A semester spent a traveling the Atlantic Ocean while visiting countries in Europe and South America, and daily observations of veterinary work garnered the top awards in experiential learning for senior Erica Rusio and freshman Lydia Watkins at the annual Honors Convocation ceremony May 4 at Keuka College.
During the fall semester, Ruscio sailed around the Atlantic Ocean on the MV Explorer, an 836-passenger floating classroom, as part of the Semester at Sea program.
“I went to 12 countries, took classes, attended seminars, navigated through unfamiliar cities and new experiences, and discovered new understandings of what it means to be human. It was the coolest thing I have ever done,” said Ruscio.
It also earned Ruscio, an English major from Rushville, the Upperclass Experiential Learner of the Year Award, which recognizes learning from Field Period, co-curricular involvement, and community service.
Nominated by Allison Schultz, international student adviser in the Center for Global Education, Rusico said she has taken learning far beyond the traditional four-walled classroom.
“As an English major, I love books, but they only tell half of the story,” she said. “The concrete experiences can’t be replicated, and can’t be doubled in a book.”
Ruscio said Keuka College and the Semester at Sea program share the same philosophy when it comes to learning: you learn more by doing.
For example, Ruscio said she didn’t just read in a book what South Africa was like, “I explored it myself and made friends there. I didn’t just see a picture of the native people of the Amazon; I spent the night in the jungle with them. I didn’t just read a statistic about poverty in Latin America; I played with the kids in the Argentine slums.”
Ruscio said that she now has more faith in the opportunity to try, take chances, make mistakes, and try again.
“Experiential learning, which embraces the whole person, is what I received from Keuka College and the Semester at Sea program,” she said. “I haven’t just ‘done’ this experience, I’ve become it.”
An active participant in the College’s Arion Players Drama Club and the Women’s Center Advocacy Club, Ruscio also serves as a TeamWorks! facilitator, editor of Red Jacket, and is a writing tutor. She also lends her time and talents to the Literacy Volunteers of Ontario and Yates Counties.
Watkins’ January Field Period at Southtown Veterinary Hospital in Montrose, Pa., solidified her career choice.
The Field Period also helped earn Watkins, a biomedical major from Springville, Pa., the Freshman Experiential Learner of the Year Award. The award recognizes learning from Field Period, co-curricular involvement, and community service.
Watkins, who has known since she was 10 that she wanted to be a large animal veterinarian, was nominated for the award by Andy Robak, assistant professor of chemistry.
“I nominated Lydia because she had a great first Field Period,” said Robak. “She had her first experience working in a small animal veterinary clinic, and built relationships with the people with whom she was working.”
And while the vets at Southtown Veterinary Hospital care for small animals, Watkins still “learned a lot of information about the veterinary field, and I cannot wait to have the V.M.D. in front of my name. By watching the vets, I expanded my knowledge and fine tuned my interests.”
Watkins was able to watch several procedures, including spays, neuters, ACL repair, bone surgery, and a splenectomy. Shortly after her Field Period ended, she was hired as a veterinary assistant. Watkins will work weekends, summers, and other times when classes are not in session.
Watkins said she “loved my Field Period, and now my job, but I still want to work with cows.”
Said Robak: “A lot of students will do similar Field Periods in vet offices, but rarely does it end up in a great relationship like she found. Lydia is also an excellent student, excelling in sophomore chemistry as a freshman, and is well on her way to veterinary school when she graduates.”
It’s a cold day in Buffalo, typical for this industrial city, which is dusted with a fine coat of snow. Traversing the numerous buildings and animal habitats at the Buffalo Zoo, but sporting warm and cheerful smiles, are Ashley Hager and Megan Hilsdorf, junior biochemistry majors at Keuka College.
Both put in 8-hour-a-day, 6-day work weeks for three weeks in January to conduct 140-hour, Field Period internships at the zoo. While Hager spent most of her time in the Reptile House, working in the Hellbendar (salamander) acquatics lab, Hilsdorf worked with primates, birds and other animals in the M&T Rainforest Falls exhibit. Both were exposed to sections of the zoo the public never sees, such as where specialized meals are prepared for each exhibit, animals receive any needed veterinary care, and babies are are kept until they are old enough to venture out into the display habitats.
Thanks to a relative of Hilsdorf’s who offered use of his Buffalo apartment for three weeks when he wasn’t going to be there, both girls were able to stay in the city and commute to the zoo each day for the internship, which is an annual part of every Keuka student’s graduation requirements.
“They’re so short-staffed, and they told (tell ok) us we’ve been a big help,” said Hager.
Josh Mead, a Keuka College junior from Hilton, had already done a good deal of career planning by the seventh grade.
Having an interest in sports, the young Mead wanted to be a broadcaster or sports journalist. Like many broadcasters and writers, Mead played sports in high school. He was a bowler and played baseball and has continued playing baseball in college—he’s a pitcher for the Storm.
“I decided to transfer [from SUNY Brockport] to Keuka for the baseball program,” said Mead. “But I also liked Keuka’s organizational communication program. I thought I could get the business aspects of broadcasting through classes while getting the hands-on experience with Field Period.”
And he was right. Thanks to a suggestion by his work-study supervisor, Sports Information Director John Boccacino, the organizational communication major pursued his January Field Period at WFLR radio in Dundee.
“I knew the passion Josh had for sports and for journalism, and I thought he could learn a lot about the radio industry by doing his Field Period with Lucas Day [WFLR's news and sports director],” said Boccacino. “Josh has a great mind for sports and knows how to tell a good story. I envisioned him contributing to the station’s day-to-day operations and assisting with live sports broadcasts.”
And that is exactly what Mead did.
“During my Field Period, I was able to do play-by-play and color commentary for Penn Yan and Dundee high school boy’s and girl’s basketball games with Lucas,” said Mead.
Mead introduced some new features into the broadcasts: key player, key match-up, and key play of the game.
“Lucas loved it and to me, it made the broadcast feel more like something you might hear on ESPN radio,” said Mead.
Day said Mead was a quick study.
“I can’t say enough about how prepared he was,” said Day. “Within a week, he was editing, recording, and producing on air. For him to step in and get on the air is a testament to his skill level and what he is learning in his Keuka classes. Josh displayed tremendous communication knowledge and carried himself well. I have always been impressed with Keuka College students and how well prepared they are when they come into an internship.”
While Mead was familiar with basketball, he admits to being nervous about trying to figure out when to interject his take on the game, “but once I did, it was a lot of fun.”
No stranger to radio broadcasting, Mead hosted a three-hour show at Brockport that included a two-minute sports recap each hour, “and because of that experience, I wasn’t nervous being on the radio at WFLR,” he said.
Among Mead’s other duties was converting live broadcasts from an MP3 format to a Windows Media Audio (WMA) format and then uploading it to the station’s website.
“This Field Period really confirmed that broadcasting is the career field for me,” said Mead.
For Keuka College junior Loghan Guiles, deciding to complete her Field Period internship at the Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG) was a no-brainer.
The museum is close to her home in Lindley and Guiles recalls taking many field trips to the museum as a Corning-Painted Post Area School District student. So, she was familiar with its exhibits, shows, and glass making opportunities prior to the start of her Field Period in early January.
“I have always seen that side of the museum—the visitor side—and thought that it would be interesting to see a different side,” said the management major. “I wanted to see what it takes to run the museum, and what makes it the enjoyable place we all love to visit.”
The Corning Museum of Glass tells the story of a single material by displaying more than 3,500 years of history from the glass portrait of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh to contemporary glass sculpture.
Guiles worked in the guest services department and was assigned to the welcome center and admissions and information desks. She also interacted with guests and handed out raffle tickets at the hot glass shows.
“My Keuka classes—especially Introduction to Business—taught me a lot that helped throughout my Field Period,” said Guiles, who attended a meeting about the budget and the museum’s plans for the upcoming year. “The class stressed the importance of keeping customers happy and satisfied, and taught me that businesses need to go out of their way to make that happen.”
Guiles chose Keuka because “I loved the small school atmosphere and class size, and getting to be hands-on in my learning, which I would not have gotten at a larger school.”
She also embraced the idea of Field Period because “while we are still in school, we have the opportunity to dive into the career field we are interested in, and experience what our future will really be like. Field Period acts like a ‘trial run’ and allows us the opportunity to either love the career we have chosen, or realize that maybe it is not for us before [we graduate].”
Part of Guiles’ ‘trial run’ included creating a new employee training folder for the guest services department
She credits skills gained in her English classes for helping her create the folder and when she helped edit some of the standard operating procedures used by the museum to train staff. She also provided notes on what could be done to improve signage throughout the museum to make it more visitor-friendly.
From working at CMOG, Guiles has learned “a lot about setting goals and working hard to achieve them.
“When I was assigned the new employee training folder, I had to decide exactly which direction I wanted to go to make it happen,” she explained. “I also learned about time management, which will help me in my courses.”
Guiles heartily recommends other students consider CMOG as a Field Period site.
“The museum is well-known all around the world and has much to offer,” she said. “Visitors come from all over the world, so you get to interact with people from China, India, Australia, and many other places. This Field Period was a valuable experience.”
Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of features on recipients of the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award. The award, named after the late 1963 Keuka graduate, is supported by Brown’s family and the Class of ’63. It is designed to assist students pursuing culturally-oriented Field Periods.
To Britani Pruner, college is more than just an education— it’s about creating experiences that will influence her for the rest of her life.
So when the Pennellville resident enrolled at Keuka, she told herself two things: every Field Period would be a challenging and new experience, and she would take every opportunity presented to her.
I have the chance to do both when I will travel to London,” said Pruner before she departed for the capital of England. “Becoming more culturally aware is a component I wish to add to my experience. As a junior English major, I have the opportunity to explore London through literature.”
She is participating in Literary London, a two-week course offered through Cayuga Community College. The course examines London through selected samples of English literature. Pruner will have the opportunity to tour such iconic locales as Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Globe Theatre, Windsor Castle, Tower of London, and walking along Fleet Street.
“Among my goals for this Field Period are to bring to life the words I’ve read in books,” said Pruner. “Many authors, such as Virginia Woolfe and Charles Dickens, have based their work in and around London. To be able to visit such influential places would add a beneficial layer to my understanding of literature.”
Through the course, Pruner will participate in tours, lectures, discussions and walks to deepen her understanding of the history, geography, and culture of the city. She will also attend theatre performances and visit literary-specific museums, including the Sherlock Holmes Museum, Dickens House, and Keats House.
Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of features on recipients of the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award. The award, named after the late 1963 Keuka graduate, is supported by Brown’s family and the Class of ’63. It is designed to assist students pursuing culturally-oriented Field Periods.
What began as a Skype session with high school students in Assistant Professor of Education Klaudia Lorinczova’s native country of Slovakia last year has turned into a Field Period opportunity for Keuka students.
The students will have the chance to travel to Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Austria during a summer Field Period.
Junior Tyler Kroon is among those who will travel to the three European Union countries.
“I’ve been fortunate to grow up as part of a family who places a high value on experiencing other cultures, so after reading about Judith Oliver Brown, I was excited to discover her love for travel, too,” said Kroon, a unified childhood/special education major from Canandaigua.
And while Kroon may be a seasoned traveler—he’s been to such countries as Italy, Fiji, and New Zealand, among others—he expects this Field Period to be “especially eye-opening.
“We will have the opportunity visit the high school we began Skyping with, so we will have the chance to interact with those Slovakian students,” he said. “This is particularly interesting to me because I believe that our education in the U.S. is narrowly focused. I would like to bring my experiences from schools in other countries into my future classroom to provide my students with a more culturally diverse education.”
Kroon and others on the trip will tour local landmarks, town centers, castles, and manor houses. The group will also explore the cities of Prague, Nitra, Banska Stiavnia, and tour the United States Embassy in Bratislava.
“Not only do I want to learn about the culture and history of the three countries we will visit, I want to develop the ability to function and interact with the people who live there,” said Kroon. “And I want to gain an understanding of important historical and political events that have helped shape Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Austria.”
Kroon is also interested in art, “so this trip will be an amazing opportunity to take photographs of castles and other sights unique to central Europe. I’m especially hoping for free time on this trip to people-watch and sketch scenes from the various places we’ll be learning about.”
Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of features on recipients of the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award. The award, named after the late 1963 Keuka graduate, is supported by Brown’s family and the Class of ’63. It is designed to assist students pursuing culturally-oriented Field Periods.
For her Field Period, Katherine Kostuck is visiting several cities in Costa Rica and staying with a host family for two weeks
The junior occupational science major admits that living with a Spanish-speaking host family “will be exciting but challenging, as my Spanish could use some work around the edges. Living with them will teach me more about their culture first-hand and help develop my language skills.”
The Cortland resident is also taking a Spanish class.
“Being immersed in the culture will allow me to truly participate within it and come to appreciate everything it has to offer,” said Kostuck, before she left for Costa Rica. “I am excited to try the food and experience different customs. I believe this will be a life-changing opportunity.”
In addition to her Spanish classes, Kostuck will have the opportunity to visit volcanoes, rain forests, coffee plantations, hot springs, and gardens.
After Costa Rica, Kostuck will travel to Tacoma, Wash. and spend two weeks at Pioneer Place, an Alzheimer’s care center.
“My grandfather died of Alzheimer’s disease and when I was younger, I didn’t quite understand the disease, but I would like to,” said Kostuck. “This Field Period will allow me to better understand it by taking part in the patients’ daily activities. I intend to learn from the staff, as well as from the patients. I will not only take this knowledge into my occupational therapy classes, but also to the nursing home in which I volunteer in Penn Yan.”
Going to two different locations for her Field Period gives Kostuck “the opportunity to better understand other cultures. Everything I will experience on these trips will make me a better-rounded person. My brother and sister both had the chance to travel abroad and they told me how much they had learned and what they learned about themselves. Now it’s my turn.”
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of features on recipients of the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award. The award, named after the late 1963 Keuka graduate, is supported by Brown’s family and the Class of ’63. It is designed to assist students pursuing culturally-oriented Field Periods.
Junior Meghan Houlihan believes that choosing to pursue a major in criminology or law enforcement means you will deal directly with large cross sections of a diverse and global population.
She also believes that true multicultural experiences can only come from multicultural exposure.
To that end, Houlihan is completing her Field Period at Gallon Jug Community School/Casey Community School in Belize City, Belize.
“I have had the opportunity to travel before, and I believe my understanding of people in general has been broadened by cultural exposure,” said Houlihan, a criminology/criminal justice major from Elysian, Minn. “If you are entering the criminology or criminal justice profession, one important thing that you have to have in your back pocket is effective communication styles and skills.”
By having the opportunity to pursue a Field Period in a Third World nation, Houlihan intends to add to her communication skills, which she intends to rely on throughout her career.
“Few colleges have taken active interest in developing countries, so a Field Period like this puts Keuka in select company,” said Houlihan prior to her departure. “Developing an understanding for the underprivileged will allow me to stand out as I pursue my career.”
One of her goals while at Gallon Jug School is to study the socialization of youth in middle school, with a special focus on how teachers and school staff promote student success and respond to student misbehavior or deviance.
“With today’s increased mobility and the emergence of a global economy, a world view of educational systems is essential,” she said. “During my Field Period, I will work with children and adolescents who have diverse life challenges. I expect to gain insight into the basis for some of these difficulties.”
According to Houlihan, the country of Belize is “struggling economically, but filled with highly motivated people hoping to improve conditions there. It is my goal to use knowledge I have gained in my classes to help the kids and families I will meet.”
Learn more about Methodism. Conduct research. Understand the impact and importance of religion on a particular population. Grow spiritually.
These are goals that Keuka College freshman Mary Leet and sophomore Vincent Glanville share for their Field Periods. And thanks to receiving Spiritual Exploration Field Period scholarships, both will be able to pursue their goals with less financial burden.
Leet, a resident of Stanley who is spending January at St. Paul’s Methodist Church in Ithaca, received $1,000. Glanville, a resident of Cape Town, South Africa, is working with Claremont Methodist Church’s Serving Strangers program in his hometown. He received $2,000 to help offset his costs.
Spiritual Exploration Field Periods involve work with churches, missions, Hospitals, or hospices with an eye toward providing aid to needy individuals and/or groups, in this country or abroad. Funding for the scholarship is provided by an Institutional Renewal Grant from The Rhodes Consultation on the Future of the Church-Related College.
Leet’s mother serves as a pastor at the Port Byron United Methodist Church, so Leet has a “deep” connection with God and her religion. But that connection was tested as Leet began to understand and accept who she is.
“As I got older, I began to learn slowly at first, then all at once, that I was not like my friends,” explained Leet. “I realized I was a lesbian in middle school, and at the same time learned just how unacceptable that was in the eyes of the church.”
Though her mother insisted that Leet didn’t need to turn away from the church, she gave up her religion and had no part in the church for three years. Since then, Leet said she has grown to understand that God loves and accepts all of His children, and she is anxious to return to a congregation where she can fully participate.
When Leet chose to come out to her mom, “I was met with support and love, and we immediately immersed ourselves in finding a way to make our lives better suited to accept everyone like the Bible said we should. That is how we were both introduced to the concept of a Reconciling congregation.”
A Reconciling congregation is a United Methodist local church that makes a public statement welcoming all persons, regardless of sexual orientation, to participate fully in its congregational life.
“[My Field Period] will be a personal journey because I have not yet found a church I consider ‘home,’” said Leet. “I have spent these past three years attending an Episcopal summer arts camp, occasionally attending my mother’s church, and often volunteering. But I have yet to feel comfortable actually joining a congregation.”
During her Field Period, Leet intends to become involved in “various activities of the church, including meeting its board and the Reconciling committee, and participating in discussion groups regularly,” said Leet. “I also plan to participate in youth and Sunday morning activities, and use social media and a newsletter to promote St. Paul’s.”
Leet plans to keep a journal of her reflections, and stories she collects from others through the blogging website Tumblr.
“I hope to compose an insider’s view of what being a Christian really means for a LGBTQIA person,” she said. “In doing this, I will have created something tangible to give others like me hope, and help begin the necessary conversation in more churches to help the Reconciling movement spread.”
Added Leet: “By participating in a church again, I hope to find that I can still belong to a church where I can explore my own spirituality and reflect on what it means to be a lesbian Christian.”
And while Leet will stay close to home, Glanville will trade winter for summer as he returns to his hometown.
“Spirituality has always played a big part in my life, whether it was going to church on Sunday with my family, or going to youth groups on Friday nights,” said Glanville. “I have often taken this spiritual surrounding for granted and as such, have never gone out and experienced the impact a faith such as Christianity has on people less fortunate that me.”
But Field Period is giving him that opportunity via the Serving Strangers’ mission trips.
“Mission trips have always been something that has interested me, and this particular Field Period marries my interest in these trips with my psychology major,” said Glanville. “I believe faith is as much about people’s ideas and thoughts, as it is about their belief, and I want to explore that.”
Serving Strangers aims to help churches reach out to the communities of unreached people who exist around every urban and suburban church. This involves teaching courses, leading seminars, and mentoring. Part of Serving Strangers’ mission is that there is never a time to grow out of the basic responsibilities Christians have toward others.
Glanville also hopes to gather some psychological data on the influence of Western religion—specifically Christianity—on native South African tribal people. During his Field Period, Glanville intends to conduct research on the people Serving Strangers helps. He wants to learn what role psychology plays in a mission, especially the group psychology behind a missionary organization and the group psychology of those they help.
“This will encompass experiencing mission work first-hand,” said Glanville. “I will study the effect Christianity has had on tribal people, how it has bettered their lifestyle, how it has changed their views on their culture or spirituality, and how it has been incorporated into their belief system.”
According to Glanville, most of the people he will be in direct contact with on the mission trips live in tribes or are the descendants of people who were in tribes.
“There is such a spiritual wealth to draw from in conversation and interaction with them,” he said. “Historically speaking, these are the people who were the most in tune with the ‘spirit of the land’ and had heavy reverence for their ancestor’s spirits. It is a spiritual belief system that has been entrenched into them from birth, and one that is far removed from my own.”
By the end of his Field Period, Glanville hopes to understand the impact of Western religion on African culture.
“I want to see why so many of them turn away from their ancestors’ belief system and embrace something many of them consider a ‘white man’s religion,’” said Glanville. “It’s interesting that they would choose to follow Christianity, when they shun so many other things in Western society.”
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of features on recipients of the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award. The award, named after the late 1963 Keuka graduate, is supported by Brown’s family and the Class of ’63. It is designed to assist students pursuing culturally-oriented Field Periods.
For senior Diane DePrez, her interest in Germany began when she was in high school.
“We had exchange students from Germany come to our school, and I always wanted to learn more about the culture of a country that—on the outside—seems so similar to our own,” said DePrez, a resident of Fairport. “It has such a rich history and I am curious about so many things.”
DePrez is satisfying her curiosity this month during a Field Period in Deutschland.
“Many people are under the misconception that Germany is all about the two World Wars,” said DePrez before she left for Germany. “This is something I would like to dispel. As a political science and history major, I am especially interested in how Germany’s history and political system have affected its modern culture. One of the ways I will learn about these is to talk to Germans about their country’s history.”
DePrez’s itinerary called for a trip to Museum Island, so called for the complex of five internationally significant museums—all part of the Berlin State Museums—that occupy the island’s northern half.
“While in Germany, I will stay in hostels, which I have been told is a good way to meet people from all over the world,” said DePrez. “One goal while conducting my Field Period is to immerse myself in German culture and to see how it compares to America. I will travel throughout Berlin and Potsdam, and tour many sites significant to German culture and history.”
DePrez says this Field Period “will provide me with the opportunity to learn more about Germany’s history through guided tours, as well as visiting museums and historic sites,” she said. “One of the places I will visit is the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, a damaged tower that is a symbol of Berlin’s resolve to rebuild the city after World War II and a reminder of the destruction of war.”
Added DePrez: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am excited to learn all I can from the people, food, and culture of Berlin.”