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Snapshot of a Graduate: Nakita Simons ’14

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

Simons, left and fellow social work graduate.

Nakita Simons ’14 of Prattsburgh began a new job May 27 as a foster care caseworker for Steuben County Department of Social Services (DSS). The Prattsburgh resident first truly explored the social work field when she conducted her sophomore Field Period™ with DSS and had “a great experience,” Simons said.

The work went so well Simons applied for a high-profile BSW Child Welfare Scholarship from New York’s Social Work Education Consortium in her junior year. Winners of the scholarship are essentially guaranteed a two-year job as a child welfare caseworker with a county DSS agency and can also earn additional scholarship money for a master’s degree in social work, provided all goes well in a semester-long practicum during their senior year. Thanks to her 3.9 GPA and her record of stellar service in multiple volunteer and leadership roles outside the classroom, Simons not only landed the scholarship and job with Steuben County DSS but was named one of six student Social Workers of the Year for the Genesee Valley Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). She will be pursuing her MSW online through a program offered by Fordham University.

Simons said she found the College social work program faculty “really helped me to get the most out of my education. They were supportive and encouraging. They got to know you on a personal level and helped me to discover my passion and reach the goals I set for myself.”

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

Snapshot of a Graduate: Mike Kelly ’14

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

As a busy member of the campus community, Mike Kelly ’14 of Black River, N.Y. gained plenty of experience in leadership, service and special events.

During his four years at Keuka College, Kelly served as president of the College chapter of Enactus, the international non-profit which empowers students to coordinate entrepreneurial projects to improve the lives of people in need. He worked as an advertising assistant in the office of student activities, and chaired the fundraising committee for the annual Relay for Life event for the American Cancer Society during sophomore and junior years. His senior practicum was spent assisting with communications and social media for the 17th annual Celebrate Service … Celebrate Yates (CSCY) day of service event, which is a collaboration between the College and the Yates County Chamber of Commerce. In addition, Kelly served three years as a resident assistant to other students living in two residence halls.

The organizational communication major was recently accepted to Lasell College in Boston where he intends to pursue a master’s degree in communication with a concentration in integrated marketing communication. Kelly said he is looking for jobs in that area, too, so he can work while attending grad school.

Looking back, Kelly said he sees the biggest benefit of his Keuka College education is “that I am incredibly prepared for the ‘real world.’”

Kelly said he owes Dr. Anita Chirco, professor of communication, many thanks for the one-on-one time in she gave in senior seminar class to work with each student to prepare portfolios, resumes and LinkedIn profiles.

“Not only am I confident that the things I’ve learned in my communication classes will help me professionally, they have given me personal confidence, something you cannot put a price on,” he said.

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

 

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: Brian DelPino ’14

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

Brian DelPino ‘14 of Oneida earned his B.A. in biochemistry and will be heading to graduate school at the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York City this fall.

DelPino’s time at Keuka College included competing on the men’s cross-country team where he logged top-five team finishes in five of seven meets, during his junior year. DelPino’s top finishes included running an 8K in 35:08.72 in 2013, and a 6K Invitational race in 29:02.59 in October 2012.

Indoors, DelPino made his mark in the sciences, and for a final Field Period™, he worked with Rebecca Evanicki ’14 and Professor of Chemistry Tom Carroll to set up new high-tech lab equipment and write instruction manuals for state-of-the-art machines added to the third-floor analysis lab in Jephson Science Center over winter break. The four Perkin-Elmer machines enable student researchers to identify unknown substances in minutes when it used to take hours on paper.

DelPino said the biggest benefit of his Keuka College education was the ability to “become close with my professors and have the opportunity to get help or academic advice when I needed it.”

Once in New York City, DelPino plans to study one year in the Touro biomedical sciences program then pursue a Doctor of Osteopathy degree, which he said is similar to an M.D. but based in a different philosophy. Many patients may not realize their doctor actually holds an osteopathy degree, he said.

“I would go there for four years and then apply for a residency position for another couple years of training. I could be a pediatrician, cardiologist, surgeon etc.,” DelPino said. “Ultimately, I would love to specialize in surgery but it is hard to tell if that’s what I will end up doing. In terms a residency, which is after medical school, I am not sure where I will go. It’s a whole process of applying to hospitals and depends on your grades and test scores in medical school, but hopefully, if I put in the same amount of work I have here [at Keuka College], I will get into a competitive residency position.”

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

Spirits High on Special Day

On the far side of the court, between two sets of bleachers, several cheerleaders—some sporting white jerseys, others maroon – wave pom-poms. Just like the student athletes cruising the basketball court at Keuka College, they are represented by a mix of special needs students and their fellow classmates. It doesn’t matter which side scores, which student makes a basket or catches a pass, the cheers continue and the pom-poms keep on waving.

Penn Yan unified players warm up on the court

This is the spirit of the Special Olympics, where children with various physical and developmental disabilities play sports simply for love of the game. And Wednesday, that spirit was in full force as third to sixth graders at the Penn Yan and Dundee school districts met on the basketball courts at the Weed Physical Arts Center for the first-annual Special Olympics Unified Sports tournament. The event was sponsored by the College’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, with a number of SAAC members volunteering to help organize, officiate and run the tourney.

Two unified, or mixed, teams from each school competed, with the Penn Yan students sporting blue or orange jerseys while the Dundee teams boasted maroon or white uniforms. After the backdrop of rock music during pre-game warm-ups, each team was announced to the fans in the bleachers, jogging onto the court and lining up in rows in front of reserve team seats– just like high school and college teams. Vice President of Student Affairs Jim Blackburn welcomed the crowd and the athletes to the tourney, sharing the motto of the Special Olympics:

“Let me win,” Blackburn recited from memory. “But if I cannot win, let me at least be brave in the attempt.”

Teachers, administrators, classmates and families of the Special Olympians from each district were on hand to support the unified teams, with smartphones and cameras at the ready. In the top row of bleachers, classmates from the third-grade integrated classroom at Dundee, held up signs, cheering loudly for the athletes on the court below.

“The entire class petitioned to come – they wanted to support their classmates,” said Dundee Superintendent Laurie Hopkins-Halbert, a 1990 graduate of Keuka College. “They made signs and they’re yelling for their teams.”

Hopkins-Halbert said just the looks on the faces of the Special Olympians when they caught a pass or made a basket were a thrill to see.

“They have been so pumped to do this – and it’s an opportunity they don’t usually get. They have worked so hard at practice, and have put a lot of time into this. It is so exciting to see our kids out here,” she said. “Our regular students who are here have been phenomenal models and teachers for our [special needs] students as well. It’s just a win-win for everybody.”

Speaking of win-wins, at the Dundee team bench, wheelchair-bound third-grader William Smith met David Hull, who is also in a wheelchair. Hull is a 2012 graduate of the Keuka College DRIVE program, (diversity, responsibility, inclusion, vision, and experiential learning), which is a collaboration between the Yates County ARC, the College and Penn Yan Central School District. The DRIVE program provides 18-21-year-old special education students an opportunity to assimilate into the college environment and explore their personal goals.

“It’s awesome – honestly, I think I’m smiling more than they are out there,” said Mike Wainwright ’15, an occupational science major at the College, who volunteered to serve as a referee, and hopes to work with the special needs population as an occupational therapist after graduation. “It’s a rewarding experience to see the love of the game and smiles on everybody’s faces.”

More smiles appear on the court, as an attendant in a yellow volunteer T-shirt pushes William’s wheelchair, while William carries the ball in his lap. The pair make a pass to teammate Trey Brown, wearing No. 10 for the white Dundee team, and Trey makes a two-point basket. As Trey’s personal aide, also in a yellow T-shirt, lifts her arms in a V-sign for “victory,” the crowd in the stands goes wild. As the 10-minute half draws to a close, the crowd begins the countdown and the cheers erupt again.

During a snack break between games, Trey Brown joins his family on the bleachers, snacking on a cookie. Asked how he’s enjoying the tournament, Trey laughs and smiles in delight. “It was good, playing with William Smith in my class, and having friends here to watch,” translates Trey’s mom, Dawn Brown.

Trey Brown, right, smiles at a fellow teammate while waiting for the action to start on the court.

“It really makes his day that his family came to see him – we’ve got daddy and grandmas and grandpas from both sides – and Joshua and Bart and Frankie and Nick,” Brown adds, referring to Trey’s friends from school. “I was surprised that his general ed classroom got off for the day to come be spectators, too. That was nice they all made posters.”

“It’s really about tolerance, empathy, understanding and opportunity,” Hopkins-Halbert said. “I’ve heard nothing but positives from everybody.”

Penn Yan's orange team celebrates with the trophy and cheers for ALL the Olympians!