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Posts Tagged ‘experiential learning’

Environmentally Sound Engineering

By Mary Leet ’16

When it comes to construction and renovation, especially within cities, it is tempting to do what is fastest and easiest without considering the long-term impact on the environment.

Unless, of course, Lu Engineers, a civil and environmental engineering firm, is involved in the project.

Gina Ferruzza ’14, an environmental science major from Penfield, discovered just how committed the firm is to the environment by conducting a Field Period at their Pittsford office this summer.

“We investigate, identify problems, and then make a plan with a contractor to excavate,” said Steve Campbell, Ferruzza’s supervisor and director of the Environmental Division.

He explained that each site is a commitment the firm takes on, because even post-excavation sites must be continually monitored for many years in case other problems arise.

Campbell’s division assists in areas such as bridge and highway design, natural resource assessment, and site design to optimize the use of safe materials and methods in construction and renovation projects.

Where previous Field Period experiences had Ferruzza working in a lab, she has received “training she can use wherever she goes” as a certified Hazmat transporter, according to Campbell.

“The people here were relaxed and very patient with me as I was learning, and they’re also very funny,” said Ferruzza.

She has compiled data reports, collected and sent samples, and evaluated— with the survey crews— if bridges were built with hazardous materials.

“It’s important to us that our students are here to learn, not making copies,” said Campbell.

At a recent site, Ferruzza helped take soil samples to identify where contamination in groundwater was coming from.

The knowledge Ferruzza has obtained from her work at real sites is something she notices even off the job.

“I was so impressed when we started going to survey sites that Mitch [a coworker from the survey department] could look and see right away that certain materials were present, but now, I can look and see them too,” she said. “Sometimes, when I’m driving with my mom, I’ll look at a truck and know that it contains a flammable liquid.”

With one Field Period requirement left, Ferruzza hopes to return to Lu Engineers in January to hone her new skills at even more sites.

How Do You Annotate Eleanor Roosevelt?

Erin Scott (left) examines some Eleanor Roosevelt-related documents with one of her supervisors, Mary-Jo Binker.


By Mary Leet ’16

This year marks the 75th anniversary of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s influential visit to Keuka College.

The woman who inspired a nation visited Keuka College in the years leading up to World War II, and urged then President J. Hillis Miller to create a nursing program to support the war effort.

Erin Scott ’15, an adolescent education major with a concentration in English, worked to preserve the legacy of the former first lady this summer. She recently completed a Field Period in Washington, D.C.  at the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, an effort supported by the National Archives, National Endowment for the Humanities, and George Washington University, where it is housed. The group working on the project collects, accessions, transcribes, and annotates original material relating to the life of this impactful historical figure. There will be five volumes of these materials created in total.

The creator of the project, Editor and Principal Investigator Christopher Brick, spoke at Keuka in the spring of 2012 at the invitation of Assistant Professor of History Dr. Christopher Leahy. After hearing him speak in Leahy’s New York state history class, Scott attended his campus-wide program, where she learned the project accepted interns.

“I had previously done museum work at the Erie Canal museum [in Syracuse] and I wanted to take the opportunity to go somewhere new,” said Scott. “I really wanted to get out of my comfort zone.”

At the encouragement of Dr. Leahy and her adviser, Dr. Jennie Joiner, assistant professor of English, Scott applied for the program and was accepted. She stayed with Nancy Riker ’69 while in Washington, D.C.

In addition to all the typical curatorial and accessional work, each intern has what Scott calls a “pet project.” Hers is a civil rights timeline of Roosevelt’s work from 1953-1962. The rich timeline covers her strong relationships with Philip Randolph, W.E.B. Du Bois, and other leaders within the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

“She was majorly ahead of her time, especially with her involvement in the United Nations,” said Scott, who added that Roosevelt was also an instrumental figure in the founding of the Wiltwyck School, which educated poor African-American boys.

Documents included in the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project come from multiple places – including Japan through the National Association of Sciences – that demonstrate the true global impact Eleanor Roosevelt had in her time.

“In August the creators are going to Hyde Park,” said Scott, noting the New York town where the Roosevelts had a house.

Each “paper” is not actually collected, but a high quality digital photograph is taken and brought back for the team to read, annotate, and upload to the digital archive from which the books will be created. This can be a challenge, as Roosevelt’s handwriting can be somewhat hard to decipher.

Roosevelt was a high-profile delegate in her day, always by the side of her husband, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, during World War II. Scott supposes that she became a  fixture to the American people, who were as fond of Roosevelt as she was of them.

“She wrote a My Day column, detailing what she had done and thought about each day. She also wrote a monthly If You Ask Me column, which answered questions sent to her from everyday people. She would give them advice, and follow up with them to make sure their problems were resolved,” said Scott.

Scott reiterated that her experience has been of great value to her, both academically and personally.

“I walked into this experience knowing about [Roosevelt’s] impact on the world, but working here brought her down to a human level for me,” she said. “I also learned that I really would like to get more involved in archival work, especially with the history of Keuka College.”

Scott’s experience has been chronicled at, where she has shared photos of her travels and daily video-logs, adding details about what she worked on every day.

Org Comm Students Get Big Break

By Mary Leet ’16

The Golf Channel lineup includes a reality series called “The Big Break,” where golfers vie for the opportunity to earn a spot in a PGA, LPGA or other professional tour event along with cash and other prizes.

Emily Forrester

However, competition in golf isn’t restricted to the fairways and greens. For instance, the PGA recently staged a competition for aspiring journalists. The prize? Cover the PGA Championship in August at venerable Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester.

Seventeen college students from New York state entered the contest and four received their big break, including Keuka College organizational communication majors Emily Forrester ’14 from Irondequoit and Danielle Alred ’15, from Horseheads.

Dr. Anita Chirco, professor of communication studies and adviser to both students, said “having two students chosen from a very small communications program with no journalism or broadcast classes in such a competitive field is a major achievement. Both had to do it on their own; it was all their doing.”

Forrester and Alred began the journey by posting a self-composed bio on Facebook, sharing it to get as many votes from friends as possible. The PGA chose the top 8 as finalists and asked them to create a one-minute video that showed why they were the best choice to report at the PGA.

Danielle Alred

While they don’t know for sure what they’ll be doing just yet, Alred guessed “probably tweeting scores, following players and sharing photos from the event.” Facebook and Twitter will be their primary communication vehicles.

Alred, a member of Keuka’s volleyball team, sought the position not only because of her interest in sports broadcasting, but because she “loves golf,” having played since her senior year of high school. “I like reporting, but I’m super excited to meet the players and talk to them, especially as a golfer,” said Alred, a member of Lambda Pi Eta (communications honor society.) “I’m also very excited to report and get the real world experience.”

Chirco seconded this enthusiasm, calling herself a “huge believer” in experiential learning. “Every experience that simulates real careers can’t be missed.”

Similarly, Forrester has a passion for sports. She conducted her January Field Period (required internship) with the Rochester Knighthawks doing a “bunch of different things from event planning to interviews and writing articles.”

She continued to work with the National Lacrosse League team through the spring semester.

“She just [became a] communications [major] last fall, and I could tell right away she was a good speaker,” Chirco said. “She also has a lively voice in her writing.”

“I am a big enough sports fan to know that the PGA Championship is a really big deal, and the fact that I had a chance to be there and add that to my portfolio was too good to pass up,” Forrester said.

Although gaining hands-on experience at one of golf’s four major tournaments was her prime motivation for entering the contest, Forrester admits she is anxious to see young star Rickie Fowler, her “golfer crush.”

ASAP Students Develop Marketing Plan for Oneida Non-Profit

By Brie Deacon

The former Oneida Area Arts Council (OAAC) recently adopted a marketing plan developed by Keuka College’s Utica-area graduate students that included, among other things, a name change to Oneida Performing Arts (OPA).

The students spent the six-week course researching, developing, and strategizing a new look for OPA. They worked in teams and used local resources, historical documents, and current market trends to devise a new logo, ideas for performance offerings, and different forms of communication—all geared toward expanding its patron base. Throughout the process, the class urged OPA board members to get out of their comfort zone and look for new venues and ideas that would bring the organization into the future.

The non-profit organization was contacted last year by Kim Deruby, adjunct instructor of marketing, who hoped it would serve as a live case study for her class.

Brian M. Carroll, president of OPA, said the organization had been struggling over the years to transition its brand to a more relevant, sustainable market.

“We decided that we could use some help from young professionals who could look at our 50-year history and make suggestions on how to keep the base we have but attract younger people as well. The suggestions we’ve gotten [correspond to] what other bigger organizations who have full-time marketing employees [receive],” he said.

Students who developed the marketing plan and members of the OPA Board.

Deruby said the course curriculum calls for students “to understand a current marketing issue or deficiency, to create a marketing strategy, produce tangible results, and provide insight, guidance, and expertise to the organization,” so the OPA project was an excellent fit and provided students with invaluable real-world experience.

As part of this in-depth, hands-on assignment, the class came up with rebranding ideas that included a new logo, a hand-rendered design by local advertising consultant and Keuka adjunct instructor Cookie Caloia, who conceptualized the students’ rebranding vision.

Other initiatives introduced by the students were performances that would appeal to a younger crowd, electronic press releases, new flyers and print materials, and a summer dinner theater experience at a local restaurant, scheduled Aug. 8. The class also recommended OPA offer  a Mother’s Day matinee, which debuted May 12, and no longer offer shows during the winter months when many of their patrons are away.

In terms of the name change, Carroll said Oneida Performing Arts “is much easier for the consumer to understand.”

“We truly hope these ideas will not only help to get their name out there in the community, but also help to create a general interest from a wider range of age groups,” said student Ryan Blehar, who resides in Verona.

“I am very impressed with all of our accomplishments within our cohort and I have no doubt that everyone is more effective professionally and personally as a result of this project,” said John Prendergast, cohort representative and resident of Utica.

Keuka’s 18-month Master of Science in management degree program is part of the Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP). Classes meet weekly at Mohawk Valley Community College.

Kayla Curtis Among Top Student Employees in the Country

Kayla Curtis (l) poses with Valerie Webster, co-curricular transcript coordinator (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '15)

Kayla Curtis, a senior psychology major, found out today (April 18) she made it to the Final Four of the National Student Employment Association (NSEA) Student Employee of the Year competition.

Curtis was honored at a luncheon for being the 2013 Keuka College, New York state, and Northeast Association of Student Employment Administrators (NEASEA) Student Employee of the Year. As the regional winner, she went up against three other regional winners (from University of Iowa, California Polytechnic State University, and Auburn University) for the NASEA award, which was won by the student from Auburn University.

Nonetheless, winning the NEASEA award is impressive because nearly 100 schools/institutions from 11 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and six Canadian provinces are members of the organization.

“Two-hundred students, including six from Keuka College, were nominated at the institutional level,” said Sally Daggett, associate director of the Center for Experiential learning and director of student employment. “Nineteen schools from nine states submitted their winners for state awards and the regional winner was chosen from that group.”

Curtis, who hails from of Red Creek, is a psychology major who has served as student coordinator for the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) chapter on campus since arriving on campus as a transferring sophomore. BBBS pairs volunteer “Bigs” (college students) with “Littles,” young students befriended and mentored by the Bigs.

Curtis was nominated by Valerie Webster, co-curricular transcript coordinator in the Center for Experiential Learning

According to Webster, Curtis increased the number of matches from one to 12, handles all aspects of training and data entry for the “Bigs,” and does “98 percent of the work to keep the program operational.”

Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '15

Curtis exhibits a “work ethic, initiative and commitment to understanding and serving others” that will make her an asset to any organization after graduation, said Webster. “Her positive attitude, patience and ability to work with people are refreshing and energizing.”

Curtis has also been a resident assistant, a three-year member of the Psychology Club (current vice president), a member of two honor societies, and holds a 3.8 GPA.

Curtis received a certificate and a check for $250 from NEASEA, and a plaque and $100 gift card to the bookstore from the College.

College Impresses President Obama–Again

For the seventh straight year, Keuka College has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement.

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which has administered the Honor Roll since 2006, admitted 690 colleges and universities for the role they play in solving community problems and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement.

Keuka was one of 113 schools to earn Honor Roll with Distinction recognition. It’s the third time in four years the College has earned that status.

Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors including the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, the school’s commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships, and measurable community outcomes as a result of the service.

In the past year, Keuka College students dedicated nearly 143,000 hours of service to the community. Some of the many local organizations and programs that benefit from the time and talents of Keuka students include: Yates County Humane Society; Clinton Crest Manor, an adult care facility in Penn Yan; Child and Family Resources Inc; Head Start in Dundee; Celebrate Service… Celebrate Yates, an annual day of community service organized by students and the Yates County Chamber of Commerce; and the DRIVE (diversity, responsibility, inclusion, vision, experiential learning) program, a partnership between the Yates ARC, Penn Yan Central School, and the College that provides on-campus learning and life training skills to area students with special needs, ages 18-21.

CNCS oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact, and the American Council on Education. It is a federal agency that engages more than 5 million Americans in service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs, and leads President Obama’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve.

For more information, visit

Bishop Ludden Senior Earns Community Achievement Award

Jared Taylor, a resident of North Syracuse and senior at Bishop Ludden Junior-Senior High School, is the February recipient of Keuka College’s Community Achievement Award.

Taylor will receive a $68,000 scholarship ($17,000 annually) in recognition of his strong academic and community service record.

Taylor was nominated for the award by Katie DeBlois, director of guidance at Bishop Ludden.

“I believe Jared is the perfect candidate for the Community Achievement Award because he epitomizes what it means to be a selfless and compassionate individual,” said DeBlois. “He makes the people, places, and animals around him better because of his efforts. He has a genuine interest in helping others.”

According to DeBlois, Bishop Ludden, like Keuka College, places great importance on community service.

“We require a certain number of volunteer hours each year, and Jared consistently far exceeds our expectations,” said DeBlois. “He goes above and beyond what we ask of him, and he truly lives our message of service to others. He is always ready to lend a helping hand.”

Among Taylor’s community service activities is Big Brothers Big Sisters. A Big Brother since his freshman year, Taylor plans to continue his participation in the program after enrolling in Keuka.

Taylor, who plays baseball for the Gaelic Knights, shares his talent and passion for athletics with youngsters in a youth baseball program. An altar server at St. Joseph the Worker, Taylor has helped train new altar servers, and volunteers at the church’s food pantry and nursery. A regular blood donor, he also lends his time to Helping Hounds Dog Rescue, a local animal shelter, “about which he is especially passionate,” said DeBlois.

“He believes in helping the dogs so much that he adopted a coon hound who had been abused,” she said. “Now the dog gets the love every pet deserves.”

“I have had the sincere pleasure of getting to know Jared both as a student and a person,” said DeBlois. “I fully believe he deserves this prestigious award.”

For more information on the Community Achievement Award, or to nominate a high school senior, go to:


“Signs” of Success

A student of Cerney's practices signing from the front of the room during a traditional Keuka course. (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '16)

Sure, Assistant Professor of American Sign Language- English Interpreting (ASL-EI) Brian Cerney puts “ghost interpreters” to work in traditional courses.

But there’s nothing to be afraid of.

Cerney’s”ghost interpreters” are his ASL students, who attend a traditional class and take turns signing for one another. The practice is one of many employed by Cerney, who directs numerous elements in the discipline. Cerney works with fellow Keuka faculty to give ASL students real-life opportunities to “ghost interpret” traditional classes, such as those in psychology, English or other unrelated fields. With permission of the teaching instructor,  a trio of ASL-EI students, for example, will rotate signing through the course lecture of a willing professor, switching every 15-18 minutes. The seated ASL students will check the interpreter’s message for accuracy.

Because no deaf student is dependent upon the interpretation, “ghost interpreting” becomes  practice without risk, Cerney said. Added benefits for instructors and non-ASL students are that they can become comfortable with interpreters in the classroom.

“Dr. Cerney provides valuable first-hand opportunities that profoundly enrich students’ understanding of their chosen field– the epitome of experiential learning,” said Dr. Anne Weed, vice president for academic affairs.

Cerney initially hoped for five non-ASL faculty members to make a course and classroom available for ASL students to ghost interpret but received 20 volunteers, representing courses in organic chemistry, anatomy, English literature, and occupational therapy, among others. Students have also signed at special events and church services.

Professor of Psychology Drew Arnold lectures to students while an ASL-EI student interprets in sign at the front of the classroom.

Ruthanne Hackman, assistant professor of social work, has welcomed student ghost interpreters to her Social Work Ethics and Diversity course. She said her own social work students get to experience what it might be like to attend a conference workshop with an ASL interpreter.

“In addition, in learning about diverse populations, we discuss reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities and ethical issues regarding working with interpreters for people with language isolation or English as a second language.  Students can directly pull from their experiences with the ASL student interpreters, then expand the conversation to compare and contrast to populations with other disabilities, culture, or language needs,” Hackman said. “I look forward to having [ghost interpreters] in my class this coming semester.”

Dr. Brian Cerney, assistant professor of ASL-EI for Keuka (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '16)

According to Cerney, an ASL student is not allowed to practice interpreting in one of the courses he or she is registered for credit. Senior ASL students complete 36 hours of ghost interpreting, as well as 15 hours of “shadow” interpreting, when students follow the two primary campus interpreters who voice lectures for deaf instructors Sharon Staehle and Dorothy Wilkins or sign voiced meetings as interpretation for either instructor.

“It’s a restricted set of opportunities which is why it’s a smaller number of hours,” Cerney explained. As students observe the work of the professional interpreters, if and when it makes sense, they may be pulled into translation with the professional, he said.

According to Dr. Doug Richards, chair of Keuka’s humanities and fine arts division, the ghost interpreting provides ASL-EI students “invaluable practical experience in ‘live/real world’ signing, and as a side benefit exposes a wide range of Keuka students to ASL signing – a win-win.”

Cerney concluded: “The Keuka philosophy of learning by doing is alive and well in the interpreting program.”

Midlakes Senior Earns Community Achievement Award

Samantha Peacock, a resident of Phelps and senior at Midlakes High School, is the November recipient of Keuka College’s Community Achievement Award.

Peacock will receive a $68,000 scholarship ($17,000 annually) in recognition of her strong academic and community service record.

The College will select five monthly winners during the 2012-13 academic year. Emma Karaman of Sherburne was the September recipient while Emily Good of Lockport was honored in October.

Peacock was nominated for the award by Chris Tillman ’97, a school counselor at Midlakes.

“Samantha is an active member of our school and community and works tirelessly to help make our area a better place to live and learn,” said Tillman. “The impact of her presence on our community is too deep to measure, and there clearly will be void next year when she’s away at college.”

Peacock, who plays soccer and lacrosse for the Screaming Eagles, shares her talent and passion for athletics with youngsters in the Little Dribblers basketball program. She is also a Spanish mentor at Midlakes Primary School.

She has volunteered at a local animal shelter since she was a middle school student and helped make the Ontario County Fun at the Farm day “a success by helping with the preparation and implementation of the event,” said Tillman.

Peacock, who also lends her time and talents to her church, has spent many hours helping raise funds for school organizations. She volunteered at the school’s open house, served as volunteer manager for the wrestling team, and worked the Breakfast with Santa event.

“You don’t typically see someone Samantha’s age that is so selfless with a desire to help others,” said Tillman.

Said Peacock: “Nothing but good comes from volunteering. It’s rewarding to see how appreciative people are.”

For more information on the Community Achievement Award, or to nominate a high school senior, go to:

Community Service “A Great Part of My Life”

Emily Good

Emily Good, a resident of Lockport and senior at Mount St. Mary Academy, is the October recipient of Keuka College’s Community Achievement Award.

Good will receive a $68,000 scholarship ($17,000 annually) in recognition of her strong academic and community service record.

The College will select five monthly winners during the 2012-13 academic year. Emma Karaman of Sherburne was the September recipient and others will be selected in November, December, and January.

Good was nominated for the award by Helen Scimeca, campus minister/community service coordinator at Mount St. Mary.

“Emily is an excellent student and an asset to our school,” said Scimeca. “She demonstrates her enthusiasm to help others through community service programs at the school and her church.”

Since her freshman year, Good has completed 287 hours of community service, 122 more than the school requires.

“Community service is a great part of my life and has been since I was little,” said Good. “I choose to perform community service because it is important to be involved and help others.”

Good received bronze Presidential Volunteer Service Awards in 2011 and 2012, “and I am sure she will receive another in 2013,” said Scimeca, who added that Good “has always been eager to accept responsibility for many events as well as fill in wherever needed without being asked.

“Emily is a talented and dependable young lady with outstanding organizational skills and the ability to successfully complete multiple tasks with favorable results despite deadline pressures,” said Scimeca.

For more information on the Community Achievement Award, or to nominate a high school senior, go to: