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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: 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.

Simons a Social Work Success

At the heart of social work is service to others, and in that dimension, Keuka College senior Nakita Simons sets the standard.

Simons, left, with Brenda Barkley, Chair of the NASW Genesee Valley Division chapter

Praised as a natural-born leader, the Prattsburgh resident and social work major coordinates so many special projects for non-profit agencies and organizations between home and school that it can be hard to keep them all straight. For her multitude of service, Simons was recently named one of six student Social Workers of the Year at a regional chapter event for the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). The NASW award recognizes social work students in the New York State Chapter’s Genesee Valley Division who have made significant contributions in the field.

According to Stephanie Craig, associate professor of social work and chair of the College Division of Social Work, Simons “is versatile, dedicated and one of the most diligent new social workers to enter this field. She’s got a lot of social work insight that has just really blossomed and developed through her experience here.”

Just how much does Simons serve? Well, she delivers holiday food baskets for the needy and serves at a bake sale fundraiser for the Howard Union Church. She coordinates Christmas gift deliveries through the Angel Tree project and runs twice-monthly volunteer support at Milly’s Pantry in Penn Yan for the College’s Association of Future Social Workers (ASFW) chapter. The ASFW members also host an annual Hunger Banquet to raise awareness of poverty, and assist the Branchport-Keuka Park Fire Department with their annual Halloween party for local children.

Simons, in white, with her NSO "mentees"

As president of Phi Alpha Theta, the College honors society for social work students, Simons coordinates all fundraising and community service work for the group. The newest venture, slated for April, will be conducting service work on behalf of veterans at the Bath VA Medical Center, she said. Back on campus, Phi Theta Alpha has also given a presentation on veterans’ issues, including mental illness, homeless rates, and other needs. In addition, Simons has served three years as a New Student Orientation (NSO) mentor, logging extra hours on her own to take new freshmen under her wing and show them skills for success.

In addition, Simons, who also served as a biology tutor, maintains a 3.9 grade point average, said Craig who attended the NASW awards banquet with Simons last week.

And the NASW award is not the only one. Simons boasts another prestigious accomplishment: earning a BSW Child Welfare Scholarship from New York’s Social Work Education Consortium. The scholarship carries a two-year employment contract as a child welfare caseworker with a county Department of Social Services agency and the possibility of earning additional scholarship money for a master’s degree in social work, provided all goes well in an initial semester-long practicum. But once again, Simons stands apart. (more…)

Snapshot of a Graduate: Josh Beaver

Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka degree take you? This is the second in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2013.

keuka grad, 2013, degree, josh beaver, benefitJosh Beaver ’13 of West Terra Haute, Ind., graduated with a degree in political science and history and will pursue a dual master’s degree in American history and historical administration from Eastern Illinois University (EIU) in Charleston, Ill. While he pursues his degree, Beaver will also hold down a customer service- based job in telecommunications at Alorica, Inc.

During his time at Keuka, Beaver was heavily involved in a number of campus clubs and organizations, including Student Senate, Chemistry Club, President’s Leadership Council and served as a member of the Spiritual Life Advisory Board, on two Alternative Spring Break mission trips, and on the steering committee for Keuka’s annual day of community service, Celebrate Service … Celebrate Yates (CSCY).

“I value the opportunities that Keuka gave me, and taught me about: the environment, that change is not always a bad thing, the hard work ethic and dedication to yourself, to always do your best,” Beaver said. “My coursework taught me how to be flexible, how to pick up on patterns (mainly things that have already happened and how they can be improved on), and also how to analyze and adjust with what works and doesn’t work.”

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

From One Arts Arena to Another

If members of Keuka’s Class of 2013 are looking for inspiration as they enter the job market, they should check out Stephanie Lange, who was in their shoes just a year ago.

Lange's senior art project, a bronze installation.

In her time at Keuka, Lange ’12 of Apalachin made quite a mark. While completing a double major in visual and verbal art and organizational communication, Lange helped found and lead an intellectual exploration group known as Tabula Rasa, worked as the graphic designer for the student newspaper, and completed a bronze sculpture installation of a red-tailed hawk as her senior art project.

Now she’s venturing into new ground in the arts, and landed what she calls her “dream job.”

Lange interacts with guests during a Perfect Pairing gallery event.

In late January, Lange started work as the program coordinator for the Schweinfurth Arts Center in Auburn. She is now directing a two-week annual conference, “Quilting by the Lake,” for the non-profit in addition to helping promote the Arts Center’s five annual exhibits, communicating with corporate sponsors, and producing and designing the center’s newsletters and other marketing materials.

The annual quilt show convention, held each July on the campus of Onondaga Community College near Syracuse, features more than 30 quilting-related classes and lectures, a quilt show and specialty vendors. According to Lange, while traditional quilting styles and methods are featured, there is a focus on modern quilting techniques involving painting on the fabric and elements of geometry, all of which creates an artistic quality.

“It’s not like something my grandma does,” Lange said. “The precision required for quilting is difficult to master.”


Like others, Lange had been forewarned to expect great challenge finding a salaried, full-time position in the arts field and said that awareness had her raving to her family that this opportunity was amazing. Not only does she help stage exhibits – some in the same measurements she learned as a student assisting with shows in Keuka’s Lightner Gallery – but she can participate in art classes hosted by the Center, as well as meet artists and local residents through Schweinfurth’s special events. (more…)