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Seeing Italy Through New Eyes

Venice at sunset (photo by Melissa Newcomb)

In the digital age we live in, the Sistine Chapel isn’t farther than a quick Google search away. Photographs of the ceiling there have richer detail than ever before, information about Michelangelo is available at one’s fingertips on a multitude of websites and inside a plethora of books. But is seeing it on a screen or on a page really the same?

Not if you ask Ann Tuttle, professor of management and one of three faculty members who supervised a group Field Period™ to Florence, Venice and Rome the week after Commencement for 16 Keuka College students.


“It’s not the same to read about it as to experience it,” Tuttle said, contrasting the biweekly meetings members of the group held over months of preparation, to learn history, art, culture, and language with the 10 days the group spent in Italy itself.

“Seeing the things we’d learned about for ourselves was so much better and more meaningful than I could have imagined. Immersion in a culture is fulfilling and moving, it helps you to understand there is more out there than what we know,” Tuttle said.

Shawnee Brown tries her hand at making pasta.

Students and faculty who experienced the wonders of Italy together will share their experiences Monday, Sept. 29 from 5-9 p.m. at the North Education Conference Center, and will also serve refreshments. All members of the college community are invited to come and see the culmination of the trip, much of which was coordinated through Assistant Professor of Education Dr. Denise Love. Last year, Love coordinated a group Field Period™ to Vienna, Prague and the Slovakian cities of Nitra and Bratislava along with Dr. Klaudia Lorinczova, assistant professor of education, and Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art. Newcomb returned for this year’s trip, and the group also welcomed Dr. Jean Wannall, professor of occupational therapy, and her husband, Nathan Wannall, who helped serve as group Field Period™ leaders too.

Following the pattern set last year, students again kept online journals and blogs detailing their personal reflections in words and photographs.

The beauty of Capri

“I imagined Michelangelo spending all of his time in there, working on the perfect detail,” wrote Kelsey Harmer ‘15, after visiting the Sistine Chapel. “At first I was a little disappointed that we couldn’t take pictures, but it made me appreciate the artwork so much more.”

For her part, Newcomb said she was “overtaken with emotion looking at a masterpiece I had only seen in a photograph or video. I could have stayed there all day.”

The trip was educational for her too, even as a professor, she said, especially since she has always dreamed about seeing Rome after studying so much art history.

“I can now say I have seen real masterpieces. I can share the experience and passion with my students. I can reach out to students in a different way now that I have walked through Italy.  Passion will definitely be present in the classroom,” she explained.

Ann & Haley Tuttle ride an Italian gondola.

The group was able to experience making real Italian pasta, riding on gondolas in Venice, visiting Pompeii, and enjoying the beautiful waters surrounding Capri. Of course, some experiences don’t always go according to plan. For example, authentic Italian cuisine is entirely different from the Italian-American food most of the students were expecting, as Brittany Gleason ’15 discovered at an Italian restaurant where, under pressure, she ordered pizza with sausage on it.

“A few minutes later they brought out a large pizza with sliced hot dogs on it. So, today I also learned that ‘sausage’ here means our hot dogs,” Gleason wrote.

Guided daily by an Italian native named Mario, both students and chaperones wrote about their newfound love for gelato, Italy’s slightly more intense version of ice cream. While in the city of San Gimignano, the group was able to get gelato at the famous Gelateria di Piazza, which many consider the best in the world.

According to Kayla Hall ’15, they weren’t kidding.

Kayla Hall '15 gives her gelato a "quality control" test.

“I thought the other places were good,” Hall wrote. “Did you know that the best way to tell if a gelato is of good quality is to hang it upside down? If it falls off you have a lame gelato, but if it stays on, it is one of the good ones. This one stayed on!”

In addition to its rich history of food and art, Italy is also known for its considerable architectural achievements, dating back to the ruins of ancient Rome. Perhaps best-known is the four-level Coliseum, or Flavian Theater. Built of concrete and stone, the stadium was used for animal fights, staged sea battles, and the famous gladiator matches.

“When you look at the Coliseum today the floor is removed, so you are able to see where the slaves were kept before they came up for battle,” wrote Jenna Bird ’15. “This was pretty surreal to experience because we were able to see exactly where slaves were kept essentially before they were sent to their deaths.”

Excavation now reveals formerly hidden layers of the Coliseum (photo by Alyssa Ange)

“Pictures don’t do any place justice, especially when it comes to the scale of architecture,” described Newcomb. “It’s overwhelming but wonderful at the same time.  It makes you really appreciate the experience of how something so massive and beautiful was created, how all the tiny details were created by hand. Each part tells a story, and you could study it for days.”

“Even though we saw so much and maximized our time, there could never be enough time,” Tuttle said, “It made me want to go back, to see more someday.”

The Pantheon in Rome, with its citation honoring Marcus Agrippa, original founder.

“I want to say thank you to Keuka College and all of those that have supported group Field Period™, because it is a life-changing and life- enhancing experience,” Tuttle said. 

Additional students who participated in the group Field Period™ included Alyssa Ange, Shawnee Brown, Amber Callahan, Marina Kilpatrick, Brittany Kuhn, Brianna Longwell, Brooke Reynolds, Anna Tomasso, Haley Tuttle, Justin Merrill, Lakwan Alleyne-Hall and Ian Wentzel.

Snapshot of a Graduate: Dung Hoang ’14

Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka College degree take you? This is the fourth in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2014.

Dung Hoang came to Keuka College from a partner school in Hanoi, Vietnam to pursue a degree in management with a minor in accounting. After graduation May 25, she moved to Anaheim, Calif. where she is now working as an accounting assistant for Business Expo Center, an events company.

Hoang’s student visa permits her a limited time after graduation to work in an off-campus job related to her field of study.

“Honestly, I feel that I am so lucky to get this job,” she said, adding her excitement at the chance to apply what she learned from her classes and gain even more experience in accounting. 

Her duties include processing and reconciling payments and other business transactions using a system based on the QuickBooks software, a popular accounting tool she’d never heard of until introduced to it in her Keuka College classes. Hoang conducted a Field Period™ with the California company over winter break and credits the real-world internship experience there for leading to her job offer.

“I love the way Keuka College requires us to take the Field Period™ every year, because we can apply what we learned from college in a real working environment, we support our future career,” she said, adding her thanks to her academic adviser, professors, Field Period™ supervisor and many friends who helped “lead me to the right way for my future.”

“I am so thankful for what I have today,” Hoang said. “I love the education here and I grew up a lot from this environment.”

To explore what might be in your future with a Keuka College degree, request more information.

Snapshot of a Graduate: Kyle McVannan ’14

Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka College degree take you? This is the third in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2014.

Kyle McVannan ‘14 of Endicott graduated with a B.A. in organizational communication and has begun a new job working in the video production department of the Binghamton Mets, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets.

In between McVannan’s junior and senior years, he conducted a Field Period™ in the Mets’ video department, which paved the way for his job offer upon graduation. A Field Period™ is a self-initiated placement of at least 140 hours that each Keuka College undergraduate completes each year. It can be an internship like McVannan’s, a cultural exploration, community service or creative project or a spiritual/faith-based exploration. 

During his time at Keuka College, McVannan pitched for the baseball team and played some at third base while also serving as one of four team captains. In his senior year, the team made a significant turn-around under a new coach, winning the most games in a season in school history while earning a share of the North Eastern Athletic Conference’s (NEAC) regular season title. He also completed a senior practicum within his major, working with the College’s digital media producer on a variety of video-related marketing projects.

McVannan has been excited to carry his love of the game over into a job opportunity involving his favorite sport. His Field Period™ experience was “awesome,” he said, because it put him in “a real-world position” to explore career opportunities.

“The best thing about my Keuka College education is that I was able to branch out and have Field Periods™ that really helped me in my decision on what I wanted to do with my life,” McVannan said.

To explore what might be in your future with a Keuka College degree, request more information.

Snapshot of a Graduate: Kelsey Tebo ’14

Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka College degree take you? This is the second in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2014.

For Kelsey Tebo ’14 of Tupper Lake, a semester of study in the Fourth Judicial District of the NYS Supreme Court, which covers Franklin and Clinton Counties, pushed her towards a career in law.  While there, the double criminal justice and sociology major had the opportunity to work on mortgage foreclosure cases, meeting with banks, attorneys and families, and observing paperwork procedures. She also sat in on a sex offender containment case and a two-week medical malpractice trial.

“It was the medical malpractice trial that made up my mind that I wanted to attend law school. Watching the attorneys fight for their clients, it just hit me that I wanted to be in court right next to them,” Tebo said, adding that she’s leaning toward specializing in either criminal law or medical malpractice after law school.

Supreme Court Justice John T. Ellis and the rest of his staff were “incredibly supportive,” recommending law schools she could apply to, helping her study for the LSAT (entrance exams to law school), and challenging her to “be the best I can be,” Tebo said.

That focus paid off earlier this spring when Tebo was accepted into Tulane Law School, and received a generous scholarship, according to her adviser, Dr. Janine Bower, associate professor of criminal justice. Bower also praised Tebo for outstanding academic performance, personal leadership and community service in various volunteer and extra-curricular roles.

Bower said Tebo’s eagerness to learn, understand and think critically about concepts within the fields of criminal justice and sociology was evident in her Field Period™ experiences, including one Tebo conducted at the Sunmount Developmental Center in upstate New York. There, staff work with a challenging population—convicted sex offenders with developmental disabilities—and Tebo observed patterns indicating staff burnout and depersonalization, Bower said. Tebo’s written reflections showed “significant insight” and maturity on that kind of work, the structure of the work environment, and its effects, Bower said.

“The Field Period™ and experiential learning opportunities at Keuka College directly influenced my future job opportunities and my decision to pursue law,” Tebo said.

To explore what might be in your future with a Keuka College degree, request more information.

Sini Ngobese Named Experiential Learner of the Year

Two career-affirming Field Period™ experiences, a spiritual exploration of Thailand, and being an active member of the Keuka College community helped earn junior Sini Ngobese the Experiential Learner of the Year Award, which recognizes learning from Field Period™, co-curricular involvement, and community service.
At her summer 2013 Field Period™ at Biogen Idec, a biotechnology company, Ngobese gained invaluable career experience, established a network of human resources (HR) professionals, and solidified her career aspirations. Her January 2014 Field Period™ at the Yates County Personnel Department led her to experience a different aspect of HR through interning in the public sector.

“The theoretical knowledge I gained in the classroom was applied in practice, and, through hands-on, experiential learning, I grew in my understanding, skills and abilities,” Ngobese said.

Nominated for the award by Director of Marketing and Communications Pete Bekisz and Professor of Communication Studies Anita Chirco, the Durban, South Africa resident believes her experiential learning opportunities make her a well-rounded candidate that will be an asset to any organization.

“These opportunities have vastly improved my written communication by emphasizing the importance of communicating clearly, yet professionally,” Ngobese said. “My oral communication also improved immensely during these internships, and I believe I have become a much more effective and confident communicator.”

Elizabeth Abbott, senior manager at Biogen Idec and Ngobese’s Field Period™ supervisor, would agree.

“Sini has many strengths, but her ability to communicate effectively, professionally, clearly, and persuasively in both written and oral communication are what really stand out to me,” said Abbott. “Sini’s communication strengths are impressive at any level, and the fact that she is still in school makes it even more remarkable.”

At the Yates County Personnel Department, Ngobese took “great initiative” in problem solving and was well prepared to have high-level discussions, according to Amy Guererri, personnel officer and human resources director for Yates County, and Ngobese’s Field Period™ supervisor.

“Sini took great pride in the quality of the work she produced,” said Guererri. “She quickly gained my confidence in her abilities and proved to be quite capable of performing well at a high level. Her ability to comprehend multifaceted subject matters, and then proceed independently in completing assignments was impressive. It allowed us to cover a wider variety of topics than we had originally thought.”

Abbott, too, was “extremely impressed by how much work Sini did, with little guidance and structure, and still maintain an extremely high quality of work.”

For example, Abbott told Ngobese that she wanted to create a policy template which would assist policy owners in putting together content with a consistent format.

“I thought I would sit with Sini and give her some ideas, we’d go back and forth on a few drafts, and then it would be complete,” said Abbott. “Instead, Sini sent me her first draft of a template, and it was exactly right.”

With Guererri, Ngobese “produced reports and documents that were at a level I would have expected from a seasoned professional,” she said. “During her short time working with us, Sini produced several viable work products and solutions that we utilized and implemented, which greatly benefited our department and Yates County.”

Guererri added she is “incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet and work with Sini. She is such a bright, determined, capable young woman, and I can state with the utmost certainty that she has an extremely bright future ahead of herself, and will excel in any endeavor she undertakes.”

Ngobese might not have had the same amount of confidence in herself that Abbott and Guererri had in her as she boarded a plane bound for Thailand, a country where Ngobese said she faced language and cultural challenges.

But she chose to participate in a Spiritual Exploration Field Period™ in Thailand, because in the “craziness of the busy streets, dense jungles, tan faces, and humid cabs in Thailand, I had never felt so lost,” she said, “or found.”

Experiencing a culture that differs from her own increased her appreciation of what she loves about her Zulu South African culture.

“Though we are different and eat different foods, worship different deities and have different social and behavioral norms, we all pursue to be happy, loved, and free,” said Ngobese. “My trip to Thailand helped me see that though we are different, at our very core, we are similar.”

Ngobese said her spiritual exploration of Thailand brought her closer to her own faith, Christianity, and helped her gain additional respect and admiration for a different faith, Buddhism.

“I was able to experience Thailand’s delicious food with curious taste buds and smell the rich, and sometimes pungent, odors of its busy streets and clear beaches,” said Ngobese. “I felt the sleek fur of a tiger beneath my clammy, nervous fingertips, and saw the heart-melting adorableness of a dancing baby elephant. There are no words to adequately express my gratitude at being able to embark on this life-changing, independence-solidifying trip.”

Through Field Period™, Ngobese said she has gained a greater understanding of her own greatness and potential.

“To undertake an intimidating adventure in yet another foreign country took courage, and my professional growth has been fostered through challenging Field Period™ opportunities at Biogen Idec and the Yates County Personnel Department,” said Ngobese. “[In all three experiences], I utilized the various knowledge, skills and abilities I have acquired in my liberal arts education at Keuka College.”

Part of the College’s liberal arts education includes the opportunity to get involved outside of the classroom. And Ngobese is taking full advantage of those opportunities as an active member of the Keuka College community.

She serves as an Academic Success at Keuka (ASK) tutor in human resources management and writing, and credits her Field Period™ experiences at Biogen Idec and Yates County with helping her expanded her HR knowledge.

“HR truly feels like second nature to me after having two Field Period™ experiences immersed in its terminology and way of thinking,” said Ngobese. “I believe I am a truly informative resource as an HR tutor, because not only do I have a theoretical understanding of the material, but can provide real-life examples.”

She also serves as an office assistant for the Center for Spiritual Life and the Center for Global Education, is a New Student Mentor, and has been on the Dean’s List since 2011. Ngobese received a Judith Oliver Brown Cultural Exploration Field Period™ scholarship, the Student Senate Leadership Scholarships Rising Senior Award, and was awarded the Center for Spiritual Life Excellence Award.

President of Lambda Pi Eta Honor Society, Ngobese is also active in the Keuka College International Club, where she serves as vice president and community service coordinator. She is a member of Students Helping Students’ Crisis Response Team, President’s Leadership Circle, Budget Allocations Committee, Tuesday Non-Denominational Service Drama Team, Sigma Lambda Sigma, and the Spiritual Life Advisory Board.

Said Ngobese: “Keuka College’s Field Period™ has benefitted my mental, spiritual, and emotional growth, and has revolutionized my college learning. I have aspirations to one day become a full-time Biogen Idec employee, and I look forward to my career with renewed vigor and certainty that this is the career path I want to follow, and I am immensely excited for my future.”