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@example.com
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.
Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka degree take you? This is the third in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2013.
Emily Ekstrom ’13 graduated cum laude with a B.S. in education and has accepted a post as a special education teacher serving grades 3-5 at Holiday Park School in Phoenix, Ariz.
During her four years at Keuka, the Ashville, N.Y. resident participated in the Equestrian and Education clubs, worked as a lifeguard and also as a facilitator for the Teamworks! Adventure course, served on Student Senate and was vice-president of Sigma Lambda Sigma, Keuka’s college-wide honor society.
“Although I have never done a Field Period at the school, my previous Field Periods have helped,” she said, referring to Keuka’s required 140-hour annual internship. “As much as I hated the paper work, I loved my Field Periods and all the experiences I gained from them.”
Ekstrom’s prior Field Period internships included a third-grade inclusion classroom in Bowling Green, Va., a 4-H summer camp in Long Island, N.Y., a month in two different special education classrooms at Chautauqua Central School, and a fourth-grade classroom in Falconer, N.Y.
Ekstrom added that another bonus was the support from close personal ties at Keuka, such as those she found in the division of education, via a mentor affiliated with the Teamworks! Adventure course and the College chaplain.