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Big Night, Big Wins for Keuka College Alumni

Election Day 2015 was a stellar success for two Keuka College graduates. Aileen McNabb-Coleman ’00 and Tom Drumm ’15 both won seats in the Cayuga and Oswego county legislatures, respectively.

Aileen Coleman-McNabb, center, celebrates her victory Election Night. (Image courtesy the Auburn Citizen.)

Running on the Democrat, Independent and Working Family lines, Mc-Nabb-Coleman defeated opponent Joseph Runkle, to win a four-year term in Cayuga’s 6th District seat. Meanwhile, Drumm, who ran on the Democratic and Women’s Equality lines for Oswego’s 16thDistrict seat, defeated Republican opponent James Scanlon and will serve a two-year term. At Keuka College, McNabb-Coleman earned a degree in unified childhood/special education while Drumm earned degrees in political science and history and organizational communication.

“I believe strongly in engagement and participation in local government,” said McNabb-Coleman “Due to the climate of the national stage of politics, I find that citizens are disengaged; couple that with having busy careers and family life, and it is difficult to increase awareness.”

So she did something about it.

McNabb-Coleman and her family. (Image courtesy Aileen McNabb-Coleman).

“When I finally decided to run for county legislator, what drove me was the idea of setting our county on a new fiscally responsible path so that my children could enjoy the fruits of our labor—and representing women on a 15-member, all male, county legislature,” said McNabb-Coleman, who used the phrase “Run Like a Girl” in her campaign signs to reinforce her position.

Drumm said he ran on a message of “new energy and new blood” at the county level. He started getting that message out about six months ago when he launched his campaign and sticking to it proved effective, he said.

“I think those in the county are craving new leadership,” Drumm said. “I discussed that we seem to have become stagnant, whether in social issues or some economic areas as well.”

Drumm’s campaign got a boost the Sunday before Election Day from six political science and history majors at Keuka College who traveled to Oswego with Dr. Angela Narasimhan, assistant professor of political science and history. After convening briefly at the union hall for Oswego’s UA Local 73 to hear from Drumm about his platform, the group picked up campaign literature and set out to help Drumm make door-to-door visits.

The Keuka College team with Dr. Narasimhan, center, gave Drumm, left of her, in blue, a final boost.

“It was huge how that team helped me cover my entire district in a day,” Drumm said. “My opponent was a lifelong resident in the city, raised a family and he’s lived here probably 45 years, and sometimes that works to people’s advantage. I’m fresh out of college and it can take a lot to establish a coalition. The big thing is the final push – you have to turn out the vote. To get a push like that from students who traveled two hours to Oswego to help knock on doors for a campaign like mine – I’m in debt to them. I’m so grateful.”

According to Dr. Narasimhan, three of the students had never met Tom and several were interested in getting involved politically back home so they were eager to hear his story and his advice.

Drumm and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, during Drumm's freshman-year Field Period™ at one of Schumer's regional offices.

“He used each Field Period™ experience and his major to explore different avenues, and was able to tell my students about the connections he made and how he found an office to run for,” Dr. Narasimhan said, describing how Drumm learned from local party leaders the strategy they envisioned for him to win an open seat. The canvassing experience “absolutely” aligned with the College’s focus on experiential learning, she added.

During his time as a student, Drumm conducted separate Field Period™ experiences with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.) and the NYS Democratic Committee. He also completed his senior practicum with Doug Lippincott, Keuka College’s executive director of grants, government relations and compliance. Some of the individuals he met became mentors, Drumm said.

“It’s very rewarding to see it all pay off  – it’s exciting, and honestly, it’s a little overwhelming,” Drumm said, attributing his win to “not only how much I’ve learned but the amazing people I met during college —professors like Drs. Narasimhan, Chris Leahy, David Leon—who gave me the confidence and knowledge to be able to make a political run at 22.”

Both Drumm and McNabb-Coleman will be sworn into their new offices in early January.

Outsmarting Her Cancer Genes

Angela Schmidt Fishbaugh, a 1995 Keuka College graduate and teacher at Campbell-Savona Central, has authored two books based on her love of teaching: Seeking Balance in an Unbalanced World: A Teacher’s Journey and Celebrate Nature! Activities for Every Season.

Her third book, published recently by Skyhorse Publishing, is not based on her affection for the teaching profession, but there is much to be learned from Angela’s Decision: Outsmarting My Cancer Genes and Determining My Fate.

The genesis for the book came in 2009 when she had a routine pap smear, but there was nothing routine after that. She tested positive for BRCA1, which means she had an 87 percent chance of getting breast cancer and a 44 percent chance of contracting ovarian cancer.

In this interview on Keuka College Today, aired on WFLR (1570 AM/96.9 and 101.9 FM, Finger Lakes News Network) in Dundee and hosted by Executive Director of Grants, Government Relations, and Compliance Doug Lippincott, Fishbaugh discusses the emotions she dealt with after her positive test, the choices she was confronted with, and the toughest decision she ever made.

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Maryvale Primary School Teacher Named Field Period™ Site Supervisor of the Year

Last summer, freshman Heather Hoerner started to question whether she wanted to continue to pursue an early childhood education major upon enrolling at Keuka College.

But spending her first Field Period™ in kindergarten teacher Nicole Brzykcy’s classroom at Maryvale Primary School confirmed Hoerner’s decision to become a kindergarten teacher herself.

“Hearing the stories about how dedicated Mrs. Brzykcy is to her students made me realize that I would not want to be in any other major,” said Hoerner.

That’s why the Buffalo resident nominated Brzykcy for the Field Period™ Site Supervisor of the Year. Each year, Keuka College presents two students with the Experiential Learner of the Year Award and one Field Period™ Site Supervisor of the Year Award.

According to Hoerner, Brzykcy made sure that from the first day Hoerner was in the classroom, she was able to work with the students.

“Mrs. Brzykcy came up with many different activities that let me work with the students both one-on-one and in small groups,” said Hoerner. “From the first email exchange that we had, she told me how challenging her class was this year and how she was looking forward to having the help.”

One thing Hoerner appreciated about being in Brzykcy’s classroom was that “she made sure she did not hide anything from me and showed me what it was really like to be a teacher. This was a real eye-opener for me, but I was glad she was honest and upfront with me. I saw the good and the bad that being a kindergarten teacher would include.”

Some of the things Brzykcy showed Hoerner were not in the classroom. Hoerner was able to attend meetings, and help her with things that did not involve the students. This helped Hoerner realize what else the job would entail.

“I even finished teaching a lesson to the class so Mrs. Brzykcy could talk with a parent,” said Hoerner. “I really enjoyed doing this, and they enjoyed interacting with me as well. When I came up with my own activity for the students, I tried to create something that they would be able to learn from while having fun, and the one that I ended up creating was a hit.”

Hoerner said her first Field Period™ experience “was amazing. Working with this group of students was definitely challenging, but I would not have had my first Field Period™ anywhere else. The connections I made with the students were amazing and I loved how supportive Mrs. Brzykcy was of my future. I could not have asked for a better supervisor to mentor me through my first Field Period™.”

New Friends, New Experinces

Editor’s Note: This is the seventh 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.

Some of senior Mattie Waldstein’s closest friends at Keuka are the students from Vietnam.

They have shared their culture and stories of life in Vietnam with her, and she “truly values” the friendships she has formed with them.

“One particularly close friend, Thanh, came home with me for spring break last year,” said Waldstien, an educational studies major from Needham, Mass. “Her family urged me to visit them in Vietnam.”

And that is what she is doing this month as part of her Field Period.

While staying with Thanh’s family just outside of Hanoi, Waldstien intends to learn about Vietnamese culture and apply what she has learned in her classes, particularly Sociology of the Family.

“I will also visit local schools, and volunteer at a preschool in order to observe the differences and similarities between schools in America and in Vietnam,” said Waldstien, before she left for Vietnam.

Waldstein plans to use the experience of “being a minority in a foreign country, with little language or cultural understanding, to gain a broader perspective on diversity, which can help me better educate my future students on cultural differences and the importance of inclusion.”

In addition to gaining education-based experience, Waldstien will have a chance to apply skills learned in her digital photography class when she takes photos to create a scrapbook of her time in Vietnam.

“I am certain this experience will change me in ways I cannot imagine long after I leave Keuka College,” added Waldstein.

Slovakia and More

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth 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.

What began as a Skype session with high school students in Assistant Professor of Education Klaudia Lorinczova’s native country of Slovakia last year has turned into a Field Period opportunity for Keuka students.

The students will have the chance to travel to Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Austria during a summer Field Period.

Junior Tyler Kroon is among those who will travel to the three European Union countries.

“I’ve been fortunate to grow up as part of a family who places a high value on experiencing other cultures, so after reading about Judith Oliver Brown, I was excited to discover her love for travel, too,” said Kroon, a unified childhood/special education major from Canandaigua.

And while Kroon may be a seasoned traveler—he’s been to such countries as Italy, Fiji, and New Zealand, among others—he expects this Field Period to be “especially eye-opening.

“We will have the opportunity visit the high school we began Skyping with, so we will have the chance to interact with those Slovakian students,” he said. “This is particularly interesting to me because I believe that our education in the U.S. is narrowly focused. I would like to bring my experiences from schools in other countries into my future classroom to provide my students with a more culturally diverse education.”

Kroon and others on the trip will tour local landmarks, town centers, castles, and manor houses. The group will also explore the cities of Prague, Nitra, Banska Stiavnia, and tour the United States Embassy in Bratislava.

“Not only do I want to learn about the culture and history of the three countries we will visit, I want to develop the ability to function and interact with the people who live there,” said Kroon. “And I want to gain an understanding of important historical and political events that have helped shape Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Austria.”

Kroon is also interested in art, “so this trip will be an amazing opportunity to take photographs of castles and other sights unique to central Europe. I’m especially hoping for free time on this trip to people-watch and sketch scenes from the various places we’ll be learning about.”