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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.

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: John Miller

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

keuka, grad, 2013, degree, benefit, john millerJohn Miller ’12 of Canandaigua, graduated magna cum laude in December with a degree in organizational communication. He spent most of his final semester as a senior searching for jobs and came close in some interviews before receiving two job offers in January of 2013. He accepted a position as marketing coordinator for O’Connell Electric Company in Victor and has since been applying many of the lessons he learned in his organizational communication classes.

Miller said he was able to leverage the experience and successes gained with his Field Period internships to demonstrate how he would be a good fit for the company, adding that the rigor of Keuka’s organizational communication program was good preparation. So were the numerous projects and group work he completed with fellow “Org Comm” classmates, he said.

Among several benefits Miller valued most at Keuka were the small class sizes, which enabled strong relationships, he said. In particular, Miller cited Dr. Anita Chirco, professor of communication, who “saw the potential in me from Day One and motivated me to apply myself.”

“I have much more perspective now on everything related to how we communicate,” Miller said.

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

Snapshot of a Graduate: Erica Ruscio

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

erica ruscio, keuka grad, 2013, graduate assistant, master'sErica Ruscio ’13 graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and visual and verbal art. The Middlesex resident will be pursuing a master’s degree in English with a concentration in children’s literature at Kansas State University this fall. Ruscio landed a graduate teaching assistantship where she said she will “earn her keep” by teaching one section of expository prose, similar to Keuka’s freshman composition course, in the fall and two sections in the spring.

Ruscio said she believed the Field Period experience she could include in her admission application, particularly one Field Period working with the children’s librarian at the Penn Yan Public Library, helped showcase her as a desirable candidate. Keuka’s Field Period is a 140-hour annual internship or exploratory study required each year for undergraduates.

During her time at Keuka, Ruscio participated in the annual Red Jacket Literary journal, the Arion Players theatrical presentations, wrote a College blog for incoming freshman, and showcased several paintings, mixed media and photos in the senior art show. She said Keuka provided her the ability to explore what she really wanted to do with her life through its internships, small class sizes, and “awesome professors and advisers.”

“If it hadn’t been for Keuka, the Field Period [program], and my first advisor, Ms. Harris, I may have been stuck writing press releases instead of studying literature, making art, and doing what I really want to do,” Ruscio said.

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

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.