Dr. Maria Grace LaRusso is an assistant for specialized counseling who provides counseling and outreach services at Hunter College, CUNY, and Holy Cross High School, Bayside Queens. A pioneering member of the Calandra Institute, she joined the organization in 1980 during its early creation. Dr. LaRusso earned an M.Ed. in Counseling from Teachers College, Columbia University, and is a certified school psychologist and licensed mental health practitioner. Her lifelong interest regarding the influence of Italian American identity and family systems emerged during her work as a counselor at Lehman High School, Bronx. To further understand the complexity of psychosocial influences and personality development, she attended Fairleigh Dickinson University, one of the few institutions in the ’70s to offer course work that examined Italian American psychohistory. Her dissertation is titled A Portrait of Third Generation Italian American Life. Post-doctoral training includes: grief and bereavement studies, and clinical interventions with hospice patients. She is a member of the Association for Death Education and facilitates training for CUNY doctoral counseling interns pertaining to serious illness, death, and bereavement issues.