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Keuka College Earns START-UP NY Initiative Approval


Keuka College was one of four upstate New York colleges to be unanimously approved for a tax-free designation thanks to the START-UP NY initiative.

START-UP NY is an initiative from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo designed to provide major incentives for businesses to relocate, start up, or significantly expand in New York state through affiliations with public and private universities, colleges and community colleges. Businesses will have the opportunity to operate free of state and local taxes- on or near academic campuses, and their employees will pay no state or local personal income taxes. In addition, businesses may qualify for additional incentives.

START-UP NY tax relief is more extensive than what is offered under other similar government programs, such as industrial development agencies. Under START-UP NY, participating companies will not pay any state or local taxes for 10 years, including property, income, business, corporate or sales taxes. Franchise fees are also forgiven.

2,530 square feet of vacant space at Penn Yan’s Keuka Business Park was declared eligible for inclusion in the state’s tax-free START-UP NY program, which links universities and colleges to business growth. Part of the initiative states that of the three million feet of space for private universities, 2.4 million feet must go to campuses upstate.

“This proposal was completed in conjunction with the Finger Lakes Economic Development Center,” said College President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera, “and now that we have this relationship with START-UP NY, we hope to be able to revise our proposal to include the Keuka Commons once construction is underway. The designation would make it even more appealing for high-tech business from out-of-state and new technology startups to come to the Keuka College campus.”

Preliminary plans call for a 30,000 square foot Keuka Commons building across from the main campus with 4,000 square feet designated as tax-free space. Among other things, the building would house the College’s Center for Business Analytics and Health Informatics.

According to Steve Griffin, CEO of the Finger Lakes Economic Development Center, receiving the initiative is a momentous accomplishment.

“The START-UP NY initiative makes a significant incentive for businesses going forward, and is vitally important to keep us in a competitive environment with the rest of the state,” said Griffin.

“The START-UP NY board has also approved plans from Clarkson University, Columbia University, and the University of Rochester—so we are in extraordinarily good company and among one of the first private institutions to have space approved,” said President Díaz-Herrera.

“The space is small enough to get a business started, but has room for future allocations,” said Griffin. “There are overhead doors to accommodate large machinery. I think it will fill quickly.”

Bat McGrath Flood Benefit Concert Set for June 7

Rochester Music Hall of Famer Bat McGrath will perform a benefit concert at Keuka College Saturday, June 7.

The concert will support the Penn Yan Relief Fund, and begins at 7 p.m. in Norton Chapel. Tickets are $20 and are available at area Wegmans stores, Long’s Cards and Books in Penn Yan, and may be available at the door.

One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the Penn Yan Relief Fund, a charity set up last month to take requests and provide aid to local residents whose flood-related damages from severe mid-May storms were not covered by other sources, like flood insurance.

McGrath, whose five-decade career has included work in folk, jazz, and country music, lives in Nashville, Tenn. But in the late 1970s, McGrath lived in Branchport, playing gigs throughout the area and writing songs for his album From the Blue Eagle, released by Amherst Records in 1976. He and his wife, actress Trisha Cast, who has played “Nina” on the daytime drama The Young and the Restless for 15 years, visited Penn Yan last year.

McGrath ran a well-known Rochester bar/coffeehouse where, after hours, he and partner Don Potter held jam sessions with the likes of Chuck Mangione, Stanley Watson, and Tony Levine. He has written songs for such artists as Kenny Rogers, Wynonna, the Judds, and Cecily Wright.

In addition to From the Blue Eagle, his discography contains 11 other albums including No Reverb, Perfectly Flawed, Communicate, and So Do I.

Cast will also be at the concert to sign autographs.

15th Annual Keuka College Golf Classic Tees Off July 14

The 15th Annual Keuka College Golf Classic will be contested Monday, July 14, at Lakeside Country Club in Penn Yan.

The 18-hole scramble tournament benefits the Keuka College Scholarship Fund. In its first 14 years, the tournament raised more than $176,000 for the scholarship, which is awarded annually to Keuka students from the Finger Lakes region.

Registration begins at 11:45 a.m. with a shotgun start at 1:15 p.m. and competition in men’s, women’s, mixed, and senior flights. The cost is $95 and includes greens fees, cart, lunch, refreshments on the course, and a cocktail reception. Sponsorship opportunities are available.

Team or individual entries are accepted. To receive a registration form, or for more information, call Kathy Waye, executive director of alumni and family relations at (315) 279-5602 or email keukaclassic@keuka.edu. Reservations are due by Tuesday, July 1.

Sini Ngobese Named Experiential Learner of the Year

Two career-affirming Field Period™ experiences, a spiritual exploration of Thailand, and being an active member of the Keuka College community helped earn junior Sini Ngobese the Experiential Learner of the Year Award, which recognizes learning from Field Period™, co-curricular involvement, and community service.
At her summer 2013 Field Period™ at Biogen Idec, a biotechnology company, Ngobese gained invaluable career experience, established a network of human resources (HR) professionals, and solidified her career aspirations. Her January 2014 Field Period™ at the Yates County Personnel Department led her to experience a different aspect of HR through interning in the public sector.

“The theoretical knowledge I gained in the classroom was applied in practice, and, through hands-on, experiential learning, I grew in my understanding, skills and abilities,” Ngobese said.

Nominated for the award by Director of Marketing and Communications Pete Bekisz and Professor of Communication Studies Anita Chirco, the Durban, South Africa resident believes her experiential learning opportunities make her a well-rounded candidate that will be an asset to any organization.

“These opportunities have vastly improved my written communication by emphasizing the importance of communicating clearly, yet professionally,” Ngobese said. “My oral communication also improved immensely during these internships, and I believe I have become a much more effective and confident communicator.”

Elizabeth Abbott, senior manager at Biogen Idec and Ngobese’s Field Period™ supervisor, would agree.

“Sini has many strengths, but her ability to communicate effectively, professionally, clearly, and persuasively in both written and oral communication are what really stand out to me,” said Abbott. “Sini’s communication strengths are impressive at any level, and the fact that she is still in school makes it even more remarkable.”

At the Yates County Personnel Department, Ngobese took “great initiative” in problem solving and was well prepared to have high-level discussions, according to Amy Guererri, personnel officer and human resources director for Yates County, and Ngobese’s Field Period™ supervisor.

“Sini took great pride in the quality of the work she produced,” said Guererri. “She quickly gained my confidence in her abilities and proved to be quite capable of performing well at a high level. Her ability to comprehend multifaceted subject matters, and then proceed independently in completing assignments was impressive. It allowed us to cover a wider variety of topics than we had originally thought.”

Abbott, too, was “extremely impressed by how much work Sini did, with little guidance and structure, and still maintain an extremely high quality of work.”

For example, Abbott told Ngobese that she wanted to create a policy template which would assist policy owners in putting together content with a consistent format.

“I thought I would sit with Sini and give her some ideas, we’d go back and forth on a few drafts, and then it would be complete,” said Abbott. “Instead, Sini sent me her first draft of a template, and it was exactly right.”

With Guererri, Ngobese “produced reports and documents that were at a level I would have expected from a seasoned professional,” she said. “During her short time working with us, Sini produced several viable work products and solutions that we utilized and implemented, which greatly benefited our department and Yates County.”

Guererri added she is “incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet and work with Sini. She is such a bright, determined, capable young woman, and I can state with the utmost certainty that she has an extremely bright future ahead of herself, and will excel in any endeavor she undertakes.”

Ngobese might not have had the same amount of confidence in herself that Abbott and Guererri had in her as she boarded a plane bound for Thailand, a country where Ngobese said she faced language and cultural challenges.

But she chose to participate in a Spiritual Exploration Field Period™ in Thailand, because in the “craziness of the busy streets, dense jungles, tan faces, and humid cabs in Thailand, I had never felt so lost,” she said, “or found.”

Experiencing a culture that differs from her own increased her appreciation of what she loves about her Zulu South African culture.

“Though we are different and eat different foods, worship different deities and have different social and behavioral norms, we all pursue to be happy, loved, and free,” said Ngobese. “My trip to Thailand helped me see that though we are different, at our very core, we are similar.”

Ngobese said her spiritual exploration of Thailand brought her closer to her own faith, Christianity, and helped her gain additional respect and admiration for a different faith, Buddhism.

“I was able to experience Thailand’s delicious food with curious taste buds and smell the rich, and sometimes pungent, odors of its busy streets and clear beaches,” said Ngobese. “I felt the sleek fur of a tiger beneath my clammy, nervous fingertips, and saw the heart-melting adorableness of a dancing baby elephant. There are no words to adequately express my gratitude at being able to embark on this life-changing, independence-solidifying trip.”

Through Field Period™, Ngobese said she has gained a greater understanding of her own greatness and potential.

“To undertake an intimidating adventure in yet another foreign country took courage, and my professional growth has been fostered through challenging Field Period™ opportunities at Biogen Idec and the Yates County Personnel Department,” said Ngobese. “[In all three experiences], I utilized the various knowledge, skills and abilities I have acquired in my liberal arts education at Keuka College.”

Part of the College’s liberal arts education includes the opportunity to get involved outside of the classroom. And Ngobese is taking full advantage of those opportunities as an active member of the Keuka College community.

She serves as an Academic Success at Keuka (ASK) tutor in human resources management and writing, and credits her Field Period™ experiences at Biogen Idec and Yates County with helping her expanded her HR knowledge.

“HR truly feels like second nature to me after having two Field Period™ experiences immersed in its terminology and way of thinking,” said Ngobese. “I believe I am a truly informative resource as an HR tutor, because not only do I have a theoretical understanding of the material, but can provide real-life examples.”

She also serves as an office assistant for the Center for Spiritual Life and the Center for Global Education, is a New Student Mentor, and has been on the Dean’s List since 2011. Ngobese received a Judith Oliver Brown Cultural Exploration Field Period™ scholarship, the Student Senate Leadership Scholarships Rising Senior Award, and was awarded the Center for Spiritual Life Excellence Award.

President of Lambda Pi Eta Honor Society, Ngobese is also active in the Keuka College International Club, where she serves as vice president and community service coordinator. She is a member of Students Helping Students’ Crisis Response Team, President’s Leadership Circle, Budget Allocations Committee, Tuesday Non-Denominational Service Drama Team, Sigma Lambda Sigma, and the Spiritual Life Advisory Board.

Said Ngobese: “Keuka College’s Field Period™ has benefitted my mental, spiritual, and emotional growth, and has revolutionized my college learning. I have aspirations to one day become a full-time Biogen Idec employee, and I look forward to my career with renewed vigor and certainty that this is the career path I want to follow, and I am immensely excited for my future.”

Volunteering in Tanzania Will Fulfill Dream

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™.

Caitlyn Malican

Since sophomore Caitlin Malican was 13, she’s wanted to make a difference on a more global scale, specifically in a Third World country. Thanks to receiving the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award, she will spend her summer Field Period™ pursuing that dream by volunteering in Tanzania and Zanzibar.

The Irving, Texas resident will travel with Growth International Volunteer Exploration (GIVE) for three weeks in July to the Eastern African nations. GIVE is a Seattle-based volunteer organization that unites international volunteering with adventure travel to create a meaningful volunteer experience abroad.

“GIVE’s slogan, ‘be the change you wish to see in the world,’ encompasses the ideals of experiential learning through adventure, selflessness, and willingness to go outside your comfort zone,” said Malican, an occupational science major. “I am a firm believer that life is what you make of it, and going to Africa this summer is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I can’t pass up.”

As an occupational science major and a facilitator for TeamWorks!, Malican expects this experience will positively influence her roles on campus.

“I want to be able to apply what I will learn by volunteering and working directly with those living in Tanzania to better enhance my holistic intervention strategies in occupational therapy,” said Malican. “By immersing myself fully in Tanzanian culture, I will bring back to Keuka College a more diverse perception of life that will guide me through the rest of my life.”

Part of that immersion includes helping build a school out of sustainable materials—recycled water bottles filled with sand—and creating a fresh water system for the village. She, and about 40 other volunteers from across the world, will also work in the local community teaching English, math, and other subjects to local children and adults.

“We will also go to Zanzibar and live in a beach bungalow, swim with dolphins in the Indian Ocean, go on a two-day safari in Tarangire National Park, and learn Swahili and tribal dances from the Massai tribe,” said Malican.

Malican will also climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

By climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, Malican “wants to do something that I will look back on in 20 years and still feel proud of accomplishing. I want to develop as an individual though the personal challenges and triumph of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.”

She chose to climb the 19,341-foot mountain to “prove to myself that I am capable of more than I believe,” said Malican. “When I climb the tallest freestanding mountain in the world this summer, I will learn more about myself than I think any other experience could teach me. From this experience, I intend to gain a greater understanding of the world around me, and who I want to continue to become.”