Two Keuka College students recently received scholarships awarded by the Elmira-Corning branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Both students—Wendy Axtell and Joanne Seeley—are pursuing their bachelor’s degrees through the College’s Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP).
AAUW was founded in 1882 to unite alumnae of different institutions for practical educational work. In accordance with the goal of working for broader opportunities for women, the Elmira-Corning Branch of AAUW offers annual scholarships to women pursuing an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
Axtell is earning her degree in organizational management at Corning Community College, while Seeley is pursuing her degree in nursing at Arnot Ogden Medical Center. Both earned an AAUW Return to Learning Scholarship.
“These amazing women share a passion to learn, and have overcome obstacles to pursue their education,” said Liz Walton, who serves on the Scholarship Committee of the Elmira-Corning Branch of AAUW Board of Trustees.
While attending class, Axtell worked full time as an executive assistant at Market Street Trust Company. When her daycare provider could no longer care for her three children, she made the “difficult decision to quit her job and devote her time to being a full time student and being at home with my children,” she said. “Going from two incomes to one, and the cost of tuition, has forced some lifestyle changes.”
But her connection to Market Street Trust Company continues, as she has provided assistance to the organization with some of its projects. Axtell believes she is still backed by the company’s leaders and board of directors, “which is such an amazing feeling to have the support of an organization I worked for four years,” said Axtell, who is also grateful for the backing of her family. “I hope that when my degree is complete, I can return if an opportunity arises.”
And with one year of her Keuka College studies complete, Axtell said she is “more convinced than ever” that she chose the right path.
“In the midst of my managerial finance class, I was able to learn the pieces of an organization’s financials that I had not been previously involved,” she said. “As I gain knowledge of what will be important to me as a manager, this helped me realize what my value can be as a leader of an organization someday.”
Walton is as confident as Axtell is: “Any organization will be fortunate to have Wendy join them, and I am sure the choice will be all hers.”
In addition to a Return to Learning Scholarship, Seeley received the Zelda Sadinsky Scholarship, which was first awarded in 2005. Sadinsky raised five children, and then, in her 50s, went back to college and earned her bachelor’s degree.
While attending classes, Seeley works at the Chemung County Nursing facility and was recently promoted to director of nursing. She plans to continue her studies and earn a master’s degree in geriatric nursing.
“While I have gained a great deal of knowledge through experiential learning, I came to the realization that in order to inspire professional growth in those under my supervision I must model the actions I would like to see,” said Seeley. “A proficient nurse takes responsibility for ongoing personal and professional development, especially when the goal is to provide outstanding care. Based on that belief, I began the process of obtaining my baccalaureate degree in nursing. As a professional nurse, I have the responsibility to maintain professional strength, not only to those I care for—but also myself, my colleagues, and the organization which employs me.”
Added Walton: “Joanne has a real passion and drive for learning, and is invested in what she does. We should all feel a huge sense of relief knowing that Joanne is in charge, should any of us become a patient at the Chemung County Nursing facility.”
The 2015 Donald and Corinne Stork Award for Community Service was presented to Penn Yan resident Bill Turner at a noon luncheon on August 11.
Keuka College established the award to recognize those individuals who exemplify its historic commitment to the value and benefit of using individual initiative for the common good.
The award was named after the first recipients of the award, Penn Yan residents Corinne Stork and the late Donald Stork, in 1991.
Turner also received a proclamation written by New York State Senator Tom O’Mara and New York State Assemblyman Philip Palmesano, and presented by Yates County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mike Linehan. On behalf of the New York State Legislature, the proclamation acknowledged Turner’s service to his community.
Among the Yates County organizations that have benefitted from Turner’s time and talents are the Presbyterian Church, Penn Yan Racquet Club, Lions Club, Christmas for the Needy, Keuka Care Comfort Home, the Once Again Shoppe, Penn Yan Area Council of Churches Community Action Program, the Back to School Program, and the Elks Club.
Click for more photos from the luncheon.
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?”
On the surface, the Presbyterian Church, Penn Yan Racquet Club, Lions Club, Christmas for the Needy, and Keuka Care Comfort Home might not seem like they have much in common.
Nor might the Once Again Shoppe, Penn Yan Area Council of Churches Community Action Program, the Back to School Program, and the Elks Club.
But there is one common—and constant—bond that connects each organization to the others. His name is Bill Turner, a lifelong resident of Penn Yan and the 2015 recipient of the Donald and Corinne Stork Award for Community Service. The award will be presented Tuesday, Aug. 11 at a noon luncheon in the Geiser Dining Hall in Dahlstrom Student Center at Keuka College.
The Stork Award was established in 1991 by Keuka College to recognize outstanding individuals who exemplify the College’s commitment of valuing individual initiative for the common good. The award was named after its first recipients, Penn Yan residents Corinne Stork and the late Donald Stork.
Those who know Turner say he’s a person who believes that individuals can change communities for the better. This is just one lesson Turner’s parents instilled in him as a child—a love of his community and a commitment to helping others.
Take the Presbyterian Church, where the young Turner helped his father stoke the furnace. Since then, he has continued to dedicate himself to his church through a variety of roles. He continues his work as a trustee, has served as an elder and a deacon, and sits on the Building and Grounds Committee. He has also been active with the Penn Yan Area Council of Churches Community Action Program Inc., where he has served on its Board of Directors.
For the Christmas for the Needy program, Turner has organized the transportation of toys and food, and makes certain that those unable to get to the distribution site still receive Christmas packages. At the Once Again Shoppe, Turner can be counted on to move and sort donated items or find the right piece of furniture for someone in need, among other projects. He chairs the Building Maintenance and Repair committee there, too.
In addition, Turner has assisted with the efforts of the Back to School program by helping shop, package, and deliver school supplies to ensure students are ready to begin the school year. He is a founding member of the Penn Yan Racquet Club, and a longtime member of the Elks Lodge and the Lion’s Club, where he received an Award of Merit in 2002. Turner has also served as a Town of Milo councilman, been a member of the United States Junior Chamber (more commonly called Jaycees), and has supported efforts to raise money for Keuka Comfort Care Home.
Tickets for the luncheon are $13. Seating is limited, so advanced reservations are advised. Make checks payable to Keuka College and mail to: Office of Alumni and Family Relations, Keuka College, Keuka Park, N.Y. 14478, or reservations may be made online at events.keuka.edu. The reservation deadline is Wednesday, Aug 5.
For more information call (315) 279-5238 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.