When Canandaigua native Amber Smith graduated from Keuka College in 2011, she had dreams of the Big Apple.
Forging her own path at the College, Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in management, but fleshed out her concentration in theatre and minor in communication studies by investing time acting in campus plays, serving as president of the Arion Players (drama club) and honing leadership skills. For example, she coordinated special events such as an all-arts or improv night for the Arion Players.
When she graduated, there were three potential career options in mind: acting, hip-hop dance or managing her own business.
Now a New York City resident, the dancer/actress/singer has begun to make her mark in choreography, putting her hip-hop dance talents to use in three music videos and now, serving as co-choreographer for the Bristol Valley Theater production of “Rent,” which runs through July 19 in Naples. She is also a cast member.
“In the ensemble, I sing and dance a lot as I play about six different characters minor to the show. Singing and dancing are what I love to do,” said the Canandaigua native.
As a co-choreographer for “Rent,” Smith has choreographed the tango sequence and dance sequence – two of the biggest numbers – with what she calls a “softer side.” Where other versions of the show have portrayed characters dancing with little thought or intent, Smith’s choreography seeks to echo the lyrics and rhythm of those songs in the physical movement, she said.
Audience members may also see elements of hip-hop in the choreography, a nod to Smith’s dance specialty. Her music videos include two for rap artist D’Chrome Foster and one for the rock band dec3. In addition to dance, Smith has sung backup vocals for Foster, and will return to the Big Apple following “Rent” to record vocals for his next album and then choreograph his next music video.
Smith sees great marketability when a performer can sing, act and dance on stage or screen, so she plans to continue choreographing whenever the opportunity arises. Ultimately, however, she would love to utilize her business skills as a manager in the music industry, she said.
“I’d really like to help guide people in developing their entertainment careers,” she said. To that end, Smith believes her Keuka College education prepared her well for success.
She cited faculty members Mark Wenderlich, professor of theatre, and Ann Tuttle, professor of management, for their guidance and encouragement to pursue her dreams, push herself to success and be confident in her decisions. In addition, the “small-town friendliness” that encompasses the campus community has served her well in New York City, where she said people respond positively when she interacts with them in a warm, open way atypical of big-city residents.
“The atmosphere at Keuka College sticks with you and helps you relate to people on different levels,” she described.
If it takes a little while to build up the business side of her career, Smith is not worried. Meanwhile, she stays busy auditioning for roles, taking dance lessons and more on top of her job at a couture children’s boutique inside the Plaza Hotel.
“If someone offers me a part in a show, there’s no way I’d say no,” she explained. “Who’s going to say no when you can sing and dance and do what you love?”
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.”
Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka degree take you? This is the seventh in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2013.
Jose Cervantes ’13 was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco-Mexico, but grew up in Horseheads. With aspirations of working for Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) in its Madrid, Spain branch office, Cervantes earned a degree in business management with a marketing concentration and will pursue a second degree through Keuka: a master’s of management with a concentration in international business.
Cervantes played midfield on Keuka’s men’s soccer team in his junior and senior years after transferring in from Corning Community College, where he played as a sophomore. He’ll compete one more year for Keuka while grad school is underway. Indeed, sports have played a major role in the internship experiences Cervantes pursued through Keuka’s Field Period program. His senior year internship was conducted at Watkins Glen International Speedway.
“I benefited the most from the Field Periods,” Cervantes said of Keuka. “Having [job] experience before graduation is a great plus in the ‘real world.’”
While grad school is underway, Cervantes will branch out in his new role as restaurant chain supervisor at Garcia’s Mexican restaurant (his family’s business), where he will also oversee marketing.
To explore what might be in your future with a Keuka degree, request more information.
How does a Keuka degree fit into daily military life?
Just ask U.S. Air Force Capt. Ryan Maddox ’07, who graduated with a B.A. in math and a B.S. in business management, and now serves as operations officer for the U.S. Air Force 52nd Equipment Maintenance Squadron, which includes four officers and 461 enlisted airmen at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany. Maddox is second-in-command to the squadron commander.
“I handle operations and she handles the personnel—the pats on the back and the kicks in the butt, so to speak,” he said. “We provide munitions support and we do maintenance. Let’s say after flying, a part gets damaged and needs repair. We repair it through metal fabrication.”
In addition, the squadron handles what Maddox calls “deep tissue maintenance,” such that after every 400 flight hours logged by a particular plane, it will spend from 7-20 days in the base hangar getting stripped down for more intensive analysis or repairs.
“As far as business is concerned, maintenance and munitions is pretty much like any other business. We have a product, a process, customers, logistics, and a supply chain. I market my product to my customers – other squadrons – so they get what they want and I’m able to supply it. It’s almost a direct correlation [to business].” (more…)
For five years, Shannon Clements of Newark was living her dream.
As coordinator of the New York state “Wheels-to-Work” program through Catholic Family Center, she made it possible for people in Ontario and Wayne Counties anxious to find and keep a good job get the reliable car so critical to the process.
Her job was part of the regional charter that served four counties, echoing similar charters across the state. She helped nearly 100 people obtain special loans to purchase a used car but then, reeling from the recession, the state cut funding for the program. For two years, the agency tried to keep it going, but by July 2011, it was clear Clements would lose her job. After she left in September 2011, another position was eliminated until all that remained was a lone staffer, working on outstanding collections.
She thought her dream had died.
But now, thanks to Keuka College’s Action Research Project (ARP), her dream has found new life. The ARP is a cornerstone of the Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP), in which Clements is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in organizational management. Similar to a graduate thesis, an ARP involves research and integration of multiple course concepts, all focused on a subject area unique to the student’s interest, and often, employer.
And Clements’ ARP proposal, to introduce a similar auto loan program in the private sector banking industry, is close to becoming a reality. (more…)