Editor’s Note: This is the sixth in a series of profiles of 2016 Student Employee of the Year nominees. The winner will be announced at a luncheon later this month.
When completing senior Myra Hoke’s first student employee evaluation, Assistant Director of Field Period™ and Internships Tara Bloom wrote hiring the social work major was absolutely the right decision.
In fact, when Bloom was reviewing Hoke’s subsequent appraisals, Hoke, who serves as a Field Period™ and internship peer assistant, was scored as “excellent” and “above average” in nearly every category. Even then, Bloom said she saw improvements each term, and those improvements culminated in a perfect evaluation last semester.
“She sets a high bar for my future work study students because she learns quickly, is independent in her work, and constantly bring laughter and smiles to the office,” said Bloom, who nominated Hoke for the award. “I am thankful that luck led her to apply for this position and grateful for all that she has done since.”
For three years, Hoke was responsible for developing the majority of marketing materials related to both the Field Period™ and internship programs. This included displays highlighting students’ internship and international experiences, brochures to promote scholarship opportunities, creation of digital signage to encourage attendance at upcoming programs on campus, and fliers to advertise deadlines and other opportunities.
“The level of autonomy that Myra earned within the office has allowed her to manage the front desk and phone as needed, assist with confidential documents, work one-on-one with students, and develop new ideas for programs and displays,” said Bloom. “There were many times she was so enthralled in a project she stayed late because she hated leaving it incomplete.”
Hoke’s work and dedication to the office is part of why Bloom believes the Field Period™ and internship program has reached the next level. Hoke worked alongside Bloom to elevate the ease of the Field Period™ process by incorporating a number of digital components to the program.
“Myra worked with me for months to customize the system, provide feedback, develop the contract form and evaluations, and then ultimately launch the change to the entire campus,” said Bloom. “Her knowledge of our program and process, honesty with me from a student’s perspective, and dedication to being a test subject helped bring a 74-year-old experiential learning program into the 21st century.”
Bloom adds that Hoke has also assisted in leading programs including the Field Period™ Exhibition, where she served as the social work facilitator. Typically a role Bloom entrusts only to faculty, Hoke did an “incredible” job.
“The impact Myra has made on this campus, and within the role of Field Period™ and internship peer assistant, has been significant and highly valued, and I would say that I don’t want her to leave,” said Bloom. “But when I think about her now, I see a young professional who has matured and grown into an incredible woman. Myra has contributed to this office with a unique combination of skills and contagious spirit. She truly became a trusted member of our team.”
Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of features on recipients who received Field Period™ scholarships. Junior Emily Michienzi received a 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 who pursue a culturally-oriented Field Period™.
From a young age, junior Emily Michienzi’s mother instilled in her a desire to see the world and expand her horizons. That is why she has always believed that travel is one of the greatest forms of education.
And the Lake Pleasant resident will get the chance to do both as she travels to London during her January Field Period™. Michienzi intends to learn about the social problems plaguing England’s capital city as a participant in Comparative Social Issues, a sociology course offered through Cayuga Community College.
“As a sociology and political science/history major, this trip will greatly enhance my education,” said Michienzi. “In my sociology courses, we often discuss culture. One concept that is foundational in sociology is cultural relativism. This concept is when we see another culture and its practices in its own right, rather than using our culture to judge another’s as right or wrong.”
By traveling to London and experiencing a new culture, Michienzi intends to use cultural relativism “in a more practical manner and then translate that practice into my classroom discussions and other course requirements.”
This trip also appeals to Michienzi’s interest in history.
“America’s history with Great Britain frequently comes up in my class conversations and readings,” she said. “We always compare our government to Great Britain’s since our government was influenced by theirs. One of our day trips in London will be to Downing Street, the British seat of government. I will be able to see their government up close and learn, while on site, more about their government. By seeing this, I will be able to understand how our government is similar and different from Britain’s and then share that knowledge in my classes.”
In addition to visiting Downing Street, Michienzi intends to visit the British Museum, Parliament, and Windsor Castle, among other sites.
“These sites will show us not only the history of one of the world’s super powers, but also the culture and issues the country has faced over time,” she said. “From Britain’s era of serfdom to their current struggle as a world power, we will learn how Britain has changed and impacted the lives of its citizens and the world.”
Added Michienzi: “This trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity that will change the way I think, and understand the world and my classes here at Keuka College.”
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of features on recipients who received Field Period™ scholarships. Senior Mackenzie Ellis received a 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 who pursue a culturally-oriented Field Period™.
For senior Mackenzie Ellis, Keuka College has always encouraged and promoted diversity, challenging students to see the true value in a global mindset.
Ellis, a biology major, says she has been “blessed” with the opportunity to experience other cultures through the people she has met on campus and by attending the various programs offered by the College.
“This is a commendable portion of my education at Keuka College,” said Ellis, a resident of Owego. “However, the knowledge and understanding I have gained can only be further enriched by visiting the places I have learned so much about. My favorite was always Africa. With no travel experience to date, the first country I would like to check off my long list of places to experience is South Africa.”
By visiting South Africa during her Field Period™, Ellis believes she will not only enrich her college experience, but also the experiences of those with whom she interacts after she returns to campus.
“South Africa boasts a plethora of well-represented cultures and religions, which will allow me to continue to be globally minded,” said Ellis. “By traveling to South Africa, I will inevitably acquire a refreshed world view, in addition to firsthand experience with other religions and societies.”
And Ellis will take advantage of her Field Period™ opportunity by engaging in a variety of activities which will allow her to see the various facets that make up the culture as a whole.
“I plan to meditate at a Buddhist temple, visit a Hindu temple, and volunteer at orphanages,” she said. “I also plan to visit a an Apartheid museum, and speak with those who experienced Apartheid before its collapse. By doing so, I will develop a more personal understanding of the challenges and suffering facing minorities. I believe that through understanding our mistakes in the past, we may improve the future.”
Ellis also intends to visit an animal reserve; tour Cape Town and Cape Town University; go to UShaka Marine World; enjoy the Durban Botanical Gardens; and visit the Phansi Museum, host of one of the biggest and most spectacular collections of African arts and crafts in the world.
According to Ellis, she also has the “rare” opportunity to partake in a traditional Zulu wedding, “a treat not normally extended outside the Zulu culture itself,” she said. “This unique experience will allow me to celebrate life and happiness in a different way, to complement my new understanding of oppression and pain.”
Added Ellis: “Traveling is an essential part of becoming a well-rounded adult in today’s global society. In order to fully appreciate and succeed in the world, we must take the opportunity to immerse ourselves in other cultures and ways of living. By traveling to South Africa, I will develop beyond my current experience thus complimenting and completing my education here at Keuka College in the most effective and memorable way possible.”
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of features on recipients who received Field Period™ scholarships. Senior Julian Díaz received a Spiritual Exploration Field Period™, which challenges students to work either in an overtly spiritual or religious organization such as a church, church camps, or religious charities. Students can also choose to work in other organizations in which the student clearly demonstrates that this Field Period™ will engage his or her own spiritual beliefs in a demonstrable and clear way.
Like many people, Keuka College senior Julian Díaz wants answers to some of life’s biggest questions, like ‘who am I? what is the meaning of life? why am I here? and how should I live my life?’
“These questions led me all over the spectrum of intellectual discovery for answers,” he said. “Growing up in a family that did not have strong religious or spiritual traditions, I was keen to explore different ways of evaluating the big questions of human experience from an early age.”
Díaz will have the opportunity to seek those answers as he completes his Field Period™ at the Rochester Zen Center (RZC) later this month. The biology major from Keuka Park has been accepted into the center’s residential Zen training program, where trainees are expected to participate in a rigorous, full-day schedule of many sitting meditations and lectures by senior members.
“We will also have private instructional meetings with the center’s Roshi, Bodhin Kjolhede, who is the abbot and director of the RZC, as well as help with domestic work in and around the RZC and surrounding community,” said Díaz.
The RZC was one of the first Zen Buddhist establishment in the U.S., founded in 1966 by the late Roshi Philip Kapleau. Kapleau was an influential figure in bringing Zen Buddhist ideology to the west, most notably by his publication entitled The Three Pillars of Zen, which was the first book in English to provide a detailed and intimate view into the highly disciplined and esoteric world of Japanese Zen practices.
This Field Period™ will not be the first time Díaz will participate in the Zen experience at the RZC. Two years ago, he attended a full-day Zazen (sitting meditation) workshop where he was introduced to the basic principles of Zen.
“I was given basic instruction on how to practice the sitting meditation that is central to the Zen monastic lifestyle,” said Díaz. “To date, this experience is one of the most spiritually profound I have ever had. I have been very eager to return to the RZC to continue learning and practicing this lifestyle.”
According to Díaz, what he has lacked the most in his spiritual journey “was actually practicing, and more importantly testing the validity of, the teachings I was trying to take to heart,” he said. “Outside of my formal education, I have spent the last five years studying eastern traditions and philosophies. In particular, the teachings of Taoism and Buddhism have resonated with me the strongest.”
Added Díaz: “Through this Field Period™, I want to continue my study of these spiritual practices and customs. I hope to gain a deeper connection and awareness of myself, and of the deep-seeded desires and suppositions that subconsciously dictate my thoughts and behavior. I hope to cultivate stronger self efficacy, self respect, self discipline, as well as stronger appreciation and compassion for the outside world and all its inhabitants.”
For the eighth straight year, Keuka College has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which has administered the Honor Roll since 2006, admitted 690 colleges and universities for the role they play in solving community problems and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement.
Keuka College was one of 15 schools in New York state to earn Honor Roll with Distinction recognition. It’s the fourth time in five years the College has earned that status.
Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors including the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, the school’s commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships, and measurable community outcomes as a result of the service.
In the past year, Keuka College students dedicated nearly 143,000 hours of service to the community. Some of the many local organizations and programs that benefit from the time and talents of Keuka students include: Yates County Humane Society; Clinton Crest Manor, an adult care facility in Penn Yan; Child and Family Resources Inc; Head Start in Penn Yan; Relay for Life; Celebrate Service… Celebrate Yates, an annual day of community service organized by students, faculty, and staff and the Yates County Chamber of Commerce; and the DRIVE (diversity, responsibility, inclusion, vision, experiential learning) program, a partnership between the Yates ARC, Penn Yan Central School, and the College that provides on-campus learning and life training skills to area students with special needs, ages 18-21.
CNCS oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact, and the American Council on Education. It is a federal agency that engages more than 5 million Americans in service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs, and leads President Obama’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve.
The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recognizes institutions of higher education that support exemplary community service programs and raise the visibility of effective practices in campus community partnerships.
To learn more about the Honor Roll, visit: http://www.nationalservice.gov/special-initiatives/honor-roll