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Seeing Where History Happened is a Good Lesson

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 who pursue a culturally-oriented Field Period™.

Francesca Spina

January marked the fifth Field Period™ for senior Francesca Spina, who traveled to London; four Field Periods™ are required for graduation.

“I discovered that I learn best through experiential learning, so I decided to complete a fifth Field Period™ because I wanted to continue to challenge myself,” said Spina, an adolescent history education major from Rochester.

As part of that challenge, Spina received this advice from one of her Keuka College professors: the best way to teach history is to go into the world and explore it; to see firsthand where it happened.

And by traveling to London, she took those words to heart. Spina, a participant in Comparative Social Issues, a sociology course offered through Cayuga Community College, traveled to places such as Stonehenge, Bath, and Greenwich.

“I traced the history, culture, and traditions of Great Britain, and explored the causes and effects of social classes through the ages,” she said. “I also examined the British Empire’s impact and influence all over the world.”

And by completing her fifth Field Period™, she fulfilled a goal she has had since she was a youngster.

“As a child, I knew I wanted to be a teacher, and that I wanted to see the world,” said Spina. “After learning about Keuka College’s Field Period™ program, I wanted to find a way to study abroad. I wasn’t sure how or where, but I made it a goal.”

Added Spina: “Keuka College has provided me with many wonderful opportunities to grow through challenging courses, the yearly Field Period™, and mission trips. I was excited to travel to London and [eager to] apply what I learned to my future career as an adolescent history teacher.”

No Beaches for this Bunch

Jamaica, Miami, South Padre Island, and Puerto Vallarta are among the Travel Channel’s Top 12 spring break destinations for college students this year.

A destination notably missing is Washington, D.C., probably due to its lack of palm trees and white sand beaches.

But a dozen Keuka College students, who chose to swap suntans for shovels, will travel to the nation’s capital April 1-6 to spend spring break helping those in need. The students, along with Eric Detar, College chaplain, and Tim White, resident director for Blyley and Harrington Halls and a retention counselor, are participating in Keuka College’s annual Alternative Spring Break.

The Keuka team will work with the Center for Student Missions (CSM), which provides urban missions and service experiences for youth, adult, and family groups.

While working in Washington, the Keuka students will prepare and serve breakfast and lunch to the homeless, assist with an after-school program for elementary school children, help with the construction and renovation of a church, and assist at a senior center day care program.

“Right now, we just know each other by name and maybe a couple of other things,” said Detar. “The students who choose to take Alternative Spring Break trips will have a unique shared group experience that no one else will have. By the end of this trip, each of us will be much more than just a face around campus.”

Courtney Ray, a junior social work major from Cato, believes the trip will be an eye-opening experience.

“As a social work major, I anticipate working with the kind of people I will work with in my career,” she said.

Kaysie Burnett, a junior education major from Shortsville, wanted to go on the Alternative Spring Break “because I have never been to Washington, D.C., and thought a service trip would be a good way to spend spring break.”

And while participating in a mission trip may be new to Burnett, helping others is in Nina Fusco’s blood. The freshman occupational science major has been practicing social responsibility through her church since she was 13. But since her church closed several months ago, the Mechanicsville resident has been looking for a service project. So, when she heard about the Alternative Spring Break trip, Fusco jumped at the chance.

“Participating in this trip lets me continue doing something I love to do, and I am looking forward to going,” said Fusco.

So are Penn Yan resident Alicia Parkhurst, who is pursuing her master’s degree in education, and junior Francesca Spina.

Two years ago, Spina, an adolescent social studies major, worked with nine other students at Franciscans for the Poor in Cincinnati, Ohio, for the 2011 edition of Alternative Spring Break.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and it changed my perspective on my life,” said the Rochester resident. “It made me realize how blessed I am and how much I can give to others in need. That is way I want to go to Washington and help again.”

After the students have performed the day’s work, they will have an opportunity for reflection at the Douglas Memorial Methodist Church, and enjoy dinners at ethnic restaurants. Also planned are   visits to the National Mall, Lincoln Memorial, World War II Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

White expects the Keuka group to be impacted by what they see and do while in Washington.

“The work we will do has been going on for a long time, and will continue after we leave,” said White. “We will get a snapshot of what people do every day to help those who need it most. What we get from this trip will be far more that what we give.”

Other students participating in Alternative Spring Break include: Robby Magee, a senior adolescent social studies/special education major from Fairport; Megan Russo, a freshman psychology major from Ceaderville, N.J.; Mattie Waldstein, a senior education studies major from Needham, Mass.; Patricia Wallace, a junior occupational science major from Bath; Lindsay Holmes, a junior occupational science major from West Henrietta; Sean Boutin, a sophomore criminology/criminal justice major from Purling; and Niki Chase, a junior social work major from Oneonta.

On-Campus or Off, Spina Shines

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a 10-part series on the 2011 Experiential Learner of the Year Award nominees. Nominees for the upperclass and freshman awards will be honored at a luncheon May 6; the winners will be revealed at Honors Convocation May 7.

As the winner of the High School Experiential Learner of the Year fellowship, Francesca Spina of Rochester came into her freshman year of college with some background experience in hands-on learning.

According to multiple staff and faculty who work with her, Spina’s dedication to excellence has shown both in and out of the classroom. Spina has garnered praise for her enthusiasm, friendliness, maturity and natural leadership qualities, and has already been nominated for future leadership positions next year, including a writing tutor in the Academic Success at Keuka (ASK) office, and a new student orientation mentor to first-year students.

Spina conducted her January Field Period at Child Time Learning Center of Rochester, working with each age level from infants to toddlers to three- and four-year-olds, and even an afternoon with school-age children when bad weather forced schools to close. Spina, an adolescent social studies and special education major, impressed supervisor Wendy Dettmer such that Dettmer asked her to return for a summer job.


Rochester Resident Francesca Spina Selected Experiential Learner of the Year

Francesca Spina with President Joseph G. Burke and Chief Operating Officer/Executive Vice President Carolanne Marquis

Francesca Spina, a resident of Rochester and senior at Nazareth Academy, is the recipient of Keuka College’s Experiential Learner of the Year Award (high school) for 2009-10.

Spina, who will receive a full academic fellowship to Keuka, was presented the award during a meeting of the Keuka College Board of Trustees Feb. 26.


Francesca Spina Selected Experiential Learner of the Month

Francesca Spina, a resident of Rochester and senior at Nazareth Academy, received Keuka College’s Experiential Learner of the Month Award for November.