Taking advantage of the opportunity to pick the brains of two of the top business minds from the Rochester region, Keuka College students turned out in force for a May 1 discussion panel on campus.
Rochester residents Steve Sasson, a 35-year Kodak veteran and inventor of the digital camera, along with Geoffrey Rosenberger, a charter school proponent and investment expert met with students prior to the evening’s Fribolin Lecture series at Norton Chapel, a 27-year College tradition where both were featured speakers.
After introductions, M.C. and moderator, College President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera opened the floor to questions. And question the students did. The discussion was peppered with students seeking answers to everything from advice on how to ensure future financial security, to what signs indicate an entrepreneurial project is worthy of capital investment, to what factors impact student success at charter schools. Questions on innovation and forecasting technological outcomes were also part of the conversation.
Sasson received several questions surrounding the invention of digital camera technology at Eastman Kodak in the 1970s and whether he ever predicted digital cameras would one day be held in the palm of people’s hands as part of their mobile devices. Sasson drew laughter from students replying that given personal computers had not even been invented when he built the first digital camera at Kodak, no, he had no idea what would ultimately result. In a similar manner, Sasson told students he was also at a loss when asked if he could forecast what invention might replace the digital camera in coming years.
Sasson outlined the questions and criticisms his invention received in early years and encouraged those in the room that if inventing, they should continue to focus on their project and to plan on hearing naysayers as a matter of routine. In addition, he advised, other inventions will be underway in other parts of the country or world and innovators may later discover an intersection between their invention and someone else’s that makes a giant technological leap forward possible.
A staunch advocate of charter schools, with board member service at both Uncommon Schools and True North, Rosenberger ably fielded questions on charter schools. When questioned by an education major how charter renewal cycles could make job security unknown for a teacher, Rosenberger had a quick reply. He far preferred to see that student, as a teacher, with the confidence in her teaching abilities such that she would not fear whether she would still have a job a few years later. Student outcomes fare better when teachers are confident in their work and devoted to the students, he stated firmly.
Career advice was also factored into the discussion. Sasson urged students to pursue careers that feed their personal passions. Rosenberger described how he hated Friday nights but welcomed Monday mornings and knew when that emotion ceased, it was time to change the work he did. Rosenberger also shared a story of debating his first two job offers as a new college graduate and that he ultimately accepted a lower-paying job where the risk and potential was greater.
Following the panel, Sasson and Rosenberger were hosted at a reception at the President’s home and later took the stage at Norton Chapel for individual lectures. The theme of the evening was “Challenging Assumptions: Technology, Education and Innovation.” The lecture series carries the names of Geneva resident Carl Fribolin, an emeritus member of the College’s Board of Trustees and recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 2004, and his late wife, Fanny.
Heralded among 10 Rochester-area colleges as the cream of the crop, three adult students enrolled in Keuka College Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP) degree programs earned Outstanding Adult Student awards in the 31st annual awards ceremony of the Rochester Area Colleges Continuing Education (RACCE) network.
The three Keuka College recipients—Ana Toomey of Marcellus, Natalie Payne of Canandaigua, and Lakesha Carter of Rochester – are pursuing master’s degrees in management with ASAP cohorts at Onondaga Community College, Finger Lakes Community College and Monroe Community College, respectively.
Toomey works as a service expeditor for Welch Allyn in Skaneateles, and will graduate May 25. A two-time winner of professional awards within her organization, Toomey said she hopes to serve as a role model for her two young children. She currently volunteers in her local community as a clown and costumed character for non-profit organizations and fundraisers, and said she takes pride in making people of all ages smile. Her most recent volunteer work was for Breathe Deep CNY (LUNGevity), a fundraiser for the Cayuga County Home Daycare Association, and a benefit for a local child with a rare form of cancer. Toomey earned a 4.0 GPA and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in leadership.
Payne has worked as the communications and programs director for the Finger Lakes Cultural & Natural History Museum since 2010, and will graduate May 25. As the first female in her family to earn an advanced degree, Payne said she hopes her accomplishment will serve as inspiration to her future children, and she and her husband are expecting their first child this month. Payne’s volunteer service includes the Strassburg Sock Keuka Lake Triathlon, the 2012 Arts at the Gardens festival at Sonnenberg Gardens, and the 2013 Celebrate Service … Celebrate Yates committee. She currently volunteers for the Downtown Pantry outreach of Crosswinds Wesleyan Church in Canandaigua. In 2013, Payne was recognized as part of a female leader spotlight in the Finger Lakes Women magazine.
Carter graduated with high honors in December 2013, and was a speaker at her commencement ceremony, earning a bachelor’s degree in organizational management. Eager to advance into an upper management position, Carter is currently taking master’s classes in the management program with Cohort 157 at MCC. She is an active member of the Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) for the Urban Suburban program in Rochester, and through her work for PAC, has helped to coordinate student volunteer activities, plan and execute health and wellness fairs for parents and children, and assist parents in advocating in their children’s educational setting. Carter said she believes her perseverance and success as an adult student has made her a good role model for her own children, and she hopes they will be inspired to further their own education too.
Additional colleges participating in the April 30 RACCE ceremony at Mario’s via Abruzzi in Pittsford included the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, St. John Fisher College, Empire State College, The (SUNY) College at Brockport, Genesee Community College, MCC, FLCC and Roberts Wesleyan College.
Vanessa Coy was “devastated” when she learned about the powerful typhoon that struck her native Philippines last week.
Her first concern was for her relatives—aunts, uncles, and others—who lived in towns and cities that felt the brutal force of Typhoon Haiyan, which brought sustained 147 mile-per-hour winds, 45-foot waves, and more than 15 inches of rain to some areas.
“Everyone is OK,” said Coy, a senior adolescent education major from Wellsville who came to the United States at a young age.
Coy was born in Olangapo City, a city located in the province of Zambales, northwest of the Philippine capital of Manila.
“My relatives in Zambales were not hit, but my family in Manila was,” said Coy. “I recently found out they lost their beach homes, farm animals, everything. They are relying on U.S. troops to supply first aid, food, and water.”
That information came from a cousin in Japan, according to Coy.
“We have not been able to get through [to our relatives],” said Coy, who last visited the Philippines in 2012. “We have sent money, but don’t know if they received it.”
Officials estimate that at least 4,200 people were killed and three million displaced. Nearly 500,000 homes were damaged.
The Center for Spiritual Life is leading a Keuka College drive to raise funds for the Philippines through ShelterBox USA (http://shelterboxusa.org). ShelterBox is an international organization that “responds instantly after natural and other disasters by delivering boxes of aid to those who need it most. Each ShelterBox supplies an extended family with a tent and essential equipment to use while they are displaced or homeless.”
A complete box costs $1,000 “but we will donate whatever funds we raise,” said Rev. Eric Detar, College chaplain.
Donations (cash or check) may be dropped off in the Center for Spiritual Life (Dahlstrom 13). Checks should be made payable to “Keuka College” (indicate Shelter Box – Philippines in the memo line).
“In the past, our community has come together to support those around the world who have been devastated through natural disasters,” said Rev. Eric Detar, College chaplain. “We responded when the earthquake crippled Haiti and the tsunami hit Japan. Today, we have the opportunity to come alongside the people of the Philippines, who were hit so hard by Typhoon Haiyan.”
Coy is appreciative of the College’s ShelterBox initiative and said there is one other thing people can do to help.
“The Filipino people have a very religious background,” she explained, ”and they need every prayer they can get because it is going to take years to rebuild the country.”
The images are arresting. Color portraits of African women and children, their faces lined with the trials of life, and yet a common denominator among most: genuine smiles.
These unmistakable indicators of the human experience – happiness—are the handiwork of senior education major Winsome Zinkievich, who traveled to Africa this summer with a group of adults under the umbrella of Tirzah International, a faith-based mission agency. Zinkievich’s younger brother and uncle traveled with Tirzah the year before, which piqued her interest in making the trip.
The group spent about two weeks in Bujumbura, capital of the country of Burundi for about two weeks, with another four days in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. It felt like two years, Zinkievich said. Every day, they were driven from their protected housing compound, King’s Conference Center, to the Women’s Center, where a 10-month residential program was just beginning for 46 women, most widowed or orphaned.
The women receive counseling and group therapy and learn to sew, a trade that can provide them future income, she said.
“It was my mission to take pictures of all the women,” Zinkievich said. “A lot of them lost their husbands because of civil war or AIDS, or there’s children whose parents abandoned them. Some are young women who are my age and they’ve lived more than me. After I took my first photo of one of the ladies, I looked at it and knew it wasn’t something to just put on Facebook.”
Her photos could tell the story of each of the women, Zinkievich realized, describing how she learned of heart-wrenching suffering and loss, yet a joy in daily life, as she got to know each one without speaking their language. One 20-year-old widow, a year younger than Zinkievich herself, had endured five miscarriages and the death of her husband. One of the woman’s surviving children is afflicted with “water on the brain” and is not likely to live past childhood. In her photo, she is beaming as she holds her two children on her lap.
“Even though she lost her husband and lost other kids, she’s still here and so happy for the day,” Zinkievich said. “I’ve been more disappointed about not getting a text from someone, than she seemed to me. It just changes your way of looking at the world and what’s really important.”
In many cases, women who had lost everything were filled with faith and happiness – faith that the program would help them provide for their families, and happiness “simply because they were alive,” Zinkievich said. “In a world where they have so little, these women still cherish the moment and believe in the future. I realized that maybe if I shared their pictures, I could show their emotion and [how real they are] … and maybe I could change the world a little for the better.”
A plan quickly came together to make framed prints of every woman’s image and sell them for $40 each to support them during their 10-month program. It costs about $60/month to house and feed each woman, a cost covered by Tirzah through donations from sponsors.
Back at Keuka, she has not lost that passion to make a difference with her photos.
“All these women have a story and they deserve their story to be told. None of the images are altered. I didn’t change any of the colors – it’s just there. That’s how it was, and it’s important to me to share that with the world.”
She said this was the first time “I went and did something, not even for me, but for other people and I was proud of it. It was just amazing,” she said. “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about going back, or how I can help them, or ways to make my life different because of them, like buying less things and appreciating what I have or especially appreciating the day. So many people don’t think about how wonderful it is that we’re here, alive and in the now. Instead of thinking about your crappy day, how can we make our day awesome and wonderful and worth living?”
According to Zinkieviech, the experience was deeply spiritual for her.
“When I was there, there was a huge belief that it was all going to be OK. Faith is like believing without seeing. The people there have so much faith that it’s going to be OK and that they’re going to figure it out, that it’s all going to come together and that’s a lot more than we have. God is in Africa to me and people are just happy to know God [there]. So that was huge.”
Zinkievich will graduate Keuka in late May and said she’d love to go back to Burundi to visit in June, when the women finish their 10-month program.
“It would be so great to see how they went from Point A to Point B,” she said.
Currently, a selection of Zinkievich’s photos are on display on the fourth floor of Hegeman Hall on the Keuka College campus. A full gallery of portraits can also be seen online at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/101465662@N06/
To order a print of an African portrait, contact the artist at: [email protected]
Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka degree take you? This is the sixth in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2013.
Briana June ’13 earned her degree in unified childhood education/special education, with a concentration in American Sign Language (ASL) and a minor in mathematics.
After applying to over 50 schools along the East Coast, including many in New York state, she was offered a position in Upper Marlboro, Md. at Prince George County Public Schools teaching American Sign Language to 6-8th graders in Thomas Johnson Middle School. June said she was initially discouraged that her degree did not seem to be paying off right away.
“I chose to push grad school off for a year to not limit myself to locations for a school in this tough economy. I certainly was lucky to receive this offer!,” she said.
While the job did not spring directly from a Field Period internship or student teaching placement, June said she believed one Field Period at the Cleary School for the Deaf on Long Island, and additional ASL experience factored into the job offer.
June said she valued the hands-on learning gained through her Field Period internships, and the direction she now wants to take her career, even though she is not yet 100 percent sure where she will pursue a master’s degree. She added that the encouragement and one-on-one assistance from professors in both the education and ASL divisions was also beneficial.
“They were always there for individualized help whenever you needed it, even if it was without an appointment, which is big for someone like me who always asks questions. Without the help from my professors always encouraging me and never losing hope in me (even when I did), I definitely would not be where I am today,” June said.
To explore what might be in your future with a Keuka degree, request more information.