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Cosgrove: College will Continue to Flourish

Michaela Cosgrove has been working since she was 14, the last 33 years at Keuka College.

“I’ve stayed because there are students to teach, and teaching is what I love,” said Cosgrove, who retired at the end of the 2012-13 academic year and was granted professor emerita status by the Board of Trustees. “But I wanted to retire before the job got stale and I didn’t look forward to coming to work anymore. I wanted to go when I was still happy and happy with the way things are.

“I am extremely impressed with the new faculty coming in,” she said. “They are in tune with the students, they know their stuff, and are professionals. I like that a lot. Keuka College is a unique place to be and I know it will continue to flourish.”

The College is in that position thanks in part to Cosgrove, named Professor of the Year in 2004.

“Her students consistently praise her for her deep love of literature and language studies, and her passion for her teaching. Described as an outstanding teacher and mentor by her colleagues and students, she has made a profound and lasting impact on the College,” said Anne Weed, vice president for academic affairs.

That lasting impact has been felt across campus as Cosgrove has served in a number of roles throughout her tenure.

“In her distinguished career at Keuka, which has spanned three decades, she has served as an exceptional teacher of Spanish, director of the Higher Education Opportunity Program, assistant academic dean, dean of students, registrar, and as chair of the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts,” said Weed.

And while Cosgrove enjoyed her administrative duties, teaching has her heart.

“I had the opportunity to teach in graduate school, jumped at the chance to do so, and I found that I loved it,” said Cosgrove. “I was able to continue teaching one course a semester while serving as dean of students and really enjoyed it. I learned a lot as an administrator, but teaching is my passion and was glad to do it full-time.”

She has taught Spanish language, literature and culture; Latin America; U.S.-Latino literature; Spanish for professional purposes; and introductory linguistics, among others.

Outside the classroom, Cosgrove must be credited for heightening student interest in international Field Periods.

“I remember fondly the intensity and pleasure of leading so many group Field Periods to Mexico,” said Cosgrove, who is pleased with the College’s global approach to education. “I am most happy about the international connection the students have now, and am hopeful that our state-based students will take the opportunity to travel and learn the languages and culture of others. It’s good to see students whose first language is not English come into the classroom and interact with the traditional students.”

And while Cosgrove may be leaving teaching behind, she will have many opportunities to speak Spanish.

“My daughter lives in Spain and we’ve been to visit every year,” Cosgrove said. “Last summer, we travelled throughout the country by car as our son-in-law and my husband biked. We saw many little towns I’d love to go back to and explore.”

She also plans several visits to see her son and daughter-in-law, both Keuka graduates, who now live in Arizona. Other plans include yoga, traveling during the semester, and looking for possible volunteer opportunities, such as conflict mediation, something she has done in the past.

“I will do some writing as well,” she said. “I like to write essays, but whether anyone will read them is something different. A long time ago, I was on staff of the Corning Leader covering such events as the Cohocton school board meetings. I might go back to that because I like the writing it involves. I really just want to see what happens.”

The Spotlight Shines on Poet Ralph Black

Keuka College’s Spotlight Series will continue Thursday, April 25, with a reading by poet Ralph Black, associate professor of English at SUNY Brockport.

Free and open to the public, the reading begins at 7 p.m. in the Gannett Room of Lightner Library.

Black, who serves as co-director of the Brockport Writers Forum, received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon and his master’s degree and doctorate from New York University.

His poems have appeared in Carolina Quarterly, Orion, Georgia Review, Gettysburg Review, Indiana Review, and Chelsea. A recipient of the Chelsea Poetry Award and the Academy of American Poets Prize, Black was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2002. He published a collection of poems, Turning over the Earth, in 2000 and received the Anne Halley Poetry Prize in 2008.

Black has read his poems as part of the University of Rochester’s Plutzik Reading Series, one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious literary reading programs. Established to honor the work of Hyam Plutzik, a distinguished poet and Deane Professor of Poetry and Rhetoric at the University, the series has featured more than 175 noted writers, including Pulitzer Prize recipients Anthony Hecht, Elizabeth Bishop, and Galway Kinnell.

Keuka College Faculty Member to Appear on C-SPAN Program

A national television show will have a local flavor as Associate Professor of History Chris Leahy is slated to appear on C-SPAN’s “First Ladies: Influence and Image Series” Monday, April 1.

The show, which airs live at 9 p.m., highlights one first lady each week, in order, from Martha Washington to Michelle Obama. Leahy is scheduled to discuss Julia Gardiner Tyler, the second wife of 10th President John Tyler, via telephone.

“At first, I was asked to be a consultant, with the show putting some of Julia’s letters on the screen,” said Leahy. “But as I was talking with the producers, they asked me to call in and talk more about her letters. I will provide clarification of some quotations from the letters and describe the context about what was happening in her life at the time.”

Leahy and his wife, Sharon, have edited Julia Gardiner Tyler’s letters and plan to publish them in a book, tentatively titled From Yankee Heiress to Southern Matriarch: The Letters of Julia Gardiner Tyler. A friend of Leahy’s is an editor of Eleanor Roosevelt’s papers and he mentioned Leahy’s work to the producers at C-SPAN. A producer at C-SPAN then contacted the Leahys.

“The producer told me that if they get squeezed for time they may have to cut my segment, since I will not be in the C-SPAN studio,” said Leahy. “But I am excited about the prospect. Even if I am not on the show, I will be in its credits as a consultant, and my affiliation with Keuka College will be in there as well.”

Experiential Learners of the Year Named

At Keuka College, experiential learning is a core focus and the 140-hour annual Field Period internship is one of the primary arenas where hands-on learning comes into play.

Each year, one freshman and one upperclassman earns Experiential Learner of the Year honors for demonstrating initiative, development of a broad and varied portfolio of work, and personal reflection on the skills learned during the Field Period experience.

Marquart, seated, and Torres.

The six nominees for 2012 were nominated by academic advisers, created a portfolio of work in essays, photographs and other media, and were honored at a luncheon April 27. During the May 5 Honors Convocation ceremony, the winners were named: freshman Lelia Torres of Stockton and sophomore Sarah Marquart of Auburn.

Torres’s first-time Field Period experience was quite a coup, as she was the first freshman from any college or university to land a Field Period internship with the Chautauqua County Office of Probation (CCOP). (more…)

Saving Turtles and Taking Photos

Courtney French

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of features on recipients of the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award.

Junior Courtney French wants to be a photographer for National Geographic someday, and her January Field Period—working with Global Volunteer Network’s (GVN) Turtle Project program in Costa Rica—could bring her one step closer to realizing that dream.

Photographs by French, a visual and verbal art major from Massena, were featured in the student art gallery in Hegeman Hall. The images were taken in and around Penn Yan.

“Traveling to Costa Rica and helping with the Turtle Project will help me improve my photography portfolio because it will be much more diverse than photos I have taken previously,” said French. “I will photograph the beauty of the reptiles and the country throughout the trip.”

Her duties with GVN will include providing support to biologists involved in the conservation of the Olive Ridley turtles’ nesting grounds for 14 days. Considered the most abundant sea turtle in the world, an estimated 800,000 Olive Ridley females nest annually.

“These elegant animals are becoming endangered due to natural predators and poachers,” said French. “I will work side-by-side with locals and biologists at the turtle hatcheries and nesting sites. and go on nightly beach patrols, tag turtles, relocate nests into hatcheries, count eggs and turtles, and help with beach reforestation efforts.”

Overseen by the Costa Rican government, the Turtle Project includes a sustainable egg harvesting program that feeds or provides income to the local communities, and is designed to prevent other forms of harvesting and poaching.

“I will also have the opportunity to live among the local villagers of San Jose, Costa Rica,” said French. “I think this will be hard, but definitely an experience I will never forget. It will broaden my horizons as an individual, and make me a better-rounded person.”

In addition, French will take Spanish lessons at Maximo Nivel, which is at the GVN international headquarters in San Jose.

French has “always had a strong passion” for traveling and learning about foreign cultures.

“I decided on Costa Rica because I always wanted to travel to Central and South America,” she explained. “Also, my favorite flower, the bird of paradise, is abundant in Costa Rica.”

French has been to the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec and “all over” the East Coast.

“My favorite place would have to be on top of the high peaks in the Adirondacks,” said French. “I completed a two-day hike in the Adirondacks that measured about 16 miles, and covered three mountains—Algonquin, Whales Tail, and Iroquois—and we were able to trench through Avalanche Pass.”

Her next adventure?

“Hopefully,” she said, “to Ecuador or Tanzania.”

Reading for a Reason

William Parsells, a first-grader at Penn Yan Elementary School, reads a book during the read-a-thon.

Drawing attention to illiteracy and its impact on communities was a major focus at the community read-a-thon held Nov. 17 at St. Michael’s Church in Penn Yan.

However, encouraging youngsters to read was also a key reason why Lambda Pi Eta, Keuka College’s communication honor society, sponsored the event.

More than a dozen Keuka College and local elementary school students read books provided by the honor society, or books they brought themselves. Participants were also encouraged to read facts about literacy.

The read-a-thon benefited Literacy Volunteers of Yates County, and according to Middlesex resident and Lambda Pi Eta member Erica Ruscio, the event was a success.

“We made some kids and literacy volunteers happy with awesome prizes, pizza, and kids books to read,” said the junior English and visual and verbal art major, who came up with the idea for the read-a-thon.

Prizes included three $50 gift cards to Long’s Cards and Books in Penn Yan, two for children and one for adults. For every half-hour the participant read, a ticket was placed in a basket for a drawing. Each participant also received a bookmark.

Third-grader Ian Barron shows his $50 gift card to Long's Cards and Books in Penn Yan.

Recipients of the gift cards were Ian Barron, a third-grader at St. Michael’s School; William Parsells, a first-grader at Penn Yan Elementary School; and Kacie Horoszewski, a junior occupational science major from Bellerose. Horoszewski serves as a literacy volunteer for Literacy Volunteers of Yates County.

More photos from the read-a-thon

The Next Chapter in Fighting Illiteracy

Members of Lambda Pi Eta, including (seated, left to right) Molly Flanagan and Stephanie Lange, and (standing) Junelle King , Ryan Nichols, and Erica Ruscio, pose with books from Keuka College's Lightner Library.

In the U.S., 30 million people over age 1614 percent of the country’s adult population—don’t read well enough to understand a newspaper story written at the eighth grade level or fill out a job application.

In addition, low literacy costs the country $225 billion or more in workforce non-productivity, crime and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment.

Lambda Pi Eta, the Keuka College communication honor society, plans to put a dent in those statistics Thursday, Nov. 17 with a community read-a-thon.

The event, free and open to the public, begins at 3:30 p.m. in the lower level of St. Michael’s Church in Penn Yan. Each participant will receive a bookmark and certificate of participation. Pizza and drinks will be provided beginning at 4:30 p.m.

While the honor society encourages everyone to come and read, it is targeting elementary and middle schoolers in Penn Yan, Dundee and Marcus Whitman school districts.

“The read-a-thon will benefit the Literacy Volunteers of Yates County,” said Middlesex resident Erica Ruscio, who came up with the idea. “There will be a donation box at the event.”

Ruscio, a junior English and visual and verbal art major, was thinking about ways to “bring attention to illiteracy and low literacy and the impact that they have on a community in terms of the economy and jobs.

“I thought read-a-thon would be a good way to bring attention to illiteracy,” said Ruscio.

“A project like this, that fosters a love of reading in the community, is an inspiring effort on [the honor society’s] part,” said Professor of Communication Studies Anita Chirco, who serves as Lambda Pi Eta adviser. “I am especially impressed that the students came up with the idea and took the initiative to organize the entire project on their own, which demonstrates a high level of dedication to community service, as well as superb organizational skills.”

“For every half-hour [the participant] reads, a coupon with his or her name will be entered in a drawing,” said Ruscio. “Three $50 gift cards to Long’s Cards and Books in Penn Yan will be awarded; two for children and one for adults.”

A limited supply of books will be available, but participants are encouraged to bring their own favorite books, magazines, and newspapers.

Said Chirco: “Membership in Lambda Pi Eta is an honor for communication majors and minors, who are selected on the basis of their high academic performance and dedication to the field. Their dedication to promoting literacy community-wide is more evidence of that commitment.”

In addition to Ruscio, members include Allie Waye-Walker, a senior organizational communication major from Penn Yan; Ryan Nichols, a senior organizational communication major from South Glens Falls; Jenna Chapman, a junior organizational communication major from Gorham; Molly Flanagan, an organizational communication and marketing major from Rochester; Ashley Larimore, a sophomore organizational communication major from Horseheads; Junelle King, a senior organizational communication major from Ithaca; and Stephanie Lange, a senior visual/verbal art and organizational communication major from Apalachin.

The Answer is…

English Club members include from left: Tyler Moran, Allison Skillman, Erica Ruscio, Chelsea DeGroote, Tisha Eckhardt, Emily Elwell, Shawn Gray, and Jenny Tammera.

If Alex Trebek ever retires as host of the popular TV game show Jeopardy!, Allison Skillman ’12 may be a top candidate to replace him.

She has relevant experience.

Skillman “played” Trebek  for the English Club’s recent version of Jeopardy! held in Hegeman Hall.

“At MCC (Monroe Community College), we had an English Jeopardy! game as extra credit, and I thought it would be an interesting activity for our newly-formed English Club [at Keuka],” said Skillman, an English major from East Rochester, who transferred to Keuka.

All of the categories for Jeopardy! were English-related, and three teams played the game with such categories as “Shakespeare Quotations,” “Famous Authors,” “Literary Eras,” “Parts of Speech,” and “Grab Bag,” a category that was a mix of English-related clues. Points ranged from 10-50, based on the difficulty of the questions.

Double Jeopardy! featured “Name that Literary Device,” “Famous Poets,” “Series Settings,” “Children’s Books,” and “Characters in World Literature.” Points were doubled for this round.

Skillman not only hosted the show but came up with the answers and questions.

“I mostly used trivia I already knew,” said Skillman. “Most of it came from past classes, but some of it I looked up online. The Shakespeare category, for instance, I needed to research because I cannot remember all those quotes. I tried to have a good blend of literature and grammar, and I didn’t want to make it too hard. I tried to give a full scope of English-related questions.”

According to Skillman, English Club encourages “English majors to be proud of their studies and celebrate the work they do, but it is open to all majors. Everyone is welcome to come participate in our events, and I hope they do. Right now, our goal is just to come together as English majors and share our love of literature, reading, and writing.”

Though the club is not yet recognized by Student Senate, Skillman said “Tyler Moran and Chelsea DeGroote are the ones who have really helped me get it going.

In addition to Skillman, club members participating included Moran, a junior adolescent English/special education major from Sandy Creek; DeGroote, a junior adolescent English/special education major from Canandaigua; Shawn Gray, a senior English major from Clay; Jenny Tammera, a sophomore adolescent English/special education major from Belvidere; Emily Elwell, a freshman adolescent English/special education major from Penn Yan; Rusico, a junior English and visual/verbal art major from Middlesex; and Tisha Eckhardt, a freshman occupational science major from Vestal.

Spotlight on Peter Makuck

Keuka College’s Spotlight Series will continue with a reading by poet, essayist, and fiction writer Peter Makuck Wednesday, Oct. 13.

Free and open to the public, the reading begins at 7 p.m. in the Brezinsky Room of the Dahlstrom Student Center.

Founder and editor of Tar River Poetry, Makuck’s work has been featured on the Poetry Daily Web site and on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac.

Makuck received the Charity Randall Citation from the International Poetry Forum, and his poems, stories, and reviews have been published in such journals as Poetry, The Southern Review, The Hudson Review, and Ploughshares, among others.

(more…)