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Simons a Social Work Success

At the heart of social work is service to others, and in that dimension, Keuka College senior Nakita Simons sets the standard.

Simons, left, with Brenda Barkley, Chair of the NASW Genesee Valley Division chapter

Praised as a natural-born leader, the Prattsburgh resident and social work major coordinates so many special projects for non-profit agencies and organizations between home and school that it can be hard to keep them all straight. For her multitude of service, Simons was recently named one of six student Social Workers of the Year at a regional chapter event for the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). The NASW award recognizes social work students in the New York State Chapter’s Genesee Valley Division who have made significant contributions in the field.

According to Stephanie Craig, associate professor of social work and chair of the College Division of Social Work, Simons “is versatile, dedicated and one of the most diligent new social workers to enter this field. She’s got a lot of social work insight that has just really blossomed and developed through her experience here.”

Just how much does Simons serve? Well, she delivers holiday food baskets for the needy and serves at a bake sale fundraiser for the Howard Union Church. She coordinates Christmas gift deliveries through the Angel Tree project and runs twice-monthly volunteer support at Milly’s Pantry in Penn Yan for the College’s Association of Future Social Workers (ASFW) chapter. The ASFW members also host an annual Hunger Banquet to raise awareness of poverty, and assist the Branchport-Keuka Park Fire Department with their annual Halloween party for local children.

Simons, in white, with her NSO "mentees"

As president of Phi Alpha Theta, the College honors society for social work students, Simons coordinates all fundraising and community service work for the group. The newest venture, slated for April, will be conducting service work on behalf of veterans at the Bath VA Medical Center, she said. Back on campus, Phi Theta Alpha has also given a presentation on veterans’ issues, including mental illness, homeless rates, and other needs. In addition, Simons has served three years as a New Student Orientation (NSO) mentor, logging extra hours on her own to take new freshmen under her wing and show them skills for success.

In addition, Simons, who also served as a biology tutor, maintains a 3.9 grade point average, said Craig who attended the NASW awards banquet with Simmons last week.

And the NASW award is not the only one. Simons boasts another prestigious accomplishment: earning a BSW Child Welfare Scholarship from New York’s Social Work Education Consortium. The scholarship carries a two-year employment contract as a child welfare caseworker with a county Department of Social Services agency and the possibility of earning additional scholarship money for a master’s degree in social work, provided all goes well in an initial semester-long practicum. But once again, Simons stands apart. (more…)

ASAP Student Garners Social Work Award

Bridgett Rosato is a busy mother of three, a mediator for the 10-county Center for Dispute Settlement, and a volunteer with the Ontario County Jail.

She’s also an award-winning social work student in the Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP) at Keuka College.

Rosato, center, with her three children

The Canandaigua resident was named one of six student Social Workers of the Year at a regional chapter event for the National Association of Social Workers. The NASW award recognizes social work students in the New York State Chapter’s Genesee Valley Division who have made significant contributions in the field.

Stephanie Craig, associate professor and chair of the Division of Social Work, said  Rosato “is an amazing student and person. She represents the profession very well.”

A desire to help people is what drives Rosato to work toward prevention of some of the personal experiences she went through as a child. (more…)

Accardi Wins Local, Regional Supervisor of the Year Award

Jonathan Accardi, director of campus recreation and aquatics at Keuka College, received a double dose of good news Thursday (April 18).

After winning the College’s Work-Study Supervisor of the Year Award, Accardi learned he had also captured the Northeast Association of Student Employment Administrators (NEASEA) Supervisor of the Year Award.

The NEASEA’s Supervisor of the Year program begins at an institutional level and progresses to the regional level. The  award was established to recognize the integral part that the supervisor plays in the education of a student employee. Supervisors act as mentors and provide education to their students not gained through the classroom. Students at colleges and universities across the region were asked to nominate supervisors they felt were especially worthy of recognition.

In all, 91 supervisors were nominated, including seven from Keuka, and 11 schools submitted their winner for consideration for the NEASEA award. Accardi bested winners from colleges in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Pennsylvania, and West Virgina.

According to senior Samantha Stevenson, who nominated Accardi, he communicates continuously with student workers, is always open to comments or concerns, and freely shares his vision for future campus recreation  programming. Stevenson called Accardi one of her greatest mentors. (more…)

Seven Nominated for Work-Study Supervisor Award

Editor’s Note:  Here is a look at the seven people nominated by students for the Work-Study Supervisor of the Year Award, which will be presented at a luncheon April 18.

According to international student Sini Ngobese ’15 of South Africa, College Chaplain Rev. Eric Detar creates a warm and positive work environment in the Center for Spiritual Life. With his kindness, generosity, compassion and patience, as well as light-hearted spirit, the rewards of working in the CSL office have extended farther than wages, she said.

The work shift begins with a heartfelt smile and greeting and a few moments to catch up and ensure that all is well, Ngobese said. It’s not simply a polite inquiry, she said, “but a genuine interest for my well-being which, as a student who is an ocean and continent away from home, helps me feel welcome, cared for and important.”

Each work shift has enabled her to learn positive skills that will benefit future workplace endeavors, she said. New tasks are explained with patience and stated in a conversational manner, rather than as commands. If ever a mistake is made, Detar never chastises, but rather empowers her how not to make errors in the future.

“He wholeheartedly praises the good, which helps me as the employee feel motivated, important, encouraged, enthusiastic and inspired,” she said, adding that, Detar’s personable demeanor and propensity to share laughter have helped instill a love for the job and a passion for contributions made to the department.

“As a result, I feel more a fundamental part of the office and its prosperity as opposed to a mere work-study employee. Consequently, I have a huge sense of pride for the office, its projects and events,” Ngobese said. However, she added that of all the great experiences gained as Detar’s office assistant, “the best reward of all is the awesome friendship we’ve established.”

A fun, sweet, helpful and friendly spirit are among the many positive characteristics of Eva Moberg-Sarver, director of student activities.

According to Lauren Esposito ’15, who works for Moberg-Sarver as a student activites and Campus Activities Board (CAB) assistant, “Eva brings fun and energy into the office” and has helped make it more exciting for Esposito to come to work each day.

“I have never seen her in a bad mood and she is always nice to everyone,” said Esposito. “She truly cares about the campus, especially the students. She challenges me to do better and work harder. She is my inspiration and I look up to her or advice, wisdom, cheering up and just nice conversations.”

Moberg-Sarver has been a “remarkable” addition to the Keuka community, Esposito said, and has put in hard work across the numerous areas of campus activities and events that she oversees. Through a positive personality, Moberg-Sarver gets others excited about happenings on campus and is herself, excited about what is happening.

“Her shining personality makes her more than worthy for this prestigious award,” Esposito said.

One of the first people sophomore Savannah Fuller ’15 met as a freshman was Valerie Webster, co-curricular transcript coordinator and community service coordinator. Fuller received the Experiential Learner of the Month Award as a high school senior in January 2011 and  a partial academic fellowship to attend Keuka.

Knowing that completing at least  50 hours of community service was a fellowship requirement, Fuller, an occupational science major, kept Webster’s name in her head.

“I went into her office and was immediately greeted with enthusiasm and spunk,” said Fuller. “After volunteering at the office, she recommended that I apply for the community service advocate work-study position. Having a supervisor who is passionate about helping others makes being a community service advocate meaningful.”

Webster’s ”unrelenting dedication to her work-study students and enthusiasm for community service are the highly commendable,” said Fuller. “She told me there was always work to be done and that I was always welcome. Knowing this has made working in the office rewarding.”

According to Fuller, Webster “is always on top of the projects in which community service advocates are involved, and knows how to approach any problem we encounter, big or small. Even while on leave due to major surgery, Valerie made it a point to check up on the community service advocates and give us advice.”

Not only does Fuller count on Webster as a supervisor, but also as a friend.

“She is a mother figure to me,” said Fuller. “I count myself among the large number of students who know we can lean on Valerie when we are having a bad day, and are too far away from home to hug our own mothers. Her office is a safe haven when the stressors of college become overwhelming, and her guidance and support have allowed me to build important skills essential to success.”

While Emily Ekstrom ’13 has been TeamWorks! facilitator for just one semester, she said it’s the only work-study job she’s had that has challenged her and made her a better person. She gives a lot of the credit to her work-study supervisor, Molly McGuigan ’11, TeamWorks! manager.

“It is Molly’s first year in charge of the TeamWorks! program, and she has gone above and beyond any supervisor I have ever had on campus,” said Ekstrom.

As an education major, Ekstrom said her work-study job helped prepare her for the challenge of student teaching.

“A large component of this was Molly,” she said. “She helped me build my TeamWorks! facilitating skills so that I could bring them into the classroom for my students. She not only provided me with the materials, but ideas and advice on different lessons I could do with my students.”

Ekstrom said McGuigan provides a challenging work environment, and pushes the facilitators to go outside their comfort levels.

“Molly encourages us to grow as workers and students with a combination of classic team building activities and fresh ideas,” said Ekstrom. Even though TeamWorks! is a student-led program, Molly is there for moral support, which is always welcome when running a program. She knows just what to say to help us through, and I think she is not so much as boss, as she is an older sibling watching over your shoulder. She is there help us when we have a problem as well as celebrate our successes.”

Ekstrom said that whether she wants to chat about an upcoming program, grab a piece of candy, or just talk about a class, one of the best aspects of having McGuigan as a supervisor is her open cubby policy.

“A real benefit of knowing that Molly graduated from Keuka is that she knows what we are going through, and always has some insightful help when we are in a pickle,” said Ekstrom.

According to Samantha Stevenson ’13, who has worked under Jon Accardi, director of campus recreation and aquatics, for the past four years, Accardi has expanded campus intramural programs from just four sports to more than 30 different annual events that go beyond intramural competitions to include overall fitness and health.

“[Jon] does everything he can to try and get more of the student body involved and active in the Weed Physical Arts Center,” Stevenson said.

As a result, many of the new programs or events introduced under Accardi’s tenure were launched by work-study students. Some of these events include yoga, fitness boot camp, Zumba, a dodgeball tournament now in its sixth year, a rewards program that marks 30-, 45- and 60-day uses of the fitness center with small prizes, and an obstacle-course event last year that has morphed into a “Zombie” Run event this year. The latter three were created with the inspiration of former students Ashley Valentine, Joe Debar, and Alicia Wimmer.

Accardi interacts with work-study employees in a way that makes them feel like colleagues, not “underlings,” Stevenson said, describing how that includes encouragement and praise, recognition of hard work, and at times, a push to press on in spite of challenges.

“I gained determination and integrity to achieve any goal I set for myself from Jon’s leadership. With these experiences, I have achieved a higher understanding not only of what it means to work hard, but how to motivate others to do the same,” Stevenson said, calling him one of her greatest mentors.  “I know that I’m a better person because of it, and anyone working under Jon in the future will be, too.”

Halie Squires ’13 has worked in the Office of Admissions as a student ambassador for a year-and-a-half. In that time, her work-study supervisor, Tom Jackson, marketing and administrative manager for traditional admissions, has made her believe her role is valuable.

“One of Tom’s main goals in the office is to ensure that the student ambassadors know we are part of the collective whole of the admissions staff,” said Squires, a senior occupational science major. “This is one of his most important roles as our supervisor. He also provides guidance and support to the administrative assistants within the office, ensures prospective students will have a great visit to campus, and collaborates with everyone on campus.”

According to Squires, Jackson also tries to have the student ambassadors connect what they’re learning in class to what they try to achieve in their work-study role.

“During our staff meetings, he encourages us to incorporate our skill sets and background into our tours and interactions with prospective students and their families,” said Squires. “Tom encourages us to work together, ask questions, and be part of a team so that students enjoy their visit to the fullest potential, and make the admissions office run smoothly.”

Squires admits that the admissions office can sometimes be a difficult and stressful place to work, since what needs to be accomplished must be accurate, organized, and completed in a timely manner.

“Tom reassures us that yes, while the work can be challenging at times, it is rewarding,” said Squires. “He knows how to keep us motivated and working toward the goal of admissions—finding students who will enjoy the Keuka College experience. He will tell us, ‘Remember when you’re walking on campus, and see people you took on tour who are now enrolled as Keuka College students? Isn’t that worth the work?’”

Added Squires: “Tom is a wonderful addition to the admissions office, and a phenomenal work-study supervisor. Without him in the office, I am not so sure things would run as smooth as they do.

Rachel Dewey, communications specialist in the Office of Communication and Keukonian co-adviser, was nominated by Danielle Petrilli, editor of the student newspaper.

“Even with her own hectic schedule, Rachel is always willing to talk with the Keukonian staff if they have any concerns with changes made, or if they have questions about how to interview or get in contact with Keuka staff and faculty,” said Petrelli.

Petrilli preaised Dewey for Rachel always having a “welcoming spirit” and being  ”eager to help in whatever way she possibly can, whether it be story ideas, or how to approach a story lead.

“No one deserves this [award] more than her; she is the most flexible person, and is always willing to set up a time that works for us, as well as keeping me informed of her schedule so I don’t just drop in and have her be gone. Rachel keeps us on track, but also allows us to do our jobs without hesitation.”

Social Work Student a “Bright Star”

Greg Shoff has had more than a little experience helping people.

A military veteran, Shoff served six years with the U.S. Coast Guard in places such as Florida, Mississippi, Oregon and Washington, often providing disaster relief after hurricane season, helping to rebuild schools and community centers, or assisting mobile medical teams with setting up clinics.

Often, Shoff found himself working with at-risk or troubled youth from families in hard-hit communities, showing them “how to use certain tools, to look out for someone else and connect with that community instead of feel [pushed] away,” he said.

“You recognize that communities need an extra hand with youth at times, and a few of us would always link up with the kids and work to show them what it means to give back,” he said.

Shoff never expected to do what he calls “the humanitarian side” of social work in the Coast Guard, but his passion for it led him to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the field, which he will receive Sunday from Keuka College. Along the way, the Penn Yan resident earned a special distinction, receiving a student Social Worker of the Year Award from a regional chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. (more…)

Social Work Student Earns Golden Apple Award

While she hasn’t yet completed her bachelor’s degree in social work from Keuka College, Canandaigua resident Melanie Nwaobia is already practicing the skills that will come into play for a career serving others.

Nwaobia on the job at Canandaigua Elementary, with student Noah Haus.

Over the last three years, she has worked as a one-to-one teacher’s aide with Noah Haus, who is now a fourth-grade student at Canandaigua Elementary School. While Noah’s autism means that his verbal skills are limited, he is “an incredibly smart young man” who works hard and excels with hands-on tasks, Nwaobia said. Using calendars and schedules with visual cues and icons, as well as technology tools like an iPad with apps he can manipulate and receive electronic “applause” for completing, Nwaobia assists Noah as he works through classroom lessons.

In December, Noah’s parents nominated Nwaobia for the Golden Apple Award from WROC- TV (Channel 8), the CBS affiliate in Rochester. A TV crew then came to the classroom to surprise her with the honor and to film Nwaobia and Noah going about the routines of his school day. (Click HERE to see the TV footage.)

In a letter to the station, Noah’s parents wrote how each day, Nwaobia sends home a full note detailing their son’s entire day, since he does not have the typical language and social skills to tell them himself. She sends text messages and photos too, so that they can celebrate the little successes Noah has each day.

Case in Point: Bringing Work Home

From left: Rappenecker's brothers, Frankie, Malik and Roderick

Almost two years after first taking her three younger brothers – now ages 6, 13 and 16 – into her home, and formally enrolling as a foster care parent, Kayleigh Rappenecker of Rochester is on the verge of adopting them. While a December court date has not yet been finalized, the adoption could be complete before Christmas.

It’s a personal milestone that has given Rappenecker an uncommon level of experience when working with future clients in the next vein of her emerging career as a social worker.

That’s because Rappenecker is still completing courses for her bachelor’s degree in social work through Keuka College’s Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP). At 25, Rappenecker is younger than the “typical” adult student enrolled in a Keuka ASAP course of study. She first began courses in January 2010, while pregnant with her first child.

ASAP Assistant Professor of Social Work Julie Burns said that while it is common for family members such as grandparents, aunts or uncles to take in younger children as foster children, or even adopt them, it is rare for an older sibling to take on the role of surrogate parent. In  Rappenecker’s case, she wanted to intervene and keep her brothers together.

English Professor Wins Professional Development Award

Just because you’ve got a Ph.D. doesn’t mean you stop learning.

That’s the perspective of Jennie Joiner, assistant professor of English, and winner of the 2010-11 Excellence in Academic Achievement award, given by the College’s Office of Academic Affairs. The award recognizes Keuka faculty members who have demonstrated to their colleagues an exceptional commitment to advance the knowledge base of their academic or professional field.

Within the realm of literature, Joiner’s interest includes depictions of masculinity, with a focus on the writings of William Faulkner. Her doctorate, from the University of Kansas, focused on the subject of marriage and masculinity in Faulkner’s fiction.  Here at Keuka, Joiner created a senior seminar course last spring focusing on the fiction of Faulkner and Toni Morrison. The course followed the presentation of her paper, “William Faulkner’s Hearth and Toni Morrison’s Oven: The Slow Burn of Masculinity in Go Down, Moses and Paradise,” in October 2010 at a scholarly conference on Faulkner and Morrison held in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Not only was the class well-received by students, but a longer version of Joiner’s paper was solicited by an editor of the Faulkner Journal and published in August of this year. Another paper of hers, “Constructing Black Sons: Faulkner’s ‘Barn Burning’ and O’Connor’s ‘The Artificial Nigger,” was solicited by the Flannery O’Connor Review last year and published in the 2010 volume. She is already at work on a new manuscript that examines Faulkner’s sexual geographies, or the relationship between place, cultural institutions and sexuality.

“I don’t think students always recognize we have our own research agendas as well. Part of being a faculty member is continuing to be a student and continuing my own education. It doesn’t stop with a Ph.D.,” she said. “What you learn with a Ph.D. is how to keep doing your own research.” (more…)

Thoroughly Modern Millspaugh

Editor’s Note: The following article was featured in Keuka Magazine’s Winter 2001 edition.


When the Millspaugh Science Center was first constructed in 1962, it was state-of-the-art.  But state-of-the-art doesn’t last long when it comes to top-notch science instruction.

“The building met the needs of the 1960s,” said John Ellis, project manager for the building’s recently completed $3.1 million renovation. “But in the beginning of the 21st century, it was inadequate.”

Funding for the $3.1 million renovation is one of the initiatives of the $25 million Shaping the Future: One Graduate at a Time campaign begun July 1, 1996, and continuing through June 30,2002. A $600,000 challenge grant from the Emerson Foundation has been specifically earmarked for the Millspaugh renovation, as well two gifts of $50,000 from the Davenport-Hatch Foundation and both a $25,000 challenge grant and a $75,000 grant from the McLean Contributionship. Another $250,000 was awarded by the Daisy
Marquis Jones Foundation, as well as $250,000 from Franz and Katherine Stone. Two Keuka College alumni also made large donations toward the renovation: Nydia Kuck, Class of 1941, and Liz Smith, Class of 1952, each named laboratories.

The total raised for the renovation so far is $1.25 million, said Vice President for College Advancement Carolanne Marquis. “We’re grateful to these major donors and are now looking to all of our friends and constituents to help us obtain the rest of the funding.”
Several major grant proposals are pending, Marquis added.

According to Professor of Biology Jim White, major goals of the project included bringing the building up to current code, improving the ventilation system and fume hoods used for scientific experimentation, increasing safety, and increasing handicapped accessibility. White, along with Professor of Chemistry Gary Hickernell and Associate Professor
of Biology Tom Dickinson, worked directly with the architectural firm, SWBR Architects of
Rochester, N.Y., and LeChase Construction, also of Rochester, in the planning stages of the renovation.

“We sat down and talked about what we wanted as a division, and then [the three of us] sat down and talked to the architects,”White said. “The faculty played an integral role in the design of the building,” Ellis said. “The faculty and staff were wonderful to work with.”
Overall improvements to the building include new plumbing, a new heating and cooling system, new electrical outlets, new ceiling tile, better lighting, and new flooring to replace the old asbestos flooring.

Previously, Ellis said,” chemicals would react over the summer because there was no air conditioning.” An uninsulated steam pipe prior to the renovation meant that heat in the
hallways could be stifling at times, Ellis said. Now, that pipe has been insulated, and the heating and cooling system keeps the building at comfortable temperatures.

Fume hoods throughout the building have been replaced with new hoods that have automatic on/off sensors, Ellis said. New stainless steel ductwork for the hoods was expensive, he added, but won’t corrode like other materials.

Many work stations now have power outlets for computers, Ellis said, and several of the work tables and fume hoods have been built lower to the ground, to allow for handicapped

“Now, all of the workspace is accessible to all people,” he said, adding that a new power operator on the door to the building makes the front entrance wheelchair-accessible.
Specific improvements on the first floor include a renovated auditorium with the latest in audiovisual equipment, a computer classroom, a new student lounge, a new greenhouse, and a new potting shed for the greenhouse.

The new auditorium has a capacity of more than 140 people. It includes both handicapped and left-handed seating, and has power outlets for computers. The computer lab has 12 computers in it, accommodating classes of up to 24 students.

“It’s designed to be used by the whole campus,” Dickinson said.
In the past, Ellis said, there were several times when all the greenhouse plants were lost, because the central heating plant that also heated the greenhouse was shut down while the
outside temperature was too cold for some greenhouse plants to survive. To avoid that problem, the new greenhouse has two heating units independent of the system that heats the main building.

Second-floor improvements include a water lab, a new copy machine closet, a microscope room, a warm animal room to be used when working with warm-blooded animals, and a cold animal room for working with coldblooded animals.

“We have the opportunity to work with a larger variety of animals, because we have two different spaces to work with them in,” said Professor of Biology Joan Magnusen.

The warm animal room has not yet been licensed for use, but will be available before the next time Vertebrate Physiology is taught in 2003, she said. Equipment for the second- floor water lab was purchased with the help of the Keuka Lake Association (KLA).

“The KLA has been extraordinarily generous, not only in its financial support for purchasing equipment and funding research, but also in its strong advocacy for an environmental science program,” said Assistant Professor of Biology Kasey Klingensmith.

In addition, former KLA Chairman Dr. Al Wahlig donated a boat to be used by the environmental science program, and Jeff Morgan of Morgan Marine in Penn Yan donated
two years of boat storage and maintenance.

“We’re really set up to do studies of the lake that can be longitudinal studies,” Magnusen
said, meaning that studies can be ongoing over several years, with students comparing their results to those of previous students. Third-floor improvements include see-through
fume hoods in the organic chemistry laboratory, deionized water systems for cleaning test tubes and beakers, a new dark room, a cold room, and locking cabinets in the stock room for chemicals. The dark room is used not only for photographic projects, but also for viewing photomicrographs of cells and tissues, as well as for any experimentation
that requires darkness.

“Sometimes you need to look at things under ultraviolet light,” Dickinson said.
The cold room is kept at a near-freezing temperature, which can be useful for certain experiments, particularly in biochemistry, Magnusen said.

“The molecules you’re working with often will break down at room temperature,” she said. Whereas before, experiments often had to be conducted using ice buckets, now the whole room is kept at a cold temperature. Although a professional moving company was called in to carry the heavy items, the move out of the building was a long and difficult process, White said. Both faculty members and work-study students pitched in.

In particular, White said he had to individually bag and wrap the ornithology collection of more than 100 stuffed birds while wearing gloves, so that the feathers would not be destroyed. Completing the move back into the building could take as long as spring semester, he added.

“Everything’s coming along very well,” White said, “but we’re still in the process of  unpacking the boxes of stuff we teach with.”
Reaction to the renovation has been very positive.

“If you’ve never been in this building before, it’s a completely different place from how it used to be,” Dickinson said.