The Honors College is an extended community devoted to your success in school and in your career. You’ll work closely not only with your professors but with alumni who are eager to provide opportunities and offer guidance.

Learning from Experience

On February 19, 2024, Dr. Peter Vellis ’96, DDS returned to Adelphi to meet with students and discuss his pathway from the Honors College at Adelphi, to Columbia’s College of Dental Medicine, to the US Navy, and to surgical study and practice.

Dr. Peter Vellis ’96, DDS speaking in front of Adelphi University students on campus.

Dr. Peter Vellis ’96, DDS

Oral Surgeon

The Honors College at Adelphi University helped me channel my studies through smaller class size, research opportunities and networking with other like-minded students. It was the key to my success as I pursued my professional career in oral and maxillofacial surgery. My courses in Liberal Studies helped me take command of my education to share my future and for that I am eternally grateful.

Hear what our students had to say:

“I thought it was a great experience to be able to hear from someone who has already gone through the process of undergrad, dental school, and life after, especially considering he had graduated from Adelphi as well. In addition, I felt it was very motivating as a pre-dental student that he was able to highlight how everyone has a different path and plans may not always go according to plan and that is okay.”

“Meeting Dr. Vellis was a great opportunity to learn about non-traditional pathways in medicine. Having the opportunity to hear his story was a reminder that the journey to a rewarding career is not always linear and that experiences and motivation are just as crucial as success.”

“I found the meeting with Dr. Vellis to be incredibly insightful about embarking on a journey from undergraduate school to a practicing dental professional. Hearing his journey opened my eyes to the idea that there is no correct path to success, and his saying ‘change rejection into redirection’ gave me a new perspective on dealing with future roadblocks that I may encounter.”

Meeting with Dr. Vellis was an inspiring experience that filled me with a sense of hope and reassurance on my dental journey. Discovering Dr.Vellis was a first generation student in America, attended the same high school as me, Brooklyn Tech, and embarked on a similar path through a combined dental program starting at Adelphi, was also in the honors college, forged an immediate connection between us. Dr. Vellis is someone that faced the same challenges that I faced, and has already faced challenges that I will face in the future. I was reassured that I can handle whatever comes on my way as he already did.

Even though I was reluctant about pursuing a specialization after Dental School due to the amount of time it will require, Dr. Vellis’s perspective allowed me to look for fulfillment and joy in my educational journey, instead of just chasing the end result. He explained that just because you are taking a slower route to pursue other dreams, it does not mean that you are behind. I was very lucky to be able to meet such a successful person in the field that I plan to pursue for the rest of my life thanks to our supportive staff at Adelphi University.

About Dr. Peter Vellis

Dr. Vellis was raised in Brooklyn, NY. He attended Adelphi University’s Honors program and received a BS in Biology, graduating Summa Cum Laude in 1996. He attended Columbia University College of Physician and Surgeons, graduating in 2000 with the degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery.

He has commissioned in the United States Navy Dental Corps as a Lieutenant and completed a General Practice Residency at Great Lakes Naval Hospital in Illinois. He completed a two-year tour as Dental Department Head on the supply ship USS Detroit, homeported in Earle, NJ in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Dr. Vellis was selected by the Navy to attend an oral surgery training program.

Dr. Vellis completed an advanced education training program in oral and maxillofacial surgery at the University of Minnesota in 2007. Upon completion of his training program, Dr. Vellis served as the oral surgeon on the USS Dwight D Eisenhower, homeported in Norfolk,

He deployed once again in support of combat operations. In 2009, he was assigned as head of the department of oral and maxillofacial surgery at the largest Navy dental clinic in the world in Norfolk VA. His assignment also included a staff appointment at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, where he was involved in resident education. He was then selected to the rank of Commander prior to his honorable discharge from the US Navy.

An Alumni Mentor

Danelya Zholdasbekova

Danelya Zholdasbekova

Senior majoring in finance and minoring in computer science

“I’m working in an internship at a financial management company, where an Honors College alum, Michael Khayan, is my supervisor. The assignments he gives me and the knowledge he shares with me are providing an incredible foundation for my career in finance. Working with him has shown me how important Honors College connections are. I know he will always be a mentor for me, and it has inspired me to want to go on to help students to follow their ambitions once I have established myself in my own career.”

Michael Khayan

Michael Khayan ’15

Technical Assistant to the CFO, Cerity Partners

“Dan’s critical thinking skills set her apart from other interns, which I believe is a direct consequence of the Honors College education. Honors College core courses teach you to develop sound opinions and express them clearly in the classroom. Those abilities are critical in the investment world, where you have to be able to articulate and justify investment decisions in order to be successful.”


A Creative Dialogue

Hannah Allen

Hannah S. Allen

Associate Professor, Art and Art History (Photography and Digital Media), Adelphi University

“While I’m a member of the art faculty, I’m advising a senior majoring in computer science, Kaitlyn Brooks, on her Honors College thesis. Kaitlyn’s project is on NFTs, unique digital tokens that prove ownership of artworks or other online files, and which can be sold or traded on online infrastructures. This research is by necessity interdisciplinary. In our weekly meetings, Kaitlyn constantly reminds me that the technological development of these infrastructures is, in fact, a creative endeavor, one that allows the artist and artwork to flourish. In this world of new technologies, traditional delineations between different disciplines collapse. It is exciting to work with her and to imagine new possibilities for my discipline and other disciplines.”

Kaitlyn Brooks

Kaitlyn Brooks ’22

Computer Science, Software Engineering major

“My Honors College thesis is on the role NFTs play in shaping the future of art and technology. I’m interested in the way these two different worlds are coming together to create something new. My work with Professor Allen is also a dialogue between art and technology. This interdisciplinary approach is something I’m comfortable with, since it’s the approach taken in all Honors College courses.”


Lifelong Connections

John Miller

John Miller ’12

Attorney, and post-baccalaureate clinical psychology researcher, Stony Brook University

“After graduating from Harvard Law School, I organized a group of Honors College graduates who attended prestigious law schools to serve as mentors for Honors undergraduates. Getting to speak with current students and recent graduates has been such an enriching experience for me. It has given me the ability to share what would have most helped me when I was at their level, and at the same time has kept me abreast of how the field is poised to change based on the values and ideas of the new generation of attorneys in the making.”

Rachel Vacca

Rachel Vacca ’19

Student and Levy Scholar, University of Pennsylvania Law School

“Being able to speak to Honors College alumni who had attended such prestigious law schools was invaluable to me both during the application process and even now as a 1L. The Honors College alumni gave me confidence in myself and in the process to feel that I was not at a loss, but in many ways was at an advantage to have their support. I was able to enter a top law school with a preexisting network of alumni who were not only willing but eager to help me succeed.”


A Fruitful Collaboration

Tasmiah Basher

Tasmiah Basher ’22

Psychology and Molecular Neuroscience major

“I am conducting psychological research on religious coping and its effect on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was fortunate enough to be awarded a summer research fellowship from the Honors College in 2021, which motivated me to begin research early. Through the Emerging Scholars Program in the Gordon F. Derner School of Psychology, I have been paired with a research adviser, Dr. Katherine Fiori, who has years of experience in the field of my interest, which is the intersection of culture and religion. I am now working with a doctoral student with similar interests to collect data for our research.”

Katherine Fiori

Katherine Fiori, PhD

Associate Dean, Gordon F. Derner School of Psychology, Adelphi University

“My conversations with Tasmiah have reignited some of my own earlier research passions. As an undergraduate and early on in my graduate school career, I studied the various dimensions of religious coping, with a focus on how certain types of religious coping are healthier for mental health than others. However, my research used only samples of Christian participants, whereas Tasmiah is specifically interested in examining whether religious coping might operate differently in Christians compared to Muslims. Her own experiences as a Muslim have been crucial to the formation of her research hypotheses, and she has been a fabulous team member as she collaborates with one of my doctoral students who has similar research interests. Tasmiah has challenged me to think differently about a topic I was once quite familiar with, and I look forward to seeing her project come to fruition.”


A Google Scholar’s Social Project

Jasur ShukurovJasur Shukurov ’22

Computer Science, Software Engineering major

“The topic of my thesis is “Improve Accessibility for the Visually Impaired Using Computer Vision and Deep Learning.” After graduation, I am planning to work in the software engineering industry, which is mostly driven by monetary profit. Thus, this thesis project is the best chance for me to create a social project that will benefit and help the less fortunate.”

David ChaysDavid Chays, PhD

Associate Professor, Mathematics and Computer Science, Adelphi University

“I always enjoy working with Honors College students as my research assistant. Jasur Shukurov has been assisting me and two other professors since March 2020 on an interdisciplinary research project to develop apps for early math learning. Jasur’s work is critical to the success of our project; he implemented an app designed to promote the mathematical skill of subitizing in young children. He is also my teaching assistant, serving as an exceptional mentor to the students in my introductory computer science classes. His great work has earned him a Google Generation Scholarship and a software engineering internship at Amazon. He performed so well in his internship that Amazon offered him a full-time position as a software engineer upon graduation.”


Honors Classes are Special

The Honors College experience at Adelphi is unique and thought-provoking. Honors classes are special, teaching us to interpret and connect advanced texts in new ways. The cultural outings, like our trip to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, help us understand global concepts through works of art. Faculty and students work together to deepen the learning experience at the Honors College. It’s a remarkable environment.

Adam Ayroso Junior in the BS/MD 4+4 Joint Degree Program with SUNY Upstate Medical University, majoring in biology

Working Hard in the Classroom and on the Field

I’m on Adelphi’s women’s soccer team, and I’m also a STEM major and I participate in a number of extracurriculars. It’s hard doing all that while an Honors student, but the immense amount of support I receive from my professors, friends, teammates, coaches and family make it possible.

Kendra Jimenez Junior majoring in biochemistry

A Global Perspective

I loved the Honors seminar called The Human Condition. The course analyzes Western literary motifs, but it also examines how non-Western ideas inform them. In doing that, it captures the values often shared by most individuals. It concerns the broader themes of the human experience, encouraging me and others to recognize similarities within seemingly opposing cultural contexts.

Amma Opam Junior majoring in psychology

Something to Sing About

My Honors thesis centers around an opera I wrote, which I couldn’t have written without everything I’ve gained from my four years in the Honors College. In all our seminar classes, we are encouraged to think of concepts not just as existing in the world of ideas, but as they apply to the world we live in. In my opera, what I really want is to engage my audience in the same way that my professors engaged our classes.

Kevin Lubin ’22 Music performance major

A Collaborative Environment

When I was a senior in high school, I began to entertain the idea of becoming a physician. However, I didn’t want to be in an environment that was extremely cutthroat, pitting pre-med students against each other for the sake of “competition.” I wanted to be somewhere where there was existing collaboration, and that’s what I found in the Honors College at Adelphi. Because the Honors College is so small, it’s easy to take multiple classes with people who you grow close to, and it was always reassuring to have people to study with. Something that is very common within the Honors College is using the various classrooms after “regular school hours” (as in, midnight on a Monday) to teach one another as a method of studying. I can confidently say that because of this, I have done well in each of my core STEM classes.

Nicole Basilian ’22 Molecular neuroscience major with a biology minor

The Value of Honors Seminars

I’m working on my thesis project on the best nursing practices for pain management, including effective assessment methods, appropriate use of opioids and the efficacy of potential alternatives to opioids for varying types of pain. Without my first two years of Honors courses as the backbone of my college education, I would not feel confident enough in my writing or my critical thinking skills to develop or take on such a project.

Emily Hakimi ’22 Nursing major

An Education in Empathy

The Honors College helped me increase comprehension and develop confidence, self-reflection and, most importantly, empathy. These are qualities that are indispensable when working in a clinical setting, as managing patients and their oral healthcare needs is a demanding task. Advice from my Honors College and chemistry professors and advisers was instrumental in helping me choose Columbia as my dental school. The conversations I had with them prepared me for interviews and helped me really understand what dentistry means to me on a personal level.

Vinay Maddula ’19 Biochemistry major, currently a student at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine
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