Senior Lucas Braley has published a research paper on the rational theology of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant in the COPLAC undergraduate research journal Metamorphosis. The paper, “The Critical Faith: A Paper Concerning Kant’s Belief in God,” examines Kant’s rational theology and the development of his thought on God throughout his career. Associate Professor of History Nicholas Germana is Braley’s advisor, and first met him in his Topics in the History of Ideas course on 18th century aesthetics. “Lucas was immediately captivated by Kant’s critique of teleological reason,” Dr. Germana recalled, “which connected directly with his own interest in philosophical and theological questions and their relationship to modern science. … I was very impressed by his ability to penetrate some of Kant’s densest arguments, and I recall (with great satisfaction) the ‘Ah ha!’ moment when Lucas really came to grips with the profound significance of Kant’s transcendental deduction and its consequences for his views on theology and cosmology.”
It’s a fairly logical progression, then, for Braley, who is also president of the Keene Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the history honors society, to begin graduate work at the Yale Divinity School next fall. “I’m attending Yale Divinity School for two reasons,” he explained. “The first is my fascination with Kant’s rational theology, and the second is my intention to create a system of practical ethics suitable for the modern world and fully effective at every level of application (e.g., personal, familial, governmental decision-making, etc.) I hope to be a philosopher of ethics, a writer, and a communicator who can help those who truly wish to believe in God but find their reason getting in the way.”
Braley credits his independent study with Dr. Germana as the most significant factor in his success as an undergrad and in his acceptance to YDS. “Keene State College has done a good job of preparing me for life after graduation,” he said. “The one-on-one time that I got with my adviser was probably the best help I could have possibly hoped for, and the opportunity to have such a productive relationship—short of graduate-level work—is an exceptional feat for a department, college, or university.”
This February, 16 dance majors from the Keene State College Theatre and Dance Department joined 500 students from 30 colleges attending this year’s American College Dance Association New England Conference at Boston University. The KSC dancers received significant recognition and each returned to campus inspired and invigorated. Gabriella Pacheco (’14) and Alexander Davis (’14) each presented their choreography in concerts that were adjudicated by three nationally recognized choreographers. Pacheco, Davis, and their dancers received valuable critical assessment and much praise from the three adjudicators.
Davis’ dance “Slight Displacement,” performed by Gabby Pacheco, Kendall Platenyk (’14), Meghan Quinn (’13), and Samantha Sampaio (’13), was selected from 45 adjudicated pieces to be produced in the conference’s closing Gala Concert—a significant recognition of the talent of the performers and the choreographer. This dance also received Honorable Mention as an alternate selection for the 2014 National Dance Festival to be held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
“The most memorable moment from my time at this year’s ACDFA New England Conference was having the opportunity to present a fully produced dance work to a group of fellow dance students and professionals,” Davis said. “Being able to generate discussion and receive feedback regarding my choreography and the work of others provided moments of helpful constructive commentary. I look forward to continuing making work and applying the feedback I received.”
KSC hosted this annual dance conference in 1988 and again in 2011. The American College Dance Association (ACDA, formerly ACDFA) was formed in 1971 to support and promote excellence in college dance. These conferences give college dancers an opportunity to have their works adjudicated and critiqued by established professionals; share scholarship; provide professional classes, workshops, and performing experiences as well as other opportunities for interaction among all participants; provide students the opportunity to perform outside their own academic setting and be exposed to the diversity of the national college dance world; and build a network of communication within the college dance community and between the college and the professional dance world. The conference also provides regional and national visibility for college-trained choreographers and performers.
“ACDFA is an opportunity for me to have as many new dance experiences as possible,” Platnyk explained. “It is a wonderful thing to be grouped together with dancers from all around New England and take such dance classes as Musical Theater and Haitian that are usually not an option in my everyday life. I especially enjoyed having another chance to perform with a new audience and hearing useful feedback that can help me as a performer.”
Four KSC students—history majors Kyle O’Brien and Alexander Habibi, theatre and dance major Matt McDougal, and music major Jordan Chase—will be presenting at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) at the University of Kentucky from April 3–5.
Sending four students to the conference is a real accomplishment for the students and the college, according to Dean of Arts & Humanities Andrew Harris. NCUR is the largest undergraduate research conference in North America, featuring over 2,000 student presentations and reflecting all disciplines in higher education. “It is the kind of conference that we ought to seek out for more of our students, as it offers them a wonderful opportunity to present their work in front of students from colleges and universities all over the country. Student presentation there speaks not only to the quality of student research required for acceptance, but also to the institutional culture that supports a high level of student scholarship and faculty mentoring,” Dr. Harris explained. Keene State is the only institution in New Hampshire that is sending students this year.
Matt McDougal will be presenting about his work performing 35 different roles in the production of the one-man Pulitzer Prize winning play I Am My Own Wife, written by Doug Wright and directed here at Keene State by Timothy L’Ecuyer. “This play tells the true story of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a German transvestite who lived openly in East Berlin through both the Nazi and Communist regimes,” McDougal said. “Like the playwright during the creation of the play, it was my job as the actor to research the given circumstances of the story in order to create a more informed and authentic theatrical production. This included research of the characters spanning a wide range of ages and nationalities, settings across two continents, and backgrounds behind two of the most complex historical eras of the millennium: Nazi and Communist Germany. This is all presented within the social and political contexts of queer culture. Additionally, linguistic research was necessary to portray the diverse characters represented throughout the play. Through slides, lecture, and performance examples, the application of this research will be demonstrated to conference audience members.”
Jordan Chase’s project, “Orchestration of a Large-Scale Music Composition,” is a reflection of the project he completed over the summer under a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) grant. “Receiving the SURF grant gave me the opportunity to learn about the orchestral instruments and apply the knowledge I learned to my compositional studies,” Chase said. “The study of instrumentation, orchestration, and formal structure in music enhanced my understanding of music theory at its core and of the compositional process as a whole. At the NCUR conference I plan to explain the musical concepts I learned and how I applied them to my composition, Foreign Comfort. Throughout the presentation I will play excerpts of my piece, demonstrating specific references and ideas to the audience. I am hoping to conclude with a full playback of one of the movements and a brief question-and-answer session. I definitely believe this opportunity will enhance my future, because I’ll gain valuable assets and skills along with a great deal of responsibility and self-confidence.”
Alexander Habibi’s research project focuses on the philosophy of the South African anti-apartheid activist Steven Biko, who is credited with founding the Black Consciousness movement that sought to unite and instill pride in oppressed black South Africans during the apartheid era. Biko was detained at a roadblock, tortured, and murdered by security police. “I chose the topic because I studied abroad in Cape Town last spring semester and was fascinated by the struggle South Africans waged against an oppressive, minority-ruled state,” Habibi explained. “While Biko’s ideas were popular among the black South African youth during the radical 1970s, many South Africans my age that I met were either apolitical or so concerned with daily survival that radical politics didn’t seem practical in post-apartheid South Africa. … Although my project is a bit abstract and intellectual, I think it’s a task that involves knowing enough about philosophy to understand how an actual person absorbed ideas and put them into effect. … I owe my acceptance to my advisor, Dr. Nicholas Germana, who not only revised all four drafts of my abstract, but helped me understand many of the complicated philosophical aspects I’d be dealing with.”
Kyle O’Brien will be presenting a paper, “Lifting the Veil,” on early German Romanticism, a literary movement in the late 18th century. The paper’s title refers to the poet-philosopher Novalis’ (Friedrich Von Hardenberg’s) ideas about the poet and his place in society. “I focus on the concept that it is the poet who can lift the veil of truth and that the poet becomes worthy to do so through a ‘circuitous journey’ in which he leaves and returns home with knowledge of the Truth, creating a return to a golden age,” O’Brien said. “My paper will incorporate romantic notions about sexuality, epistemology, and semiotics. I focused on this topic because I’m interested in the history of philosophy generally, but I’m also interested in the nature of language and what relationship it has to reality. These early Romantics saw the world through a mytho-poetic lens that they themselves self-consciously created. Mythology and poetry are things which I think are part of and integral to the human condition; things that the contemporary world has lost sight of.”
During the first week of February, members of the KSC student chapter of the American Choral Directors Association traveled to the 2014 Eastern Division ACDA conference in Baltimore, Maryland. The students were awarded a Student Conference Fund grant and raised additional funds to attend this event. The chapter’s vice president, Kaitlyn Hart, a junior choral music education major and clarinet player, was awarded a Richard Kegerris Collegiate Scholarship, which gave her free conference registration.
The conference offered morning and afternoon sessions covering such topics as repertoire reading, 10 steps to achieving a successful choir, choral rehearsal techniques, and how to sing overtones. Keene State College Assistant Professor of Music Sandra Howard presented one of those sessions, titled “Developing Vocal Techniques in the Middle School Choral Rehearsal.” “My session focused on vocal techniques, or the varied ways we use our voices as singers,” Dr. Howard said. “I led attendees through specific vocal warm ups, and then we analyzed and sang through middle school choral repertoire to determine what techniques each piece can address in the choral curriculum.”
Choirs from different colleges and honor choirs from different schools performed three concerts each day in two beautiful Baltimore churches, St. Ignatius and Old St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
“This conference is all about teaching us how to be future choral teachers and music educators,” explained Amanda Williams, the KSC chapter’s PR representative. “The different sessions expand our knowledge as music educators. Some of the sessions include choral reading sessions, how to correctly write a resume, and how to properly develop boys’ voices. We will be able to apply the information we learn into our future classrooms.”
Sixteen Theatre and Dance students attended the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, held in Hyannis, Mass., from January 28–February 1. Lukas Dimitrios Theodossiou earned stage management finalist for his work on Spring Awakening. Cara Gerardi is an Irene Ryan Acting semi-finalist, Alissa Toscano won a Meritorious Award in Allied Craft for her exquisite Mad Hatter marionette, and Taylor Ciambra is National Dramaturgy Award first runner-up for her work on The Tempest.
As you might expect, the students find attending the festival richly rewarding. “I always enjoy bringing my work to the festival and having industry professionals respond to it,” claimed student Michael Portrie. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to have somebody look at your work outside of an academic setting.”
Taylor Ciambra gained a lot of confidence from the workshops and having her presentation judged. “I realized that this was not about competing with the girls around me; it was about individual enhancement that would advance the community and the field,” she said. “Not only did I learn a lot of practice-related information and new ways to think about plays critically, the festival gave me a more personal gift. The people I met and the work I did all corroborated that I was becoming a good dramaturge, a good artist. No matter my doubts, I’m onto something.”
The workshops often created real-world scenarios for these up-and-coming performers. A Broadway choreographer for Chicago led one of them. “She was so helpful in telling us exactly what she, as a choreographer, looks for in a dancer at professional auditions,” said Ally Doyle. “She then taught us a phrase of dance from Chicago and critiqued us one by one, telling us why she would or wouldn’t hire us. Because Keene State doesn’t have a musical theatre program, and it is my individualized major, I found it extremely helpful to be able to get that feedback.”
Last fall, Melissa DiPalma, a lecturer who teaches a course in book and magazine design in the Graphic Design program, approached English Department Chair Kirsti Sandy and asked if Dr. Sandy’s writing students would be willing to submit pieces of short fiction or nonfiction for a journal the graphic design students were creating. Dr. Sandy enlisted the help of Associate Professors of English Kate Tirabassi and Brinda Charry, and they offered students in their upper-level fiction and nonfiction classes the opportunity to submit work. Out of many submissions, 13 were selected to appear in the journal. “Each author was paired with a graphic designer, and they worked as a team to explore the themes and content within each piece,” DiPalma explained.
“What made the collaboration particularly exciting was that most of the writers and graphic designers had a chance to meet and discuss the work and the process. In one instance, the graphic design student used the writing student’s photographs as part of the finished piece. Another used one of the graphic design student’s original watercolor paintings,” Dr. Sandy said.
The finished product, Mark My Words, is now online and open for enjoyment.
“If you get hooked young, it’s really hard. We’ve arrested people [in Keene] who became heroin addicts at 13. [When you’re] a teen, you’re not fully capable of making rational decisions and [drug use] becomes your culture.”
— Testimony from a detective assigned to the NH Attorney General’s Drug Task force for the Western Region, which includes Cheshire County.
A 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBS) survey reported that substance abuse by Keene High School students exceeds the state average in many categories, including use of cocaine at least once in a student’s life, the taking of over-the-counter drugs to get high, taking a prescription drug illegally one or more times, using marijuana one more more times during the past 30 days, binge drinking, having at least one drink of alcohol on one or more of the past 30 days, and using chewing tobacco. The survey shows that heroin use among juniors and seniors at KHS is twice the state average.
To understand why substance abuse is so prevalent at the high school, students in Health Science Assistant Professor Marjorie Droppa’s senior capstone course spent the semester conducting research interviews and focus groups with KHS students, parents, and staff, and inmates at the Cheshire County Department of Corrections who attended high school in the Monadnock Region and have a history of substance abuse. The researchers also looked at the high school’s Substance Abuse Policy, which hadn’t been updated since 1993. They then made recommendations for more effective education to prevent substance abuse and for changes in the school’s policy. The Health Science students presented their findings to the Keene Board of Education on December 10.
Their research report offered two strategies to support KHS in decreasing substance abuse among its students. The first recommends deeper collaborative partnerships with substance abuse organizations in the Monadnock Region to help provide additional education, support, and resources for both school administrators and families struggling with substance abuse issues at home. The second advocates for a collaborative educational conference at KSC to help bring the community together to solve the problem of teen substance abuse.
by KSC choral music education student and ACDA member Amanda Williams
On Saturday, October 5, the Epilepsy Foundation of New England hosted the annual New Hampshire Walk for Epilepsy in Concord to raise awareness and funds for research into this medical condition. The Epilepsy Foundation was established in 1967 and is funded primarily through donations as well as sponsored events.
Student and Vice President of the Keene State chapter of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Kaitie Hart has been involved with this event for a few years; she is very close to the family that runs the New Hampshire walk. Hart has watched participation for the New Hampshire walk grow over the years, so she decided to keep the momentum going and raise even more awareness for this cause. KSC’s ACDA chapter realized this would be an effective way to make a difference in their community, so six of their members decided to join the walk, supported by Hart’s mother and Associate Professor of Music Jim Chesebrough.
As the team walked along Concord’s Main Street, they held a sign that read “American Choral Directors Association supports finding a cure for epilepsy.” They got lots of encouragement as people honked their car horns in support. After the walk, everyone gathered at the Kimball Jenkins Estate for raffles, games, and a great lunch provided by Olive Garden. To end the day, ACDA also helped clean up after the event. As a whole, the walk was a wonderful event that brought community together and a great form of community service for KSC.
“It was great to see students from KSC involved in a community service at the state level,” Dr. Chesebrough commented. “It’s also just plain fun to be able to interact with our students in a non-academic context.”
“I really want to thank the group for coming and helping out,” Mary Crowell, NH Field Service Coordinator for the Epilepsy Foundation of New England, wrote to Dr. Chesebrough after the event. “Kaitie is like our third daughter, but she still went above and beyond by getting the group to come and help. Circumstances what they turned out to be, I couldn’t have been happier or more pleased with the group. They are a dynamic group to say the least.”
The Keene State ACDA chapter raised $480 towards the event total of $7,421. Keene State’s ACDA chapter is planning to make this walk one of its annual events; it’s hoping that more members participate next year. Mark your calendars: next year’s walk will happen on October 4, 2014.
Four KSC Health Science students attended the NH Public Health Association Fall Forum in October. They are part of a new initiative called Rising Stars which is intended to recruit and engage students in the state affiliate of the American Public Health Association. Each of the four received a scholarship to attend the meeting. “This provides professional development for students through helping them to see and hear the scope of what ‘public health’ is and does in New Hampshire and gives them a sense of professional identity,” explained Associate Professor of Health Science Becky Brown.
“The conference provided me with insights and knowledge about current healthcare and the future of healthcare,” said Kim L’Heruex. “After all the hard work I have put into my studies, I understand now that there are jobs and careers out there that I can go into. The best thing I learned was about all the opportunities that I have as someone looking to get into the health field.”
Biology Professor (and 2012’s Distinguished Teacher) Susan Whittemore has received a $69,169 NH-INBRE grant from Dartmouth College (with federal funding from the National Institutes of Health) for her project, Identification of Signaling Pathways Affected by Early Exposure to Prevalent PAHs. The study will allow Dr. Whittemore and her student researchers to continue their investigation into phenanthrene (PHE) and pyrene (PYR), two polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that are known pollutants present in human milk and cord blood. Despite the fact that these pollutants are an environmental and human health concern, little study has been conducted on the developmental effects of these compounds, a gap that Dr. Whittemore’s study should help fill. Continue reading Dr. Whittemore Receives NH-INBRE Grant→
Junior and journalism major Dylan Morrill wrapped up his eight-week summer internship at Foster’s Daily Democrat by writing a column aimed at freshmen entering college for the first time. It’s great advice from someone who’s recently been there and done that, and is still doing it.
Here’s the bottom line: “But I’m telling you, push. During your freshman year, work hard to fully appreciate your new surroundings. Whatever you have to do to embrace your college and become a fully-fledged member of its culture, do it. Trust me. There will be an incredible amount of stuff to do at your college and only four years to do it in. You don’t want to miss out. Open your eyes wide and sprint.”
The New Hampshire Legislature took an important step towards supporting higher education when it passed the 2014–15 state budget, which restores $53 million in funding to the University System of New Hampshire over the next biennium. To show their appreciation, student leaders from each of the four USNH institutions—Keene State, UNH, Plymouth State, and Granite State—got together to write a letter thanking the legislature, the governor, and the citizens of New Hampshire for standing up for higher ed in New Hampshire.
The KSC student, Tyler King, from Lebanon, is a senior and the senior class representative and chair of the Student Assembly. The other student leaders were Bryan Merrill, from Londonderry, a junior at the University of New Hampshire and president of the student body; Ryan Patten, from Wolfeboro, a senior at Plymouth State University and the Student Senate speaker; and Kim Hallet, from Rochester, a senior at Granite State College and a student trustee on the USNH Board of Trustees during the budgetary process, in addition to being the GSC student representative to the board.
Six students in the Honors Program traveled to Cuba recently as part of their Global Engagement requirement. The trip—led by retired Political Science Professor Chuck Weed and his son, Tim, who has taught writing at KSC—began in Havana and took in several towns and sites, including the Bay of Pigs, Trinidad (a beautifully preserved colonial city), museums, factories, farms, and a national park. Each student worked on a chosen research topic, which included primary and secondary education, the health delivery system, sports as a unifier, the genres of Cuban music, sites and memories of mafiosa in pre-revolution Cuba, and organic agriculture. As Dr. Weed explained, the trip “was certainly varied enough to give more than a surface introduction to a complex country and its citizens.” Continue reading Honors Students Visit Cuba→
For several years, the Harris Center for Conservation Education has played an integral role in stitching together a 33,000-acre Supersanctuary of connected protected lands in the towns of Antrim, Greenfield, Hancock, Harrisville, Nelson, Peterborough, and Stoddard. These contiguous blocks of habitat are vital for long-ranging species of animals, for migratory birds, for timber, and for outdoor recreation. In order to most effectively manage and understand this area, the Harris Center needed to conduct a natural resources inventory (NRI). That’s a perfect project for some of KSC’s Environmental Studies majors, but there’s a problem: A lot of the critical information—such as where the vernal pools are and which animals are on the move during breeding season—takes place in late spring/early summer, when most students are off campus and working summer jobs to help pay for next year’s classes.
Just over two years ago, Keene State forged an exchange relationship with Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. Although the relationship is not specifically for Holocaust and Genocide Studies majors, it certainly offers them a rewarding opportunity. “It fit beautifully for us,” explained Paul Vincent, professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, “especially for the Holocaust part of our major. Krakow is perfectly located within walking distance of the infamous Płaszów concentration camp. The factory mentioned in Schindler’s List is located nearby, as is the ghetto. It’s about a 45-minute drive from Auschwitz. If you’re studying the Holocaust, there is a remarkably powerful mental impact to stand in the places where these things happened. You see the world differently when you’re actually studying this in Poland.”
So far, three Holocaust and Genocide Studies majors have taken advantage of the opportunity at Jagiellonian. Two of them, Chloe Edmonds and Johanna DeBari, now completing their spring semester at the university, wrote a detailed letter to Dr. Vincent telling him of their adventures. It’s an inspiring testament of bright, engaged students exploring new horizons and taking on challenges beyond the call of duty. But it’s better to let them tell their story in their own words: Continue reading A Letter from Krakow→