When it came time to select a college, Milaya Colwell ’25 liked what she heard from Keuka College.
“Keuka sent me all sorts of information,” said Milaya, who goes by “Mia.” “They said things like, ‘We have programs like Field Period® and we’re small and you won’t get anything like that anywhere else.’”
Mia has taken advantage of those Keuka College benefits – Field Period and its cozy size – to create a first-year educational experience that was instructional, formative, and unique.
After all, how many colleges support a student in producing and directing a play in just their second semester on campus?
“I told my advisor (Professor of English and Division Chair Dr. Jennie Joiner), I needed some form of theater or I would go crazy,” said Mia. “And she said, ‘Well, why don’t you do it?’ So, I did.”
That meant a lot of work, but it came with a lot of assistance. Dr. Joiner connected Mia with Senior Director of Alumni Relations and Development Billy Jo Jayne ’10, who helped secure financial support. Students in the College’s art classes created posters. The College’s Red Barn Theatre, out of use for several years, was spruced up. Then came locating a cast and directing their performance in the four-character musical, “The Marvelous Wonderettes.” The result was a well-attended four-day run this past April.
Mia said the experience allowed her to sharpen skills like leadership and teamwork. And it was not lost on her that the College’s size was key to providing that opportunity.
“The only time I would have been able to experience what I experienced as a freshman would have been as a senior at a different school,” Mia said. “And I would have only had that for one year.”
Mia’s experience with the play paralleled the opportunities all Keuka College students have in the form of their annual Field Period internships: Deep immersion into a specific field early in their College careers.
Her summer Field Period experience – reporting for The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. – further broadened and focused Mia’s academic direction.
Besides, reporting had long been a desire of Mia’s.
“I watched a lot of ‘Gilmore Girls’ growing up,” she said. “And I wanted to be like Rory and be a journalist.”
She had more than a dozen stories published in her four weeks at the paper, including her favorite: a page-one profile of a local family that sent donations to a Ukrainian family last Christmas and who got to meet the family’s 17-year-old over the summer, after the war began.
“It was really amazing,” said Mia, a dual Writing & Communication Arts and Visual Communication Design major. “They were able to provide things for that family that they had lost during the war.”
Mia said she’s planning to take an academic detour for her next Field Period by exploring opportunities in business and management, a decision informed by her first-year College experiences.
“I don’t think I would have ever thought about going into business or trying it if it weren’t for directing or seeing how the editors in this Field Period in Champagne did what they do,” she said.
Mia said she’s not done staging plays at Keuka College – “Oh yeah; they’re not getting rid of me just yet” – and she’s not done taking advantage of all that the College has to offer.
"I’d never be able to make my own path, like at Keuka College, anywhere else. I have everything I ever wanted."
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