Jen Mealey, professor of social work, challenges Keuka College students as the academic year begins

KEUKA PARK — Keuka College’s 2018-19 Professor of the Year offered some advice to the Class of 2023 and other new students at the college’s annual Academic Convocation ceremony, held Tuesday, Aug. 27. The ceremony marked the official opening of the 2019-20 academic year.

Jen Mealey, professor of social work, offered three opportunities she would like to see the new students take during their tenure at the college: embrace differences, recognize the importance of connections and relationships, and become engaged with the College.

“We come with our own unique qualities that allow us to strive to be our best selves,” said Mealey, a member of the Keuka College Class of 1999. “Embracing difference allows us to grow and learn, which in turn allows us to educate and assist others in understanding its importance.”

For the second opportunity, Mealey invited the students to understand how connections lead to relationships. She encouraged students to engage with and be curious about classmates, professors, and advisors, and to become involved in extracurricular activities or find new adventures.

She also urged students to step out of their comfort zones and experience something new and challenging.

“As I tell my students, take one step further than you think you can,” she said. “You never know where that step will lead.”

The new students also heard from Dr. Bradley Fuster, provost and vice president for academic affairs, College President Amy Storey, and Board of Trustees Chairman Alan Ziegler, who encouraged students to be life-long learners.

“Members of the Class of 2023 and new students, you’re entering an exciting, life-changing stage,” said Ziegler. “Your job, for the next four years, is to learn. It’s one of the best jobs you’ll ever have. In fact, I would recommend making it a lifelong pursuit. Education is not a destination, it is a process. Make it a never-ending process.

Storey shared some of Keuka College's history with the new students, and inspired them to help write the next chapters of the college’s story, as well as their own, and to do it with purpose, passion, and pride.

“All of us come from different backgrounds,” said Storey. “But that doesn’t mean our society here at Keuka College is ‘riven by deep divisions.’ Just the opposite! Those whose life experiences are different than our own, not only enrich us, they broaden our understanding of one another. They deepen our wisdom. They enable us to recognize, pursue, and attain the type of justice that is reflective of citizens and leaders of the 21st century.”

Fuster encouraged the students to be mindful of their time at Keuka College, and to live in the present moment.

“As you experience life deeply at Keuka College, you’ll no doubt touch the lives of others,” he said. “That’s part of the incredible experience of a Keuka College education: The friendships you make, the challenges you will share, and the success you will celebrate will take place not just over the next four years, but throughout your entire lives.”

Fuster reminded the students that they are among family.

“Today, you are being formally welcomed into this very special, loving, caring, and visionary family,” Fuster said. “It is our hope that you will go forward and continue to make our fast-changing world better, through acts both large and small. Leverage your connections with your Keuka College family throughout your life, and always remember to 'Believe in What We Can Do Together!'"

The ceremony concluded with the symbolic offering of paddles and an acorn to Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Jonathon Accardi by student representatives. Devyn Morris ’23 and Salvatore Franzone ’23 were selected as Class of 2023 representatives, and Antonio Monti ’22 was named the transfer student representative.