Capping the first year of quarterly staff recognition awards, Vickie Tobias of Bath emerged as the 2013-14 Staff Member of the Year for Keuka College.
According to co-workers, Tobias has touched the lives of students and the careers of colleagues throughout Keuka College in a real and palpable way. As the database administrator in the Information Technology Services department, she helps keep the entire college plugged in, so to speak, and ensures day-to-day network demands continue functioning for optimal productivity.
Tobias was named the inaugural staffer of the year during Commencement May 25. The staff recognition award, given by the Staff Advisory Council (SAC), was set up to identify and celebrate staff members like Tobias who consistently go above and beyond the duties of their job and make outstanding contributions to Keuka College. The award recognizes four staff members each year, with one selected as the overall winner for the year. This year’s other quarterly winners included Brett Williams, digital media producer in the Office of Marketing and Communications, McKala Accetura, judicial coordinator and resident director of Strong Apartments, and Merrie Heins, assistant director of financial aid. Each quarterly winner receives a desk nameplate and reserved parking place for three months, following their award.
According to Casey Kendall, senior systems administrator in ITS, Tobias is “the most dedicated and professional employee with whom I have ever worked.” In a nomination letter, Kendall detailed how Tobias “puts in long hours and never asks for compensation, helping her peers succeed without ever asking for anything in return.” (more…)
Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka College degree take you? This is the fourth in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2014.
Dung Hoang came to Keuka College from a partner school in Hanoi, Vietnam to pursue a degree in management with a minor in accounting. After graduation May 25, she moved to Anaheim, Calif. where she is now working as an accounting assistant for Business Expo Center, an events company.
Hoang’s student visa permits her a limited time after graduation to work in an off-campus job related to her field of study.
“Honestly, I feel that I am so lucky to get this job,” she said, adding her excitement at the chance to apply what she learned from her classes and gain even more experience in accounting.
Her duties include processing and reconciling payments and other business transactions using a system based on the QuickBooks software, a popular accounting tool she’d never heard of until introduced to it in her Keuka College classes. Hoang conducted a Field Period™ with the California company over winter break and credits the real-world internship experience there for leading to her job offer.
“I love the way Keuka College requires us to take the Field Period™ every year, because we can apply what we learned from college in a real working environment, we support our future career,” she said, adding her thanks to her academic adviser, professors, Field Period™ supervisor and many friends who helped “lead me to the right way for my future.”
“I am so thankful for what I have today,” Hoang said. “I love the education here and I grew up a lot from this environment.”
Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka College degree take you? This is the third in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2014.
Kyle McVannan ‘14 of Endicott graduated with a B.A. in organizational communication and has begun a new job working in the video production department of the Binghamton Mets, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets.
In between McVannan’s junior and senior years, he conducted a Field Period™ in the Mets’ video department, which paved the way for his job offer upon graduation. A Field Period™ is a self-initiated placement of at least 140 hours that each Keuka College undergraduate completes each year. It can be an internship like McVannan’s, a cultural exploration, community service or creative project or a spiritual/faith-based exploration.
During his time at Keuka College, McVannan pitched for the baseball team and played some at third base while also serving as one of four team captains. In his senior year, the team made a significant turn-around under a new coach, winning the most games in a season in school history while earning a share of the North Eastern Athletic Conference’s (NEAC) regular season title. He also completed a senior practicum within his major, working with the College’s digital media producer on a variety of video-related marketing projects.
McVannan has been excited to carry his love of the game over into a job opportunity involving his favorite sport. His Field Period™ experience was “awesome,” he said, because it put him in “a real-world position” to explore career opportunities.
“The best thing about my Keuka College education is that I was able to branch out and have Field Periods™ that really helped me in my decision on what I wanted to do with my life,” McVannan said.
Start with a science lab. Add one chemistry professor with self-described “wacky interests.” Introduce a visual and verbal art major with a passion for photography and painting. Mix together a variety of chemistry experiments and have the student capture them on camera or canvas. What do you get?
The Art of Chemistry, an exploration into the beauty and form caused by a variety of chemical reactions.
Student photographer Kat Andonucci completed a year-long independent study under the guidance of Dr. Andrew Robak, associate professor of chemistry. With Robak casting the vision and directing her in each experiment, Andonucci crafted the compositions, often using a tripod, a remote shutter and a long exposure to create the images.
“We wanted to treat it as a course, the chemistry of things that are neat to look at, to have a clue what they were,” Robak said, pointing out how many science textbooks use photography to illustrate experiments. The two received a $500 grant from Keuka College’s Division of Academic Affairs to help cover costs of printing and framing the images.
When Robak went in search of a student who could help illustrate experiments that would show “the fun side of chemistry,” he contacted Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art. Newcomb referred him to Andonucci, sparking the creative collaboration.
“I’ve always been interested in chemistry as art or science as art. You can see from the pictures that a lot of stuff I work with is really cool,” said Robak, who holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry. He rattled off a variety of compounds, from mercury, with its shiny metallic texture that is “really fun to play with,” to flourescein, which turns neon-green when in contact with water, to glycerol, which refracts light in a way that seems to make objects submersed in it disappear.
Andonucci had to be sure to take several shots of each experiment, capturing images on camera as experiments were conducted several times in a row. She brought fellow visual and verbal art major Erik Holmes ’13 into the process, putting him to work as a hand model in some of the images.
Robak managed to convince Holmes to paint a graffiti mural on a concrete wall. The mural illustrated the chemical structure of concrete itself, and gave Robak an idea for a second creative collaboration with Andonucci. The two teamed up again on a project to create the letter code of select elements of the Periodic Table with paint created from each of the scientific elements themselves. Another Academic Excellence Initiatives grant funded this second project.
According to Robak, all of the pigments Andonucci used to paint the periodic table symbols contain the elements.
Using stand-alone 12×12 canvas squares painted with each element, Andonucci arranged them to hang so that some of the squares appear to be raised and some depressed, creating a more dynamic artwork. As such, the oversize work, she described as “an abstract kind of 3-D Periodic Table” could serve as a permanent reference source in a classroom or lab. In fact, the piece served as the backdrop for a National Pi Day event. Meanwhile, several of Andonucci’s images are now gracing the walls within the science center as permanent installations.
“I’ve got too many ideas and not enough artists,” Robak said. “I’m totally looking for more people to rope into these kinds of things.”
Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka College degree take you? This is the second in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2014.
For Kelsey Tebo ’14 of Tupper Lake, a semester of study in the Fourth Judicial District of the NYS Supreme Court, which covers Franklin and Clinton Counties, pushed her towards a career in law. While there, the double criminal justice and sociology major had the opportunity to work on mortgage foreclosure cases, meeting with banks, attorneys and families, and observing paperwork procedures. She also sat in on a sex offender containment case and a two-week medical malpractice trial.
“It was the medical malpractice trial that made up my mind that I wanted to attend law school. Watching the attorneys fight for their clients, it just hit me that I wanted to be in court right next to them,” Tebo said, adding that she’s leaning toward specializing in either criminal law or medical malpractice after law school.
Supreme Court Justice John T. Ellis and the rest of his staff were “incredibly supportive,” recommending law schools she could apply to, helping her study for the LSAT (entrance exams to law school), and challenging her to “be the best I can be,” Tebo said.
That focus paid off earlier this spring when Tebo was accepted into Tulane Law School, and received a generous scholarship, according to her adviser, Dr. Janine Bower, associate professor of criminal justice. Bower also praised Tebo for outstanding academic performance, personal leadership and community service in various volunteer and extra-curricular roles.
Bower said Tebo’s eagerness to learn, understand and think critically about concepts within the fields of criminal justice and sociology was evident in her Field Period™ experiences, including one Tebo conducted at the Sunmount Developmental Center in upstate New York. There, staff work with a challenging population—convicted sex offenders with developmental disabilities—and Tebo observed patterns indicating staff burnout and depersonalization, Bower said. Tebo’s written reflections showed “significant insight” and maturity on that kind of work, the structure of the work environment, and its effects, Bower said.
“The Field Period™ and experiential learning opportunities at Keuka College directly influenced my future job opportunities and my decision to pursue law,” Tebo said.