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Snapshots of Our Graduates: 2015

KEUKA PARK, N.Y.— Marching forward fearlessly into the future are several young men and women recently awarded diplomas from Keuka College. They hail from a host of different majors and home countries. Their interests are as varied as their personalities. But they all have two distinct qualities in common: a Keuka College education and the professional life-learning experiences of the annual Keuka College Field Period™, a 140-hour personalized experience that may take the shape of a professional internship, a cultural study, artistic endeavor, service project or spiritual exploration. Here, each one shares the primary benefits of his or her collegiate experience:

Danielle Alred
Major: Organizational communication, with a minor in digital design
Hometown: Horseheads, N.Y.

What she’s up to now: Graphic designer for the Elmira Jackals East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) hockey team.

Notable parts of her KC journey? Designing her own minor after falling in love with graphic design her sophomore year.

Designing a minor in digital design and having the skills in Adobe design programs helped me stand out on campus and at Field Period™ sites. I wouldn’t trade my Keuka College education for anything because of the personalized attention that I have received from professors and staff. I had amazing experiences here that helped me earn awards, scholarships, and my degree.”

Jamie Allen
Major: Psychology
Hometown: Canandaigua, N.Y.

Where she’s headed next: Roger Williams University for a master’s degree in forensic psychology.

“I will forever be grateful for the education I received and the people I met while a student at Keuka College. One of the greatest benefits was Field Period™. I gained a lot of great experience and made professional contacts that are extremely valuable.”


Julia Coryell
Major: Management with a concentration in accounting
Hometown: Phelps, N.Y.

 What she’s up to now: Cost accountant at G.W. Lisk

How’d she get her job? “I started as a math major, but after completing my first Field Period™ at G.W. Lisk, I changed my major. I loved it at Lisk: the atmosphere, the work, everything. I returned to Lisk to work summers and breaks, so I have been working there part-time for the last four years.”

Best part of her KC degree program? “Each Field Period™ was a huge learning experience, and each experience helped shape my goals and dreams. It is by far the most valuable aspect of my education at Keuka College”

Tom Drumm
Majors: Organizational communication and political science
Hometown: Oswego, N.Y.

What he’s up to now: Working for Catholic Charities of Oswego. Oh, and campaigning for a seat on the Oswego County Legislature.

Notable parts of his KC journey? Played baseball for the Wolfpack, which taught him how to manage his time and multitask. Completed Field Period™ internships at the offices of U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), U.S. Rep Dan Maffei (D-NY), and the NYS Democratic Committee.

“The Field Period™ is what sets Keuka College apart. I was able to build real-life connections starting my freshman year. The Field Period™ allowed me to cultivate meaningful relationships and helped me reaffirm that politics was my passion. I am very grateful.”

Brittany Gleason
Majors: Mathematics and management
Hometown: Carthage, N.Y.

Where she’s headed next: Rochester Institute of Technology on a scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in computational finance. She’ll learn how to analyze big data through math, finance, and programming. Ultimately, she wants to enter the insurance industry.

Notable parts of her KC journey? Multiple extra-curricular activities and earning a Judith Oliver Brown scholarship that helped pay for two Field Period™ experiences abroad.

“By coming to Keuka College I received more than just valuable education—I also received a promising future. I could not have done it without the help of my supportive professors. If there were one thing I encourage future students to take advantage of, it would be the small class sizes and interpersonal relationships. Develop these professional relationships because they will help you succeed.”

Brandon Jones
Major: Social work
Hometown: Sodus, N.Y.

Where he’s headed next: Marywood University for a master’s of social work degree.

Notable parts of his KC journey? Brandon was named one of six 2015 Student Social Workers of the Year for the Genesee Valley division of the state National Association of Social Workers (NASW).

Notable people? “Professors Stephanie Craig and Jen Mealey supported me and encouraged me to do my best. They’re absolutely wonderful people and wonderful social workers and I don’t know where I’d be without them, to be honest.”

“In grad school, I have to complete a 518-hour internship, but I’m so ready because of Field Period™. I’m definitely prepared academically and I’m not worried about the internship at all.”

Kelsey Morgan
Major: Biology
Hometown: Lakeview, N.Y.

Where she’s headed next: Duke University Graduate School on a $28,000 fellowship to  pursue a Ph.D. in bio-organic or synthetic organic chemistry.

Notable parts of her KC journey? A co-publishing credit for a research study published in the Journal of American Animal Welfare Science (JAAWS), an article “Why People Mistrust Science” published in local newspapers, and a 10-week study of enzyme kinetics at the University of Buffalo through a program funded by the National Science Foundation.

Best part of her KC degree program? “I really appreciate the size of Keuka College and the hands-on experience I gained. I’ve been able to work with professors one-on-one or in small groups for independent studies and research projects. They know me and care about my interests and where I want to go. Field Period™ was instrumental in helping me figure out what I want to do. I was able to gain experience both in a career I realized I didn’t want to go into and one that I do want to pursue.”

Sini Ngobese '15

Sini Ngobese
Majors: Organizational communication and marketing, with a concentration in human resources
Hometown: Durbin, South Africa

What she’s up to now: HR Coordinator for Biogen Idec, a Fortune 500 biotechnology company in Boston.

Notable parts of her KC journey? Two paid Field Period™ experiences in different branches of Biogen Idec paved the way for a job offer before graduation.

“Keuka College offered so many outlets for developing myself in a multitude of ways. Field Period™ scholarships enabled me to engage in a life-changing spiritual/cultural journey in Thailand, and the emphasis the College places on experiential learning through Field Period™ helped me land my dream job at a Fortune 500 company.”

Zip Nguyen '15

Diep Anh “Zip” Nguyen
Majors: Management and organizational communication, with a concentration in marketing
Hometown: Hanoi, Vietnam

Where she’s headed next: Pace University in NYC for an MBA in marketing management.

Notable parts of her KC journey? Two Field Period™ experiences at the Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Tokyo, Japan offices of Dentsu, Inc. – the fifth-largest ad agency in the world.

Best part of her KC degree program? “Keuka College provides an environment that encourages you to discover the world through hands-on experience, which is a better fit for me than only sitting and listening to lectures. I’m so thankful for the support from not only my friends around the world, but also the faculty and staff at the school. My professors not only cared about my performance in class, but also helped me figure out my next steps and how to achieve my goals.”

Eva Ryan '15

Eva Ryan
Major: Social work
Hometown: Manlius, N.Y.

What she’s up to now: Working with families and children as a family advocate at Peace, Inc., where she conducted a Field Period™ during her sophomore year.

Best part of her KC degree program? “I have come to realize how great Field Period™ actually is. In the end you walk away with so much experience and even potential jobs. I am grateful to the professors I had — they truly care about their students and how they are doing. The small classes and great teachers were the reasons for my success at the College and I am thankful to have had the experience I did!”

Rochester Experts Headline Student Panel Discussion

Taking advantage of the opportunity to pick the brains of two of the top business minds from the Rochester region, Keuka College students turned out in force for a May 1 discussion panel on campus.

Sasson and Rosenberger speak before a packed hall of students May 1.

Rochester residents Steve Sasson, a 35-year Kodak veteran and inventor of the digital camera, along with Geoffrey Rosenberger, a charter school proponent and investment expert met with students prior to the evening’s Fribolin Lecture series at Norton Chapel, a 27-year College tradition where both were featured speakers.

After introductions, M.C. and moderator, College President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera opened the floor to questions. And question the students did. The discussion was peppered with students seeking answers to everything from advice on how to ensure future financial security, to what signs indicate an entrepreneurial project is worthy of capital investment, to what factors impact student success at charter schools. Questions on innovation and forecasting technological outcomes were also part of the conversation.

Sasson received several questions surrounding the invention of digital camera technology at Eastman Kodak in the 1970s and whether he ever predicted digital cameras would one day be held in the palm of people’s hands as part of their mobile devices. Sasson drew laughter from students replying that given personal computers had not even been invented when he built the first digital camera at Kodak, no, he had no idea what would ultimately result. In a similar manner, Sasson told students he was also at a loss when asked if he could forecast what invention might replace the digital camera in coming years.

Steve Sasson fields a question from the president.

Sasson outlined the questions and criticisms his invention received in early years and encouraged those in the room that if inventing, they should continue to focus on their project and to plan on hearing naysayers as a matter of routine. In addition, he advised, other inventions will be underway in other parts of the country or world and innovators may later discover an intersection between their invention and someone else’s that makes a giant technological leap forward possible.

Rosenberger replies to a student question.

A staunch advocate of charter schools, with board member service at both Uncommon Schools and True North, Rosenberger ably fielded questions on charter schools. When questioned by an education major how charter renewal cycles could make job security unknown for a teacher, Rosenberger had a quick reply. He far preferred to see that student, as a teacher, with the confidence in her teaching abilities such that she would not fear whether she would still have a job a few years later. Student outcomes fare better when teachers are confident in their work and devoted to the students, he stated firmly.

A student waits to ask a question of the speakers.

Career advice was also factored into the discussion. Sasson urged students to pursue careers that feed their personal passions. Rosenberger described how he hated Friday nights but welcomed Monday mornings and knew when that emotion ceased, it was time to change the work he did. Rosenberger also shared a story of debating his first two job offers as a new college graduate and that he ultimately accepted a lower-paying job where the risk and potential was greater.

Following the panel discussion, Sini Ngobese '15 snaps a selfie with the president using today's digital camera technology., first invented by speaker Steve Sasson.

Following the panel, Sasson and Rosenberger were hosted at a reception at the President’s home and later took the stage at Norton Chapel for individual lectures. The theme of the evening was “Challenging Assumptions: Technology, Education and Innovation.” The lecture series carries the names of Geneva resident Carl Fribolin, an emeritus member of the College’s Board of Trustees and recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 2004, and his late wife, Fanny.

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.