For selfless actions and service following floods that devastated community neighbors in May, the Keuka College athletics department was honored Saturday afternoon as one of three institutions to earn a national community service award from the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators (NADIIIAA)/Jostens.
Comprised of athletics administrators from the nearly 450 institutions and 43 conferences competing at the NCAA Division III level, the NADIIIAA recognizes select institutions for impressive community service projects performed by its student-athletes during the 2013-14 academic year. For volunteer efforts during the days following torrential May downpours & flooding that devastated the neighboring Penn Yan community, student-athletes, coaches and administrators within the Keuka College athletics department received the community service award in the NADIIIAA’s one-time project category.
Both the village of Penn Yan and nearby Branchport saw anywhere between five and nine inches of rain fall during the storms. In the wake of the devastation, roadways were flooded, houses and businesses destroyed, leaving residents and business owners with the huge chore of rebuilding their lives.
As part of a coordinated relief effort led by the Rev. Eric Detar, the college chaplain, the Keuka College community came together, taking to the streets to help start the tedious task of cleanup following the storm. During the middle of their preparations for finals, more than 250 Keuka College students, plus several staff and faculty members, boarded busses bound for Penn Yan, intent on helping their neighbors in need in any way possible. These students—many of them student-athletes—spent the better part of three days removing debris from flooded basements and other low-lying storage areas hit hard along downtown Penn Yan. Student-athletes also chose to cancel their annual awards banquet and instead send the food, water and snacks reserved for it to community volunteers instead.
Keuka College athletics was awarded a commemorative trophy highlighting the one-time project honor, and the NADIIIAA and Jostens will make a $1,000 contribution to the general scholarship fund at Keuka College.
Molly McGuigan ’11, the current adventure program manager and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (S.A.A.C.) co-advisor, received the award on behalf of the Wolfpack’s athletics department. The awards were given out during the NADIIIAA Reception at the NCAA Convention in National Harbor, Md. before one hundred athletic directors, conference commissioners, school presidents and other Division III staff members.
“When we were helping with the cleanup efforts, we certainly weren’t doing it to win a national award,” said McGuigan. “When we were in Penn Yan assisting with the cleanup, it just felt great seeing how our students, faculty and staff dropped everything and ran out to help their community. It was just a natural reaction for us to go and help those in need, and to get this recognition only added to the level of pride I felt about how we reacted to the flooding.”
Keuka College was recognized by NADIIIAA alongside two other schools: Moravian College, which won in the category for an array of projects, and Oswego State, for the ongoing projects category.
Community service has long been a hallmark of Keuka College, with numerous clubs and groups conducting service projects and fundraisers throughout the academic year. The College also hosts an annual countywide day of service, in conjunction with the Yates County Chamber of Commerce, known as Celebrate Service … Celebrate Yates (CSCY).
This strong focus on community service has helped earn the College a spot on the U.S. President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the past eight years.
“Keuka College is known for its experiential-based learning method, and the emphasis we put on community service within that experiential education. Winning a national award of this nature just solidifies and gives further credence to this component of a Keuka education,” said Dave Sweet, who is in his 30th year as Keuka College’s athletic director.
“To have other athletic directors recognize our student-athletes, coaches and staff for their efforts in assisting our neighbors during their time of need is a huge honor.”
The storms occurred as the members of Keuka’s intercollegiate sports teams were preparing to celebrate their assorted accomplishments from 2013-14 at the annual athletics awards ceremony.
Recognizing the need to step up and help out their neighbors, the student-athletes approached Sweet with an idea: rather than celebrate their own accomplishments, the student-athletes opted to forgo their awards banquet and instead, contribute to the relief efforts. The food, water and snacks that normally would be consumed during the awards ceremony were donated to volunteers who were aiding in the cleanup efforts.
Among the places where volunteer workers came to the aid of those in need were: the Calvary Chapel of Penn Yan, Deano’s Outdoors store, and the Penn Yan Diner, where some nine feet of water had rushed through the basement. Student-athletes who made an impact all spoke of lessons learned through service to others.
Then-sophomores Ally Muller (Bath, N.Y./Haverling) and Liz Warren (Elmira Heights, N.Y./Thomas A. Edison), members of the Keuka softball team, helped a resident remove layers of mud from the basement of her Penn Yan home and cleaned up at both the Wagner Restaurant and Longs’ Cards and Books. According to Muller, people were “extremely appreciative” to receive help.
“They were going through a very stressful moment in their lives, and for people to come help, it showed that we cared while helping these people deal with the emotional toll of the storm,” Muller said. “It was a time for us all to come together and rebuild the town.”
“I went down there because as a human that’s what we’re supposed to do: help each other whenever we can,” said Thad Phillips, Keuka College’s men’s basketball coach.
“Our community — my community — needed help. I was lucky our house had little damage and effects from the storm and flooding, but others I know weren’t so fortunate.”
Phillips went into town with student-athletes Joe Tortolon (Dundee, N.Y./Dundee), Casey Williams (Syracuse, N.Y./Jamesville-DeWitt) and Vinney Zambito (Elba, N.Y./Batavia Notre Dame) to lend a hand.
They helped clean up at the CrossFit location, which had experienced heavy water damage. As much as 10 feet of water came in and left a thick mud coat covering most of the interior of the building. The basketball student-athletes and their coaches also helped remove equipment from the Sampson Theatre.
“It’s always great when our teams win on the field of play. But when they take the values you’re trying to teach to them on the field, and they apply that to their everyday lives, that is truly special, and that’s what everyone did with the cleanup efforts,” Sweet said. “They put others before themselves, and that lesson is one of the things that makes Keuka College such a special place.”
The NADIIIAA/Jostens Community Service awards program was established in 2001 to recognize the many contributions Division III student-athletes regularly make to their campuses and local communities.
“The efforts and selflessness of Keuka College’s student-athletes certainly made an impact on the committee,” said Danielle Drews, director of athletics at The Sage Colleges who chaired the selection committee that reviewed the nominations.
For the latest stories, schedules and results from Keuka athletics, visit www.KCWolfpack.com, go to the Keuka Athletics Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/KeukaAthletics, and like us on Instagram and Twitter @KeukaAthletics.
Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of features on recipients who received Field Period™ scholarships. Junior Emily Michienzi received a 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™.
From a young age, junior Emily Michienzi’s mother instilled in her a desire to see the world and expand her horizons. That is why she has always believed that travel is one of the greatest forms of education.
And the Lake Pleasant resident will get the chance to do both as she travels to London during her January Field Period™. Michienzi intends to learn about the social problems plaguing England’s capital city as a participant in Comparative Social Issues, a sociology course offered through Cayuga Community College.
“As a sociology and political science/history major, this trip will greatly enhance my education,” said Michienzi. “In my sociology courses, we often discuss culture. One concept that is foundational in sociology is cultural relativism. This concept is when we see another culture and its practices in its own right, rather than using our culture to judge another’s as right or wrong.”
By traveling to London and experiencing a new culture, Michienzi intends to use cultural relativism “in a more practical manner and then translate that practice into my classroom discussions and other course requirements.”
This trip also appeals to Michienzi’s interest in history.
“America’s history with Great Britain frequently comes up in my class conversations and readings,” she said. “We always compare our government to Great Britain’s since our government was influenced by theirs. One of our day trips in London will be to Downing Street, the British seat of government. I will be able to see their government up close and learn, while on site, more about their government. By seeing this, I will be able to understand how our government is similar and different from Britain’s and then share that knowledge in my classes.”
In addition to visiting Downing Street, Michienzi intends to visit the British Museum, Parliament, and Windsor Castle, among other sites.
“These sites will show us not only the history of one of the world’s super powers, but also the culture and issues the country has faced over time,” she said. “From Britain’s era of serfdom to their current struggle as a world power, we will learn how Britain has changed and impacted the lives of its citizens and the world.”
Added Michienzi: “This trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity that will change the way I think, and understand the world and my classes here at Keuka College.”
Social responsibility has long been part of the Keuka College fabric, particularly as it pertains to the local community.
For example, Keuka College students, staff, and faculty participate in Make a Difference
Day, the Angel Tree Project, and Celebrate Service…Celebrate Yates. Members of the College community also volunteer their time and talents at Milly’s Pantry, the Humane Society of Yates County, and Clinton Crest Manor, among others.
Six years ago, Keuka College began a new tradition of service to the local community—one that honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This year, the event is set for Monday, Jan. 19.
“We hope members of the community will join volunteers from Keuka College for the day, as we remember the legacy of Dr. King through service to the local community,” said Chevanne DeVaney, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. “We are making this a day on, not a day off.”
As part of the annual MLK Day of Service, members of Keuka College’s men’s and women’s basketball teams will conduct a free hoop clinic for children 5-12 years old at the Penn Yan Academy gym from 1-3 p.m. Pizza and water bottles will be provided to the volunteers and the kids participating.
Other service opportunities for volunteers will be made available between the hours of 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Volunteers will serve two-hour shifts at their location, which include Milly’s Pantry, the Once Again Shoppe, the Arc of Yates, and Clinton Crest Manor.
Senior management major Amanda Kubitz, a resident of Spencerport, is helping organize the day of service as part of her Field Period™.
She hopes that by participating, “volunteers will become more involved in promoting awareness [of the needs ] in the Penn Yan community.”
In addition, the Penn Yan Public Library will host an event celebrating the life and work of Dr. King from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 20. The interactive program will consist of speech, song, imagery and discussion of Dr. King’s legacy.
Those present will have the opportunity to deliver short selections of relevant oratory—excerpts of the speeches of Dr. King, his contemporaries, and other civil rights leaders; lines of music lyrics or poems; observations from contemporary or subsequent accounts of the key events in the civil rights movement; or anything that participants believe connects meaningfully to that time and place in history.
Music from, and descended from, that era will serve as a backdrop to these brief orations and to imagery of civil disobedience, protest, and civic action. Discussion points will also be available to spur dialogue as time and interest allow.
“The hope is that these elements will form a multimedia, narrative tapestry of Dr. King’s life and work, as well as the overriding issues and principles that have driven those like him for decades,” said Alex Andrasik, adult services librarian at the Penn Yan Public Library.
The seventh annual event at Keuka College comes three months before Celebrate Service… Celebrate Yates, a day of community service organized by Keuka College students and the Yates County Chamber of Commerce. It has helped dozens of non-profit organizations and agencies enhance the quality of life in the region for the past 17 years.
Dr. King and Keuka College have a connection dating back more than 50 years. He delivered the baccalaureate address and received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree June 16, 1963. He was accompanied to Keuka Park by his wife, Coretta Scott King.
To volunteer for the MLK Day of Service, or for more information, contact the Office of Multicultural Affairs at email@example.com or (315) 279-5225.
By Dr. Sander Diamond, professor of history
The first seedlings of civilization started to take root along the Nile, Tigris, and Euphrates rivers—the Fertile Crescent— roughly 5,000 years ago in what is today called the Middle East.
People did not venture too far into the arid wastelands just a few miles from the rivers for reasons other than trade, carried on by long lines of caravans along established routes where tribes carefully guarded the waterholes, a story best told in the epic film Lawrence of Arabia. For the locals, water was, and is, more precious than the oil below the ground as the leaders of ISIS well know. It is no coincidence that the ISIS blitzkrieg has been along the fabled Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. ISIS tried to capture a reservoir in northern Iraq and one suspects if it tries to take control of Baghdad, it may cut-off the water supply as the Barbarians did when they finally took old Rome in the 5th century.
The two rivers have their origins in the mountains of Turkey and flow to the Persian Gulf. In the ancient cosmology of the region, there was a family feud among the Gods, and from the tears of the Mother Goddess the two rivers flowed. Sadly, the tears of the Mother Goddess continue to flow as a result of the savagery of ISIS, which aspires to create a Sunni caliphate not only in the Fertile Crescent but farther south as well.
ISIS is the latest conqueror to covet this region, which for thousands of years has been geopolitically important, the conduit between the East and the West, which today includes Eastern Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, and smaller states connected to Saudi Arabia. To understand this region, one must be mindful of its long history, each civilization establishing itself as a layer on top of another: the Sumerians, Hittites, Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Parthians, Alexander the Great, the Romans, the Muslim conquest after 636 CE, the Babylonians again, Byzantines, and the Ottoman Turks, who controlled most of the region until it was dismembered after World War I, creating the states of the Middle East today. Prior to the Great War of 1914-1918, the Germans hoped to control the Middle East and connect Berlin to Baghdad by rail. In the 1920s the French and the British arrived and in the Cold War, the Russians and the Americans jockeyed for control.
It would be difficult, but hardly impossible, to list the number of armies that have moved through this region. Until the 20th century they came on camels, horses, and donkeys followed by foot soldiers. For thousands of years they followed the same path, hugging the waterways, looting, slaughtering, and raping along the way, often driving the inhabitants to seek refuge in the arid wastelands just as hundreds of thousands have to avoid the wrath of ISIS. Today, ISIS moves in vehicles stolen from the Syrians and what they seized from the Iraqis: American-made equipment, tanks, and heavy vehicles. The foot soldiers no longer walk but ride in Japanese-made small trucks with heavy machine guns mounted behind the cabs, black flags flying, the latest incarnation of a terrorist movement on the move.
The United States and its partners hope to stop the ISIS blitzkrieg using airpower in conjunction with local militias on the ground and a reformed Iraqi army. Many ISIS military commanders are well-trained officers who once served Saddam Hussein. They know the terrain and when threatened from the air, simply melt into the local populations or fade into the arid wastelands. They present a formidable foe, highly disciplined, willing to die and dedicated to the recreation of the Sunni caliphate. The ISIS assault on Iraq can be temporarily stopped but not arrested. In the annals of modern warfare, no highly organized army has been defeated using airpower alone as the staggering amount of explosives dropped on Germany in the last world war, on Vietnam, and more recently on Saddam reveals.
ISIS will only be defeated when confronted by an army on the ground working in tandem with airpower. For the moment, neither the United States nor the major regional powers in the Middle East have any intention of fielding land armies, the proverbial “boots on the ground.” But in time they will and one suspects the colors the soldiers will be wearing will not be that of the United States, the NATO powers, or Washington’s current allies in the region. Once ISIS consolidates its hold on Iraq, Iran will move to destroy it. Sh’ia controlled Iran will never permit the rise of a Sunni caliphate next door and the expected mass slaughter of Iraq’s Sh’ia population. One also suspects that behind the scenes, talks between Washington and Tehran are already under way.
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of features on recipients who received Field Period™ scholarships. Senior Mackenzie Ellis received a 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™.
For senior Mackenzie Ellis, Keuka College has always encouraged and promoted diversity, challenging students to see the true value in a global mindset.
Ellis, a biology major, says she has been “blessed” with the opportunity to experience other cultures through the people she has met on campus and by attending the various programs offered by the College.
“This is a commendable portion of my education at Keuka College,” said Ellis, a resident of Owego. “However, the knowledge and understanding I have gained can only be further enriched by visiting the places I have learned so much about. My favorite was always Africa. With no travel experience to date, the first country I would like to check off my long list of places to experience is South Africa.”
By visiting South Africa during her Field Period™, Ellis believes she will not only enrich her college experience, but also the experiences of those with whom she interacts after she returns to campus.
“South Africa boasts a plethora of well-represented cultures and religions, which will allow me to continue to be globally minded,” said Ellis. “By traveling to South Africa, I will inevitably acquire a refreshed world view, in addition to firsthand experience with other religions and societies.”
And Ellis will take advantage of her Field Period™ opportunity by engaging in a variety of activities which will allow her to see the various facets that make up the culture as a whole.
“I plan to meditate at a Buddhist temple, visit a Hindu temple, and volunteer at orphanages,” she said. “I also plan to visit a an Apartheid museum, and speak with those who experienced Apartheid before its collapse. By doing so, I will develop a more personal understanding of the challenges and suffering facing minorities. I believe that through understanding our mistakes in the past, we may improve the future.”
Ellis also intends to visit an animal reserve; tour Cape Town and Cape Town University; go to UShaka Marine World; enjoy the Durban Botanical Gardens; and visit the Phansi Museum, host of one of the biggest and most spectacular collections of African arts and crafts in the world.
According to Ellis, she also has the “rare” opportunity to partake in a traditional Zulu wedding, “a treat not normally extended outside the Zulu culture itself,” she said. “This unique experience will allow me to celebrate life and happiness in a different way, to complement my new understanding of oppression and pain.”
Added Ellis: “Traveling is an essential part of becoming a well-rounded adult in today’s global society. In order to fully appreciate and succeed in the world, we must take the opportunity to immerse ourselves in other cultures and ways of living. By traveling to South Africa, I will develop beyond my current experience thus complimenting and completing my education here at Keuka College in the most effective and memorable way possible.”