Keuka College Students Reflect on Experiential Opportunities

Ten Students Nominated for Experiential Learner of the Year. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Editor’s Note: Ten students were nominated for the College’s annual Experiential Learner of the Year Award. The award is given annually to two students—one freshman and one upperclassman—and recognizes the College’s longstanding emphasis on experiential learning while celebrating student achievement. This year, Ryan Marvtisch ’20 was named the Upperclassman Experiential Learner of the Year, while Ashley Knapp ’21 earned the freshman award. Below, we take a look at the other nominees as they reveal some of the things their Field Period® experiences have taught them.


headshot of Tessa

Name: Tessa Alianell ’19
Major: Biology
Nominated by: Dr. Tom Carroll, professor of chemistry
Field Period® Placements:
Frewsburg Central School, Frewsburg, N.Y. (January 2016); UPMC Chautauqua WCA Hospital, Jamestown, N.Y. (Summer 2017); Tanzania Excursion with Growth International Volunteer Excursions (GIVE), (January 2018)
What I Learned from Field Period®: As a result of my Field Period® experiences, I believe the medical field is right for me, and that I have found my calling, which is to help people—athletes in particular—through the field of medicine. When I began my Field Period® at Frewsburg Central School with Andrea Shene, the school’s athletic trainer, I had no idea how much I would actually learn. I saw an array of injuries that varied in severity, including sprains, strains, tears, concussions, and breaks. I was able to experience first hand what it was like to work with patients and provide the necessary care for injury treatment and rehabilitation. During my next Field Period®, I was convinced that I wanted to become an orthopedic surgeon and eventually specialize in sports medicine. While that is still a path that I will consider, I’m open to other possibilities that I may be interested in. It is an amazing way to learn more about how the medical field works and I was able to make valuable connections to medical professionals in the community. I am more excited than ever to continue pursuing my dream of becoming a physician, as well as having more opportunities just like this one. I went into the trip to Tanzania thinking that the people I would work with were underprivileged and had nothing, but I soon came to realize that they had so much more than some in the U.S. This is a lesson that I think everyone would benefit from learning, no matter how successful they are in world. My education has provided me with a strong foundation for my future, but my experience in the Keuka College community outside the classroom has been just as valuable.


Emily Cottrell headshot
Name: Emily Cottrell ’19
Major: Psychology
Nominated by: Dr. Carolyn Balzer, assistant professor of psychology
Field Period® Placements:
Cortland Regional Medical Center and Combined Chiropractic and Wellness Center, both in Cortland, N.Y. (January 2016); Homer Central School District, Homer, N.Y. (January 2017); Arc of Seneca Cayuga, Waterloo, N.Y. (January 2018)
What I Learned from Field Period®: While I was originally enrolled at Keuka College as an occupational therapy major, after completing a Field Period® at Homer Central School with a school psychologist, I changed my major to psychology. At Cortland Regional Medical Center, it was my first time at an outpatient rehabilitation setting and I really liked it. My favorite part about the setting was that you work with people of all ages. At Combined Chiropractic and Wellness Center, the chiropractor was very informative and made sure that every single patient knew what he was doing and why. I also really liked that the chiropractor has a strong belief that the medical fields should work together more. I used my Field Period® at Homer Central School District, at both the junior high and elementary school levels, to confirm that I want to switch my major from occupational therapy to psychology, and to see if I would be interested in working at a school and which grade level I would prefer working with. At the junior high, I observed the psychologist do testing, run Committee of Special Education (CSE) and parent meetings, counsel students and do classroom observations. I really enjoyed the counseling sessions because I got to know the students better and I learned some of the techniques the psychologist uses to help the students bring their grades up. While at the elementary school, I completed classroom observations, sat in on lunch groups with the social worker, tested the second-grade classes on their reading, input data, and sat in on problem-solving meetings. I really enjoyed the lunch groups with the social worker because I got to interact with the students outside of the classroom. Overall, this Field Period® was very successful in helping my figure out what major I wanted to pursue, and I can see myself becoming a school psychologist at the junior high school level. I chose the Arc of Seneca Cayuga as a Field Period® placement because I have always been interested in working with people who have developmental disabilities. My cousin has Down syndrome and has always inspired me to want to work with those who have disabilities. I observed areas of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and counseling. I looked forward to interacting with the clients the most. What I learned from this experience is that I would love to work with people who have developmental disabilities in the future.


Kate Ellis sitting in Ball Hall's main level seating area
Name: Kate Ellis ’18
Major: Occupational Science
Nominated by: Dr. Carrie Roberts, assistant professor of occupational therapy
Field Period® Placements:
Quest Horsemanship, Canandaigua, N.Y(.), and Western Finger Lakes BOCES, Newark, N.Y. (January 2016); Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital, Penn Yan, N.Y., and Rochester Psychiatric Center, Rochester, N.Y. (January 2017); Camp Good Days and Special Times, Branchport, N.Y. (July 2017); Hartman Hand and Occupational Therapy, Rochester, N.Y. (January 2018)
What I Learned from Field Period®: I love feedback, whether it is positive about things that I am doing well or things that I need to improve upon. I look at it as a way to learn and grow as a student and future occupational therapist. No matter how much we study, learn, practice, and apply our knowledge and skills, there is always room for improvement and more learning. I learned so much that will be extremely helpful in moving forward in my education and as a future occupational therapist. Because of the people I have met and helped treat, I realize that I am in the right profession for me. Occupational therapy is so individualized, and it really is all about the patient and what he or she needs in order to be his or her best self. It’s going to be my job to help get them to that point in their life. Though my Field Period® placements, and I have learned that I can go anywhere in the occupational therapy world that I want to. I have loved every setting and each has opened my eyes to completely new experiences.



Olivia standing in front of the lake
Name: Olivia Ennist ’20
Major: Education
Nominated by: Dr. Peter Kozik, associate professor of education
Field Period® Placements:
Poughkeepsie Middle School, Poughkeepsie, N.Y. (January 2016) Henninger High School, Syracuse, N.Y. (January 2017)
What I Learned from Field Period®: A classroom can only be as effective as an educator believes it can be. There is no one “correct” way to teach and teaching should consist of fluidity. Between the group review sessions, public speeches, after-school activities, test grading, and clubs, I have learned a great deal about students and teaching. As an educator, it is vital to recognize and adapt to the special circumstances of each student. It is also crucial to proficiently communicate or listen to the people that influence a student’s life. In a constantly changing world, this is one of the most compelling reasons why all teachers should learn about their students’ home lives. Without understanding a student’s background, an educator cannot help a student achieve their full potential. In order to be successful as an educator, it is crucial to support and attend events that involve students. The activities that I participated in transferred over to the classroom, and I discovered a new level of trust and respect. In the classroom, they were able to listen to me more and were more willing to ask questions. I was also able to work with many students who spoke English as their second language. Originally, I believed that teaching these students would be excruciatingly difficult. Although there were times when the language barrier was frustrating, teaching them was rewarding. I am grateful for this specific experience because it has evolved my teaching ideals. I learned that it is okay to not always follow the plan during class. Although planning is vital to the success of a classroom, small tangents that follow student interests are just as crucial. By creating an atmosphere of trust and respect, students will be more comfortable and positive relationships will thrive. Because of this, I have a better idea of how to make my classroom ideals reality. My Field Period® experience showed me how to interact with others in a professional setting, taught me more about my professional self, how I want to teach in the future, and I am proud to say that I think I will be a better teacher because of this. Field Period® was an amazing experience that solidified my desire to become an educator and I am looking forward to the future. I continued to be humbled by my experience and eager to participate in my career field.



Mickenzie standing outside the back of ball hall
Name: Mickenzie Palmer ’18
Major: Criminology/Criminal Justice
Nominated by: Dr. Janine Bower, associate professor of criminology/criminal justice
Field Period® Placements:
Elite Therapy, Horseheads, N.Y., and Elmira Correctional Facility, Elmira, N.Y. (January 2015); Yates County District Attorney’s Office, Penn Yan, N.Y. (January 2016); Council on Alcoholism and Addictions of the Finger Lakes, Geneva, N.Y. (January 2017); Willard Drug Treatment Center, Willard, N.Y. (senior internship, fall semester 2017)
What I Learned from Field Period®: I assisted with the preparation for the “Too Good For Drugs” Prevention Education Program in both the Dundee Central School and Penn Yan Middle School during my Field Period® with the Council on Alcoholism and Addictions of the Finger Lakes. I organized and categorized drug information and curriculum at the Yates Council Office be used in the community through the YSAC (Yates Substance Abuse Coalition). I developed and presented a lesson on teamwork and cooperation for a Sixth Grade Life Skills unit with the Penn Yan Middle School Girls Club, while working to establish relationships with the girls, drawing them into positive conversations and actions. During my senior internship, not only was I able to achieve the goals I had set forth, I learned so much more. I had no idea what it was like to be a counselor in a facility such as Willard. While I had seen prison counseling previously at Elmira Correctional Facility, it was nothing like substance abuse counseling. By the end of my internship, I was able to preform every aspect of an alcohol substance abuse treatment program assistant. I was able to hold my own caseload of 30 parolees, perform large group counseling sessions, as well as complete the everyday tasks program assistants are responsible for. Additionally, I dedicated myself to volunteering as a counselor since December 2017 when my senior internship ended. This internship solidified my decision to further my education and become a certificated alcohol and substance abuse counselor (CASAC). Once I graduate from Keuka College, I have a job waiting for me at Willard as a program assistant. 


Alexa sitting on a bench behind Ball Hall
Name: Alexa Prue ’19
Major: Child and Family Studies
Nominated by: Dr. Nicholas Koberstein, assistant professor of psychology
Field Period® Placements:
Petrova Elementary School, Saranac Lake, N.Y.(,) and Malone Adult Center, Malone, N.Y. (January 2016); Davis Elementary School, Malone, N.Y. (January 2017); Saranac Lake Middle School, Saranac Lake, N.Y. (January 2018)
What I Learned from Field Period®: While I understand, appreciate, and am interested in occupational therapy, I discovered it was not the right major for me. After my sophomore year, I became a child and family studies major. I learned life skills and so much about different disabilities or challenges a person might have, through my occupational therapy Field Period® opportunities. My Field Period® at the schools allowed me to learn about how a school system works and what the children learn at a young age, particularly how important writing is for the students. I will carry what I have learned in a classroom setting forward in life. There was a variety of information that I learned during my experiences, and one of the most important aspects was learning the importance of testing. It is very important to test students so that they are able to receive the appropriate services to be successful. I also learned the importance of CSE (Committee on Special Education) meetings. The data tends to come from the IEP (Individualized Education Program) to help determine the needs of the child. I am now deciding whether I want to be a school counselor, school psychologist, or a guidance counselor. All three have their own roles, but there is overlap when it comes to counseling students. Each position is qualified to counsel students one on one or in group settings. I was lucky to be able to work with all three positions at the middle school. Each has given me beneficial information about their job that I can use when deciding my future career.


Amanda standing out by the lake
Name: Amanda Sabins ’19
Major: Social Work
Nominated by: Stephanie Craig, professor of social work
Field Period® Placements:
Adult Day Care, Bath, N.Y. (January 2016); Interdisciplinary Group Field Period® to the Dominican Republic (January 2017); Lightner Library, Keuka College, Keuka Park, N.Y. (summer 2017)
What I Learned from Field Period®: I learned a lot completing a Field Period® at the Keuka College archives, and will be able to apply the research skills I gained to future experiences. All of these skills will be applicable when conducting research in the social work field because a large portion of our research consists of piecing things together to figure out what to do next. In the Dominican Republic, my experiences were life changing, and helped me grow as a person and professional. During the trip I was able to see how social work, nursing, and occupational therapy were all interconnected. I believe I am now more outspoken, and am more willing to ask questions. This definitely will apply when making myself heard when advocating for my future clients as a social worker. Plus, I believe that I really learned how to work on a team. I learned a great variety of skills that I can apply to not just everyday life, but social work as well. My time at Adult Day Care was life changing as well, and I would definitely volunteer at this program again, and I believe I am more aware of what the needs are of the elderly population and of individuals with disabilities. I was able to learn about different professions, how to work with different individuals, and how to continually improve myself. Working at Adult Day Care helped me grow as a person, and I will never forget the work I did there.



Hailey Willis sitting at Point Neamo
Name: Hailey Willis ’21
Major: Nursing
Nominated by: Patricia Mattingly, associate professor of nursing and program director of the BS in Nursing program for the Center for Professional Studies
Field Period® Placement:
Interdisciplinary Group Field Period® to the Dominican Republic (January 2018)
What I Learned from Field Period®: This Field Period® was the best experience in my life, and I believe I grew as an individual and as a future nurse. I believe nothing compares to actually being able to learn through doing. I could have never learned what I did from a textbook. While walking into a hospital on the island, Patty Mattingly [associate professor of nursing and program director of the BS in Nursing program for the Center for Professional Studies] informed us that we were headed to see a cesarean section. The doctor performing the surgery allowed us to be right up next to the table, so we were able to see everything up close. It was amazing. When the baby was delivered, we thought they were about to close, when the doctor delivered a second baby—twins! It was a remarkable experience I will never forget. Day four of the nine-day trip was my toughest day, and a huge learning experience in my life. I learned that as a nurse I would be exposed to many difficult, heinous, and horrible situations. I likely won’t ever understand how or why people do horrible things [to others], but I will have to learn how to keep moving forward. I think it’s interesting to see how each major on this interdisciplinary trip (occupational therapy, social work, and nurses) see diagnoses and treatment plans differently, which was fascinating. Day five of the trip was one of the days I was pushed outside of my comfort zone. I asked Patty about 30 minutes into the glucose and blood pressure clinic if somebody else would like to take my spot. But she insisted that I stay, and I’m glad she did. By the end of the clinic, I had learned how to confidently check someone’s blood glucose level as well as their blood pressure. We also visited a woman who had open sores on her legs. I observed a physical assessment and watched as the wound was dressed. I learned that stepping out of my comfort zone is essential for growth, and that’s something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.