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The Cream of the Experiential Learning Crop

Keuka's Class of 2012 Experiential Learner of the Year nominees are flanked by Eva Noberg-Sarver, interim Field Period counselor, and President Jorge L. Diaz-Herrera. The nominees, from left: Junelle King, Sarah Marquart, Kelsey Marquart, Lelia Torres, and Kelsey Tebo. Missing from photo: : Jenna Chapman.

Editor’s Note: The 2012 Experiential Learner of the Year award nominees were recognized at an April 27 luncheon. The freshman and upperclass winners will be announced at Honors Convocation, Saturday, May 5. Here is a capsule look at the nominees:

Jenna Chapman

Jenna Chapman of Gorham was nominated by Professor of Communication Anita Chirco for a combination of personal and professional experiences that enabled the junior organizational communication major to “move herself beyond her comfort zone.”

Professionally, Chapman has conducted internships with the Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program and Lollypop Farm, where she promoted the welfare of animals. Her personal service to the community also includes a role as founder and president of Keuka’s Equestrian Club.

This January, Chapman conducted a two-part Field Period, assisting the manager of a Canandaigua restaurant, Peppers Deli and Pastas, with several marketing initiatives. She also conducted an internship at Buffalo Spree Publishing.

At Peppers, Chapman helped design coupons for a menu-mailer to drum up local business, created flyers for the new owner, and built a Facebook page for the restaurant, and launched a “like our page” promotion. At Buffalo Spree Publishing, she worked on revisions and fact-checking for the annual Performing Arts Guide handbook and wrote feature articles for the company’s Forever Young publication for those ages 50 and up, and for the mainstay publication, Buffalo Spree magazine.

According to Chapman, the experience at both sites was positive, but her time at Buffalo Spree Publishing enabled her to learn some of the intricacies of editorial work and she is now considering a career in that field.

Nominated by Tim  Bower, visiting assistant professor of sociology, Lelia Torres of Stockton was the first freshman from any college or university to land a Field Period internship with the Chautauqua County Office of Probation (CCOP).

According to CCOP Officer Lisa Van Vlack, who supervised Torres,the criminal justice major attended a number of court sessions; assisted officers  in home, agency, office, and jail visits; participated in pre-sentencing investigations; and helped collect DNA. Van Vlack praised Torres for her willingness to complete tasks that most people are not comfortable, including collecting and testing urine samples and visiting homes in deplorable condition.

Lelia Torres

In Torres’ own words, she learned more than just procedures and rules of probation, she gleaned knowledge of the roles of related court systems, police and the district attorney. She discovered that despite an earlier preference for working with juveniles, the work with adults was more to her liking.

According to Bower, Torres takes advantage of hands-on learning opportunities such as Field Period to enrich her understanding of academic content, and is “a model student in adopting and using this method of learning.”

Kelsey Marquart

Kelsey Marquart
of Auburn spent her Field Period working for the Cayuga County Red Cross, developing a deeper understanding of the inner workings of the non-profit. In addition to assisting at Red Cross blood drives, the senior English major made more than 1,000 phone calls to potential blood donors prior to the drives, urging them to schedule an appointment to donate.

She also built upon writing skills she has honed as an English major, and branched out into journalism, writing three bylined articles on Red Cross blood donors that were published in Auburn’s local newspaper, The Citizen. Several smaller pieces Marquart wrote were also published in newsletters for the Red Cross and two related non-profits in the area.

Alexis Haynes, assistant professor of English, nominated Marquart and said the same intellectual curiosity and hardworking skills she exhibits in the classroom transfer to her Field Periods. (She previously conducted Field Periods at a community theater and a local SPCA animal shelter.)  Indeed, the Red Cross staff named Marquart Volunteer of the Month for January in recognition  for her many contributions.

Marquart’s Field Period with the Red Cross was her third internship with a non-profit organization and cemented her desire to pursue a career in that sector. Non-profit work has increased her optimism about the world despite the discouraging climate of the day, Marquart said.

“Not only have I learned many practical, applicable skills, but working in these places has made me more selfless and aware of the sacrifices people make in order to make the world a better place,” she said. “I hope to be able to impact my community and help others in the same way soon.”

According to Janine Bower, assistant professor of sociology and criminology/criminal justice, the core of experiential learning is the continuous, reflective process of acquiring knowledge and gaining first-hand experience while developing new understandings and putting them into action.

Kelsey Tebo

And sophomore Kelsey Tebo “has demonstrated a strong ability to design and engage in experiences outside the classroom in order to enhance her academic, professional, and personal growth,” said Bower.

After the experience Tebo gained during her January Field Period at Sunmount Developmental Disabilities Service Office (DDSO) in her hometown of Tupper Lake, Bower nominated the criminology/criminal justice and sociology major for the Experiential Learner of the Year award.

“Kelsey worked in Sunmount’s Center for Intensive Care (CIT), a high security facility that serves individuals with developmental disabilities who have committed serious, often violent crimes, including murder, rape, sex crimes against children, and arson,” said Bower.

“I worked with psychologist Lori Richardson, and I didn’t expect to be allowed to participate as much as I did,” said Tebo. “I thought I wouldn’t be allowed in the therapy sessions, but I was. I also thought the staff would try and shield me from the ‘bad influences.’ However, they took me under their wing and showed me all of the bad along with the good.”

Tebo says her Field Period “taught me coping skills to deal with situations that made me feel uncomfortable or threatened,” she said. “I learned how to handle myself around dangerous, unstable people, and how to dress, talk, and walk around the consumers to maintain my safety.”

Added Bower: “I was pleased that Kelsey sought out such a challenging placement. Her outstanding performance in my courses, and her advanced ability to apply, analyze, and integrate information makes her an excellent tutor for my deviance and social control course, and I have requested she serve as a tutor for my criminology course. I believe these experiences, along with those she is gaining through her Field Period work, will strengthen her candidacy for, and success in, a competitive graduate program.”

Sarah Marquart

During her January Field Period at the Seward House Museum in her hometown of Auburn, sophomore English major Sarah Marquart rewrote the entire museum tour to reflect the voice of Fanny Seward, the youngest daughter of William Seward, who served as secretary of state under President Lincoln.

Marquart found eight years of diary entries written by Fanny and thought they could be used as the basis of a new tour, which would interest children as well as adults.

“The first time I opened up one of Fanny’s diaries, smelled the yellowing paper, and saw the delicate handwriting, I never realized how much I had the ability to give to my community or how much I would inspire myself,” said Marquart. “During my research, I wore white gloves to protect the more than 150-year old diaries, which Fanny kept from 1858-1865.”

Her efforts landed her an Experiential Learner of the Year Award nomination from Jennie Joiner, assistant professor of English.

“I nominated Sarah because she took the initiative in creating a Field Period out of a summer job,” said Joiner. “It was inventive of her to recognize the need for a children’s tour of the Seward House and recognize that writing one from the perspective of Fanny Seward would be a fun and interesting way of filling this need.”

Marquart thought a new tour was needed after hearing the current tour—about the life of Seward and his family—where she found something lacking.

“Currently, the guide takes you into a room and points out artifacts that relate to the story and their purpose based on the room,” said Marquart. “Fanny isn’t represented much in the rooms, so I chose to use each room as a backdrop for what Fanny was writing about at the time in her diary.”

The diaries document Fanny’s life during her time growing up in Auburn, her father’s political career, her beliefs and values, and her observations on everything from the Civil War, seeing the evils of slavery, and the assassination attempt on her father’s life.

Since returning from her Field Period, Marquart was invited to discuss her experiences in a fifth grade classroom at Penn Yan Elementary School. In addition, the Shakesperience Theatre Company in Syracuse wants to turn the rewritten tour into an off-Broadway play.

“I had the opportunity to learn many uncommon skills, such as the organization of artifacts both in and out of storage, and gained valuable experience about museum curating,” said Marquart. “I never expected my new tour about the life of Fanny Seward to result in opportunities on the stage, in the classroom, and in the museum itself.”

Junelle King

Through her January Field Period with Martha Robertson, chair of the Tompkins County Legislature, senior Junelle King solidified her interest in pursuing a career in local government.

She got a taste of political life when she helped Robertson, among others, lobby against hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Albany.

And, according to Valerie Webster, co-curricular transcript coordinator, being in local government is King’s niche. That is one reason Webster nominated King, an organizational communication major from Ithaca, for the Experiential Learner of the Year award.

“While we are on opposite sides of the fracking issue, I can appreciate her efforts, and we understand each other,” said Webster. “It was clear she was excited to be working in local government.”

King originally decided to pursue this Field Period because of her interest in community service, but it turned out to be much more.

“As well as learning more about community service, I learned about politics, local and state government, public service, community involvement, and environmental topics,” said King. “This experience involved everything I was interested in and for which I had a passion.”

King says “it was amazing how natural all of this came. I was not nervous or worried about talking to people, including state government officials.”

In order to create an in-depth report about local control and fracking, King researched fracking policies in several states.

“This was a complicated and timely topic, as our municipality of Dryden is one of two New York towns being sued by a gas company for its zoning ordinance barring hydraulic fracturing,” said Robertson. “Junelle quickly became an expert on the topic, which required an ability to delve into dense state websites and decipher legal language and complicated regulations. Her report is clear, well-documented, and easy to understand.”

Said King: “As a senior preparing to enter the workplace, I believe Keuka College has given me the knowledge and experience to excel. In addition to my coursework, I have achieved this ability through experiential, hands-on learning. My Field Period experiences, co-curricular activities, and community service have helped me solidify my career path.”

One Response to The Cream of the Experiential Learning Crop

  1. How refreshing and wonderful to see the work these young folks are doing! And of course I am especially proud of my two granddaughters, Kelsey and Sarah Marquart. Wishing all of the nominees every blessing and success in their endeavors!

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