Stay connected. Give back. Help the next generation of Keuka College scholars.
Those are the tenets of Phenomenal Keuka Women, a group of College alumnae who offer to mentor women students who, like them, identify as Black and Latina.
“We started with the intent of reconnecting with other Black and Latina alumni,” said PKW member Frederica “Ricki” Grant ’75. “As we progressed, we decided we wanted to give back to Keuka College in a non-financial way, which led to the Mentoring Partnership’s creation in 2022.”
Ricki said PKW coordinates with the College’s Office of Inclusion & Belonging in identifying students who might want to connect with a knowledgeable alumna. About 10 of the PKW’s 40 or so members have volunteered to act as mentors.
“This mentoring program is a fantastic gift to students at the College,” said College Chaplain Eric Detar, director of the Office of Inclusion & Belonging. “The women in PKW are truly phenomenal and I am so grateful they want to support our current Keuka College students in this capacity!”
The mentoring sessions are confidential, said Ricki, and can cover a variety of areas.
“Whatever the student wants to discuss,” she said. “For first-year students, maybe time management, trouble being away from home, or trouble with a specific subject. Then, for upper-class students, it’s more subjects like resumes or preparing for interviews.”
The organization was launched about three years ago, largely through the efforts of Ricki’s classmate, Deborah Mabry-Strong ’75, who began reaching out to alumnae. In doing so, she was following a template forged in her own College days.
“The opportunities that we had at Keuka included opportunities to develop relationships both personally and professionally that continue through your life. The opportunities at Keuka, first and foremost, taught us to be of service to others.”
That’s certainly the aim of PKW, whose members range from the Classes of 1967 through 2018, and from Oakland to Houston to Atlanta to the Lehigh Valley. The door is open to new members, said Ricki, especially to more recent graduates.
“What we’re trying to do, in addition to the mentoring program, is to grow PKW,” she said.
The group’s monthly, online meetings include group discussions, personal updates, and guest speakers – including College President Amy Storey. In addition, members have made themselves available to serve as informal College ambassadors in their communities to help in recruiting potential students.
Highlighting the opportunities the College affords comes naturally, said Deborah, who last fall was awarded the College Alumni Association’s 2022 Effective Use of Retirement Award for her PKW efforts.
“I talk about Keuka College every opportunity that I have,” she said, “because I feel it was instrumental to my development as a woman, as a professional, and in my personal life.”
NOTE: Members of Phenomenal Keuka Women will be profiled throughout Black History Month. For more information about the PKW mentoring program, students can contact the Office of Inclusion & Belonging at (315) 279-5378 or [email protected]