the kind of teacher who I take part of my teaching style from,” said Lellis. “When you can make students comfortable with you, that’s half the battle of letting their potential shine in the classroom.”

Z. Abdul-SalaamMount faculty Susan Vorsanger, Charles Giardina, Lawrence Force, and Sr. Peggy Murphy are human services major Zakiya Abdus-Salaam’s favorites.

Abdus-Salaam (right) worked closely with Dr. Force in the Center on Aging and Policy (CAP), a strategic initiative of Mount Saint Mary College. Promoting an interdisciplinary perspective, CAP is dedicated to excellence in research and scholarship in the field of gerontology.

Abdus-Salaam was also president of the Aging United student organization, which hosted outreach events for the elderly in the community.

Abdus-Salaam said the Mount gave her ample opportunity to “seize leadership roles.”

“My dream is to have my own business and open a traveling beauty salon for the elderly,” said Abdus-Salaam, adding that she’s “always felt called to work with seniors.”

A New York City resident, she plans to obtain an MBA degree next, and her license in cosmetology.

Her internship at Hospice of Orange and Sullivan Counties, Inc., gave her first hand experience dealing with the elderly and the dying.

“Working alongside the director in the Newburgh office,” said Abdus-Salaam, “I learned the meaning of life and how to help the families of those who were losing the battle to a fatal disease.”

The social sciences at Mount Saint Mary College include majors in history, history/political science, psychology, human services, and sociology.

Students receive a strong foundation in theories, research techniques, and analytical skills using statistical software to complete quantitative research, a highly marketable skill. In the psychology lab students gain hands-on experience that a psychologist uses in practice.

Alumni include Tiffany Reis Russell, assistant corporation counsel for City of Newburgh, NY; Lisa Neer ’97, school psychologist, Highland Public Schools; Andrew O’Grady ’88, director of case management, Mental Health Association in Dutchess County; and Kara Boivin ’06, senior client manager at Dutchess County Community Action Program.

Abdus-Salaam’s education at the Mount provided her with a sense of confidence.

“I’m prepared to take on all of life’s opportunities,” said Abdus-Salaam. “Going into the work arena, I am equipped with knowledge and a positive attitude that will get me far in life.”