Like her fellow Keuka College graduates, social work major Kaitlyn Wannall will have her parents attend her commencement ceremony May 25.
They will both be in the audience, but on different sides of the aisle as she walks across the stage to receive her degree.
One of her classmates is her father, Nathan, a management major in the College’s Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP). And accompanying her brother and sister in the audience will be her mom, Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy (OT) Jean Wannall.
During the ceremony, the father-daughter team will sing the National Anthem, a song with which they are very familiar. The duo has sung the song since Kaitlyn was in high school.
“This is a nice blending of the traditional and ASAP,” said Kaitlyn.
“Kaitlyn is starting her career, and I am taking the next step in mine,” he said. “[Singing the National Anthem] will help make this commencement truly memorable for us.”
“I am really thrilled that they chose Keuka to further their education,” said Jean. “They know how much Keuka means to me, and how I have found Keuka to be an extended part of my family for the past 12 years. It is especially rewarding to have them graduate at the same time and be able to celebrate this monumental occasion together.”
Kaitlyn was familiar with the Keuka campus before she enrolled in the fall of 2004. Jean, who also serves as the College’s OT academic fieldwork coordinator, would bring Kaitlyn to campus so she could “become a ‘client’ for her OT classes,” said Kaitlyn.
When she first started applying to colleges, Kaitlyn wasn’t sure which higher education institution she wanted to attend, but she knew she wanted to be in a “helping” profession, such as social work or nursing.
“Having my mom here was nice,” said Kaitlyn. “I could see her when I wanted to, and I liked having the direct support. But I also wanted to earn my grades, and not get them because I’m ‘Jean’s daughter.’”
And earn them she did. A Dean’s List student, Kaitlyn was recently inducted into Phi Alpha (social work) national honor society.
For Nathan “the opportunity to earn my master’s degree came up, and I felt the time was right. I was helping to raise three kids, and have a full-time job in which I travel a lot, so ASAP was a great opportunity. I found the Keuka community to be open, and the faculty are phenomenal.”
Before taking the ASAP classes, Nathan didn’t always understand the “language” his supervisors were using, “but now I see things in a different light.
“I see that my supervisors have a lot more to take into consideration that I realized,” said Nathan. “It is exciting when your boss starts talking to you in a different way.”
After graduation, Kaitlyn will continue to work part time at Hillside Children’s Center in Bath, while taking a couple of transitional courses before starting her master’s degree.
“I was accepted into the advanced standing social work programs at both University of Buffalo and SUNY Binghamton,” said Kaitlyn. “I chose Buffalo, and I think I will have more opportunities with my master’s degree. I am interested in mental health, but I’m not sure if that is where I will focus my career.”
Kaitlyn conducted four Field Periods, including one at the Elmira Psychiatric Center, which helped “show me the clinical aspect,” said Kaitlyn. “I incorporated the things I learned in the classroom into situations I would encounter. But all of my Field Periods helped me when applying to graduate school.”
Nathan said that his Keuka education “helped me set myself up in a better position, in the company I’ve been with for 30 years. I don’t know if I could have had these opportunities without Keuka.”