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Keuka College’s Olivia Ennist Uses Her Field Period® to Travel Back in Time

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After visiting the site of the 1980 Winter Olympics, Olivia Ennist '20, stopped to take this selfie in front of waterfalls near Lake Placid.

Keuka College senior Olivia Ennist's summer Field Period® is history – in more ways than one.

The future history teacher hit the road to take in the life lessons that come with storied historical sites.

“While I was driving around my hometown, I noticed the blue and yellow New York State history signs,” says Olivia, who hails from Liverpool. “In that moment, I realized that New York State was the center of several impactful historical events. As a result, I decided I would travel around New York state and uncover as much of the history as I could.”

Travel she did. The adolescent education major (whose academic resume includes a concentration in social studies and a generalization in special education) hit the road over July and August. Her itinerary, which eventually stretched well beyond New York state, included:

  • New York City, where she toured the American Museum of Natural History and Times Square;
  • Lake George, where she visited Fort William Henry;
  • Lake Placid, where she explored the 1980 Winter Olympic site and museum, hiked along some nearby trails, and saw amazing waterfalls;
  • North Carolina, to see the play The Lost Colony, which depicts some of the mysteries surrounding America’s first colony, Roanoke. She also visited the Wright Brothers Memorial;
  • Gettysburg, Pa., and its battle sites, cemeteries, and monuments. 

“I found Lake Placid absolutely breathtaking,” says Olivia. “The environment was gorgeous and I took some time to hike the natural waterfalls after exploring the 1980 winter Olympics museum.

Another favorite spot was Gettysburg. 

“As expected, the area was rich in history and created an immersive experience,” says Olivia. “On the modern end of the spectrum, I enjoyed traveling to New York City by myself even though I had only been there once before in a group.”

Olivia, whose travels were supported in part by a Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Scholarship, which honors the 1963 Keuka College graduate, says she plans to bring her experiences into her own classrooms.

“As a future educator, I want to inspire my students, and I strongly believe in teaching with impact, based on experiences and immersion,” she says. “My goal was to collect physical evidence in the form of photographs and artifacts that can be incorporated into the classroom with the hopes of inspiring students. For example, I bought replica bullets from Gettysburg, and dioramas of soldiers from Fort William Henry at Lake George.”

From 1585, when the colony of Roanoke was founded, through the Times Square of today, Olivia experienced the scope of history. By spending three to four days in each location, she was able to gain hands-on, first-hand knowledge.

“One of the reasons I chose Keuka College was because of the immersive learning experiences,” says Olivia. “This trip allowed me to interact with people from around New York state and experience different environments first hand. This Field Period® assisted me with content knowledge in social studies and built my confidence in front of the classroom.” 

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