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OT Faculty, Graduates Impress at National Conference

Four Keuka College faculty from the Division of Occupational Therapy and two graduates of the master’s program in occupational therapy wowed professional occupational therapists (OTs) with peer-reviewed presentations at the National American Occupational Therapy Association Conference in Nashville, April 16-19. In addition, nine current OT majors attended the conference, gaining exposure to professional development and new research within the field.

“There were over 9,000 OT’s in attendance,” said Dr. Vicki Smith, division chair and professor of occupational therapy. “All our topics were current to present clinical and academic practice. All our topics were a hit.”

Dr. Smith and Dr. Michele Bennett, assistant professor of occupational therapy, participated in a peer review presentation, “Big Fish from Small Academic Ponds: Preparing Students for Primary Care,” along with representatives from Ithaca College, St Francis University, and the University of Findlay.

Workshop presenters sharing the podium with Dr. Vicki Smith, center, and Dr. Michele Bennett, second from right.

According to Smith, the collaborative “Big Fish” presentation focused on how each of the four institutions prepares OT students for the changes in clinical practice due to the Affordable Care Act. Within that context, Smith and Bennett highlighted the Keuka College approach of expanding clinical education placement of OT students into community-based fieldwork locations.

In the last two years, Smith said “we have accrued more than 50 nontraditional and community-based sites where our students can gain new hands-on skills to meet future health care needs.”

Dr. Vicki Smith presents during the panel. Dr. Bennett is seated, center.

Among those sites are assisted living communities, home health care agencies, migrant worker programs, palliative care homes like Keuka Comfort Care, organizations such as the Literacy Volunteers of Ontario or Yates Counties, Syracuse Rescue Mission and businesses such as Wegmans.

According to Smith, the representatives from Ithaca focused on their students’ use of technology with older adults and needs assessment for the ‘well-elderly’ population. Those from St. Francis emphasized adult dayhab programming, research and missions work, while OT students at Findlay have been offering supervised OT programs in partnership with the prison system, working with inmates along the range of incarceration to community re-entry and probation.

“We are all small schools and this is how we get our clinical experiences done to prepare future practitioners,” Smith said.

Dr. Bennett and Dr. Battaglia's poster presentation.

During the conference, Dr. Bennett and Dr. Carmela Battaglia, professor of occupational therapy, also presented a poster presentation on “Designing Learning Objectives and Activities for Achieving Measurable Student Outcomes.”

“What Carmela and Michele did was excellent,” Smith said, describing how the duo presented an electronic process for evaluating the strength of the occupational therapy curriculum through a more extensive use of Moodle, the College’s online course delivery channel.

“Instead of students just posting assignments into Moodle, they collected additional data based on the outcomes of everything the students submit,” Smith explained. As a result, the integrated data helps provide a more accurate measure of the learning outcomes of the curriculum, she described.

In addition, Dr. Holly Preston, associate professor of occupational therapy, and 2014 OT master’s graduates Matt Nowak and Kacie Horoszewski presented “Validity and Reliability of an iPod Forearm Goniometer App” as another poster presentation. Preston, Nowak and Horoszewski previously presented their collaborative research at the end of Nowak and Horoszewski’s graduate year of study, sharing it at a research summit hosted at SUNY Brockport with other colleges.

Dr. Holly Preston, left, Kacie Horoszewski, and Matt Nowak gave a poster presentation on their research on a mobile app that measures joint and muscle flexibility.

Traditionally, a physical tool is used to measure the joint and/or muscle flexibility of a patient, such as  forearm or elbow movements. Their work tested the reliability of using a handheld mobile device running the Apple-based mobile app. Research like this potentially could replace the traditional tool, with measurements taken by the app as the patient moves his or her arm while holding the device.

According to Nowak, “we measure joint angles a lot when doing therapy. We found this app and we found there hadn’t been any recent research on it when we did our review. We know Dr. Preston was interested in this research, so we thought she was a great asset and could help guide us through the experimental process a little better, given that she was already versed in it.”

“We were very well received at a national conference, and it was very validating to have people from all of the U.S. contact us and seek our research out,” said Nowak, who now works full-time as a licensed OT in the Auburn area with Lifetime Care, a home care agency based in Rochester.

Dr. Dianne Trickey-Rokenbrod, Dr. Vicki Smith, back row, left, and Dr. Michele Bennett, front row, second from right, with student members of the Keuka College Alpha Sigma chapter of Phi Theta Epsilon, the honor society of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation.

Horoszewski added that it was exciting to have other OT colleagues at the conference “seek out our poster, ask thought- provoking questions and encourage us to conduct a follow up study with the most current Apple technology available.”

“Overall, the experience has given me the confidence to pursue further research opportunities in the clinic and seek additional collaborations with the Keuka College occupational therapy program in the future,” said Horoszewski, who is now working as a licensed OT in a geriatric rehabilitation center outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“As an OT graduate, this was my first professional presentation, and I think it went it great,” Nowak said, crediting the numerous pre-professional experiences gleaned through his Keuka College career to set the stage for success.

“Field Period™ was the first thing and the actual experiences of getting out in the professional world on our breaks from school – that was a big part of it, the experiential learning. Having to do multiple presentations throughout my college career really set us up to do that presentation too,” Nowak added. “The faculty and staff in the OT division served us pretty well and they were able to get us all ready to be entry-level professionals in our field.”

Spotlight Shines on Keuka College DRIVE graduate

Robert Lonie

Come next Monday, Robert Lonie will get a taste of the Hollywood experience when he attends the official screening of a documentary featuring his success on the Keuka College campus, at a special film event on inclusive college learning programs at Rochester’s Little Theatre. It’s the latest achievement in a remarkable life that has seen him become an inspiring advocate for inclusive education.

The “movie premiere” of a 7.5-minute micro-film documentary on Lonie himself will be part of a three-film screening that starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Little Theatre, 240 East Avenue, Rochester on Monday, May 4. Two other short films on inclusive learning will be screened and Lonie will also be part of a panel discussion after the showings. (Screenings take place in Theater 5, Winthrop Street entrance.)

“This is big. Robert’s going to have a limo and all that. He’s all excited,” said John Luppino, director of the DRIVE program, which stands for Diversity, Responsibility, Inclusion, Vision and Experiential Learning.

DRIVE is a collaboration between Keuka College, the Yates County ARC, and the Penn Yan Central School District. In the program, Keuka College students serve as peer mentors to young adults with intellectual disabilities as they assimilate into the college environment and explore their personal goals. Upon completion, DRIVE students receive an Award of Higher Education at Commencement. Lonie graduated from DRIVE in 2013.

He was the first DRIVE student to live in a campus dorm, and during his course of study, provided clerical support part-time in a number of offices across campus. Since finishing the DRIVE program, Lonie still rotates weekly to those offices, and has continued to volunteer in DRIVE classrooms, Luppino said. He also serves as an advocate for the DRIVE program, and for inclusive learning on other college campuses. In 2013, he received the New York State ARC (NYSARC) Self-Advocate award for his leadership and personal growth and for positively influencing the lives of others.

“Robert’s vision is just amazing. He’s always about five years ahead of us with his thoughts and where he’s going—lots of self-direction,” Luppino said, describing how Lonie and his mother Cheryl Lonie, were living in the Elmira area when they first saw a news article about the DRIVE program. Soon after, the two moved to the Penn Yan area so Robert could attend.

Students like Robert Lonie, who complete a four-year certificate program through DRIVE, earn an Award of Higher Education during Commencement.

“His film is so great because it covers all the things we know about Robert and all the aspects [of what makes our DRIVE program successful],” Luppino said, referring to Lonie’s micro-film, part of “The Opportunity Project,” created by the Institute for Innovative Transition at the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education, with funding from the Golisano Foundation.

According to Luppino, Lonie was involved in the decision-making of how his documentary would be crafted, chose each of the people who would be interviewed, and made the decision not to speak himself until the end of the film.

“It’s very telling about what he’s done here,” Luppino explained, adding that Robert is something of a celebrity on campus, because “everybody knows Robert and Robert knows everybody. Robert’s always wanted to go to Hollywood and do this kind of thing. That’s one of his dreams.”

A second micro-film documentary features the personal success of Monroe Community College student Cori Piels, and the two films on Lonie and Piels will be paired Monday with the 25-minute national film “Rethinking College.” Produced by Think College, “Rethinking College showcases students with intellectual disabilities attending inclusive programs at campuses across the nation and the success stories emerging there and here at home.

Robert Lonie's personal successes are seen in his micro-film. (Movie still provided courtesy Institute of Innovative Transition, Warner School of Education, University of Rochester.)

A discussion panel, moderated by Martha Mock, an associate professor who directs the Institute for Innovative Transition at the Warner School, follows the screenings and will include Lonie, Piels, Meg Grigal, co-director of Think College and Dr. David Basinger, chief academic officer at Roberts Wesleyan College. The discussion is intended to provide insight into the positive impact and outcomes that access to higher education provides for students with intellectual disabilities. The film screenings and discussion are part of the “Move to Include,” initiative, a collaboration of WXXI and the Golisano Foundation.

While the call for increased inclusion of students with intellectual disabilities may have yet to gain concerted traction nationwide, Keuka College has been ahead of the curve with its DRIVE program.

“I stress to my students that although inclusion is our norm, what we take for granted here is not necessarily the norm all over,” said Assistant Professor of Education Alice Harnischfeger, who teaches two Keuka College courses requiring education majors to log eight to 15 hours in service to DRVIE students on campus or with the intellectually disabled at local ARC sites. At the end of each course, a written reflection is required.

“Numerous students report that while they were worried about logging enough hours in the beginning, by the end they wanted to put in more,” she described, adding that many continue working as DRIVE mentors after their time in the class has ended.

“I try to teach them that they will take their inclusive-mindedness out to the community,” Harnischfeger said.

An image from "The Opportunity Project - Robert Lonie" helps emphasize the positive outcomes for Lonie and other students with intellectual disabilities—and for those they impact too. (Image courtesy Institute for Innovative Transition, Warner School of Education, University of Rochester.)

Affection for Lonie runs deep in Strong Hall, where the Division of  Education is housed.

“Robert’s always over here and he feels like a part of our building. Everyone on campus knows him. So we’re excited about this,” she added.

To that end, the Division of Education is sponsoring a bus to Rochester Monday and thus far, Harnischfeger said she’s heard from 22 interested faculty and students eager to cheer and support Lonie at his film premiere. Luppino also expects his staff and others to attend as well.

Each film shown as part of the “Move to Include” screening will be open captioned and a sign language interpreter will be provided for the discussion. For questions about the event, please contact the Institute for Innovative Transition at 585-275-2454 or email To find each of the three films online, search the Institute for Innovative Transition’s YouTube channel. For more information on the Institute itself, visit

Keuka College Professor Receives China’s Egret Friendship Award

Dr. José Torres is one of 10 foreign experts to receive the Egret Friendship Award from the government of Xiamen, China

Ten foreign visitors in Xiamen, China, were recently bestowed with an Egret Friendship Award for their contributions to the city’s economic development.

Among them was Dr. José Torres, visiting professor in Keuka College’s China Program (KCP). He teaches classes in organizational behavior, leadership, and strategic management at the College’s partner universities, including Yunnan University of Finance and Economics in Kunming; Jimei University in Xiamen; and Tianjin University of Science and Technology in Tianjin.

Given every two years, the Egret Friendship Award is the People’s Republic of China’s highest award for foreign experts who have made outstanding contributions to the country’s economic and social progress, and particularly to the city of Xiamen. The award is presented by the Xiamen Municipal Government to encourage and honor foreign experts who make outstanding contributions in areas such as agricultural technology, enterprise technical updating, construction programs, and educational progress.

“We are proud that one of our faculty received such a prestigious recognition,” said Dr. Paul Forestell, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Dr. Torres and the other recipients hail from seven different countries, including the United States, Australia, Austria, and Indonesia. And they are in select company. The biannual award has been given to just 48 foreign experts since 2004, mainly from the U.S., Canada, Japan, Russia, Singapore and Malaysia.

The award consists of a certificate and medal, decorated with a picture of the Great Wall of China, along with the inscription Friendship Award in Chinese and in English. The letter reads, in part, “During your stay in Xiamen, you have achieved great success in spite of difficulties through your hard work by practical innovation, thus winning appreciation and respect of the people in Xiamen. What you have done has promoted international cooperation and friendship.”

In addition to his teaching career, Dr. Torres is president of Torres International, a role he has held since 2005. The company is an international management, leadership and marketing consulting firm providing seminars, workshops and consulting for small, medium and large organizations. It also manages projects for several externally sponsored and company-funded manufacturing development programs.

The Egret Friendship Award was first established in the 1950s, when it was given to experts from the former Soviet Union and East European countries by the then premier Zhou Enlai and the foreign minister Chen Yi. On Sept.15, 1955, the Chinese government decreed that each departing Soviet expert be issued a medal, but was abolished with the Sino-Soviet split in the early 1960s. During the period that followed, in particular the Cultural Revolution, foreigners in China were often regarded as spies and very few remained in the country.

After the reopening of China, a new Egret Friendship Award was introduced in 1991. Since then, the winners have been selected by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA), under the State Council.

Dr. Torres also teaches strategic management and international business for Keuka College at the International School, Vietnam National University in Hanoi.

In Praise of Art: the Power of Belief

This spring’s senior art show at Keuka College will feature the works of four seniors, each accomplished artists in their own rights and each with their own signature style.

Their joint exhibit, “Underneath It All,” will be featured in Lightner Gallery in the Lightner Library at Keuka College from April 20 – May 15. An artists’ reception, where light refreshments will be served, will be held Thursday, April 23, from 4:30-6 p.m.

Within the show are four separate themes conveying the work of each student artist. Potsdam resident Kaycee Maguire’s segment, “Ode to Spring,” features patterned designs created by the lacrosse midfielder who is completing a minor in graphic design and marketing. Horseheads resident Danielle Alred created a series of movie posters depicting the hidden, inner world where people can battle any of the seven deadly sins, while appearing otherwise fine on the outside in her works, “7 Deadly.” Dundee resident Jesse Ninos is going big with his larger-than-life mixed media and graphic design with an art noveau style in “We are Dragons.” Meanwhile, Interlaken resident Megan Chase uses watercolor paint, black india ink and fabrics to showcase women “Breaking the Boundaries” of traditional standards of beauty.

"Confinement" by Megan Chase

“I see women as snowflakes— while there are millions, there are no two who are exactly alike. Our differences as human beings should be praised rather than shamed,” Chase offered as explanation for her presented works.

In her four years on campus, Chase said she was able to explore many different mediums and styles of art as well as writing (she’s passionate about both) and will graduate with a diverse skill set, thanks to her visual and verbal art degree. After a digital photography course followed by a Foundations of Art course during her freshman year, Chase said she chose to switch her major from English to visual and verbal art.

“I am leaving Keuka College with a lot more than just an art degree, I’m leaving with communication skills that can be applied to all other aspects in life as well as a career. The program here has really allowed me to find and pursue my passions in life and I believe it allows all art majors to do so,” Chase said.

"Spring Circle" design by Kaycee Maguire

For Maguire, Keuka College offers a “ton of resources,” she said, counting Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art, among them. “Ms. Newcomb is a great advisor who always pushes students to strive for the best,” Maguire said.

“Graduating as one of the first few with an art & design major is awesome,” Maguire added, referring to the major the College introduced in 2013. “I have a ton of experience in a variety of fields. This program is headed in a great direction.”

And it’s preparing graduates for success too, as evidenced by the job offer Danielle Alred of Horseheads already received, to join the Elmira Jackals hockey team as its art director after graduation. Alred conducted a Field Period™ study with the Jackals in January, providing graphic design support for the East Coast Hockey (ECHL) minor league team, producing designs for their website, Jumbo-Tron and outdoor billboards, as well as social media. She credits her ability to stand out to the Jackals and others because of the handful of art classes she began taking each year after discovering a passion for graphic design in her sophomore year.

One of Danielle Alred's "7 Deadly" designs

“As soon as I stepped foot into that design class I fell in love with art, which led to my student-initiated minor in digital design. Having a minor in digital design and having the skills in various Adobe design programs has helped me to stand out on campus as well as at Field Period™ sites. Being in the art program has led to a variety of different opportunities that honed my skills in not only graphic design but in a variety of different art forms,” the organizational communication major said.

Ninos too, can boast enhanced skills through his Keuka College training, having produced works in mediums that span everything from spray-painted street art, caricatures, sculpture, comics-style art and graphic design. Describing himself as “infatuated” with mixed media, Ninos has begun to focus on fantasy-themed works evocative of his artistic idols Alan Lee (illustrator of Lord of the Rings), Mary Doodles of YouTube fame, and various DC, Marvel and Wildcats comic-book artists.

Ninos's work, "Troll"

“I have learned that I love capturing the element of movement, with strong lines, the essence of an organic object or the gesture of a figure drawing coming alive on the page,” Ninos said, adding that his best work often consumes eight hours or more.

Ninos said he enjoys creating art that can serve “as a strong narrative element in storytelling.” Given his love of movement, expression and emotion in art, he is pursuing further study and has applied to graduate art programs at SUNY Oswego and Alfred University.

"Winter Circle" design by Kaycee Maguire

Newcomb praised the seniors for preparing unique works reflecting different life values, beliefs, interests or personal identification with the world, and in doing so in a short two-and-a-half months time.

“Each one has a strong presence, and powerful statement built through layers of meaning,” Newcomb said. “They are leaving a strong impression on the future of the Art & Design program.”

Jenn Burt Doesn’t Let Cystic Fibrosis Slow her Down

Senior Jennifer Burt (Penn Yan, N.Y./Penn Yan) was born with Cystic Fibrosis, a life-threatening disorder that wreaks havoc on a person’s lungs and digestive system.

Burt, who is a four-year member of the Keuka College women’s lacrosse team, has not let her Cystic Fibrosis slow her down or prevent her from achieving her athletic goals.

Cystic Fibrosis is an inherited condition that affects 30,000 people nationwide. Its victims experience a congestion or backup in one’s secretory glands, the glands that produce mucus and sweat.

In patients with Cystic Fibrosis, the lungs and the pancreas are hit especially hard with thicker-than-usual fluids that, instead of acting as a lubricant, can clog up essential tubes, ducts and passageways.

There is no known cure for Cystic Fibrosis, but in the last 10 years, modern medicine has helped Cystic Fibrosis patients live longer, fuller lives than ever before.

A decade ago, the life expectancy of a child diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis was 18 years. Today, that figure has doubled to 37.5 years, on average, and the hope in the medical community is that one day very soon, life expectancy will exceed 40 years and keep climbing.

A three-sport standout at nearby Penn Yan Academy, Burt, an attacker, has blossomed into one of the most lethal scoring threats in the history of Keuka women’s lacrosse.

Burt ranks third all-time in career goals (132) and assists (48), and she is fourth in career points (180) while leading Keuka to back-to-back North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) postseason championships and the program’s first two berths in the NCAA Division III tournament.

She is a two-time All-NEAC selection who has scored 35 or more goals in each of her three full seasons in Keuka Park, including scoring 62 points on 41 goals with 21 assists her freshman year, the eighth-highest point total in a season in school history.

And while she has had her fair share of difficulties because of Cystic Fibrosis, you wouldn’t know it watching her play the sport she loves.

Burt has been resolute in her determination to live each day to the fullest, whether on the lacrosse field, in the classroom, or hanging out with her friends.

“My parents (Jon and Sandy) raised me to never let anything stop me from doing what I want in life, and having Cystic Fibrosis was no exception,” said Burt, a business management major.

“I was diagnosed at birth, and my parents were always very open about my condition, so it never seemed different or unusual for me to have this growing up. I was a three-sport athlete until just before I graduated from Penn Yan and I rarely had any instances where you would tell I have this disease unless I mentioned it.”

Burt and her Wolfpack teammates are pitching in to join the fight against Cystic Fibrosis. When Keuka hosts NEAC rival SUNY Polytechnic at 1 p.m. Saturday, it will be the first Cystic Fibrosis Awareness game in school history.

The student-athletes on the team hope to raise more than $500 for the Blooming Rose Foundation, an organization that helps support families who have a child diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis.

Burt, who has appeared in and started 55 games in her Wolfpack career, said the only real observable clue that she was dealing with a medical condition while playing would be an occasional coughing fit, depending on the weather.

“I was always told that exercise in any form would help improve my lung function,” Burt said. “I never used my condition as an excuse to get out of something that the team was doing, but rather I used it as a motivator to push myself harder. My coaches knew, but not very many of my teammates knew, and I was just fine with that. No reason to get attention or sympathy when I didn’t need, want or deserve it. Cystic Fibrosis has pushed me to become a better athlete and it has helped drive my passion for playing lacrosse.”

Unlike previous years, during her senior season, Burt decided to open up to all of her teammates about her Cystic Fibrosis.

The disease, which currently affects roughly one in 3,500 newborn children annually, varies on severity depending on the patient.

Burt, who describes her Cystic Fibrosis as a “mild enough” case, said she has only been hospitalized for treatment once since being diagnosed.

But complications can arise when dealing with the common cold or other respiratory illnesses, which can lead to a shortness of breathe easier than those without Cystic Fibrosis.

“The biggest struggle has been making time for taking care of myself, doing my breathing treatments when I need to, and going to my frequent doctor’s appointments,” Burt said. “I have to work that much harder to make sure I don’t get sick. I can’t afford to skip out on sleep or not eat enough during the day, since it is the little tasks that can add up and get me feeling drained.”

In order to raise money in the fight against Cystic Fibrosis, Keuka has set up a GoFundMe page for fans who would like to contribute. Donations can be made at

“I’m honored that my teammates are willing to participate in this awareness game and help raise money to fight Cystic Fibrosis,” Burt said. “A handful of women on my team have been with me every step of the way of my college career, and they have always been accepting and supportive of me. I’m so grateful to have them help bring awareness to my illness.”

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