Editor’s Note: For adults interested in fitting a bachelor’s or master’s degree program around an already-busy work and home life, the Keuka College Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP) may offer the shortest route to reach their goal. Here, five of our graduates describe the primary benefits of pursuing their respective degrees at sites across Western New York near where they live and work, and the steps they are taking into the future.
Why she pursued her degree through our ASAP program: Getting a master’s degree was one of my life goals. After a recent promotion into management at work, I knew that I needed to prioritize that. As a full-time professional, I needed a program that would fit my schedule, while providing a fantastic education. The Keuka College ASAP MSM program offered me exactly what I needed to achieve my goals.
Notable highlights of her KC degree program: Seeing my hard work come together into a data-driven paper for the Action Research Project (ARP) was a form of personal validation that I had not experienced before. I am also passionate about my job so having a project that contributed to what I do each day motivated me.
Personal benefits? The course work exposed me to ethics, leadership, and business law, which I have been able to translate into my personal life. I use the theory discussed in the leadership course almost every day, both at work and at home.
Next steps: I will continue in the same position, but through completing my degree, I see lots of opportunity for growth in my career.
Why he pursued his degree through our ASAP program: I have been an active instructor at the police academy since 2008, and thoroughly enjoy teaching. The next logical step was to obtain my master’s degree. Another reason I returned to college was the personal satisfaction of achievement, and the hope to inspire my five daughters to never settle or make excuses against hard work.
Notable highlights during the program: I received the 2015 Rochester Area Colleges’ Continuing Education (RACCE) Outstanding Adult Student Award. My Action Research Project (ARP) directly related to work I do instructing in defensive tactics and helped me to better understand and explain portions of the police recruit training curriculum.
Next steps: I am looking for positions as an adjunct professor at local colleges and also looking for a Ph.D. program.
Why she pursued a Keuka College degree through the ASAP program: This lifelong desire had been derailed by life’s challenges.
Notable highlights of her KC degree program: I have a higher standard in my personal work ethic now. Having six of my grandchildren at my graduation was another highlight. My grandson watched in awe. After the ceremony he told his mother he “came from a family of hard workers.” We now have a family benchmark: everyone has to have at least a bachelors’ degree.
What she most valued in her Keuka College education?: I had a stroke two months prior to starting the program so this was a challenge because my speech and mental capacity had been affected. Having supportive teachers who were willing to work with me after hours when needed was a huge benefit and it contributed to my success.
Why she pursued her degree through the ASAP program: After accepting a new position at work, I believed an advanced degree would help me excel and achieve future professional goals. I have always been interested in nursing education, and the Keuka College ASAP program offered that component which many other online and hybrid programs did not.
Notable highlights of her KC degree program: My Field Period™ allowed me to put to use many of the techniques and concepts we had learned in class. I learned a lot about the nursing academia field, and I made connections with experienced nursing instructors who were eager and willing to share their experiences and be a resource for me both in and outside of the classroom.
I was also inducted as a Nurse Leader to Sigma Theta Tau National Honor Society
What she most valued in her KC education? The experience and professionalism of all the professors. They are all masters of their content areas and approachable, so I felt that I truly was learning from the best of the best. I also value the relationships forged with my cohort. I love that we all stay in touch and continue to support one another personally and professionally!
Personal benefits? The location and class times were easy for me to accommodate while working full-time and having a newborn at home.
Next steps: I have accepted a full-time position at Corning Community College as a clinical instructor and am very excited to start in the fall! The Field Period™ really helped me to realize that this setting was where I excelled. I am thrilled to be given this opportunity so soon after completing my degree.
Why she pursued her degree through our ASAP program: As a stay-at-home mother of three young children, I was motivated to brighten the future of our family and be a role model in continuing education.
Notable parts of her KC degree program: The social work values taught throughout the program were extremely valuable. Returning to school as an adult and a parent felt like a daunting task, but the ASAP program made it practical.
What she most valued in her KC education? Flexibility, awareness of working adults and family along with some wonderful professors.
Next steps: I recently completed my MSW in an advanced standing program and currently work at the University of Rochester as a psychiatric therapist.
When Canandaigua native Amber Smith graduated from Keuka College in 2011, she had dreams of the Big Apple.
Forging her own path at the College, Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in management, but fleshed out her concentration in theatre and minor in communication studies by investing time acting in campus plays, serving as president of the Arion Players (drama club) and honing leadership skills. For example, she coordinated special events such as an all-arts or improv night for the Arion Players.
When she graduated, there were three potential career options in mind: acting, hip-hop dance or managing her own business.
Now a New York City resident, the dancer/actress/singer has begun to make her mark in choreography, putting her hip-hop dance talents to use in three music videos and now, serving as co-choreographer for the Bristol Valley Theater production of “Rent,” which runs through July 19 in Naples. She is also a cast member.
“In the ensemble, I sing and dance a lot as I play about six different characters minor to the show. Singing and dancing are what I love to do,” said the Canandaigua native.
As a co-choreographer for “Rent,” Smith has choreographed the tango sequence and dance sequence – two of the biggest numbers – with what she calls a “softer side.” Where other versions of the show have portrayed characters dancing with little thought or intent, Smith’s choreography seeks to echo the lyrics and rhythm of those songs in the physical movement, she said.
Audience members may also see elements of hip-hop in the choreography, a nod to Smith’s dance specialty. Her music videos include two for rap artist D’Chrome Foster and one for the rock band dec3. In addition to dance, Smith has sung backup vocals for Foster, and will return to the Big Apple following “Rent” to record vocals for his next album and then choreograph his next music video.
Smith sees great marketability when a performer can sing, act and dance on stage or screen, so she plans to continue choreographing whenever the opportunity arises. Ultimately, however, she would love to utilize her business skills as a manager in the music industry, she said.
“I’d really like to help guide people in developing their entertainment careers,” she said. To that end, Smith believes her Keuka College education prepared her well for success.
She cited faculty members Mark Wenderlich, professor of theatre, and Ann Tuttle, professor of management, for their guidance and encouragement to pursue her dreams, push herself to success and be confident in her decisions. In addition, the “small-town friendliness” that encompasses the campus community has served her well in New York City, where she said people respond positively when she interacts with them in a warm, open way atypical of big-city residents.
“The atmosphere at Keuka College sticks with you and helps you relate to people on different levels,” she described.
If it takes a little while to build up the business side of her career, Smith is not worried. Meanwhile, she stays busy auditioning for roles, taking dance lessons and more on top of her job at a couture children’s boutique inside the Plaza Hotel.
“If someone offers me a part in a show, there’s no way I’d say no,” she explained. “Who’s going to say no when you can sing and dance and do what you love?”
KEUKA PARK, N.Y.— Marching forward fearlessly into the future are several young men and women recently awarded diplomas from Keuka College. They hail from a host of different majors and home countries. Their interests are as varied as their personalities. But they all have two distinct qualities in common: a Keuka College education and the professional life-learning experiences of the annual Keuka College Field Period™, a 140-hour personalized experience that may take the shape of a professional internship, a cultural study, artistic endeavor, service project or spiritual exploration. Here, each one shares the primary benefits of his or her collegiate experience:
What she’s up to now: Graphic designer for the Elmira Jackals East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) hockey team.
Notable parts of her KC journey? Designing her own minor after falling in love with graphic design her sophomore year.
“Designing a minor in digital design and having the skills in Adobe design programs helped me stand out on campus and at Field Period™ sites. I wouldn’t trade my Keuka College education for anything because of the personalized attention that I have received from professors and staff. I had amazing experiences here that helped me earn awards, scholarships, and my degree.”
Where she’s headed next: Roger Williams University for a master’s degree in forensic psychology.
“I will forever be grateful for the education I received and the people I met while a student at Keuka College. One of the greatest benefits was Field Period™. I gained a lot of great experience and made professional contacts that are extremely valuable.”
What she’s up to now: Cost accountant at G.W. Lisk
How’d she get her job? “I started as a math major, but after completing my first Field Period™ at G.W. Lisk, I changed my major. I loved it at Lisk: the atmosphere, the work, everything. I returned to Lisk to work summers and breaks, so I have been working there part-time for the last four years.”
Best part of her KC degree program? “Each Field Period™ was a huge learning experience, and each experience helped shape my goals and dreams. It is by far the most valuable aspect of my education at Keuka College”
What he’s up to now: Working for Catholic Charities of Oswego. Oh, and campaigning for a seat on the Oswego County Legislature.
Notable parts of his KC journey? Played baseball for the Wolfpack, which taught him how to manage his time and multitask. Completed Field Period™ internships at the offices of U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), U.S. Rep Dan Maffei (D-NY), and the NYS Democratic Committee.
“The Field Period™ is what sets Keuka College apart. I was able to build real-life connections starting my freshman year. The Field Period™ allowed me to cultivate meaningful relationships and helped me reaffirm that politics was my passion. I am very grateful.”
Where she’s headed next: Rochester Institute of Technology on a scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in computational finance. She’ll learn how to analyze big data through math, finance, and programming. Ultimately, she wants to enter the insurance industry.
Notable parts of her KC journey? Multiple extra-curricular activities and earning a Judith Oliver Brown scholarship that helped pay for two Field Period™ experiences abroad.
“By coming to Keuka College I received more than just valuable education—I also received a promising future. I could not have done it without the help of my supportive professors. If there were one thing I encourage future students to take advantage of, it would be the small class sizes and interpersonal relationships. Develop these professional relationships because they will help you succeed.”
Where he’s headed next: Marywood University for a master’s of social work degree.
Notable parts of his KC journey? Brandon was named one of six 2015 Student Social Workers of the Year for the Genesee Valley division of the state National Association of Social Workers (NASW).
Notable people? “Professors Stephanie Craig and Jen Mealey supported me and encouraged me to do my best. They’re absolutely wonderful people and wonderful social workers and I don’t know where I’d be without them, to be honest.”
“In grad school, I have to complete a 518-hour internship, but I’m so ready because of Field Period™. I’m definitely prepared academically and I’m not worried about the internship at all.”
Where she’s headed next: Duke University Graduate School on a $28,000 fellowship to pursue a Ph.D. in bio-organic or synthetic organic chemistry.
Notable parts of her KC journey? A co-publishing credit for a research study published in the Journal of American Animal Welfare Science (JAAWS), an article “Why People Mistrust Science” published in local newspapers, and a 10-week study of enzyme kinetics at the University of Buffalo through a program funded by the National Science Foundation.
Best part of her KC degree program? “I really appreciate the size of Keuka College and the hands-on experience I gained. I’ve been able to work with professors one-on-one or in small groups for independent studies and research projects. They know me and care about my interests and where I want to go. Field Period™ was instrumental in helping me figure out what I want to do. I was able to gain experience both in a career I realized I didn’t want to go into and one that I do want to pursue.”
What she’s up to now: HR Coordinator for Biogen Idec, a Fortune 500 biotechnology company in Boston.
Notable parts of her KC journey? Two paid Field Period™ experiences in different branches of Biogen Idec paved the way for a job offer before graduation.
“Keuka College offered so many outlets for developing myself in a multitude of ways. Field Period™ scholarships enabled me to engage in a life-changing spiritual/cultural journey in Thailand, and the emphasis the College places on experiential learning through Field Period™ helped me land my dream job at a Fortune 500 company.”
Where she’s headed next: Pace University in NYC for an MBA in marketing management.
Notable parts of her KC journey? Two Field Period™ experiences at the Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Tokyo, Japan offices of Dentsu, Inc. – the fifth-largest ad agency in the world.
Best part of her KC degree program? “Keuka College provides an environment that encourages you to discover the world through hands-on experience, which is a better fit for me than only sitting and listening to lectures. I’m so thankful for the support from not only my friends around the world, but also the faculty and staff at the school. My professors not only cared about my performance in class, but also helped me figure out my next steps and how to achieve my goals.”
What she’s up to now: Working with families and children as a family advocate at Peace, Inc., where she conducted a Field Period™ during her sophomore year.
Best part of her KC degree program? “I have come to realize how great Field Period™ actually is. In the end you walk away with so much experience and even potential jobs. I am grateful to the professors I had — they truly care about their students and how they are doing. The small classes and great teachers were the reasons for my success at the College and I am thankful to have had the experience I did!”
KEUKA PARK, N.Y.—When George Kotlik came to Keuka College, he never imagined he’d end up at Yale University. But thanks to a paper he co-wrote with Dr. Angela Narasimhan, assistant professor of history and political science, that’s exactly where he was this April.
It’s rare for even seniors to present their findings at a scholarly conference attended by experts in the field. But Kotlik did so —as a freshman.
Kotlik brought a research proposal to Dr. Naraminhan last fall. Here’s where the interests of student and professor intersect. The question? When students in the U.S. study the American Revolution, is the story told through a purely American point of view? What’s the British take on the American War for Independence? To search for an answer, they decided to examine how American government textbooks address that era and why.
The resulting paper, titled “Colonial Controversy: Examining Critical Perspectives on the American Revolution in Undergraduate American Government Textbooks,” was presented at the New England Political Science Association conference, held this year at Yale.
Fascinated with early American history since childhood, Kotlik said discussion on early forms of government in Narasimhan’s American Government class piqued his interest further.
“The paper examines the American Revolution and outlines, in depth, the British perspective on the Revolution. We took a look at five different American government textbooks and examined the Founding Era in each. What we found was really interesting,” Kotlik said. “The books that leaned more towards a pro-British standpoint offered more factual information than those that leaned more towards the American standpoint.”
According to Narasimhan, it’s extraordinaryfor an upperclassman to co-author a paper with a professor, let alone a freshman, “and it was a terrific experience for us both,” she said. “George quickly distinguished himself from his peers this year, with outstanding academic achievement across the board.”
Beyond the process of research and writing the paper, Kotlik said he gleaned experience in understanding the process of peer review that paper proposals receive before they can be accepted for publication in a scholarly journal.
“Attending the conference was a very exciting time,” Kotlik added. “Overall, it was a unique experience that I am so thankful for and wouldn’t trade for the world. It’s all thanks to the wonderful professors at Keuka College.”
Keuka College Associate Professor of Chemistry Andrew Robak has used fine art and photography to educate others about the intricacies of science, and his latest student collaboration showcases another new perspective.
In 2012, Robak collaborated with Kat Andonucci ’13 to produce “The Art of Chemistry,” a unique exhibit featuring chemical experiments often photographed by Andonucci at slow speeds or in low light to highlight the array of colors, shapes and textures within a variety of chemical solutions, reactions and even optical illusions. This time, Robak’s collaboration with biology major Phil Longyear ’14, a Rushville resident, explores the variety of natural elements from the Periodic Table found in and around the Penn Yan area.
Together, the duo visited manufacturing plants like Abtex and Ferro, artisan studios and even retail shops such as Pinckney’s Ace Hardware to document in photographs the elements in their natural or manufactured forms. The resulting images —with each name, two-letter scientific abbreviation, and a brief description of its characteristics and uses —are now on display in many storefront windows along Main Street, Penn Yan, effectively turning Main Street itself into an art gallery for “Elements of the Finger Lakes.”
Nearly 60 elements of the Periodic Table’s full 118 elements were found; the full collection of images can also be viewed at the Lightner Gallery at Lightner Library on the campus of Keuka College. An opening reception will be held from 4 – 5:30 p.m. at Milly’s Pantry, 19 Main Street on Wednesday, June 10. Milly’s is one of many local shops featuring works from the “Elements of the Finger Lakes.” The exhibit will continue through July on Main Street and through August on campus.
“The project really helps people understand what chemical elements are, where they come from, how we use them and where they are [found],” Longyear said. “I like the fact that it will bring science to the masses in a way that they can understand.”
According to Longyear, the “field trips” he and Robak took last fall to companies like Ferro or Coach and Equipment proved how common many of the elements truly are. Ferro, the former Transition Element Company (TransElCo), manufactures an array of pigments, powders used to make computing materials, polishing applications for lenses, polymers, plastics and more. Coach and Equipment produces small to mid-size transit buses using elements including lead (Pb), Fluorine (F), lithium (Li) and argon (Ar) in its engineering process.
At Ferro, workers take basic elements like carbon (C), titanium, (Ti) and tungsten (W), and refine them for an industrial use. So the up-close-and-personal views offered at Ferro for the exhibit educate participants beyond just a logo or company tagline, Longyear said.
“This is more than the sign on the front and [the product] that comes out the door. This is what’s in-between and that was really interesting,” he described.
According to Robak, a project such as this serves to merge science with the community. Not only will participants learn a little more about chemistry, but they’ll learn more about the community where they live and work too.
“The Periodic Table can be hard to relate to … but in its simplest sense, it’s a list of the essence of every material that we can touch, see or interact with in our daily lives,” Robak said, adding that many people may not realize just how many elements could be in their own homes, too.
“This project would not have happened without those willing to let us ask questions, give tours or shoot photography inside their businesses,” Robak said, noting that many company staffers actively tried to find elements in use or suggest others for Robak and Longyear to document. Community participation for the exhibit has also been high, Robak added, thanking the numerous business owners along Main Street who agreed to display the poster-size images in storefront windows or indoor displays. A trifold brochure will also be available at many participating businesses so pedestrians can learn about the project as they stroll Main Street.
Artisans such as Pete Knickerbocker of Spider’s Nest Pottery or Keuka College Professor Emeritus Dexter Benedict of Fireworks Foundry were also part of the exploration. Benedict sculpts works of bronze, using oxygen (O), aluminum (Al) and lots of copper (Cu) in the process. Meanwhile, Knickerbocker makes use of elements including cobalt (Co), iron (Fe), chromium (Cr), and also copper (Cu) in his pottery.
“I had no idea that a potter could tailor and design not only his or her own glazes, but the clay itself, and (Pete) was able to manipulate those elements in order to set himself apart in his field,” Longyear described.
While Longyear served as primary photographer, a few elements, such as hydrogen, posed a challenge to shoot because they can only be seen when reacting with another element, he said. In those cases, it was a challenge to “tell the story,” he said.
But Mother Nature also offered a few elements as well, which the duo incorporated into the project, including images of bones for calcium, the night sky (space) for hydrogen, and a sunset at Montezuma Wildlife Refuge to represent helium, Longyear explained.
“Every day we use elements from the earth. You can look at the Periodic Table and see a number and a name, but if you really dig into it, it’s really cool,” Longyear said.