Bridgett Rosato is a busy mother of three, a mediator for the 10-county Center for Dispute Settlement, and a volunteer with the Ontario County Jail.
She’s also an award-winning social work student in the Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP) at Keuka College.
The Canandaigua resident was named one of six student Social Workers of the Year at a regional chapter event for the National Association of Social Workers. 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.
Stephanie Craig, associate professor and chair of the Division of Social Work, said Rosato “is an amazing student and person. She represents the profession very well.”
A desire to help people is what drives Rosato to work toward prevention of some of the personal experiences she went through as a child. (more…)
Life can be particularly challenging for adult students.
Successfully juggling college studies with family and job responsibilities is a remarkable accomplishment.
Maintaining a lofty grade point average and serving your community while doing so is worthy of special recognition, which three students who earned, or are earning degrees through the College’s Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP), received last night (April 24).
Randy Kuhn Jr., Edith (Edie) Smith, and Kellie Gatson were among some 30 adults who received the Rochester Area Colleges Continuing Education’s (RACCE) Outstanding Adult Student Award at the organization’s 30th Annual Awards Ceremony and Banquet at the Woodcliff Hotel and Spa in Victor. (more…)
Editor’s Note: This is the sixth in a series of profiles of Student Employee of the Year nominees. The winner will be announced at a luncheon Thursday, April 18.
Alicia Fisher ’14 of Corning, an occupational science major, has been nominated for the 2013 Student Employee of the Year for her work as an office assistant in the Division of Social Work.
Nominated by Paulette Willemsen, administrative assistant, Fisher was commended for an outgoing personality and a willingness to take on responsibilities. Fisher works independently, follows tasks through to completion, has excellent communication skills, is extremely organized, and reliable, Willemsen said.
“Alicia is dependable, hard-working, conscientious, has a positive attitude and always comes to work on time. She is flexible and is willing to work on any assignment and readily accepts the challenge of something new. She has been a tremendous asset,” Willemsen said.
In addition, Fisher is active in several campus clubs, including the equestrian team, Health & Wellness Club, Student Occupational Therapy Association, Honoring OT Leaders, and the Relay for Life Ceremony Committee. She also served as a mentor for New Student Orientation.
It was just a doctor’s visit, but seeing how to access her medical chart online gave Keuka College social work student Cyndy Bundy an idea: why couldn’t social workers consult online, too?
Now, the Eastwood resident is soaring to new heights, thanks to her proposal for social workers to use social media as a way to combat issues like sexting, cyber-bullying, and suicidal tendencies.
Bundy was invited to share her poster presentation at the national Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors Conference (BPD), a competitive academic event, which will be held in March in Myrtle Beach, SC. She is the first Keuka social work student and first ASAP student to receive an invitation to present at a national conference. Bundy is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in social work through Keuka’s Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP). She attends classes at the Onondaga Community College site.
According to Assistant Professor of Social Work Vikki O’Conner, Bundy’s poster presentation demonstrates how social workers need to keep informed and up-to-date on social networking as a form of communication and relationship building in a technological age. (more…)
Sure, Assistant Professor of American Sign Language- English Interpreting (ASL-EI) Brian Cerney puts “ghost interpreters” to work in traditional courses.
But there’s nothing to be afraid of.
Cerney’s”ghost interpreters” are his ASL students, who attend a traditional class and take turns signing for one another. The practice is one of many employed by Cerney, who directs numerous elements in the discipline. Cerney works with fellow Keuka faculty to give ASL students real-life opportunities to “ghost interpret” traditional classes, such as those in psychology, English or other unrelated fields. With permission of the teaching instructor, a trio of ASL-EI students, for example, will rotate signing through the course lecture of a willing professor, switching every 15-18 minutes. The seated ASL students will check the interpreter’s message for accuracy.
Because no deaf student is dependent upon the interpretation, “ghost interpreting” becomes practice without risk, Cerney said. Added benefits for instructors and non-ASL students are that they can become comfortable with interpreters in the classroom.
“Dr. Cerney provides valuable first-hand opportunities that profoundly enrich students’ understanding of their chosen field– the epitome of experiential learning,” said Dr. Anne Weed, vice president for academic affairs.
Cerney initially hoped for five non-ASL faculty members to make a course and classroom available for ASL students to ghost interpret but received 20 volunteers, representing courses in organic chemistry, anatomy, English literature, and occupational therapy, among others. Students have also signed at special events and church services.
Ruthanne Hackman, assistant professor of social work, has welcomed student ghost interpreters to her Social Work Ethics and Diversity course. She said her own social work students get to experience what it might be like to attend a conference workshop with an ASL interpreter.
“In addition, in learning about diverse populations, we discuss reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities and ethical issues regarding working with interpreters for people with language isolation or English as a second language. Students can directly pull from their experiences with the ASL student interpreters, then expand the conversation to compare and contrast to populations with other disabilities, culture, or language needs,” Hackman said. “I look forward to having [ghost interpreters] in my class this coming semester.”
According to Cerney, an ASL student is not allowed to practice interpreting in one of the courses he or she is registered for credit. Senior ASL students complete 36 hours of ghost interpreting, as well as 15 hours of “shadow” interpreting, when students follow the two primary campus interpreters who voice lectures for deaf instructors Sharon Staehle and Dorothy Wilkins or sign voiced meetings as interpretation for either instructor.
“It’s a restricted set of opportunities which is why it’s a smaller number of hours,” Cerney explained. As students observe the work of the professional interpreters, if and when it makes sense, they may be pulled into translation with the professional, he said.
According to Dr. Doug Richards, chair of Keuka’s humanities and fine arts division, the ghost interpreting provides ASL-EI students “invaluable practical experience in ‘live/real world’ signing, and as a side benefit exposes a wide range of Keuka students to ASL signing – a win-win.”
Cerney concluded: “The Keuka philosophy of learning by doing is alive and well in the interpreting program.”
For more than 20 years, students pursuing social work degrees at Keuka College have participated in a day of service at the Salvation Army in Rochester.
The annual event held every Friday before Thanksgiving, provides students a hands-on learning opportunity and the chance to make a difference in the community, said Stephanie Craig, chair and associate professor of social work.
“Our students provide the personnel for the Salvation Army to maintain its mission to the community at holiday time,” said Craig. “We help with the Christmas Assistance Registration, where needy families and individuals sign up for food and toys for Christmas.”
According to Craig, the students interviewed hundreds of individuals who applied for assistance.
“Students asked personal questions about income and expenses in households,” said Craig. “The information is then put into a computerized database and an appointment is printed out for the individual or family. Some students also filled Christmas stockings with age-appropriate toys to be given out during distribution days later in December.”
For Samantha Luce, a senior social work major from Batavia, working at the Salvation Army “helped me know how to interact with clients and meet different people. It made me familiar with some of the paperwork and computer work I could be doing, and it allowed me to work and learn on my own.”
For example, Luce said she “learned how to better approach certain situations and individuals, which helped me put textbook material into real-life practice.”
Freshman social work majors Allyson Strauf, a resident of Homer, and Dundee resident Haley Brown completed intakes.
“The Salvation Army was a place where I was able to interact with people and talk to them positively, and people responded positively back to me,” said Strauf. “I learned more social skills and what it really is like to work with people on a personal level.”
Brown agrees, and credits her Keuka classes for preparing her for this experience, and a career in social work.
“My classes helped me a lot with what to expect,” said Brown. “What I learned in my classes prepared me for the type of people I could meet and how to act around them.”
Crystal Billings, a sophomore social work major from Groton, was responsible for giving tickets to the clients for food and toy distribution.
“With that, I explained what they would need to bring,” she said. “I also helped fix any holds that were placed due to someone not having the proper paperwork or identification.”
Billings said volunteering at the Salvation Army helped her work with people who are in many different situations. She also credits her classes with “understanding that everyone coming through the door is there to get help. The fact that they were asking was a big deal, because it may have taken a lot to do that.”
Colleen Booth, a junior social work major from Rochester, enjoyed her time volunteering at the Salvation Army.
“I had the experience of meeting individuals, putting their information into the system, and updating their information if they are already in the system for this wonderful benefit,” said Booth.
Added Booth: “I chose social work because I truly love helping people and giving them hope that things will get better. I believe volunteering is just a small part of giving back to the community. My classes have given me the confidence and knowledge to help people in my community, and to become more professional at my job.”
While she hasn’t yet completed her bachelor’s degree in social work from Keuka College, Canandaigua resident Melanie Nwaobia is already practicing the skills that will come into play for a career serving others.
Over the last three years, she has worked as a one-to-one teacher’s aide with Noah Haus, who is now a fourth-grade student at Canandaigua Elementary School. While Noah’s autism means that his verbal skills are limited, he is “an incredibly smart young man” who works hard and excels with hands-on tasks, Nwaobia said. Using calendars and schedules with visual cues and icons, as well as technology tools like an iPad with apps he can manipulate and receive electronic “applause” for completing, Nwaobia assists Noah as he works through classroom lessons.
In December, Noah’s parents nominated Nwaobia for the Golden Apple Award from WROC- TV (Channel 8), the CBS affiliate in Rochester. A TV crew then came to the classroom to surprise her with the honor and to film Nwaobia and Noah going about the routines of his school day. (Click HERE to see the TV footage.)
In a letter to the station, Noah’s parents wrote how each day, Nwaobia sends home a full note detailing their son’s entire day, since he does not have the typical language and social skills to tell them himself. She sends text messages and photos too, so that they can celebrate the little successes Noah has each day.
An interest in teaching smaller classes in order to foster greater student interaction is part of what brought Ithaca resident Laurel Hester to a new post at Keuka College this fall.
The small-college feel got in the assistant professor of biology’s veins during her own undergraduate studies at Swarthmore College, where she double-majored in biology and history. As a graduate student, Hester discovered she had a love of teaching, especially teaching biology, and as she worked toward her Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, she began putting that passion into play. She went on to teach at the University of South Carolina, and later Cornell, where she taught as many as 400 students at a time in large lecture halls.
“The chance to teach smaller classes where I can really get to know the students and teach a wider variety of classes in a more interactive way is really what drew me here,” Hester said.
Almost two years after first taking her three younger brothers – now ages 6, 13 and 16 – into her home, and formally enrolling as a foster care parent, Kayleigh Rappenecker of Rochester is on the verge of adopting them. While a December court date has not yet been finalized, the adoption could be complete before Christmas.
It’s a personal milestone that has given Rappenecker an uncommon level of experience when working with future clients in the next vein of her emerging career as a social worker.
That’s because Rappenecker is still completing courses for her bachelor’s degree in social work through Keuka College’s Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP). At 25, Rappenecker is younger than the “typical” adult student enrolled in a Keuka ASAP course of study. She first began courses in January 2010, while pregnant with her first child.
ASAP Assistant Professor of Social Work Julie Burns said that while it is common for family members such as grandparents, aunts or uncles to take in younger children as foster children, or even adopt them, it is rare for an older sibling to take on the role of surrogate parent. In Rappenecker’s case, she wanted to intervene and keep her brothers together.
They were cleaning the car out when the idea struck.
Christie Hoefer, 17, daughter of Oswego resident Helen Hoefer, wound up staring at a handful of pennies in her hand, culled from the car’s interior, and voiced aloud, “These pennies are such a waste.”
“Not really,” replied her mother, an 11-year employee of Catholic Charities Food Pantry in Oswego. “Fourteen of them would buy a pound of food from the FoodBank of Central New York.”
Recomputing, the Oswego High School senior asked, “Oh, wow – I wonder how much a million pennies would buy?”
“Hmm, let’s see,” her mother responded, and within hours – after granddad Donald Greenlay had rolled $125 in pennies he had been collecting in a giant jar for as long as Helen could remember - Christie had the underpinnings for a fund-raiser officially launched in July: Pennies 4 Pantries.
When Helen, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work through Keuka’s Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP), relayed her daughter’s idea back to her fellow students in Cohort 239, which meets at Onondaga Community College each week, the group latched onto the concept.
“Someone in Helen’s cohort said ‘Let’s try to get a million pennies by graduation,’ and I said, ‘Excellent, that’s our goal,’” recalled ASAP instructor Vicki O’Connor. At the time, the students were working through what O’Connor called a “macro-level” social work course that dealt with volunteerism, social activism, and leadership within one’s own community.
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