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Keuka College News

All Business About Medical Service

If Jacob Banas is described as something of an over-achiever, it might be well-deserved. The graduating college senior from Delmar, N.Y., near Albany, decided in the spring of his sophomore year to add a second major —organizational communication—to the English degree he was already pursuing. That meant adding a couple of 18-credit semesters to meet requirements for both degrees.

Then he also decided to start training as an EMT so he could begin volunteering for the Branchport-Keuka Park Fire department. By October of 2013, Banas had started his 160-hours of EMT training, even staying on campus over Winter break to continue four-hour class trainings on Tuesday and Thursday nights, that ran through March 2014.

“My Tuesdays and Thursdays, I would get up for my 8 a.m. class, and not stop till 11 p.m. and maybe be up later with homework,” he recalled. “It’s a miracle I survived that semester.”

But by April 2014, Banas had passed the EMT course —which he dubbed a “First Aid class on steroids”— and could begin volunteering as a first responder on emergency calls. Soon after, Banas also joined the ambulance corps in Penn Yan. More training hours were required and Banas was recently awarded the 2014-15 Yates County award for the most individual training hours in EMT service by any medic for the year. According to Banas, the 185 training hours he logged between 2014 and 2015 does not include his 145 hours on duty or additional volunteer hours with the fire department.

“It’s a surreal moment of closure for me as I’m finishing my time here at Keuka College, to be recognized by so many friends I’ve made at both departments,” he said, calling the award “a really nice recognition.”

Banas now holds basic EMT certification, which means there are limits to what he can do or the medications he can administer. At basic certification level, EMT’s can manage fractures, head/neck or back injuries, motor vehicle accidents, cardiac issues, or allergic reactions. However, basic EMT’s are not licensed to carry narcotics or perform emergency intubations to manually open a patient’s airway as a certified paramedic would be licensed, he said.

Banas said he tries to maintain at least one to two shifts a week at the ambulance corps. “Every now and then, there’s an emergency near the College that the fire department will be called to and I respond in my free time,” he said.

EMT duties can also include driving the rig.

According to Asa Swick, director of operations for the Penn Yan Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Banas is often the first on-scene when an emergency call comes in for an incident on the College campus.

“Often, Jake is already there and he’s been able to assess and start a needed treatment and he knows so many of the staff and students, he’s on a first-name basis with most, and has a good handle how to best help them,” Swick said.

“College students make great responders, they’re looking for stuff to do in a new school, it benefits the community— it’s a win-win all the way around. Students are wonderful to work with because they already want to learn. You’re just providing them another opportunity (for an activity) and a skill they can use for the rest of their lives,” Swick said, noting that Banas’s reputation is “outstanding.”

“Jake is a great medic, gets along with everybody, and fits in really well. He’s told us that if he can find a job in his current field, he’d love to stay and we’d love to see that too. I’d love to have 20 college students that are as active, involved and dedicated as Jake. If I could have 20 Jake’s, this community would be in really awesome shape,” Swick said.

Banas snapped this Instagram photo while accompanying a news crew at Albany Medical Center.

And how does Banas see his EMT volunteer service fitting in with his unusual degree? It was just another step along his personal journey to discover his passions, he said. While he could see himself fitting into the medical field, patient care is not the strongest pull. When a friend’s mother suggested he consider hospital management, Banas began incorporating the suggestion into his required Field Period™ experiences.

In the winter of 2015, he conducted a Field Period™ in the PR department of the Albany Medical Center, writing press releases and updating a 60-page crisis communications plan, assisting staff who coordinated media interviews for the physicians and even going into the ER with a news crew to observe a patient’s deep-brain stimulation procedure. The news crew had been following the patient’s treatment for Parkinson’s disease so they were permitted in the operating room without violating patient privacy laws known as HIPPA laws.

Banas in the OR of Albany Medical Center, observing brain surgery.

Then, for spring semester 2015, Banas conducted his 80-hour senior practicum in the Community Services office of Finger Lakes Health in Geneva, so he could get a feel for similar work at a smaller hospital. He assisted staff on wellness programming to teach local schoolchildren better exercise and nutrition habits, ran the social media component of New Visions, an after-school program where high schoolers provide transport and food services to patients, and continued standard PR work writing press releases and maintaining a database of published media clips on Finger Lakes Health.

Between the two hands-on experiences, “it definitely confirmed for me that working in the hospital setting, but maybe not in patient care is where I’d see myself someday,” said Banas, who hopes to pursue a master’s in hospital administration in the future.

Jake Banas and his family celebrate his graduation.

Before graduating with his dual degrees May 23, he accepted a position as Marketing and Visitor Services Assistant at the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection in Canandaigua.

Dr. Anita Chirco, professor of communication, has served as Banas’s academic advisor and said he exemplifies the “can-do, hands-on spirit of a true Keukonian.”

“On top of the countless hours he has put in to succeed at the double majors in English and Organizational Communication, the hours of training and volunteer service he has invested in his EMT work in Keuka Park and Penn Yan have enriched our college and community immeasurably. I am so proud of him,” she said.

Field Period™ to Washington, D.C. Provides Deeper Appreciation for Nation’s History

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of features on recipients of the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award. The award, named after the late 1963 Keuka graduate, is supported by Brown’s family and the Class of ’63. It is designed to assist students who pursue a culturally-oriented Field Period™.

Washington Monument

Like many people, sophomore Joshua Sporyz has a bucket list. In particular, he has one for Washington, D.C., and he will have the chance to cross off many of the items on his list as he completes a Field Period™ in our nation’s capital.

“My bucket list has some of the big things, such as visiting the Washington Monument,” said Sporyz, a political science and history major from ­­Buffalo. “It also has the small ones, like experiencing the day-to-day life of the city by riding the subway, exploring different neighborhoods, talking to people who work and live there, trying new kinds of foods, and people-watching.”

But he is not the only Keuka College student who will travel to Washington, D.C. for his summer Field Period™. Juniors Ryan Enright and Tyler Vest, and senior Alex Pollinger, three other recipients of the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award, have set their own goals for the trip.

“This Field Period™ will serve as a valuable learning experience for me,” said Pollinger, a sociology major from Arkport. “Attending the trip to Washington D.C. will help mold my aspirations of using a graduate degree in public policy to influence change to benefit the nation and the world. This trip will also help facilitate a cultural learning opportunity that will be beneficial as a student and professional.”

Enight believes his Field Period™ will benefit him with pertinent first-hand experience and practice in real life historical investigation and application.

“My career goals are to become a high school social studies teacher, and eventually a professor of history,” said Enright, an adolescent social studies/special education major from Churchville. “The more experiences I can receive firsthand will help me achieve and develop my own philosophies of education, personal development, and civic involvement and responsibility.”

And taking civic responsibility is something to which Sproyz can relate.

“When I arrived on campus in August 2013, I had very specific plans for my four years at Keuka College,” said Sporyz, “including looking for a career path that would allow me to make a positive contribution to the world. I originally thought that criminal justice would be the right major for me, but it was my minor in sociology that really opened my eyes to how our social world operates. I realized that the social world is greatly shaped by the distribution of power and resources among citizens and the rules that govern them.”

And as politicians influence and distribute power, Enright intends to do the same in his future classroom.

White House

“Through the medium of teaching, I fully plan to influence future generations of students to become more enlightened persons, said Enright. “As a future educator, I find immense value in cherishing every opportunity to learn, experience, and grow from such encounters.”

Vest, a resident of Naples, also expects to meet his goals of expanding his knowledge of the nation’s capital.

“Judith Oliver Brown used Keuka College’s Field Period™ as an opportunity to explore not only a site for possible future employment, but to immerse herself in a city full of learning opportunities and priceless first-hand experience,” said Vest. “I share the same goals, and by attending this trip to Washington D.C. I will educate myself on how this city operates, and whether it is a place that I can aspire to one day live and work.”

Pollinger agrees.

“Spending 10 days in Washington, D.C. will serve as an excellent opportunity to experience the history, politics, and diverse culture of the nation’s capital,” said Pollinger. “I admire and identify with Judith Oliver Brown’s enthusiasm to travel and explore other cultures. These experiences provide an excellent opportunity to become a well-rounded student, and gain a broader understanding of the world, which allows me to be a lifelong learner.”

As a future teacher, Enright appreciates that philosophy as he believes that being a lifelong learner is one of the most important tools he will bring to his classroom.

“This Field Period™ is truly crucial to my own personal goals and pursuit of developing independence and pertinent experience,” said Enright. “The fact that this trip’s destination is to one of our nation’s most historically significant cities simply makes it that much more enticing.”

And Vest believes he will rely on his experiences during this Field Period™, should he find himself living in Washington, D.C. one day.

Mount Vernon

“Being a political science and history major, Washington D.C. offers the ultimate experience for a person looking to view a city containing some of the world’s most powerful and influential people,” said Vest. “This Field Period™ is also especially meaningful to me because it will be my first time going to Washington D.C.—something I have looked forward to since my interest in politics blossomed in my sophomore year of high school.”

Added Sporyz: “As someone who feels as if he has finally started to find his way in the world, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to experience the social and political forces that shape this country firsthand, and immerse myself in the culture of the nations capital.”

British Isles Provide Opportunity to Explore Heritage and Expand Horizons

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of features on recipients of the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award. The award, named after the late 1963 Keuka graduate, is supported by Brown’s family and the Class of ’63. It is designed to assist students who pursue a culturally-oriented Field Period™.

Jenna Soldaczewski

For junior Jenna Soldaczewski, traveling and exploring new cultures is something she and her family are passionate about. They have traveled to various locations in-and-out of the United States, which she said has allowed her to expand her horizons and grow culturally.

“My parents planned our family vacations to learn all that we could about the landmarks, local history, and culture [of the places we went],” said Soldaczewski, an occupational science major from Cheektowaga. “For example, while in Mexico we climbed the Mayan ruins in Coba, and visited Tulum. We have also explored the island of Aruba from end to end, admiring wild life and beautiful sea creatures.”

And thanks to receiving the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award, Soldaczewski has the opportunity to expand her travels as she will explore the British Isles for her summer Field Period™.

“This is an entirely new experience for me as I have never been across the Atlantic Ocean,” she said.

But she is not the only Keuka College student who will travel to the British Isles for her summer Field Period™. Sophomore Brianna Schlemmer, another recipient of the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award, is also embarking on her first trip across the Atlantic Ocean. She is particularly looking forward to visiting Ireland, and is intent on learning more about her family’s Irish heritage and kissing the Blarney Stone, something her grandfather and great-grandfather have done.

“My family has strong roots in Ireland, so this Field Period™ gives me the chance to explore my family’s Irish heritage,” said Schlemmer, an American Sign Language-English interpreting major from Rochester. “It also offers me experiences that will bring me deeper into the culture of Ireland.”

Schlemmer is particularly keen on exploring Dublin, where her great grandfather was “often” invited to visit his friend, President Eamon de Valera, third president of Ireland who served from June 1959-June 1973.

“I’ve always wanted to be able to make my own memories in Ireland and share them with my children and grandchildren,” said Schlemmer. “I want to gain a deeper appreciation for my heritage and where my family originated. This trip will help me expand my horizons and enrich my life.”

Soldaczewski also plans to create her own experiences and memories to share, particularly with future clients.

“My goal is to take in all I can about the culture, history, and geography of the British Isles and apply it to occupational therapy,” she said. “Dealing with all walks of life is a very large part of the role of an occupational therapist, and experiencing new cultures will give me some exposure to this. I will need to communicate with all different types of people in my career, and this trip will help prepare me for all of my future endeavors.”

Both Soldaczewski and Schlemmer intend to immerse themselves and share in the culture, land, food, lifestyles, and experiences of those who call the British Isles home. They both also believe travel is one of the greatest ways to “experience life outside of your hometown, state, and country,” said Schlemmer.

“The world was made for us to explore,” she added. “I want to try new food, music, clothing, and more. I want to enhance my cultural experience by trying everything and anything. If that means trying Ireland’s bangers and mash, or London’s deviled kidneys, then I’ll do it.”

Added Soldaczewski: “I have heard from my professors and peers that studying abroad changes you as a person. It enables you to look at things with a whole different perspective. This trip will forever change my life.”

“Go for It!”

Buoyed by high spirits and sunny skies, the 488 members of the Keuka College Class of 2015 and marched forward into the future, inspired by words of advice and encouragement from two high achievers. Saturday marked the 107th Commencement Exercises for Keuka College.

Both U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D- N.Y.), and Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz, president of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. relayed personal stories of overcoming adversity, offering advice to the graduates how to turn challenges into stepping stones.

While pursuing his first degree in electrical engineering, Dr. Hurwitz had no tutors, interpreters or note-takers, and had to rely entirely upon lip-reading. In one especially challenging electronics course, he had the option to take an F as his grade and repeat the course, or take a D and move on. After careful consideration, Hurwitz chose the F “because failing meant that I had another chance,” he told graduates.

Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz

“After the second time around, I got an A,” he said. “As you embark on your careers or post-graduate studies, remember that failure is not the end. Failing at something does not mean that you are a failure. It simply offers you an opportunity to learn and grow and do better the next time.”

Indeed, Dr. Hurwitz’s own story showcases his drive to overcome the many challenges and barriers he faced growing up as a deaf child in Sioux City, Iowa, before eventually rising through the ranks at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) at the Rochester Institute of Technology to become its president. After a 40-year career at NTID, Dr. Hurwitz went on to become president of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., which, similar to NTID, serves students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Sen. Chuck Schumer

In a similar way, Sen. Schumer also made the most of a challenge faced after earning his bachelor’s degree. After missing an opportunity to travel the world for one year on an all-expense paid scholarship, Schumer stopped moping, dusted himself off, graduated law school and went on to earn his first seat as a NYS Assemblyman at the age of 23.

“The fact that you’ve gotten this great education at Keuka College and the fact that you are the first generation to grow up amidst this new technology so it’s almost instinct to you means one thing: If there was ever a time to figure out what your dream is and reach high for it, even if it seems hard to get to, now is that time,” Schumer told graduates in a surprise visit to the stage. “Reach deep down inside yourself. See what you’re made of.  See if you can achieve that dream. My advice to the Class of 2015 is very simple: Go for it!”

“It’s not only my hope, not only my prayer, but indeed it is my confidence that you will succeed with flying colors and achieve your dreams,” Schumer said.

In additional activity at Commencement:

Lauren Esposito poses for a group selfie with the Class of 2015.

For more photos from Commencement, click here.

Bridgette Fletcher Takes a Different Look at TeamWorks!

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of 2015 Experiential Learner of the Year award nominees. Students who are nominated must submit an extensive portfolio in order to be considered for recognition. Their portfolio must document an outstanding Field Period™ experience, strong co-curricular learning, and a community service/service learning component.

Each year before the new academic year kicks off in August, students new to Keuka College participate in several TeamWorks! Adventure program activities on the high and low elements of the Birkett-Mills Challenge Course.

And senior Bridgette Fletcher was no exception. But she wanted to dig deeper than the physical challenge TeamWorks! provides.

“Having participated in a few TeamWorks! programs, I approached Molly [McGuigan, adventure program and TeamWorks! manager] and asked if anyone had ever evaluated what the facilitators do from a psychological perspective,” said Fletcher, a psychology major from Walton. “When the answer was no, I knew I wanted to do my last Field Period™ with this program, and really delve into what it is all about.”

“Bridgette was initially interested in observing my staff facilitation training purely to learn and apply her psychology courses to the groups development,” said McGuigan. However, during our planning it became clear that with her skill level she needed a much larger challenge.”

So, with three days to go until McGuigan’s new staff came, she handed Fletcher a textbook, gave her the facilitators’ personality assessments and a brief overview, and asked if she would use the week of training to determine whether or not this assessment would be useful for adventure facilitators.

“My main objective was to observe and analyze the training process new facilitators undergo before classes start in the fall, to learn the DISC as a tool to assess behavior, and to have the new facilitators be aware of different behavior styles by having them take the DISC themselves,” said Fletcher. “My goals were to better understand adventure therapy, team building, and positive and negative reinforcement. Each participant learned how to manage their behavior style and adapt it to the group so that they all effectively and efficiently worked together.”

“Bridgette single-handedly taught 12 College students about their behaviors, how to interact with others, and how to adapt programming and communication to the personality of clients,” said McGuigan. “Her work not only changed these individuals, but will improve the quality of programming they provide, and has made them better communicators in general. Due to the success of Bridgette’s seminar, and the noticeable improvement of staff quality, this is going to be made common practice for staff training.”

The training for the program consisted of a dozen undergraduate students during a 70-hour week. The facilitators had to work together in various activities to meet a goal, complete every activity the course uses, and create their own.

“Bridgette’s results are comparable to those of certified professionals, which is even more impressive given she had less than one week of preparation,” said McGuigan. “When it comes to working with assessing individuals and groups, she is a natural. She is compassionate, intelligent, and has a follow-through that I don’t see in students any more. She doesn’t just say ‘this is a great idea’ or ‘this would be cool’ she immediately looks to implement it.”

And Professor of Psychology Dr. Drew Arnold agrees.

“In Bridgette’s courses and Field Period™ experiences, she has consistently gone beyond the immediate course requirements to gain a more comprehensive and personally satisfying understanding of her experiences,” said Arnold, a licensed psychologist. “In all of her academic pursuits, she has been a fully engaged and active learner who has shown initiative and very effective critical thinking skills.”

For example, during the three weeks Fletcher took to complete her Field Period™, she observed or participated in more than 100 group activities.

“I found I needed to learn so I could become a better observer, as my behavior style makes me want to participate, be a leader, and complete tasks,” said Fletcher. “Once I stepped back though, I watched the group grow in a variety of ways.”

According to Fletcher, the group celebrated achievements when finishing critical thinking and trust activities, and got frustrated with each other when activities took longer and were more difficult to complete.

“They stepped outside of their comfort zones, did things they wouldn’t ordinarily do, and developed a strong trust with each other,” said Fletcher.

Prior to starting this Field Period™, Fletcher admitted she had not been aware TeamWorks! was therapeutic.

“I merely thought what the facilitators did was icebreakers and had a goal to get strangers familiar with one another,” she said. “I now know it is so much more than that. I am taking away the importance of debriefing, as it puts every participant on the same page with an activity. I believe debriefing is therapeutic, particularly in activities that increased frustration levels, it was helpful in decreasing tension within the group.”

“Bridgette accomplished an extraordinary amount in a few short weeks with very long hours,” said McGuigan. “Not only did she learn all technical facilitation skills needed to be an advanced challenge course professional, she also learned to teach and implement a behavioral assessment that she had no prior experience with. Bridgette has a versatile skill set and an innate ability to understand the big picture. Her meticulous work and passion for the subject resulted in a phenomenal program.”

Arnold adds he believes Fletcher “is a reflective, personable, and thoughtful person who is open to the feelings of others, as well as to differing value systems and new ideas,” he said. “She is effectively self-critical and has insight into her learning and personal developmental needs.”

Added Fletcher: “This Field Period™ changed the way I look at group interaction, and the skills and techniques I learned will be something I possess for the rest of my career. From this Field Period™, I believe I am a better observer, stronger leader, and I began to think critically and analytically. I learned an incredible amount about teamwork, behavior styles, and communication. I could have never imagined that I would learn and grow so much in such a short amount of time.”

In addition to her Field Period™ experiences, Fletcher is a member of the Equestrian Club, KC Tom’s Club (president), Adventure Club, Psychology Club, a New Student Orientation mentor, serves on the Student Senate and the Campus Rec Advisory Council, and is an admissions Gold ambassador, earned a received the Board of Trustees Scholarship.