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Brittany Heysler Got the Most From Her Field Period™, Senior Internship

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of 2015 Experiential Learner of the Year award nominees. Students who are nominated must submit an extensive portfolio in order to be considered for recognition. Their portfolio must document an outstanding Field Period™ experience, strong co-curricular learning, and a community service/service learning component.

Whether it was the flashing lights or the noise of the siren that piqued her interest, senior Brittany Heysler has wanted to be a police officer for as long as she can remember. But she wasn’t sure which area of law enforcement she wanted to pursue.

Enter Keuka College’s Field Period™. Heysler completed her Field Period™ experiences at the City of Sherrill Police Department, the Oneida Indian Nation Police Department, the U.S. Federal Marshal’s Office, and Oneida County Probation.

But it was her required 490-hour semester-long internship that she believes is the best example of experiential understanding and application of learning she has achieved. She chose to conduct her internship with Ontario County Probation, specifically with its STOP-DWI program.

“The Ontario County STOP-DWI program’s mission focuses on decreasing deaths and injuries related to alcohol and other drug-related traffic offenses and promotion of DWI prevention,” said Heysler. “During this internship, I actively participated—from start to finish—in Operation Personal Responsibility, a program designed to hold DWI offenders accountable by collecting their delinquent unpaid fines.”

Heysler conducted research, created a database and complied data for the purposes of identifying and contacting individuals with outstanding fines. Results revealed that almost $250 million was owed to Ontario County by 156 individuals convicted of DWI charges.

“When Ms. Heysler chose to complete her internship with the Ontario County Probation Department, I knew it would be an excellent fit,” said Dr. Janine Bower, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice. “In planning for the internship, she readily imagined gaining first-hand experience that would help to reinforce lessons learned in the classroom.”

And some of those lessons she learned in Associate Professor of Sociology Dr. Athena Elafros’ class. Heysler is “very strong” in the classroom, so much so that Elafros requested that she become a tutor in both SOC 302 Ethnic Diversity and SOC 301 Methods of Social Research.

“She has done a wonderful job tutoring both of these classes,” said Elafros. “Brittany is one of the best and brightest criminology/criminal justice majors we have in the program. She excels in academics, leadership, and experiential learning. In fact, Brittany was one of the students that I specifically requested as an advisee, after Dr. Regi Teasley’s retirement, given her excellent academic and interpersonal capabilities.”

Perhaps it was her interpersonal capabilities that helped her become an “immediate asset” to the STOP-DWI program.

“She dove into the projects she was given and completed them with the professionalism of a seasoned employee,” said Suzanne Cirencione, STOP-DWI administrator, and a 1996 graduate of Keuka College. “Brittany became widely known throughout the county for the work she was doing at the STOP-DWI program. She attended leadership meetings for Ontario County’s top leaders and presented information competently and professionally. I have no doubt she will go far in any career path she chooses and know that any employer would be fortunate to have her.”

According to Bower, Heysler speaks of her work with this program with a high degree of accomplishment and pride.

“Her work on this and other projects serves as a powerful demonstration of her ability and readiness to apply knowledge and skills gained over the course of her academic career to make meaningful, positive change,” said Bower. “It also illustrates the intent with which Ms. Heysler seeks to make a difference, and takes on the responsibility to do so, even at this early point in her professional life.”

Elafros agrees.

“In each experiential learning experience, Brittany has gone above and beyond what was expected of her,” she said, “and she has truly been a wonderful representative of the criminology and criminal justice program, of Keuka College, and of the Center for Experiential Learning.”

Elafros adds that Heysler “has set herself apart from other criminology and criminal justice students in terms of academics, leadership and experiential learning. I can confidently say that she is a true role model for the transformative power of experiential learning and I have no doubt she has a bright future ahead of her.”

Said Heysler: “My Field Period™ experiences and internship allowed me a chance to learn first-hand how classroom academic knowledge translates to the real world,” said Heysler. “The experiences provided me an opportunity to apply knowledge, theories and research to actual work settings, thus thoroughly enhancing my educational experience. This will be an asset as I venture into the workforce after graduation.”

Heysler also serves as an admissions student GOLD Ambassador, New Student Orientation mentor, Academic Success at Keuka student tutor, development office assistant, is a member of Sigma Alpha Pi and Pi Gamma Mu honor societies, received a George H. Ball Scholarship, and is on the Dean’s List.

Worth Her Weight in Gold

Brittany Heysler believes in accountability.

Brittany at the Ontario County Safety Training headquarters.

The criminology and criminal justice major just completed an extensive project to help Ontario County’s STOP-DWI office research and document a list of unpaid DWI fines dating back to 1986. It turns out nearly a quarter million dollars is owed to the county by some 156 individuals convicted of DWI charges.

On Oct. 31, each defendant was sent a certified letter to their last known address – carefully researched by Heysler. But to ensure no stone went unturned, the full list of delinquent fines, with names, year of conviction and case numbers, was published by the Daily Messenger newspaper in Canandaigua a week later. WHEC-Channel 8 in Rochester also broadcast the launch of “Operation Personal Responsibility,” highlighting Heysler’s work. Those with delinquent fines have 60 days to pay in full or arrange a payment plan with the STOP-DWI office before court action begins to collect what they owe.

STOP-DWI Administrator Sue Cirencione said her office has already collected $8,000 of the total $238,533 unpaid in the first week of the public phase. Cirencione, a Keuka College Class of ‘96 graduate herself, took the helm of the STOP-DWI office in May after 10 years as a probation officer for Ontario County. She said coming in, she knew recovering unpaid fines was a significant need, given fines fund the program budget. Such a time-intensive project would probably take Cirencione alone a year or more, given the many responsibilities of her new post, she said.

Instead, Cirencione knew it would be the perfect project for an intern. Enter Heysler.

As a senior criminology and criminal justice major, Heysler is required to complete a full-semester internship of 490 hours. She already boasted three previous internships at the Sherrill, N.Y. police department in her hometown; the Oneida Tribal Indian Nation police near Canastota; and with the U.S. Marshals office in Syracuse. That’s because the Keuka College Field Period™ program requires every undergraduate to devote at least 140 hours a year to a hands-on internship, cultural study, artistic endeavor or spiritual exploration.

“When I met Brittany, I knew right away she’d be great and she’d be able to tackle this,” said Cirencione.

Eager to “take charge of a project of my own and make a difference for the county,” Heysler said she began digging through the data, spending Aug. 25 – Oct. 29 building and refining the list. She removed the names of those who had passed away, any youthful offenders, and any who had made even sporadic payments. She also ran checks on all 156 names to see if they had a valid license or any other judgment filed against them. Ultimately, the list of delinquent fines represents those who never made an effort to pay what they owed. (more…)

Robak, Bower, Harnischfeger Win Faculty Awards in 2014

Congratulations to the following faculty members who garnered annual Faculty Development awards for the 2013-14 academic year:

Dr. Andrew Robak, associate professor of chemistry, received honors for Excellence in Teaching, for making science accessible and relevant in his courses. The annual award from the office of Academic Affairs recognizes demonstration of a teaching method that is unique and particularly effective in enhancing the delivery of course material.

According to Dr. Chris Leahy, associate professor of history, who nominated Dr. Robak, “students … have told me how he is able to make course material relevant to them and to their lives.”
In recent years, Dr. Robak has collaborated with Kat Andonucci ‘13 on two independent-studies-turned-art-exhibits detailing the marriage of art and chemistry. And just this spring, students in his senior seminar presented mini-workshops in the Penn Yan community on topics with quirky titles such as “Watt is blowing through your town?,” “People get lost when they travel – why don’t birds?,” “and “How Ocean currents in Europe are affecting the snow falling your back yard.”
In Dr. Robak’s own words, part of keeping a detailed subject like organic chemistry accessible requires  keeping it interesting, too. “Chemistry at its worst is just memorizing a bunch of reactions, and I try to focus the course more on the theme of understanding the world around us,” Robak said. “We can’t really see the molecules and on paper it looks like just a bunch of letters. In reality though, all of those little reactions are what makes our bodies work, LCD TV’s shine and the gas burn in our car. With enough context, the massive significance of a subject like organic chemistry can be recognized.”

As part of his award, Dr. Robak also received $500.

For innovative experiential learning activities as part of classroom or extra-curricular instruction, Dr. Janine Bower, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice, received the Excellence in Experiential Learning award. In her Introduction to Applied Methods in Sociology (SOC 201) class, students do a week-long study of their own behaviors, analyzing food waste and food insecurity. Further, teams of students also interview representatives from local food distributors and food assistance providers to collect information ultimately presented in a shared data set analyzed by the class.

This annual award honors faculty members who have demonstrated innovative, structured experiential learning practices or activities effectively in the classroom, co-curricular settings, the workplace, or in the community which promote life-long learning and career skills students can use to transform their experience into knowledge.
As part of her award, Dr. Bower received $500.

To recognize demonstration of an “exceptional commitment” by a faculty member to advance the knowledge base of their professional field, this year’s Excellence in Academic Achievement award went to Dr. Alice Harnischfeger, assistant professor of education.

According to Dr. Pat Pulver, professor of education and chair of the Division of Education, Dr. Harnischfeger has been active in presenting at and participating in professional conferences this past year and throughout her tenure at Keuka College. In November, she presented the paper “Negotiating Alternative ‘Place’ in School: An Exploration of One Middle School’s Imposed, Constructed, and Possible Spaces” at the American Educational Studies Association’s (AESA) annual conference in Baltimore where she also served as a panelist for a session on Latino Education.

According to Dr. Pulver, Dr. Harnischfeger is also under review for submission of a paper for scholarly publication and is conducting follow-up interviews even after completing her dissertation research.  She also attended the Think College conference in DC in December 2013 to represent Keuka’s D.R.I.V.E program, a collaborative between Yates ARC, Penn Yan Central School District and Keuka College to provide young adults with developmental disabilities an opportunity to mainstream into college life and classes.

On the home campus in Keuka Park, Dr. Harnischfeger is conducting a study on “Peer Mentoring in a Post Secondary Education Program for Students with Intellectual Disabilities: Long Term Impact on Campus Culture and a College’s Traditional Students” with Pulver and Lynley Walter ’10, who is now a marriage and family therapist in the Rochester area.
As part of her award, Dr. Harnischfeger received $500.

In addition to individual awards, other faculty qualified to receive Faculty Development Committee funds to attend academic specialty conferences this year. Recipients included: Jennie Joiner, Yang Zhao, Angela Narasimhan, Athena Elafros, Brian Cerney, Alice Harnischfeger, Melodye Campbell, Laurel Hester, Ruthanne Hackman, Vicki O’Connor, Jen Mealey, Doyle Pruitt, Janine Bower, Mark Wenderlich, Rich Martin, Frank Colaprete, Tom Tremer, Michele Bennett, Carmela Battaglia, Vicki Smith, Dianne Trickey-Rokenbrod, Debra Dyer, Jean Wannall, Peter Kozik and Bill Brown.

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.

Snapshot of a Graduate: Jayme Peterson

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

jayme peterson, criminal justice, degree, 2013, benefit, value, job, keukaJayme Peterson ’13 earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice and was hired by a private probation company, Intervention Inc., in Colorado less than a month after graduation.

According Dr. Janine Bower, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice, Peterson received the job offer after completing a semester-long internship this spring with a probation department in the 20th Judicial District, Boulder, Colo. During her time at Keuka, Peterson participated in a number of campus clubs, served as a tutor at Dundee Library and in the Academic Success at Keuka (ASK) office, was a member of the step team, and served on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee.

“This is exactly what I wanted to do after graduating college and the experience from my Field Period directly influenced my ability to obtain this job,” said Peterson, adding that she also received a job offer from one Field Period site, but turned it down because the position was partly volunteer.

The Gloversville resident said she most valued the ability to work closely with professors as an active learner and beleived Keuka’s small class sizes led to better discussions and more in-depth analysis of course material. In addition, Keuka’s Field Period program helped her practice how to research and apply for jobs, and develop confidence with professionals in her field, she said.

Conducting a 140-hour annual internship or exploratory study each year was “very valuable,” Peterson said, because it developed work experience prior to graduation and helped her confirm that working as a probation officer “was actually the right career path for me.”

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