Skip to content

Posts Tagged ‘experiential learning’

Inaugural Foreign Field Period™ Winners

Nyahwai, left, and Gordon, right

Later this week, Genille Gordon of the Bronx and Primrose Nyahwai of Harare, Zimbabwe will be on a plane to China, bound for a first-hand experience of another culture that both Keuka College sophomores hope will be transformational in their personal and professional development.

Dr. Anne Marie Guthrie

Nyahwai and Gordon are the first recipients of the Dr. Anne Marie Guthrie Educational Fund Scholarship, which was funded by Dr. Michael Hwang, administrative chancellor for Keuka College China Campuses. Since 2002, the Keuka China Program (KCP) has enabled nearly 7,000 Chinese students to complete an American bachelor’s degree in business at one of four partner universities — Tianjin University of Science and Technology, Jimei University in Xiamen, Wenzhou University, and Yunnan University of Finance and Economics in Kunming.

Dr. Hwang established the scholarship fund in memory of Dr. Guthrie, who died in October 2013 after an extended illness. Dr. Guthrie served 12 years as dean of the Center for Experiential Learning at Keuka College, and the two worked closely together during the creation of the KCP learning model. According to Dr. Hwang, she was a “great supporter” of the Career Management and Experiential Learning course, a “highlight and unique part” of the KCP curriculum.

“I am certain that the Keuka China Program would not have reached its credibility and status in China without that course. And Dr. Guthrie was such a key part of making all of this happen,” Dr. Hwang said.

Experiential learning is embedded in the Keuka College curriculum and flourishes in Field Period™, conducted each year by undergraduate students who invest several weeks into hands-on learning experiences. A Field Period™ may consist of an internship in a professional field, a community service or creative project, exploration of another culture, or a spiritual exploration study such as a charitable mission trip. Diversity is also upheld as a key College value, and the marriage of experiential learning and diversity in the Guthrie scholarship represents another unique offering where collaboration results in powerful opportunities for student learning.

Nyahwai and Gordon were selected for the honor on the basis of their GPAs, personal leadership accomplishments, and involvement in campus clubs and activities, according to Dr. Anne Weed, vice president for academic affairs. Weed was commissioned to review candidates and select the first winners.


While Nyahwai hopes to study Chinese practices of recycling and sustainability, with the purpose of implementing what she learns at an elementary school back in Zimbabwe, Gordon hopes to develop skills in understanding and collaborating with those in China and ultimately, to raise awareness of the shared humanity of individuals, back on the home campus. Both young women also plan to study Chinese dialects and glean as much as they can of a foreign language.

“Cross-cultural experiences, such as those afforded to Genille and Primrose through this scholarship, provide a new perspective on the world and allow students to learn about cultural differences through direct experience outside the classroom,” said Dr. Wendy Gaylord, dean of KCP for the College. “This is a major goal of experiential learning, and we thank Dr. Hwang for assisting our students in this way.”

According to Dr. Gaylord, Dr. Hwang’s generous funding will allow both young women to meet Chinese students, learn about campus life in China, and experience Chinese culture, in addition to completing their Field Period™ projects. The interaction with Chinese culture will continue when they return to the home campus in Keuka Park, as the College hosts many exchange students from China, Gaylord said. (more…)

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.