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Keuka College Chorale to Sing with University of Rochester Chamber Orchestra

Keuka College Chorale

The Keuka College Chorale will perform with the University of Rochester Chamber Orchestra Wednesday, Oct. 29.

Free and open to the public, the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. in Norton Chapel. The program includes the Overture to The Barber of Seville by Rossini; Symphony No. 41, the Jupiter, by Mozart; and Habanera from Georges Bizet’s opera, Carmen.

According to Dr. David Harman, director of orchestral activities and conductor of the University of Rochester River Campus Orchestras, the music for the concert “is a collection of very accessible and popular classical pieces.”

Kelley Hamilton, assistant professor of music and director of music programs is “excited to collaborate with Dr. Harman. He is the consummate musician and an excellent conductor. This concert will give our Keuka College students a rare opportunity to sing with a live orchestra.”

University of Rochester Chamber Orchestra

The University of Rochester Chamber Orchestra’s 40 student musicians perform throughout the Rochester community and tours both in the United States and internationally, including Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Italy, Montreal, and Chile. Performing music from the baroque to the contemporary, the chamber orchestra showcases the versatility of the university’s students.

Harman says the concert at Keuka College will be “very uplifting, and filled with delightful melodies and positive energy. Our students and I are excited to return to Keuka College for another collaboration with Professor Hamilton and her singers. Kelley will be the vocal soloist on Habanera, and it will feature the Keuka College Chorale. The Jupiter is Mozart’s final—and perhaps most brilliant—symphonic work.”

Harman earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from California State University at Sacramento, and earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Eastman School of Music. He has also studied at the Aspen Music School, and in Paris as a French Government Scholar.

In addition to his position at the University of Rochester, Harman also serves as music director of the Penfield Symphony Orchestra and music director emeritus of the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.

Poet Melissa Balmain to Read from Her Works as part of Keuka College’s Spotlight Series

Keuka College’s Spotlight Series will continue Thursday, Nov. 6 with a poetry reading by Melissa Balmain.

The reading, free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. in the Gannett Room of Lightner Library.

Balmain, an adjunct instructor of English at the University of Rochester, earned her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University. A humorist and journalist, Balmain recently became editor of Light, the country’s oldest journal of light verse, which she helped revive and bring online after 20 years in print. Her subjects have ranged from popular culture to parenthood to cattle ranchers to collies that surf.

Her first full-length poetry collection, Walking in on People, is the winner of the 2013 Able Muse Book Award. Her collection was selected by final judge X.J. Kennedy, who has also been part of the College’s Spotlight Series.

In Walking in on People, the serious is lightened with a generous serving of wit and humor, and the lighthearted is enriched with abundant wisdom. Subjects range from the current and hip (Facebook posts, online dating, layoffs, retail therapy, cell-phone apps, trans fat), to the traditional and time-tested (marriage, child-rearing, love, death), and includes such forms as the villanelle, ballad, triolet, nonce, and the sonnet.

Balmain’s poems have been published in such anthologies as The Iron Book of New Humorous Verse and Killer Verse, and in American Arts Quarterly, Lighten Up Online, Measure, Mezzo Cammin, Poetry Daily, the Spectator (UK), and the Washington Post. Her prose has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, McSweeney’s, and Details, among others. She is a columnist for Success magazine and the author of a memoir, Just Us: Adventures of a Mother and Daughter.

Balmain has won national journalism honors and been a finalist for the Donald Justice Poetry Prize, the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, and the X.J. Kennedy Parody Award.

New Television Cooking Competition has Keuka College Connection

Next time you go to your favorite restaurant, you might want to take a second look at the menu. Thanks to On the Menu, a new reality series on TNT, original family recipes will soon be added to 10 different chain restaurants’ menus. On the Menu premiered Friday, Oct. 3, and the Oct. 24 episode will have a Keuka College connection.

Garrett Zur ’09, who is earning his master’s degree at Keuka College, will be one of four amateur home cooks featured on the new show’s fourth installment. He and his fellow cooks will compete to put their family’s recipes on the menus of such restaurant chains as Chili’s, Outback Steakhouse, and The Cheesecake Factory, among others. One restaurant will be featured for each of the 10 episodes.

“I cannot share what was made, but the challenge for the episode was to create a new decadent dessert for Planet Hollywood,” said Zur, who learned about the competition from Twitter. “I wanted to participate because it is my culinary passion to be on TV and with TNT having a new cooking show, why not be part of that? It is an awesome experience—one like no other. It was such an honor to have this opportunity.”

On the Menu, hosted by Ty Pennington and Chef Emeril Lagasse, who serves as Menu Master, bills itself as the first cooking competition show ever to give viewers at home the chance to taste the dishes they see on screen, as well as give everyday cooks the chance to have their dish appear in restaurants across the country.

Each episode of On the Menu opens on a set that looks like the featured chain restaurant. And like Zur’s favorite cooking show, Food Network’s Chopped, the four cooks must face a series of elimination challenges in order to make it to the final round.

“I like Chopped because it uses ingredients that I sometimes have in my house and it tests my creativity on what I could make,” said Zur. “Plus, any food challenges are fun to watch.”

In the first round, Zur and his competition must demonstrate their understanding of all things Planet Hollywood through an intense preliminary challenge. In the second round, the three remaining cooks must each create their own new dish for the restaurant and serve it to a room full of hungry diners and super fans of the featured eatery, whose votes will determine who moves on to the final round.

But the cooks don’t have to face the challenges alone. Pennington leads competitors through each of the elimination challenges, while Lagasse provides his expertise as a seasoned chef and industry insider, using his vast knowledge of cooking, branding, and sales to help the contestants shape their culinary creations.

After refining and perfecting their dishes based on the comments they receive from the diners in round two, the final two cooks serve their creations to Pennington, Lagasse, and representatives from the featured restaurant, in whose hands the final decision rests.

And if Zur wants his culinary creation on Planet Hollywood’s menu, he will need to rely on the skills he learned from his mother, one of his earliest influences in the kitchen.

“Ever since I was a kid, I have loved baking. I got my baking ‘gene’ from my mom who taught me the art of baking,” said Zur. “The best lesson my mom taught me was to lick the beaters. She would always say ‘if the batter tastes good, then the cake or dessert will taste good.’”

The hardest part of baking, said Zur, is knowing that it is chemistry. “You have to precisely measure each ingredient or it will not work, unlike cooking where you can eyeball. The easiest part? There are so many simple recipes out there.”

Zur also credits such television chefs as Chef Pasquale Carpino, Rachael Ray, and Debbie Fields—of Mrs. Fields Cookies fame—as impacting his culinary aspirations.

“At age 14, I started watching Rachael Ray. She is my culinary idol—I love watching and learning from her,” said Zur. “She has so many different books, tips, and tricks. I love her cookware and her daytime show. She truly taught me how to cook without needing a lot of direction. Her Cookin’ Round the Clock was the first cookbook I ever got. She didn’t attend culinary school, so she also taught me that you don’t need a culinary degree to pursue the passion of food.”

Armed with that knowledge, and the confidence he gained from making his culinary television debut, Zur is one step closer to making his dream come true.

Added Zur: “One day, I want my own cooking show, but my next step is to complete my master’s degree. Then hopefully, I will appear on more TV shows for cooking. For now, I will spread my ‘fooditude’ to anyone interested.”

Zur’s episode of On the Menu airs Friday, Oct. 24 at 8 p.m. on TNT.

Reich is Wrong about College Being a Ludicrous Waste of Money

By College President Dr. Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera

As predictable as students returning to their college classrooms every fall is the attack on the value of a college education—in particular a liberal arts education—in print.

What makes the latest round of punches surprising is the person throwing them. It’s hard to believe that one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy and a graduate of Dartmouth, Oxford, and Yale would pen a piece titled “College is a Ludicrous Waste of Money.”

But that is exactly what Robert Reich, former secretary of labor under President Clinton and current Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley did in a recent issue of Salon.

Professor Reich’s piece came on the heels of “For Some Graduates, College Isn’t Worth the Debt,” written by The Wall Street Journal’s Doug Belkin. In terms of name recognition, Belkin doesn’t pack the wallop Reich does, but his vehicle wields a lot more influence—not to mention readers—than Salon.

Professor Reich gets right to the point, stating that “a four-year liberal arts education is hugely expensive” and “too many young people graduate laden with debts that take years if not decades to pay off.”

As president of Keuka College, I will speak from an independent college perspective only. I disagree with the esteemed Professor Reich. In 2011-12, more than 25 percent of students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree from a four-year independent college or university did not have any debt at all and the average debt load was $19,500. And here is one of the reasons: independent colleges give students nearly six times as much institutional grant aid as does the federal government.

Belkin weighs in on the debt issue, writing “…one in 10 borrowers is 90 days late on payments.”  Perhaps, but the average student loan default rate for independent college graduates is only 5.2 percent.

Belkin states that “roughly a quarter of college graduates with jobs are earning barely more than those with only a high-school diploma.” This is deceiving, since our country is still recovering from a severe economic downturn. But here’s some numbers Belkin did not mention: lifetime earnings of college degree holders range from $700,000 to $1 million more than those who have only a high school diploma.

Professor Reich asserts that “too often in America we equate ‘equal opportunity’ with an opportunity to get a four-year liberal arts degree; it should equate to “an opportunity to learn what’s necessary to get a good job.” You are right on both counts, Professor Reich. A college degree provides the best opportunity to get a good job.

Professor Reich isn’t off base with his contention that “we’ve allowed vocational and technical education to be downgraded and denigrated.” However, to put the blame on “our aspirations to increasingly focus on four-year college degrees” is way off base.

Why do technical and liberal arts educations have to be mutually exclusive? The fact is many liberal arts colleges are infusing some level of vocationalism into their curricula. At Keuka College, we are combining digital with liberal arts. Our graduates will understand the basic canon of our civilization and how to explore and communicate their ideas using modern tools through interactive visual communication, data manipulation and analytics.
As the late Steve Jobs said, “… it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”

I hope that Professor Reich did not write the headline for his opinion piece. It would be ludicrous to believe that one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century, according to TIME magazine, actually believes college is a waste of money.

Honduras Trip Inspires Social Work Student

Young friends Jamie and Kristen with Sarah, second from left, and misson teammate Jennifer, right.

When Sarah Ameigh flew to Honduras in August she carried two suitcases and a carry-on bag. The carry-on held her clothes and personal items, while the suitcases were crammed with fabric. Intended for the women of Tegucigalpa, the capital city, the fabric was destined for use in sewing and crafting small items such as table runners, scarves and tote bags the women sell in order to support their families.

Poverty is rampant in Honduras.

In Honduras, poverty is nearly as rampant as the crime caused by roving gangs – primarily fueled by the drug cartels. With many men caught up in illegal gang activity, or busy working harsh jobs, few children see their fathers; often, siblings don’t even have the same mother and father, Ameigh described. As such, education and empowerment to learn skills that can sustain a family become critical. Indeed, each of the 13 other travelers also flying with Ameigh filled their own suitcases with other supplies, medicine or craft materials needed to benefit the schoolchildren and families they came to serve with the “Border Buddies” mission organization.

The myriad of socio-economic issues facing the families and children in Honduras was a fascinating study for Ameigh, who is completing a bachelor’s degree in social work through Keuka College, studying each week at Corning Community College through the Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP).

“Social work is all about human service. One of the main goals is to be out there and help promote change and social change,” she said, explaining that the primary purpose of the service trip was to add four new classrooms and a kitchen to a school building used for 250 children ages four through 12. The trip was sponsored through Ameigh’s home church, Victory Highway Wesleyan Church in Painted Post, and was the 30th visit in nine years that members of the church have made to that city and its mission outposts, she said.

According to Ameigh, all 250 schoolchildren had been “plastered in” to just six classrooms and most had no place to eat at school, one of the few places that can help counter the poverty at home. Even so, there are few books, but because the children have no better comparison, they are simply happy to be there, she said.

This gated school was built by the "Border Buddies" mission two years prior to Ameigh's trip.

Like many other locales within the city, the school grounds were gated because of the threat of gang violence. According to Ameigh, the threat was so strong that mission team members were not allowed to go near the gates as they worked on the building repairs in order to ensure their safety. The team members heard that gang initiations often require killing another gang member or a personal family member and learned that only one in three children is safe from the threat of assault.

Building school rooms for the kids provides a safe place to learn, so they can get off the streets and have a good job,” said Ameigh, who missed one week of her ASAP classes to participate in the trip, but had the full support of her professors, Susan Grover Vanpelt and Doyle Pruitt.

Overlooking the capital city: Sarah, right, teammate Nada, center and missionary Glenda, left.

While Ameigh completed a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 2002, after a brief stint in the banking industry, she switched jobs and started working for the Steuben County ARC. Ten years later, the passion for her work prompted her to enroll in the Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP) for a bachelor’s degree in social work. Ultimately, she hopes to complete an MSW degree and become a licensed clinical social worker with a focus in counseling, she said.

On the first full day of service, the mission team set to work transforming the shell into new schoolrooms. While Ameigh helped sand walls, then prime, paint and sand some more, others including her older sister Bethany worked on the roof of the building. As the week, and work, continued, the team – which ranged from two 15-year-old boys to adults in their 50s – made visits to other local schools in the afternoons. While a few women would instruct native women in the sewing and craft techniques, others such as Ameigh would keep the children busy playing games such as soccer, or learning their own arts and crafts.

In contrast to Sarah’s two suitcases stuffed with fabric, Bethany Ameigh carried plastic “melting beads” in her two suitcases, Sarah said. Gathered with string, the beads are melted with an iron into fun shapes, Sarah Ameigh said. The two sisters learned that balloon animals were also quite a draw and that Honduran children have a funny habit of coating their bodies with the colored dust from sidewalk chalk decorating the ground.

The children made crafts from "melting" beads brought by the service team.

Citing her course in human behavior, Ameigh said much of life success is impacted by the environment a child grows up in. The missionary couple hosting the team from New York’s southern tier emphasized especially to men in the group “to be sure to spend time with the kids because fathers aren’t really part of their lives,” said Ameigh.

“Unless something intervenes, they’ll end up in the same situation as their family [members],” she said.

Children made a special presentation to the group on the final day of their visit.

Recalling how the missionary couple described the rescue of one young man, previously living a life of crime and violence, Ameigh said the trip helped show her the value of the career she’s pursuing.

“He’d leave after school Friday, party the whole weekend and come back on Monday. But he’s now part of the youth group, has to show up two nights a week, hold to a certain grade standard, and [sell food] around the barrio to make money,” she described. “The missionaries are saving one life of a child on the streets and now these kids are working and going into a trade there,” she said, comparing the trade system of Honduras to the colleges of America.

“The mission of social work is to help empower people to make change in their own lives – we’re not doing it for them,” Sarah said, citing the women and their training in sewing and crafts as one example.

Sarah with a young friend

Despite the shock of the extreme degree of poverty and crime, the children were endearing, Sarah said, recalling one little girl named Jamie who brought Sarah’s sister Bethany a sugar wafer one morning – a small treat that must have cost the little girl nearly all she had – but was so distraught she did not have another for Sarah that she ran, crying, all the way to the store, in order to buy a second treat to share.

“I hated to take it, but they said you should so that these children can learn the empowerment of giving, too,” Sarah Ameigh said. “It was weird coming back because of what we saw. It’s dirty, it’s dangerous and you come back and you’re in culture shock. You look at your house and say, I don’t need this. I don’t need that. It changes you.”