Member of Adelphi University’s 10 Under 10.“I like to think of myself as someone who is honest, someone who is responsible and someone who is loving.”—Allen Louissaint, B.A. ’09, M.A. ’11
In today’s economy, teaching jobs are hard to come by for new college graduates. There is more competition, fewer teaching positions open and an increase in career changers entering the field of education. Despite a bleak job market, Allen Louissaint is not discouraged. He knows a career in teaching is for him. “Every time I’m in the classroom I’m reminded more and more: this is what I want to do,” he said.
A political science major at Adelphi, Mr. Louissaint had an epiphany his senior year. “I had to self-evaluate where my interests were. I thought to myself, ‘I like political science, I like history…but I also like kids,’” he said. “I thought, ‘What can I do that incorporates all of those things?’” The answer was teach.
The community service projects he participated in his next two years at Adelphi only solidified his choice. His senior year, he and several other Adelphi students traveled to Montego Bay, Jamaica where they visited Mustard Seed Communities and participated in a week-long mission trip, helping to prepare a new building to house pregnant teens and handicapped and orphaned children. “There were only five or six aids to 20 kids—they could use all the help they could get,” he said. “We spent much of our week with the kids, playing and gardening with them—just giving them the attention they needed.”
As a graduate student pursuing his master’s degree in adolescent education, Mr. Louissaint participated in his second service trip at Adelphi through the Newman Club, which he was actively involved in on campus. This time he and his fellow classmates participated in a missionary trip to Benque Viejo del Carmen, Belize for eight days.
“We were mixed into groups to volunteer on different days as a speaker in a school or as a construction worker, building the foundation of a house for a single mother with eight children,” he said. While constructing the foundation of a house was challenging work, it taught him the importance of teamwork. “First we dug out the trenches around the perimeter of the land. Next, one group manually mixed cement with dirt and water, and another group tied steel frames together to make the flooring,” he said. “Although I had a few scrapes and blisters, and was covered with cement, the experience was worth it because we helped a poor family in need gain a house they could now call their own.”
When Mr. Louissaint was working at the school in Belize, he spoke to students about relationships and faith, served as a mentor and coordinated after school activities. “I loved being in front of the class teaching and making connections with kids, which confirmed my decision to attend Adelphi’s graduate education program to become a history teacher.”
Whether he is working with children in Central America or on Long Island substitute teaching in the Valley Stream and North Shore school districts, Mr. Louissaint savors the relationships that develop between educator and students. “It’s the connection beyond the materials, beyond knowing when World War II happened,” he said. “It’s trying to make sure students become good students, but beyond that, good people. And I feel I have that responsibility. I believe I am a role model for the kids.”
He is setting an example his students can look up to. When Mr. Louissaint is not in the classroom, you can find him at Mercy Medical Center, volunteering in the physical therapy department. “I love getting to know patients who just had knee surgery or hip replacements…and are walking in two to three weeks,” he said. “It’s amazing to be able to witness that.”
While he is there to assist the patients in any way he can, he often finds that they are the ones who make the greatest impact—on him. “Witnessing patients depend on others for help and listening to them share their stories with me…it’s humbling. The experience is so rewarding,” he said.
Mr. Louissaint has been volunteering at Mercy Medical Center since high school. He continued his involvement in Mercy’s physical therapy department throughout his years at Adelphi— he feels the institution shaped him into the person he is today.
“I had a conversation with a family friend recently, who was talking about how it is important for her children to go away to a university with a big name,” he said. “I said to myself, ‘You can spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to go to some big name school, and not get half the experience I received at Adelphi. I came to Adelphi because I knew professors would know me by name, not number. Adelphi has a campus you can come to and not get lost. When I’m at Adelphi, I feel at home.
“I love the University,” he said. “I want to stay connected to my alma mater. I want to be an ambassador to the University. I want to see it continue to grow. I want everyone to recognize all the great things Adelphi has to offer.”