Two career-affirming Field Period™ experiences, a spiritual exploration of Thailand, and being an active member of the Keuka College community helped earn junior Sini Ngobese the Experiential Learner of the Year Award, which recognizes learning from Field Period™, co-curricular involvement, and community service.
At her summer 2013 Field Period™ at Biogen Idec, a biotechnology company, Ngobese gained invaluable career experience, established a network of human resources (HR) professionals, and solidified her career aspirations. Her January 2014 Field Period™ at the Yates County Personnel Department led her to experience a different aspect of HR through interning in the public sector.
“The theoretical knowledge I gained in the classroom was applied in practice, and, through hands-on, experiential learning, I grew in my understanding, skills and abilities,” Ngobese said.
Nominated for the award by Director of Marketing and Communications Pete Bekisz and Professor of Communication Studies Anita Chirco, the Durban, South Africa resident believes her experiential learning opportunities make her a well-rounded candidate that will be an asset to any organization.
“These opportunities have vastly improved my written communication by emphasizing the importance of communicating clearly, yet professionally,” Ngobese said. “My oral communication also improved immensely during these internships, and I believe I have become a much more effective and confident communicator.”
Elizabeth Abbott, senior manager at Biogen Idec and Ngobese’s Field Period™ supervisor, would agree.
“Sini has many strengths, but her ability to communicate effectively, professionally, clearly, and persuasively in both written and oral communication are what really stand out to me,” said Abbott. “Sini’s communication strengths are impressive at any level, and the fact that she is still in school makes it even more remarkable.”
At the Yates County Personnel Department, Ngobese took “great initiative” in problem solving and was well prepared to have high-level discussions, according to Amy Guererri, personnel officer and human resources director for Yates County, and Ngobese’s Field Period™ supervisor.
“Sini took great pride in the quality of the work she produced,” said Guererri. “She quickly gained my confidence in her abilities and proved to be quite capable of performing well at a high level. Her ability to comprehend multifaceted subject matters, and then proceed independently in completing assignments was impressive. It allowed us to cover a wider variety of topics than we had originally thought.”
Abbott, too, was “extremely impressed by how much work Sini did, with little guidance and structure, and still maintain an extremely high quality of work.”
For example, Abbott told Ngobese that she wanted to create a policy template which would assist policy owners in putting together content with a consistent format.
“I thought I would sit with Sini and give her some ideas, we’d go back and forth on a few drafts, and then it would be complete,” said Abbott. “Instead, Sini sent me her first draft of a template, and it was exactly right.”
With Guererri, Ngobese “produced reports and documents that were at a level I would have expected from a seasoned professional,” she said. “During her short time working with us, Sini produced several viable work products and solutions that we utilized and implemented, which greatly benefited our department and Yates County.”
Guererri added she is “incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet and work with Sini. She is such a bright, determined, capable young woman, and I can state with the utmost certainty that she has an extremely bright future ahead of herself, and will excel in any endeavor she undertakes.”
Ngobese might not have had the same amount of confidence in herself that Abbott and Guererri had in her as she boarded a plane bound for Thailand, a country where Ngobese said she faced language and cultural challenges.
But she chose to participate in a Spiritual Exploration Field Period™ in Thailand, because in the “craziness of the busy streets, dense jungles, tan faces, and humid cabs in Thailand, I had never felt so lost,” she said, “or found.”
Experiencing a culture that differs from her own increased her appreciation of what she loves about her Zulu South African culture.
“Though we are different and eat different foods, worship different deities and have different social and behavioral norms, we all pursue to be happy, loved, and free,” said Ngobese. “My trip to Thailand helped me see that though we are different, at our very core, we are similar.”
Ngobese said her spiritual exploration of Thailand brought her closer to her own faith, Christianity, and helped her gain additional respect and admiration for a different faith, Buddhism.
“I was able to experience Thailand’s delicious food with curious taste buds and smell the rich, and sometimes pungent, odors of its busy streets and clear beaches,” said Ngobese. “I felt the sleek fur of a tiger beneath my clammy, nervous fingertips, and saw the heart-melting adorableness of a dancing baby elephant. There are no words to adequately express my gratitude at being able to embark on this life-changing, independence-solidifying trip.”
Through Field Period™, Ngobese said she has gained a greater understanding of her own greatness and potential.
“To undertake an intimidating adventure in yet another foreign country took courage, and my professional growth has been fostered through challenging Field Period™ opportunities at Biogen Idec and the Yates County Personnel Department,” said Ngobese. “[In all three experiences], I utilized the various knowledge, skills and abilities I have acquired in my liberal arts education at Keuka College.”
Part of the College’s liberal arts education includes the opportunity to get involved outside of the classroom. And Ngobese is taking full advantage of those opportunities as an active member of the Keuka College community.
She serves as an Academic Success at Keuka (ASK) tutor in human resources management and writing, and credits her Field Period™ experiences at Biogen Idec and Yates County with helping her expanded her HR knowledge.
“HR truly feels like second nature to me after having two Field Period™ experiences immersed in its terminology and way of thinking,” said Ngobese. “I believe I am a truly informative resource as an HR tutor, because not only do I have a theoretical understanding of the material, but can provide real-life examples.”
She also serves as an office assistant for the Center for Spiritual Life and the Center for Global Education, is a New Student Mentor, and has been on the Dean’s List since 2011. Ngobese received a Judith Oliver Brown Cultural Exploration Field Period™ scholarship, the Student Senate Leadership Scholarships Rising Senior Award, and was awarded the Center for Spiritual Life Excellence Award.
President of Lambda Pi Eta Honor Society, Ngobese is also active in the Keuka College International Club, where she serves as vice president and community service coordinator. She is a member of Students Helping Students’ Crisis Response Team, President’s Leadership Circle, Budget Allocations Committee, Tuesday Non-Denominational Service Drama Team, Sigma Lambda Sigma, and the Spiritual Life Advisory Board.
Said Ngobese: “Keuka College’s Field Period™ has benefitted my mental, spiritual, and emotional growth, and has revolutionized my college learning. I have aspirations to one day become a full-time Biogen Idec employee, and I look forward to my career with renewed vigor and certainty that this is the career path I want to follow, and I am immensely excited for my future.”
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of features on recipients of the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award. The award, named after the late 1963 Keuka graduate, is supported by Brown’s family and the Class of ’63. It is designed to assist students who pursue a culturally-oriented Field Period™.
Since sophomore Caitlin Malican was 13, she’s wanted to make a difference on a more global scale, specifically in a Third World country. Thanks to receiving the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award, she will spend her summer Field Period™ pursuing that dream by volunteering in Tanzania and Zanzibar.
The Irving, Texas resident will travel with Growth International Volunteer Exploration (GIVE) for three weeks in July to the Eastern African nations. GIVE is a Seattle-based volunteer organization that unites international volunteering with adventure travel to create a meaningful volunteer experience abroad.
“GIVE’s slogan, ‘be the change you wish to see in the world,’ encompasses the ideals of experiential learning through adventure, selflessness, and willingness to go outside your comfort zone,” said Malican, an occupational science major. “I am a firm believer that life is what you make of it, and going to Africa this summer is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I can’t pass up.”
As an occupational science major and a facilitator for TeamWorks!, Malican expects this experience will positively influence her roles on campus.
“I want to be able to apply what I will learn by volunteering and working directly with those living in Tanzania to better enhance my holistic intervention strategies in occupational therapy,” said Malican. “By immersing myself fully in Tanzanian culture, I will bring back to Keuka College a more diverse perception of life that will guide me through the rest of my life.”
Part of that immersion includes helping build a school out of sustainable materials—recycled water bottles filled with sand—and creating a fresh water system for the village. She, and about 40 other volunteers from across the world, will also work in the local community teaching English, math, and other subjects to local children and adults.
“We will also go to Zanzibar and live in a beach bungalow, swim with dolphins in the Indian Ocean, go on a two-day safari in Tarangire National Park, and learn Swahili and tribal dances from the Massai tribe,” said Malican.
Malican will also climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.
By climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, Malican “wants to do something that I will look back on in 20 years and still feel proud of accomplishing. I want to develop as an individual though the personal challenges and triumph of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.”
She chose to climb the 19,341-foot mountain to “prove to myself that I am capable of more than I believe,” said Malican. “When I climb the tallest freestanding mountain in the world this summer, I will learn more about myself than I think any other experience could teach me. From this experience, I intend to gain a greater understanding of the world around me, and who I want to continue to become.”
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of features on recipients of the Spiritual Exploration Field Period™ Award. A Spiritual Exploration Field Period™ involves work with churches, missions, hospitals, or hospices with an eye toward providing aid to needy individuals and/or groups, in this country or abroad. Funding for the scholarship is provided by an Institutional Renewal Grant from The Rhodes Consultation on the Future of the Church-Related College.
By learning about people from a different spiritual background, sophomore Cheryl Holman believes her compassion toward others will increase and her Christian faith will be challenged.
She also believes learning about other religions—particularly those practiced in Asian countries—will help her as a future occupational therapist (OT).
If she understands a client’s spiritual perspective, she thinks it will help her approach treatment in a “truly holistic” manner. Thanks to receiving a Spiritual Exploration Field Period™ Award, Holman will travel to Tokyo, Japan later this month and have a chance to get a firsthand account of how Eastern religions such as Buddhism influence medical treatment.
“As a future occupational therapist, I know that compassion and tolerance are qualities which are vital to my success and effectiveness,” said Holman, a Middlesex resident. “I see a valuable opportunity in spiritual exploration through a Field Period™ in Japan, and I envision the chance to learn and grow as a person.”
But she knows compassion is not limited to her success or Christianity.
“Compassion is a virtue common to most religions,” said Holman. “During His life, Jesus Christ set a beautiful example of compassion in action. He healed the sick and lame, consoled the mourning, and made the lonely feel welcome. I see these examples as positive influences, so it makes me wary of Eastern religions.”
But she believes stepping out of her Judeo-Christian comfort zone will be an important step in her spiritual growth.
“A Field Period™ in Japan will introduce me to the people who claim the Buddhist and Shinto faiths as their own and it will help me to better understand their beliefs so that I may find common ground we share,” said Holman.
In order to find that common ground in a city steeped in the Buddhist and Shinto faiths, Holman will enlist the help of an American friend and her Japanese husband. The couple reside in Tokyo and are the Christian pastors of the Biblical Church of Tokyo.
“I have heard about the challenges they face when representing the Christian faith to the Eastern mindset, so I want to interview them to understand these challenges,” said Holman. “This point of view affects not only the Japanese worldview, but it permeates into how disabilities and mental issues are viewed and affects their opinion of rehabilitation after an injury.”
So Holman plans to explore and compare the role of religion in Japan versus the United States to learn how such disabilities are treated based on Japanese religious thought. She intends to interview people with health concerns, as well as children with disabilities to see how religion affects their treatment and rehabilitation.
“As Jesus Christ was able to relate to the religious leaders of his day as easily as to the criminal, I believe learning how Christianity is viewed in Japan will increase my compassion and tolerance of those who practice Eastern religions,” said Holman.
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of features on recipients of the Spiritual Exploration Field Period™ Award. A Spiritual Exploration Field Period™ involves work with churches, missions, hospitals, or hospices with an eye toward providing aid to needy individuals and/or groups, in this country or abroad. Funding for the scholarship is provided by an Institutional Renewal Grant from The Rhodes Consultation on the Future of the Church-Related College.
Growing up, sophomore Starr Lewis said she was a child who had difficulties and challenges in school. She was often discouraged, made to feel and stupid, and that she would never get support.
But Lewis, an American Sign Language (ASL)-English interpreting major, grew up with a strong Christian background. She prayed to God for help and the support she needed, and that someone would understand the way she learned.
“As I got older, I did get the support I needed to help me be successful,” said Lewis, a Churchville resident.
And now Lewis wants to do the same for others—particularly children—who may be struggling in their lives. Thanks to receiving the Spiritual Exploration Field Period™ Scholarship Award, she will spend her summer Field Period™ sharing the Gospel with a deaf community at the 2014 edition of Camp Hands of Joy in the Dominican Republic.
The Hand of Joy Foundation which raises funds for initiating and furthering the understanding of the Gospel in the lives and minds of deaf children and their families. It also provides children and adolescents the opportunity to learn ASL and Dominican Republic Sign Language (DSL).
Camp Hands of Joy provides children with arts and crafts, swimming, supervised sports, and time together to use their shared language, and gives them a chance to hear the word of God.
“I believe strongly in the goal of spreading the Gospel,” said Lewis. “I want to work with adults and children who want to learn the language of ASL because I will have a better understanding of the way children and adults think,” said Lewis, who is motivated and excited to use the skills she has gained to interpret ASL, DSL, and English. “I enjoy watching the change that happens when someone begins to understand something they never did before.”
Lewis will get her own chance to understand something she didn’t know while attending church services.
“Deaf Dominican pastors come to the camp and preach the Gospel to the children and their parents,” said Lewis. “Through studying words and phrases from the Bible, I will be able to relate to the messages being signed and I will learn new signs that I was not aware of. I want to make connections and encourage the children and adults that there is still hope, and to trust God.”
Added Lewis: “Through Jesus Christ, I want to experience for myself that I can make a difference in other countries like the Dominican Republic. I pray and believe that I will make a difference by serving others.”
Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of features on recipients of the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award. The award, named after the late 1963 Keuka graduate, is supported by Brown’s family and the Class of ’63. It is designed to assist students who pursue a culturally-oriented Field Period™.
Junior Devan Curtis, an American Sign Language (ASL)-English interpreting major, wants to become a certified ASL interpreter one day.
In order to broaden her skills and abilities, the San Clemente, Calif. resident and recipient of the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award, will have the opportunity to do just that as she spends her summer Field Period™ in Paris, France, learning French Sign Language, langue des signes francaise (LSF).
“A trip to France for an ASL student is comparable to a trip to Mecca, because France is the birthplace of ASL,” said Curtis. “Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet traveled to France to learn sign language, and while there met Laurent Clerc, a deaf educator. Together they traveled back to the United States and established the American School for the Deaf in 1817 in Hartford, Conn.”
While in France, Curtis intends to learn basic LSF vocabulary and gestures, and visit museums, deaf schools, and historical landmarks with deaf tour guides in Paris and Lyons. She will also “absorb the culture and history of sign language while being submerged in a deaf environment. Culture is important in every language because it displays diversity, our own identity, and the blueprints of life.”
Another goal Curtis while learning LSF is to acquire a name sign, which creates a connection to the deaf community. Name signs are signs that are used as people’s names, and are specific signs that refer to specific people. A name sign can only be established by a deaf person, and that person will analyze your characteristic, appearance, and mannerisms to give a person a name sign.
And like Gallaudet, “Judith Oliver Brown traveled the world to seek new career and educational opportunities,” said Curtis. “I, too, share that passion. This Field Period™ is full of opportunity to grow as a student.”
Added Curtis: “Traveling to France is an important life experience for an interpreter. Not only will this allow my ASL skills to grow, it will give Keuka College a profound reputation by having a knowledgeable interpreter in the workforce.”