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.
Eight free and open to the public performances at Keuka College will highlight a summer music camp conducted by the Eastman School of Music July 13-24.
Known as Eastman@Keuka, the camp is an intensive music training experience for students in grades 6-9, which brings together students from all corners of the United States and several countries around the world. They will study classical, jazz, and musical theatre with professionals from the Eastman School of Music and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.
Keuka College is proud to host the Eastman School of Music summer camp and welcomes the community to enjoy their talents at the following free concerts:
Robert Schick, chair of the Keuka College Board of Trustees and president of the Lyons National Bank, will accept a $168,351 check on behalf of the College for energy and conversation measures undertaken in campus facilities. He will accept the check during the College’s June 24 Board of Trustees meeting.
The measures are part of a $4 million campus-wide modernization project that will reduce Keuka College’s environmental impact while increasing the productivity and comfort of students, faculty, staff, and guests to the campus. The upgrades will leverage new technology, including LED lighting and adaptive energy management strategies, and ultimately reduce Keuka College’s operational expenses by more than $6 million over 20 years.
As a result of the project’s plans, the College has earned the $168,351 efficiency rebate provided by the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA).
“Environmental sustainability is an important component of Keuka College’s long-range strategic plan,” said Dr. Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera, president of Keuka College. “We are committed to investments in sustainable technologies, and this project will reduce the main campus’ carbon footprint by more than 14 percent each year.”
“The 14 percent reduction is equivalent to 709 metric tons of CO2, the same emitted by more than 79,700 gallons of gasoline,” added Jerry Hiller, vice president for finance and administration.
Keuka College’s leadership team evaluated numerous investment options, ultimately selecting the best blend of financial and technical performance. Funding for the project was obtained through a financing program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development assistance program.
The project will be delivered by Trane and includes new natural gas-fired heating plants to service 12 buildings, several high-efficiency heating, ventilating, air conditioning (HVAC) systems, exterior LED lighting, complete renovation of Harrington Hall’s comfort systems and a comprehensive, web-based energy management platform to maximize performance and efficiency.
KEUKA PARK, N.Y.— Marching forward fearlessly into the future are several young men and women recently awarded diplomas from Keuka College. They hail from a host of different majors and home countries. Their interests are as varied as their personalities. But they all have two distinct qualities in common: a Keuka College education and the professional life-learning experiences of the annual Keuka College Field Period™, a 140-hour personalized experience that may take the shape of a professional internship, a cultural study, artistic endeavor, service project or spiritual exploration. Here, each one shares the primary benefits of his or her collegiate experience:
What she’s up to now: Graphic designer for the Elmira Jackals East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) hockey team.
Notable parts of her KC journey? Designing her own minor after falling in love with graphic design her sophomore year.
“Designing a minor in digital design and having the skills in Adobe design programs helped me stand out on campus and at Field Period™ sites. I wouldn’t trade my Keuka College education for anything because of the personalized attention that I have received from professors and staff. I had amazing experiences here that helped me earn awards, scholarships, and my degree.”
Where she’s headed next: Roger Williams University for a master’s degree in forensic psychology.
“I will forever be grateful for the education I received and the people I met while a student at Keuka College. One of the greatest benefits was Field Period™. I gained a lot of great experience and made professional contacts that are extremely valuable.”
What she’s up to now: Cost accountant at G.W. Lisk
How’d she get her job? “I started as a math major, but after completing my first Field Period™ at G.W. Lisk, I changed my major. I loved it at Lisk: the atmosphere, the work, everything. I returned to Lisk to work summers and breaks, so I have been working there part-time for the last four years.”
Best part of her KC degree program? “Each Field Period™ was a huge learning experience, and each experience helped shape my goals and dreams. It is by far the most valuable aspect of my education at Keuka College”
What he’s up to now: Working for Catholic Charities of Oswego. Oh, and campaigning for a seat on the Oswego County Legislature.
Notable parts of his KC journey? Played baseball for the Wolfpack, which taught him how to manage his time and multitask. Completed Field Period™ internships at the offices of U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), U.S. Rep Dan Maffei (D-NY), and the NYS Democratic Committee.
“The Field Period™ is what sets Keuka College apart. I was able to build real-life connections starting my freshman year. The Field Period™ allowed me to cultivate meaningful relationships and helped me reaffirm that politics was my passion. I am very grateful.”
Where she’s headed next: Rochester Institute of Technology on a scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in computational finance. She’ll learn how to analyze big data through math, finance, and programming. Ultimately, she wants to enter the insurance industry.
Notable parts of her KC journey? Multiple extra-curricular activities and earning a Judith Oliver Brown scholarship that helped pay for two Field Period™ experiences abroad.
“By coming to Keuka College I received more than just valuable education—I also received a promising future. I could not have done it without the help of my supportive professors. If there were one thing I encourage future students to take advantage of, it would be the small class sizes and interpersonal relationships. Develop these professional relationships because they will help you succeed.”
Where he’s headed next: Marywood University for a master’s of social work degree.
Notable parts of his KC journey? Brandon was named one of six 2015 Student Social Workers of the Year for the Genesee Valley division of the state National Association of Social Workers (NASW).
Notable people? “Professors Stephanie Craig and Jen Mealey supported me and encouraged me to do my best. They’re absolutely wonderful people and wonderful social workers and I don’t know where I’d be without them, to be honest.”
“In grad school, I have to complete a 518-hour internship, but I’m so ready because of Field Period™. I’m definitely prepared academically and I’m not worried about the internship at all.”
Where she’s headed next: Duke University Graduate School on a $28,000 fellowship to pursue a Ph.D. in bio-organic or synthetic organic chemistry.
Notable parts of her KC journey? A co-publishing credit for a research study published in the Journal of American Animal Welfare Science (JAAWS), an article “Why People Mistrust Science” published in local newspapers, and a 10-week study of enzyme kinetics at the University of Buffalo through a program funded by the National Science Foundation.
Best part of her KC degree program? “I really appreciate the size of Keuka College and the hands-on experience I gained. I’ve been able to work with professors one-on-one or in small groups for independent studies and research projects. They know me and care about my interests and where I want to go. Field Period™ was instrumental in helping me figure out what I want to do. I was able to gain experience both in a career I realized I didn’t want to go into and one that I do want to pursue.”
What she’s up to now: HR Coordinator for Biogen Idec, a Fortune 500 biotechnology company in Boston.
Notable parts of her KC journey? Two paid Field Period™ experiences in different branches of Biogen Idec paved the way for a job offer before graduation.
“Keuka College offered so many outlets for developing myself in a multitude of ways. Field Period™ scholarships enabled me to engage in a life-changing spiritual/cultural journey in Thailand, and the emphasis the College places on experiential learning through Field Period™ helped me land my dream job at a Fortune 500 company.”
Where she’s headed next: Pace University in NYC for an MBA in marketing management.
Notable parts of her KC journey? Two Field Period™ experiences at the Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Tokyo, Japan offices of Dentsu, Inc. – the fifth-largest ad agency in the world.
Best part of her KC degree program? “Keuka College provides an environment that encourages you to discover the world through hands-on experience, which is a better fit for me than only sitting and listening to lectures. I’m so thankful for the support from not only my friends around the world, but also the faculty and staff at the school. My professors not only cared about my performance in class, but also helped me figure out my next steps and how to achieve my goals.”
What she’s up to now: Working with families and children as a family advocate at Peace, Inc., where she conducted a Field Period™ during her sophomore year.
Best part of her KC degree program? “I have come to realize how great Field Period™ actually is. In the end you walk away with so much experience and even potential jobs. I am grateful to the professors I had — they truly care about their students and how they are doing. The small classes and great teachers were the reasons for my success at the College and I am thankful to have had the experience I did!”