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Simons a Social Work Success

At the heart of social work is service to others, and in that dimension, Keuka College senior Nakita Simons sets the standard.

Simons, left, with Brenda Barkley, Chair of the NASW Genesee Valley Division chapter

Praised as a natural-born leader, the Prattsburgh resident and social work major coordinates so many special projects for non-profit agencies and organizations between home and school that it can be hard to keep them all straight. For her multitude of service, Simons was recently named one of six student Social Workers of the Year at a regional chapter event for the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). The NASW award recognizes social work students in the New York State Chapter’s Genesee Valley Division who have made significant contributions in the field.

According to Stephanie Craig, associate professor of social work and chair of the College Division of Social Work, Simons “is versatile, dedicated and one of the most diligent new social workers to enter this field. She’s got a lot of social work insight that has just really blossomed and developed through her experience here.”

Just how much does Simons serve? Well, she delivers holiday food baskets for the needy and serves at a bake sale fundraiser for the Howard Union Church. She coordinates Christmas gift deliveries through the Angel Tree project and runs twice-monthly volunteer support at Milly’s Pantry in Penn Yan for the College’s Association of Future Social Workers (ASFW) chapter. The ASFW members also host an annual Hunger Banquet to raise awareness of poverty, and assist the Branchport-Keuka Park Fire Department with their annual Halloween party for local children.

Simons, in white, with her NSO "mentees"

As president of Phi Alpha Theta, the College honors society for social work students, Simons coordinates all fundraising and community service work for the group. The newest venture, slated for April, will be conducting service work on behalf of veterans at the Bath VA Medical Center, she said. Back on campus, Phi Theta Alpha has also given a presentation on veterans’ issues, including mental illness, homeless rates, and other needs. In addition, Simons has served three years as a New Student Orientation (NSO) mentor, logging extra hours on her own to take new freshmen under her wing and show them skills for success.

In addition, Simons, who also served as a biology tutor, maintains a 3.9 grade point average, said Craig who attended the NASW awards banquet with Simmons last week.

And the NASW award is not the only one. Simons boasts another prestigious accomplishment: earning a BSW Child Welfare Scholarship from New York’s Social Work Education Consortium. The scholarship carries a two-year employment contract as a child welfare caseworker with a county Department of Social Services agency and the possibility of earning additional scholarship money for a master’s degree in social work, provided all goes well in an initial semester-long practicum. But once again, Simons stands apart. (more…)

Freshman Learns About Medical Tech in Field Period™

Freshman Melissa Slusher (Orwell, Ohio/Grand Valley) came to Keuka College in the fall of 2013 knowing she wanted to study medical technology. She just had no idea what direction her education in this ever-evolving field should take.

The medical technology field is quite broad and can encompass everything: from assisting pharmacists and physicians with treatment of their patients, working in a research laboratory, teaching health care professionals or working in the pharmaceutical, dental and public health sectors.

The degree’s primary focus, according to Slusher, is the study, diagnosis and treatment of different diseases, a field that is becoming more important as the technology used to treat these illnesses becomes more complex.

In January, Slusher conducted her Field Period™ at the Dover Air Force Base with the 436th medical group in Dover, Del. During her time on the base, Slusher assisted her brother-in-law, Senior Airman Jeffrey Utz on the base’s health clinic.

After completing her first Field Period™, Slusher came away with a more-defined definition of her career goals, and also left determined to play a bigger role in helping people recover and resume their healthy lifestyles.

“I have a passion for the medical field because I look at it as helping ill people become healthy, so they can live the healthy, happy life they deserve,” said Slusher, a defender on the Keuka College women’s soccer team.

“I chose medical technology because I knew that I wanted to pursue a job in the medical field, but I was unsure which field I wanted to study. With this major being so broad, I knew it would help me find my way.”

One of her primary responsibilities during her first Field Period™ was providing vaccines and shots to soldiers. Among the vaccinations administered on the base: chickenpox, smallpox, hepatitis A, hepatitis B and tuberculosis.

Every Thursday, Slusher and Utz spent the day administering smallpox vaccinations to soldiers who were preparing for deployment overseas.

Since smallpox can be a serious disease that can spread rapidly through a population — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have classified smallpox as a Category “A” agent, those that pose the greatest potential threat for adverse public health impact and large-scale dissemination according to the CDC’s website — Slusher said her work vaccinating these soldiers was extremely important to their long-term health.

Along with providing the essential vaccination, Slusher and her supervisor made it a top priority to educate these soldiers on the potential dangers of contracting the smallpox disease. They created a PowerPoint presentation that explained how the smallpox vaccinations would leave a series of punctures on the skin that must be kept covered at all times.

“My supervisor and I informed the men and women getting this vaccination how smallpox works, how to properly take care of it and what to look for if there are signs of a reaction to the vaccination,” Slusher said.

“We then gave the soldiers goodie bags consisting of bandages, gauze pads, wipes and hand sanitizer. This was my favorite part of the Field Period™ because we were helping protect our soldiers and wishing them luck on their deployment.”

Reflecting on her first Field Period™, Slusher said she appreciated the opportunity to help these soldiers while learning first-hand the important role that vaccines play in keeping people safe.

“I love how detailed and precise the medical field is. It continues to grow every day and it’s something I want to be a part of,” Slusher said.

“In coming to Keuka, I was in search of a degree to become a sonographer (ultrasound technician). I plan on continuing my research in this field and using my Field Period™ to help guide me down the right path. My dream job would be to work in a laboratory helping create cures for illnesses. I cannot even imagine what it would feel like to find a cure for an illness and save people’s lives in the process.”

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Dr. Vicki Smith Named to AOTA’s Roster of Fellows

Dr. Vicki Smith, professor and chair of occupational therapy (OT), has been named to the American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA) Roster of Fellows.

The Roster of Fellows recognizes members of AOTA who, with their knowledge and expertise, have made a significant contribution to the continuing education and professional development of members of the association.

Nominated by Dr. Carole W. Dennis, professor of occupational therapy at Ithaca College, Smith will receive her award in Clinical and Academic Leadership through Business Management at  AOTA’s 94th annual ceremony Saturday, April 5, in Baltimore, Md.

“I am honored to be recognized by the American Occupational Therapy Association,” said Smith, who earned a master’s degree in business administration. “I am proud to be able to prepare the next generation of occupational therapy professionals with the knowledge and skills I have gained.”

Dennis nominated Smith because of her “long and distinguished record of service to the profession of occupational therapy, which has included professional practice, management, authorship, fieldwork education, and academia.

“I think Vicki’s ‘can do’ attitude exemplifies her clinical and academic career as an occupational therapist,” said Dennis, who was named to the Roster of Fellows in 2012. “Over the years she has taken on a number of challenging work roles and responsibilities with determination and self-confidence, and has achieved very successful outcomes.”

According to Dennis, Smith is “giving back to the profession by serving on Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) Roster of Accreditation Evaluators, which provides a great service to the profession, but also allows her to maintain the excellence of Keuka’s Occupational Therapy Program.”

In addition to her duties at Keuka, Smith has served as director of several rehabilitation clinical sites; penned the textbooks Physical Dysfunction Practice Skills for the Occupational Therapy Assistant, and Occupational Therapy Transition from Classroom to Clinic—Physical Disability Fieldwork Applications; and wrote questions for the Occupational Therapy National Certification Examination. Smith also served eight years as an accreditation reviewer for occupational education programs throughout the country.

The AOTA awards recognize those members of the association who have excelled in their contributions to the profession. Fellows must be an occupational therapist and a current member of AOTA; have made a significant contribution to the profession; be considered to be well-rounded; and have meaningful occupational therapy and other relevant involvement at the local, state, and/or national levels.

Established in 1917, AOTA is the national occupational therapy professional association. It represents the interests and concerns of occupational therapy practitioners and students, and improves the quality of occupational therapy services.

AOTA membership includes occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, and occupational therapy students. AOTA’s programs and activities are directed toward assuring the quality of occupational therapy services, improving consumer access to health care services, and promoting the professional development of members.

Popular Culture Class Popular with Students

When senior Lauren Piampiano registered for the special topics SOC 295 Popular Culture class, she thought she would find the material interesting.

Lauren Piampiano

Piampiano discovered that while her initial expectations of the class, offered for the first time last fall and taught by Assistant Porfessor of Sociology Athena Elafros, proved to be true, she learned more than she anticipated.

“I took this class because I wanted to be informed on the functions and critical theories regarding popular culture,” said Piampiano, a sociology major from Webster. “It can be important in a variety of career settings, namely the social service field. This class analyzed and helped me better understanding popular culture, a prominent aspect of our society. It also examined some deep topics that are often thought-provoking and introspective.”

Sophomore Kayla Kuntz agrees.

Kayla Kuntz

“I enjoy talking about current events, and popular culture greatly affects my age group,” said Kuntz, an exploratory major from Manlius. “But I wanted to have a deeper understanding of the meanings of these events. What I have learned has been much more in depth and analytic than I expected. This is a good thing.”

And that is exactly what Elafros intended.

“While most of the students in the class are sociology majors and have a solid background in sociological analyses,” she said. “I wanted to teach a class on popular culture to provide students with the analysis and problem-solving skills needed to be critical media consumers. Popular culture acts as a lens that reflects the changing norms and values in society and it also can be used as a tool to shape and promote social change in society.”

Samantha Yavorek

According to senior Samantha Yavorek, a psychology and sociology major from Canandaigua, the class focused on “learning about different forms of popular culture and how it is represented in the media, as well as how it shapes our society and the individuals in it. But we also learned about the endless genres of popular culture and how they are relative to society.”

Elafros covered a wide variety of popular culture topics in the class, including Miley Cyrus’ music video for Wrecking Ball; twerking; Riot Grrrl; memes; Bruce Lee films; and World Wrestling Entertainment.

“We also discussed Star Trek; The Walking Dead; bronnies; Fedoras; Pogs; sexism and advertising; women’s magazines; Public Enemy; the Eurythmics; trucker hats; skinny jeans; Ugg boots; Mardi Gras beads; Star Wars; Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines music video; and football, among many other examples.”

Karina Cochran

Senior Karina Cochran, a sociology major from Cortland, said “popular culture is one of those influences that affects everyone’s life, while going largely unnoticed. I think it is important to learn about factors that contribute to our culture and our sense of self. And, I have absolutely benefited from learning how to conceptualize and better understand popular culture.”

Because of this class, sophomore Thomas Fowler now thinks more about what he sees and reads and questions it.

“I no longer see something in the media and turn a blind eye and say ‘oh whatever’ or ‘no big deal,’” said the sociology and political science and history major from Batavia. “I believe it makes me a better person to question popular culture and try to better understand what I am being shown in the media.”

Thomas Fowler

And Fowler isn’t the only one in the class who now questions what he sees.

“Many of the students have mentioned that this class opened their eyes to the ways in which the mass media manipulate our desires and emotions,” said Elafros. “For example, many of the women in the class have told me they can’t look at women’s magazines without seeing them from a critical perspective. Once you understand the sociological perspective, it fundamentally changes how you view the world around you.”

And for Yavorek and Kuntz, the perceptions of popular culture they had before taking this class have changed.

Yavoerk is now “analytical of every ad I come across,” while Kuntz believes she has “a better understanding of current events and why they have the impact they do.” But Cochran’s perceptions “have not changed drastically, as I have always held somewhat of a feminist and critical outlook toward it.”

After taking this class, Elafros hopes “that students can become critical consumers of popular culture and the media. Given that we are immersed in popular culture on a daily basis, I want students to be actively engaging and critiquing it instead of passively consuming it. This was a special topics course and it is not currently being offered. If there is enough student interest, I would love to be able to teach the course again.”

According to Yavorek, this class was fun to complete work for because it consistently maintained her interest.

“It is one of the classes that I found most directly applied to occurrences in my everyday life for my generation at this time,” she said. “Sociology has done a great job of teaching me how to look at things through a critical lens, and understand as well as analyze how concepts such as race, class, gender, sexuality, and even personality are shaped through social interaction and socialization.”

Should Elafros have the opportunity to teach the class again, she is not sure what material she would cover, because “whatever is current and happening within society will be the subject matter of the course. For example, if I was currently teaching the course, I would definitely focus on the Olympics. So it all depends on when I next get to teach the course and what new trends are happening.”

Light, Computers, Science!

Talk to Dr. Tom Carroll for just a few minutes about the new high-tech instruments in the third-floor analysis lab in Jephson Science Center and you get the sense the 30-year professor of chemistry at Keuka College is more excited than a kid on Christmas morning.

To the untrained eye, the four new Perkin-Elmer laboratory machines resemble something akin to desktop printer-copiers. But the machines are capable of the kind of data analysis a researcher can use when an unknown substance is handed over with the instructions “find out what this is and report back to me.” With one test on any of these machines, a student researcher could identify in minutes what used to take hours on paper. Carroll is thrilled students – and faculty – can now make regular use of the new equipment.

To biology major Rebecca Evanicki ’14, the new machines enable students to analyze unknown compounds in such a way that it’s like “solving a mystery,” she said.

The HPLC may look like a stack of drawers on a desktop printer, but it can analyze liquids in multiple ways.

Indeed, Associate Professor of Chemistry Andrew Robak is already planning to stage a fake crime scene in the organic chemistry lab next door later this spring. He’ll give the students in his organic chemistry class one day to collect evidence and they’ll spend the last few weeks of the semester in the analysis lab using the new machines to identify every substance, “like a CSI practice version,” he said, referring to the popular TV crime show.

It’s the kind of innovation that brings the student research at Jephson Science Center into a new era of digital learning, which is part of the College’s Long-Range Strategic Plan. Thanks to a $137,000 grant from Jephson Educational Trusts, the new machines were purchased and installed between semesters. They represent significant technology improvements that will enhance science coursework and research for students and faculty.

To formally recognize the new lab capabilities, the College will host its first-ever Innovation Celebration, set for 2-4 p.m., Friday, March 14, which is National Pi Day. In mathematics, Pi (represented by the Greek letter π) begins with the numbers 3.14159 and represents the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi is infinite and has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point; contests to recite a portion of those digits are often part of the worldwide celebration. Keuka College will host its own Pi recitation contest, and guests can also take part in an unveiling ceremony, enjoy science-themed refreshments, and browse student work on display. Guided tours through the instrument lab will also be offered, and President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera will give a videotaped message of congratulations.

Check out a unique digital timeline of stories and photos, marking moments of achievement in the College’s science history since the former Millspaugh Science Center was renamed the Jephson Science Center.

The HP-LC with its bottles and tubes.

One machine, the High-Pressure Liquid Chromatograph (HPLC), carries liquids from glass bottles through thin plastic tubes, passing through several compartments for analysis. According to Robak, different compartments contain an oven, vacuum pump, solution tray, and detectors, respectively.

On the tabletop directly across from it sits another machine, the Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometer (GC/MS or “GC – Mass Spec”). To put it simply, the GC separates mixtures into individual components, while the “mass spec” identifies separate fragments, so the scientist can determine what the molecules are, Carroll said. In scientific terms, this process is known as ionizing. The GC/MS features a rotating unit that can extract samples from a tray of up to 108 small vials at one time, conducting analysis as programmed by a small touch screen at the side.

A computer connected to the GC/MS, running high-performance software, analyzes in minutes what used to take hours.

Connected to the CG/MS is a new computer running high-performance software that converts the data readings of molecular ions into a bevy of colorful charts and graphs. Based on the peaks and plunges of a fragment’s chart, the computer searches a large digital library to find the closest match – all in a matter of seconds, Evanicki said. Without it, a student would have to calculate results by hand to narrow down what fragments might be present and then cross-check his or her shortlist of possibilities against a book to determine the answer, she said.

On another table against the wall, a smaller machine, the Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR), contains an oval plate with a small diamond reflective element through which infrared light can pass. Connected to another computer running high-speed software, the FTIR is able to provide information about the identity of liquid or solid compounds, Carroll said.

The fourth machine, a Lambda-35, is a newer model of a UV spectrometer already in the lab. It uses visible and ultraviolet light to determine the absorption spectrum of a solution, which will show how much light it absorbs across a range of wavelengths, from visible to UV rays.

Evanicki '14 examines the tray of the GC/MS, which can hold up to 108 vials of solution or compound for analysis.

The GC/MS is Evanicki’s favorite because various tests on multiple samples can be run in one sitting without switching vials in the tray, she said. In addition, a student can run a series of different tests on just one sample.

“There are just so many different things you can do with it,” Evanicki said.

She should know. Evanicki spent the bulk of January alongside biochemistry major Brian DelPino ’14, setting up the new machines, conducting test runs and writing equipment usage manuals, all as part of their senior Field Periods™. Carroll defers to the duo with pride, dubbing their user guides “equipment manuals for dummies.”

“Step One: Turn the machine on,” he read aloud from a sheaf of typewritten instructions, before continuing tongue-in-cheek. “Step Two: If you have any questions or problems, contact Rebecca or Brian.”

On Wednesday, sophomores in Robak’s organic chemistry class took a sneak peek at the new equipment they were due to try out in their Thursday lab. About a dozen other students in Carroll’s Analytical Chemistry course will also run utilize the instrument lab this spring. Enthusiasm is running high, not just for the chance to use the machines this semester, but for the rest of their undergraduate studies.

“We’re all very excited about the new equipment and excited to learn how to use it – science is fun!” said biology major Heidi VanBuskirk ’16.

For more information on the Innovation Celebration, please contact spevents@keuka.edu or call (315) 279-5238.

From Practice to Practical

Just before Christmas, Lisa Makarick finished a course in community health. Just after Christmas, Makarick discovered a profound contrast between the classroom and Calabrete, Dominican Republic, where she traveled with 11 others from Keuka College to bring health education to some of the youngest residents of the community.

“It’s one thing to do a windshield study on [community health] and it’s a whole other beast to do a service project, to get down there with the people and work hand-in-hand with them,” said Makarick, a Hammondsport resident.

Makarick is pursuing her baccalaureate nursing degree through the College’s Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP). She attends classes at Corning Community College, one of 2o ASAP sites around the state. Nine other nursing students from cohorts in the Syracuse, Elmira, Ithaca, and Utica areas, and one occupational science major from the home campus in Keuka Park, also traveled to Calabrete.

The Keuka students helped run health and wellness workshops for young girls and local families

Mattingly

From January 2-9, the Keuka College group, led by Patty Mattingly, associate professor of nursing, assisted the Mariposa DR Foundation, which invests in sustainable solutions to end generational poverty, serving girls as young as 8-years-old. By battling barriers that keep the poor vulnerable and limited, and offering support such as access to quality health care and education, the Mariposa DR Foundation seeks to educate, empower and employ girls in Calabrete to ultimately give back to their community.

The students presented a workshop on dental hygiene and hand-washing, gave a first-aid presentation to parents, and made home visits to assess safety risks and recommend follow-up by Foundation staff. In addition, students also toured a public hospital and an HIV clinic in the area. The trip also fulfilled Keuka College Field Period ™ requirements for the students. Typically, a Field Period ™ enables a student to explore professions, other cultures, or even provide community service for others, but usually, only one of those elements happens at one time. However, the 2014 Keuka College team accomplished all of the above.

Calabrete girls served by the Mariposa DR Foundation

According to Makarick, a maternal service nurse and mother of five who will finish her nursing program in April, the trip was an “amazing experience” that she hopes to repeat. The team worked with 15 girls, ages 8 -11, providing encouragement with extracurricular activities that included simple games and health-care instruction. In that region, children only attend a half-day of school and often lack positive alternatives to “just wandering around all afternoon,” said Makarick.

Thanks to one of her daughters, Makarick said she was educated on the threat of sex trafficking and modern slavery facing these young girls. According to New Friends, New Life, a human rights agency seeking to raise awareness, 13 is the average age at which American girls, particularly those vulnerable to poverty, are trafficked into the sex industry. For the poor and vulnerable from developing countries, where legal protection is nearly nonexistent, sexual exploitation and forced prostitution may happen even earlier. As such, Makarick said the impact the team could make was clear.

“I was absolutely not disappointed,” said Makarick. “You can see the effect fairly quickly, even small, little [things] of having someone encourage them … they just bonded with us, and we learned from them, too.”

The group split into two teams of six to conduct home inspections in the neighborhoods where the girls lived, and, in some cases, the level of poverty was “pretty overwhelming,” Mattingly said, describing scenarios where rat poison was left where children could come in contact with it. One student described barbed wire “clotheslines” so low to the ground that children’s bodies and faces bore cuts from running into it. Other elements of culture shock were encountered in el barrio (the ghetto) and the local hospital, which had just five beds in its Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and where equipment and staff practice was like “turning the clock back 30 years,” said Makarick.

(more…)

A Tale of Two Field Periods

According to two Keuka College juniors, the Field Period internships they conducted in the human resource divisions of different global corporations were the best of times.

While she went to a Boston bio-tech company of 5,000, he went to the U.S. headquarters (Pittsburgh) of a global chemical corporation that employs 17,500 people. Both are juniors, both worked May – August 2013, and both were paid – an uncommon occurrence in the arena of collegiate internships.

She is Sini Ngobese, a business and organizational communication major from Durban, South Africa. He is Devon Locher, a business major from Baden, Pa. Both students are pursuing human resources (HR) concentrations in their business majors, while Locher’s second concentration is in marketing. While Ngobese conducted her Field Period at Biogen Idec, Locher conducted his at Lanxess, a corporation focused on development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber and specialty chemicals. While she researched best-practice policies for redrafting an internal human resources (HR) manual, he worked on internal surveys covering employee and international intern integration into the city and company culture.

Locher said he was able to visit a production site in Ohio once which allowed him to see some of the manufacturing side of the company – with its setting and safety protocols – as well as the corporate side. The Pittsburgh workplace was positive and upbeat, he said, and while Locher already conducted two HR-related field periods, confirming that HR is the field he wants to work in, his two prior internships were at much smaller corporations.

At a prior Field Period, Locher learned he didn’t enjoy accounting work, but at Lanxess, no two days were ever the same,” he said. “There was always something different going on, even if some of the tasks were the same. That’s what I liked about it.”

In addition to developing what turned out to be a 30-page PowerPoint for managers to review, Locher also researched other company plans to ensure affirmative action laws and other HR standards comply with a wide variety of state and federal guidelines.

Locher with VP of HR Ludovico Martin, of Lanxess

“I learned a lot through research,” Locher said. “I think that’s why Keuka does the Field Period, because you can only do so much in the classroom and then you have to get out out there and work and see how it applies.”

According to Ngobese, Biogen Idec is the second largest bio-tech company in the world, manufacturing drugs for those suffering from autoimmune diseases.  Ngobese was stationed in its Weston branch office, although the company has locations “all over the globe,” she said.

Ngobese said her duties focused on the capture and synchronization of all U.S., European, and Canadian HR policies, to be shared on a new self-service portal for employees.

“It was, by far, the greatest career experience I’ve had thus far and truly fulfilled what the Field Period mission and vision strives to achieve,” said Ngobese. In addition to confirming her career aspirations and the type of company culture she hopes to find, Ngobese said her Field Period also helped her find a professional role model: Elizabeth Abbott, her supervisor.

“All of us were “wowed” by Sini’s professionalism, communication, work ethic and work product,” said Abbott. “Sini has many strengths, but her ability to communicate effectively, professionally, clearly, and persuasively in both written and oral communications is what really stands out to me. I was proud to have her represent my department and proud to call her a member of my team. She will be a strong contributor, I believe, wherever she goes.”

Thanks to Abbott, Ngobese said she now knows exactly what kind of female leader she wants to be, and has a clear sense what future purpose she can have within the HR field. She befriended other HR interns and was able to benchmark herself against those coming from bigger schools and gain confidence that she could still hold her own with them. The experience was so fulfilling, Ngobese may be invited to return to intern a second time, and if so, that would be in the company’s Cambridge, Mass., offices where the HR department will be moved.

Ngobese with fellow Biogen Idec interns at a Red Sox game in Boston, one of several company-provided treats for interns.

“It was intrinsically rewarding in that it truly helped me see that this is what I want to do as a career for the rest of my life,” she said. “I woke up thrilled to go to work and that really was an amazing experience for me.”

When it Comes to Change, Rita Gow Practices what She Preaches

Faculty members who teach in the Division of Business and Management bring significant, real-world experience to the classroom.

For example, take Rita Gow, associate professor of accounting, who came to Keuka College in 2005 after a distinguished career at Ernst & Young, a public accounting firm in Boston, Mass. She also worked for a Fortune 500 company, not-for-profit organizations including the Susan B. Anthony House (a national historic landmark), and a family-run insurance agency.

“Teaching is a different culture than I was used to, but I did what I tell everyone—persevere,” said Gow, who retired after the 2013 fall semester. “It’s OK to try new things, to take a chance and do something different. Change can be invigorating.”

In fact, change was the focus of the speech she delivered at academic convocation—her reward for being named Professor of the Year in 2011.

Gow said change “pushes us outside our comfort zone.

“But it’s good to step outside that box,” she said at the ceremony. “We all feel a bit of anxiety at some point—this is not necessarily a bad thing. It can motivate you.”

And motivation is what can help students who may be struggling in their classes.

“If a student is simply willing to try, work hard and persevere, they will succeed,” said Gow. “The College has had some fantastic success stories, including those who work for one of the ‘Big Four’ accounting firms or have done well in graduate school. We have had students work at both Ernst & Young and KPMG, and many have found success at both large and small accounting firms.”

Reflecting on her years at Keuka, Gow said “there are a lot of hard-working people [here] and I’ve been lucky to work with some really great students, like Joe DeBarr ‘12. He came to Keuka, while his twin brother went to SUNY Albany. Both were accounting majors. Every so often, I’d ask Joe how he liked it here and if he was considering transferring to Albany. Each time, he said ‘no’ [to the second part of the question]. While he enjoyed visiting his brother, the culture at Keuka was a perfect fit for him.”

After graduation, both brothers applied—and were accepted—to Syracuse University for graduate school.

“To me, this is a great success story,” said Gow. “It says that even though Keuka has a small accounting major, we have proven over and over that it is still rigorous enough to compete with a larger program.”

Gow said  ”it’s been fun to see the students come in as freshmen and evolve into seniors. I like that I may have had a part in helping students grow, even if they are not accounting majors. I like that about my job.

“Sometimes, I’ll get a note, or card, or Facebook message from a former student thanking me for teaching them. It’s not always obvious to them at the time that they will use what they have learned here. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard ‘I wish I’d paid more attention in accounting…’”

If she had collected those nickels, she might have saved them and used them to visit her daughter, who will move to Capetown, South Africa.

“My husband and I might use Capetown as a jumping off point to travel some more,” said Gow. “We will also visit my son and his wife in Virginia, who have three daughters, including twins. They are all under 3-years-old.”

And while Gow plans to travel, Keuka Lake will always be home.

“We live on Keuka Lake and we love it here, so we plan to stay,” said Gow. “I am active in the community, including serving as treasurer for the Keuka Housing Council, and the board of the Yates Community Endowment Fund. I may also teach Accounting for Managers, a course I have taught before, in the Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP).”

 

Partnering for a Good Read

"Butch" and Will Staub review the story Staub wrote about Butch.

“Butch,” a fifth-grader at Penn Yan Elementary School, didn’t like reading.

But thanks to a three-week partner project where Keuka College students met one-on-one with schoolchildren to craft a personal story from the child’s perspective, it wasn’t long before he changed his mind. So says Butch’s new buddy and personal “author,” Keuka freshman Will Staub.

“Butch told me the first day he didn’t like reading, then the next week he showed me this book he’d read,” Staub described. In truth, it was more like Butch raced to Staub’s side, book in hand, thrusting it into view and leaning forward in eager anticipation for the response.

Amanda Markessinis reads "Riley" the story she wrote for her.

Watching the interaction – and others like it across 17 such pairs of college and elementary students – were Dr. Jennie Joiner, assistant professor of English at Keuka, and fifth-grade teacher Terry Test, herself a 1973 Keuka graduate. The two teamed together, with support from elementary principal Edward Foote, to enable the collegiate “authors” to craft a three-page story from the perspective of each child selected from the joint classroom Test shares with team teacher Rebecca Morse.

The project, dubbed “Who is Penn Yan?,” was the final assignment for Joiner’s Literature in the Wider World course, a new introductory English course in Keuka’s general education curriculum. The course was designed to highlight the focus the English program is placing on literature as the doorway to culture, society, community and more.  Over the course of three weeks, each college student spent time getting to know his or her child, and ultimately, learning more about Penn Yan through the child’s eyes or imagination.

The fifth-graders all chose character names for themselves and wore name tags to each session, where partners paired up, using whatever chairs, tables, floor space, gym mats, or window ledges were available to continue their conversations.

“Look at the dynamics of this,” Test said, gesturing around the room at the pairs. “The ‘I’m too cool to do this’ vibe just shattered in the first second, and my students are real, being true to themselves. The energy is here on all sides. I’m so impressed at Dr. Joiner’s scaffolding of this.”

To say the children were thrilled would be an understatement. Some brought sketches, notebooks, origami, and more to share with their college author during the second and third sessions. A handful of boys could be seen half out of their seats, leaning forward to dialogue with their authors, while other children were seated more casually, body positions mimicking the college students taking detailed notes.

Tissania Cohall works with "Maddie."

Watching from a few steps away each week, Test and Joiner were almost as excited as their students at the energy generated during the interactions, and the impact it had on student learning.  By the end of the first week’s session, when alerting everyone in the room that only two minutes were left on the clock, Joiner said she could tell the project was en route to success.

“Every student – big and little – turned around and went ‘awww’ in disappointment,” Joiner said. “Some of my students who are not as vocal in class totally engaged with the children. It was just a cool thing.”

Test said the impact on her fifth-graders was almost immediate. (more…)

Snapshot of a Graduate: Alex Jones ’12

Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka degree take you? This is the 10th in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2012.

In the spring of 2012, Alex Jones of Conklin earned a Bachelor of Arts in biochemistry from Keuka College, then headed to Pace University in Lower Manhattan, New York City.

He is now halfway through a two-year program and on track to earn his Master of Science in forensic science in 2014. With degree in hand, Jones hopes to land a job in a criminal justice laboratory.

“At the graduate level, the classes are always interesting because it’s more specialized and the students learn about their interest in their chosen career field,” he said. Looking forward to classes every day, a student is more likely to walk away with a basic understanding and a drive to further develop it, he added.

According to Jones, the small class sizes at Keuka allow every student to stay engaged in c lectures and labs. Beyond that, the element he most valued was the challenge Keuka professors gave  students with “tough questions to make us think like real scientists. This improved thought process has helped me become more successful in graduate school.”

To explore what might be in your future with a Keuka degree, request more information.