Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of features on recipients of the 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 pursuing culturally-oriented Field Periods.
To Britani Pruner, college is more than just an education— it’s about creating experiences that will influence her for the rest of her life.
So when the Pennellville resident enrolled at Keuka, she told herself two things: every Field Period would be a challenging and new experience, and she would take every opportunity presented to her.
I have the chance to do both when I will travel to London,” said Pruner before she departed for the capital of England. “Becoming more culturally aware is a component I wish to add to my experience. As a junior English major, I have the opportunity to explore London through literature.”
She is participating in Literary London, a two-week course offered through Cayuga Community College. The course examines London through selected samples of English literature. Pruner will have the opportunity to tour such iconic locales as Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Globe Theatre, Windsor Castle, Tower of London, and walking along Fleet Street.
“Among my goals for this Field Period are to bring to life the words I’ve read in books,” said Pruner. “Many authors, such as Virginia Woolfe and Charles Dickens, have based their work in and around London. To be able to visit such influential places would add a beneficial layer to my understanding of literature.”
Through the course, Pruner will participate in tours, lectures, discussions and walks to deepen her understanding of the history, geography, and culture of the city. She will also attend theatre performances and visit literary-specific museums, including the Sherlock Holmes Museum, Dickens House, and Keats House.
The requests were simple: a teddy bear, a baby doll, books, CDs, puzzles, pajamas, and slippers.
And for the 46 residents of Penn Yan Manor Nursing Home, these requests—and more—were fulfilled by 23 members and advisers of Keuka College’s Student Senate and Sigma Alpha Pi Honor Society.
“Heather Reed, activities director at the nursing home, contacted me and asked if we had any student groups interested in pairing up with Manor residents,” said Eva Moberg-Sarver, director of student activities. “Britani Pruner, a junior English major from Penneville and president of Student Senate, jumped at the chance to help. She then worked with members of Sigma Alpha Pi, who volunteered to co-sponsor the event.”
Erica Piedmonte, a senior management major from Auburn and secretary of Sigma Alpha Phi, assisted in the delivery of the gifts.
“My mother made two of the residents two hand-knitted scarves each, and I gave them everything they requested,” she said. “I think this was a great opportunity to give people some Christmas spirit.”
Madeline McColgin, a junior unified childhood/special education major from Penn Yan, liked adopting a resident “because I work in a group home, and I know how the residents feel when they do not get Christmas and do not get to see their families. Each resident said ‘thank you’ to me and you could tell they were filled with joy from having us there.”
After speaking with each of the residents, Reed sent over paper angels with gift ideas, according to Moberg-Sarver.
“The residents’ wish lists were heartwarming,” said Moberg-Sarver. “Some of them offered to share gifts with their spouse who was also at the Manor, or asked for donations to local places in need for the holidays. Each student was able to take an angel and choose gifts according to these wishes.”
Piedmonte bought things like holiday pins, blankets, books, and calendars, while McColgin gave her resident a blouse, earrings, and a CD. Stephen Funk, a junior psychology major from Homer, donated money to Milly’s Pantry in honor of his resident.
“She was so pleased with this kind gesture she had a thank you card written for Stephen before we left the building,” said Moberg-Sarver. “One student purchased a baby doll for a resident who never had one growing up.”
Carlie Ellison, a senior occupational science major from Belfast, “felt great after leaving Penn Yan Manor. I felt like I had made someone’s day, and it made me feel a little better about myself. It was great spending time with residents, hearing some of their stories, and seeing pictures of themselves and their families in their rooms.”
Another highlight of the gift delivery for Piedmonte was being able to “sit down with one of the residents I bought for and having a long talk with her.”
Ellison “would like to do it for holidays throughout the year.”
Other students who participated in the delivery included Meghan Marks, a senior childhood education major from Horseheads; Jeff Miller, a sophomore occupational science major from Bloomfield; Becky Allen, a sophomore childhood/special education major from Oxford; Taylor Smith, a junior occupational science major from Webster; and Bridgette Fletcher, a junior psychology major from Walton.