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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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…)
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.”