From Research to Real-World Impact: Keuka College Expo Spotlights Scholarly Achievements

The annual showcase of College Community achievement highlights experiential learning in all its forms.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Keuka College has long promoted experiential learning.

Last weekend, it celebrated experiential learning.
The College’s second annual Keuka College Expo (KCx) showcased examples of student, faculty, and staff achievement – “a celebration of scholarship and intellectual accomplishments,” as interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Heather Maldonado put it in her welcoming remarks.
More than 120 members of the College community – most of them students – filled the College’s Lightner Library with presentations, displays, posters, panels, talks, and other examples of scholarly or creative accomplishments.
“Having a chance to see the presentations, they’re just so impressive,” said College President Amy Storey. “Understanding that experience is, in many cases, the best teacher makes me very proud to be associated with Keuka College because Keuka College knew that long before most other institutions did.”

Keynote Speaker state Sen. Jake Ashby ’02 recalled his own Field Period® experiences – and how impressed he was at the unique opportunities they offered.
“I thought, ‘Why aren’t Field Periods more prevalent in colleges across the country?’” he said.
The Occupational Therapy major, who has since entered a career in politics, said he continues to lean on his College experiences in navigating the demands of legislating.
“We see a divide among people who are politically engaged, and I think it’s driving people not to be politically engaged,” the senator said. “I’m not going to give up on the idea that we can turn this around. … And Keuka College is a big part of that driving force.”
This year’s Expo featured nearly twice as many participants as last year’s inaugural installment, said the College’s Dean of Experiential Learning & Career Engagement Ann Emo, who organizes the event.

Presentations ranged from scientific research (“Cost-Effective Methods for Analyzing Nitrate and Phosphate in Lake Samples” by Alana Modugno ’25) to cultural exploration (Can You Hear the Love Tonight: The Role of Musical Preference in Perceived Physical Attraction” by Olivia Gudeahn ’25) to, well, educational findings (“Enhancing Engagement and Academic Outcomes: Exploring Active Learning” by Emily Wells ’24).
Ashley Thompson ’24, a Community Health & Wellness major who will graduates this month, presented her topic, “Health Promotion Programming: Sexual Education,” following her senior Field Period with Finger Lakes Community Health (FLCH). (She connected with FLCH during an on-campus “Passport to Wellness” event, further demonstrating how real-world opportunities abound at Keuka College.)
Ashley’s research determined that less than half the country is providing adequate sexual education to their students. Her solution: threading health-based education into college general education curricula.
A cross-section of other presentations included:
-Meghan Gaynor ’23 M’24, an Occupational Therapy major who researched strategies to amend a public health and information bill intended to establish a K-12 curriculum to promote awareness about social media impacts on this age group.
“I want to promote healthy behavior online and to share other means of expression besides social media,” said Meghan. “I want to provide resources to help kids who may feel alone. This is a topic that is not going away, and addressing mental health issues will be a big part of my career.”
-Instructor of Biology Gylla MacGregor, who outlined plans to map and create hiking trails in undeveloped College property, including a trail that led to a 19th-century natural amphitheater where women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony once spoke.
“This trail system offers an opportunity to meander through diverse woodland and riparian habitats and visit historic Keuka College sites along the way,” she said.

-Emily Geiss ’24, a fourth-year Art & Design major, created a two-part collection on suicide awareness using mixed media. 
“For people going through mental health struggles, I wanted to show them that they are not alone,” said Emily. 
The Expo, which also included a daylong series of oral presentations, a juried art show, and outlines of group Field Period experiences including a winter trip to London and a recent Alternative Spring Break trip to Puerto Rico, impressed Maureen Mosher ’81, who happened to be in town for a wedding and visited her alma mater for the first time 43 years.
“I’m glad that Field Period is still part of the students’ journey,” said the Nursing alumna. “Field Period was such a huge part of my academics, and it gave me exposure to so many career paths. … I loved talking with the students and learning about their academic interests.”