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Keuka College News

Plenty of Options for Multi-Talented Senior

Editor’s Note: This is the 7th in a series of stories saluting members of the Class of 2011. We asked division chairs for story ideas and they in turn contacted faculty members for ideas. We believe they came up with some terrific profiles.

If all the world’s a stage, Amber Smith has three she is intently looking into as she considers the next chapter of her life: hip-hop dance, acting or maybe owning her own business.

The Canandaigua resident will graduate Sunday with a bachelor’s degree in management from Keuka College, but has invested plenty of time acting in campus plays, serving as president of the Arion Players (drama club), and fine-tuning leadership skills in the business and management program.

Immediately following graduation, Smith plans to seek a full-time job and work on a master’s degree in management through Keuka’s Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP), which enables adults to earn degrees in 18 months or less attending night classes once a week.

“I’m currently looking at Cornell Cooperative and attempting to do something through 4-H,” Smith said, noting she did marketing work for a local 4-H camp for one of her Field Periods. At Keuka, each student is required to complete a 140-hour hands-on internship – known as the Field Period – each year. Smith has also conducted Field Periods in China at one of Keuka’s sister schools, in human resources at F.F. Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua, and in marketing assistance at non-profit Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park in Canandaigua.

Should she pursue a career in the corporate world, Smith is not likely one to be intimidated by public presentations or pulling projects together under a deadline. That’s because Smith has held a number of acting roles in her four years at Keuka in addition to coordinating events such as an all-arts or improv night, said Mark Wenderlich, associate professor of theatre.

Given the “amazing strides” Smith has made in her development as an actress, especially in the past semester, Wenderlich said, she also has strong potential in the summer stock roles she plans to audition for in community theaters.

According to Smith, she plans to visit New York City in about two months to explore the possibilities in professional dance or acting as well. Between her Field Periods and some leads from Wenderlich, she has met a number of people she may use as references or networking contacts to further her education or her career. She also intends to explore finding an agent.

“I’m strongest in hip-hop dance and I’m looking into working in New York City to maybe do things like music videos or go on tour or any type of hip-hop dance that’s needed anywhere,” Smith said.

According to Wenderlich, Smith has “a strong chance” to intern with a professional company.

“She certainly has opportunities to pursue in New York and has the talent to do that. She’ll need more experience,” he said, “but she seems like a strong candidate.”

Smith as the character Billie Dawn in the Keuka play "Born Yesterday."

There’s one more avenue Smith might take, perhaps a way to merge the worlds of dance, theater and business management: “I’m also looking into opening up my own dance studio and managing that myself.”

Whatever stage Smith next lands on, she prepared for it well at Keuka. For example, the small class sizes made it easy to work with teachers, she said, expressing thanks to Wenderlich and Professor of Management Ann Tuttle, as well as to her father, mother and sister for their support.

“I know my time at Keuka was used to the fullest,” Smith said. “I achieved everything I could possibly achieve and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

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