May 16, 2012
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
“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
faculty Susan Vorsanger, Charles Giardina, Lawrence Force, and Sr.
Peggy Murphy are human services major Zakiya Abdus-Salaam’s
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
Abdus-Salaam was also president of the Aging United student
organization, which hosted outreach events for the elderly in the
Abdus-Salaam said the Mount gave her ample opportunity to “seize
“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
“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
The social sciences at Mount Saint Mary College include majors
in history, history/political science, psychology, human services,
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
“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