Alumnus Feature: James McKenna ’61

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Dr. James McKenna, ’61, was originally a Mathematics major at Canisius College.  McKenna was also involved in ROTC and entered Canisius with the intention of pursuing a career as a high school mathematics teacher.  In McKenna’s third year at Canisius his advisor suggested he pursue a master’s degree, so after graduating McKenna completed a Master’s degree in Mathematics at Syracuse University.   McKenna went on to teach mathematics at the State University of New York at Fredonia for 38 years and found his undergraduate preparation in mathematics at Canisius was “a key element in [his] ultimate selection of a career” and provided the perfect groundwork for his success as a mathematics professor.

McKenna found his classes at Canisius featuring student presentations which prepared him for teaching math at the undergraduate level and notes it as a key to his preparation for graduate school and his teaching career.  Canisius faculty also informed McKenna of opportunities such as the Graduate Teaching Assistantships and the New York State Regents Teaching Fellowship –funding opportunities which allowed McKenna to attend graduate school.

In 2005, McKenna retired from the State University of New York at Fredonia and found a typical day at Fredonia was filled with mathematical and pedagogical discussions with students and faculty.  McKenna notes “Even though many see mathematics as a solitary endeavor, in truth the social part – sharing ideas with others – is as important as solitary study.”  McKenna’s education trained him to think in an effective problem-solving way and was lucky enough to be surrounded by faculty and staff that engaged in these discussions to cultivate a productive living environment.

To our seniors graduating in a matter of weeks, McKenna advises when searching for a career to “find something you love and give it your best effort.”  He recommends students pursue their passions, for this is the key to satisfaction.

 

 

The Great Wall of the Library: Why It’s There and When It’s Coming Down by Anthony Gengo

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It is study time in the library and a group of students want to get together to talk amongst each other and review, but they cannot find a space large enough for the whole group. Or, it is crunch time on the quiet floor and you need to get that paper submitted but cannot seem to focus with the sound of drilling constantly ringing in your ear. Well, the student body does not have to suffer for much longer. The first phase of the renovations in the library is almost complete. Matt Kochan, a Public Services Supervisor of the Library, and fellow Honors student Nicole Fusco’ 16 will help update and comment on the Andrew L. Bouwhuis Library renovations.

The renovations will be completed in phases. They depend on the generous contributions of alumni and philanthropists in Buffalo. We hope that once they see the great additions to the library thus far, they will be inspired to do more for the library. There will be many changes to the main floor. In the walled off section off of Hughes Ave, there will be all new state- of- the art technology and seating areas for students. The new instruction room will be centrally located along the wall adjacent to the Circulation Desk and just before the Tim Hortons entrance. This room is used for students who are unfamiliar with how they can best use the library or how to utilize the Canisius database system for research. The goal is to engage the whole student body with this room, not just one particular class. Next to each side of the instruction room will be general seating areas with booths and televisions. There will be a multimedia center in one of the study areas to which students can connect their laptops. One of the areas is enclosed with glass walls. A third, open seating area will be placed right next to the three study rooms that still occupy the very back of the library. There is also speculation that Tim Hortons will expand as well, encroaching on open office space at the rear end of the library. On the side closer to Hughes, the orientation will be similar to before except there will be new tables and chairs for students to occupy. As of now, no books or DVDs are supposed to return to that renovated area. An updated and expanded Curriculum center will occupy the Main/Jefferson corner of the library. There will also be furniture there for students to sit on. IT will move back to its original office space and expand into the old instruction room.

According to Lakeside Contracting, the day the ply walls were supposed to come down in the library was March 25th, 2014. In future phases, there are plans to renovate the rest of the main floor of the Library along with the entire second floor and ground floor. The completion of the main floor will most likely be done first and preferably in the summer so as to not disturb the ebb and flow of library patrons during the semesters. The end result of all these remodelings in the Library will be a “learning commons,” as Matt Kochan puts it. His vision is that more student services will take place at the library to enhance students’ studying experience and their overall impression of Canisius.

In an interview with Nicole Fusco, she had this to say:

How often do you use the library?

I do most of my studying in the library. If I had to crunch numbers, I would say I spend on average four hours a day there. It is a great resource for my study group peers and me.

What do you hope to get out of these new renovations?

I hope the renovations encourage more people to use the library by making it more open and accessible. From the floor plan that I have seen, it seems like it will be a wonderful resource and space for students to utilize.

Would you like Canisius to update more of its buildings on campus? Can you provide examples?

I cannot wait for the Science Hall to be completed. It offers so much potential to the students of Canisius. Being a Chemistry major, this building is very instrumental to me and I enjoy the atmosphere it creates. I hope the new renovations in the library provide the same kind of experience for the entire Canisius community.

Student Feature: Kaitlyn Buehlmann

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The first time Kaitlyn Buehlmann heard about studying abroad, she was touring a college during her senior year of high school.  From that moment on, she knew it was for her.  She developed a longing to live and study in Spain and made it one of her goals for her time at Canisius.

During her junior year at Canisius, she got the opportunity of a lifetime: to study for a complete academic year in beautiful Spain.  Canisius has three different study abroad programs in Spain: Oviedo, Madrid, and Barcelona.  Each program is designed to meet different academic needs of students and exposes them to different sides of the Spanish culture.  She decided to study her fall semester at the University of Oviedo and at Comillas Pontifical University, in Madrid in the spring.

The Oviedo program is designed for language majors and focuses on immersing students into the culture in the most complete way possible.  Students live with host families and take classes in Spanish, with Spanish professors.  The university in Madrid is more suitable for international relations majors and gives international students the opportunity to take classes with native students on a wide array of topics.  Kaitlyn says, “Studying abroad was the most incredible experience of my life.  I can’t believe how much I grew, both personally and linguistically.”

Kaitlyn reflects what she misses most about the experience is the people, the food (tortilla, paella, and sangria), and the ease of travel.  During her time living in Europe she also had the opportunity to visit Portugal, Italy, England, France, and Morocco and to travel extensively throughout Spain.

Upon returning to Canisius in the fall to complete her senior year, Kaitlyn has tried to continue to grow from the experience.  She volunteers as a Study Abroad Ambassador for the Office of International Partnerships & Study Abroad in an outreach effort on campus to encourage other students to study abroad.  She also works for the Office of Residence Life as the Resident Assistant in Campion Hall, Canisius’ international dorm.

She loves living in Campion because it provides her the opportunity to continue to experience and learn about other cultures, every day.  She also finds the job incredibly rewarding because it allows her to help international students with the elements of their transition to Canisius that she remembers struggling with when she was abroad.

Her passion for all things international has led her to declare a triple major in International Relations, Spanish and Latin America Studies with a minor in History, and she is currently writing her Honors thesis on women in politics in Latin America.  She plans to move abroad again next year, completing a year of post-graduate service in Latin America.

Kaitlyn looks forward to graduating in May, and is eager to carry the lessons she’s learned from Canisius and her pride in the Blue & Gold with her, wherever the road may take her next. Pictured: Kaitlyn and her host mom in Spain.Kaitlyn

Where’s Lloyd? by Melissa Moeller

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In the Montante Cultural Center on April 1, Pete Cimino ’03 returned to Canisius College to discuss Lloyd’s Tacos, one of Buffalo’s most popular food trucks. During his presentation, he told the audience of gathered business students that during his undergraduate career, he majored in Education and Mathematics. He received a teaching position at Canisius High School shortly after graduation. However, he described how he was always looking for an entrepreneurial outlet. Eventually, Cimino found himself convincing his friend, a culinary school veteran himself, to start driving a food truck selling tacos. Lloyd’s Tacos has now grown to over thirty employees and three trucks, serving various parts of Buffalo. They have won awards for Best Food Truck, and Chef Chris Dorsaneo won the Nickel City Award for Best Chef and Best Chef to Watch. Sous Chef Teddy Bryant won the same awards in 2013.

Cimino described how important it is to have an infrastructure in place that his business can survive long after he leaves and how the business must ever be growing and innovating in order to meet the needs of the people. He discussed how he wished for people to be eating meat that had not been fed preservatives and how he made that a priority even in the beginning of Lloyd’s. At first, this was not a practical goal, but Cimino has now made it a reality. He also stressed the fact that communication through social media is an integral part of running a business—especially a restaurant. “If I see someone tweet about loving a special, I say ‘let’s run that special more often” says Cimino. Social media, especially Twitter, has proven to be a valuable way not only for marketing but also for assessment, and it even makes it easier for people to find the truck if they follow them online.

The event in Montante was sponsored by the Can Do Society, under the direction of Dr. Ji-Hee Kim, and the audience, of course, was wooed by tacos from Lloyd’s afterwards. Follow Lloyd’s on Twitter: @whereslloyd.

The Orphaned Hero by Elizabeth Sawka

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Harry Potter is an orphaned wizard who lives a lonely life with his aunt and uncle during the summer. During the school year, Harry travels to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry—a boarding school for witches and wizards where he rejects his loner status and searches for familial bonds. Holden Caulfield is a boy who is constantly switching from one boarding school to the next because he is continuously expelled. Holden’s parents are alive, but he does not have a close bond with either parent and chooses to ostracize himself from society. Harry strives to join society and connect with others, rejecting his loner orphan status and simultaneously illustrating qualities of the English hero. Holden rejects the role in society has predetermined for him, rejecting close relationships he could have and choosing to be a loner, reflecting typical qualities of the American hero.

Harry Potter’s parents died when he was an infant, so during the summers, he lives with his Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia—his only living relatives. Harry’s aunt and uncle see him as a burden, shamelessly favoring their son Dudley over Harry. Though Harry has to live a lonely life of solitude during the summers, his only solace is letters he receives from Ron and Hermione, his two closest friends at Hogwarts (Rowling 8). Harry looks forward to school because it gives him a chance to connect with people and leave his lonely orphan status behind.

Harry looks for the good in society and strives to make connections at school even when faced with opposition. Though Harry makes close relationships at Hogwarts, when he returns for his fifth year at school, he is ostracized because the Ministry of Magic has been publishing slanderous stories about him in The Daily Prophet all summer, claiming Harry is lying about an evil wizard’s return to power. Though the majority of the student body at Hogwarts believes the lies that The Daily Prophet has been writing, Harry’s close circle of friends trust him and remain supportive. Furthermore, although most of his classmates have turned against him, Harry throws himself into his studies to distract from the lies being spread about him. He feels oddly disconnected from the student body, admitting that there are points where he feels as he approaches his classmates, they had “stopped talking about him a split second before” (Rowling 202). Even though most of the students have ostracized him, Harry remains enthusiastic about school, using it as a coping device for the animosity thrown his way by the majority of his wizarding contemporaries.

Harry feels connected enough to school and society to remain studious even through opposition. He leads a secret club called “Dumbledore’s Army” where he teaches defensive spells to students. The Ministry of Magic refuses to teach students these incantations, so Harry is taking on a larger role of preparing the students for the return of Lord Voldemort. Though Harry is initially nervous at het thought of instructing his classmates, he feels naturally compelled to teach them the basic defensive spells that have already saved his own life on multiple occasions (Rowling 331). Though the students as a whole rejected him, Harry still reaches out to the ones that will listen, offering them protection (Rowling 340). Harry remains faithful that his classmates will accept him again and puts himself in harm’s way (by leading the secret club, he risks expulsion from his sanctuary) to help his classmates. Though Harry faces rejection in his fifth year at Hogwarts, he still maintains a close connection to the school because it where he feels connected to society. He strives to reject his loner status by leading Dumbledore’s Army and throwing himself into his studies.

When Harry goes to school, he immediately rejects the lonely state he felt living his aunt and uncle by striving to make friends at Hogwarts. Harry’s closest friends, Ron and Hermione, are his chosen family. On Christmas vacations, he begins to go to Ron’s family’s house to celebrate and feels closer and more connected to Ron’s extended family and the other friend he makes at school. He bonds with professors, Headmaster Dumbledore, and Hagrid the gamekeeper, who all stand in as his parent role models. The lives he leads at school and with his aunt and uncle greatly contrast one another, as, at the latter, he shakes off the loner status he is known for at the former.

While Harry views school as a safe escape from his lonely summers with his Aunt and Uncle, Holden detests school and feels no ties to school and is expelled from several expensive private schools. Holden views school as an n institution forcing him to join a society that disgusts him. Pencey is the school Holden is enrolled in at the beginning of the novel, and he is disgusted by the false impression that the school gives in their ad. Holden describes his distaste for the ad that the school puts in magazines depicting young boys being molded into better citizens due to their education: “They don’t do any damn more molding at Pencey than they do at any other school. And I didn’t know anybody there that was splendid and clear-thinking and all. Maybe two guys. If that many. And they probably came to Pencey that way” (Salinger 4). Holden is disgusted by the façade that the school puts on, giving the illusion the school builds character in the students. While Harry values his education as a means to become a productive member of society, Holden resents that his school expects this of him.

Holden feels disconnected from his school because he does not have any emotional ties to the school, partly because he does not have a close bond with any of his teachers. When Holden speaks with Mr. Spencer, a teacher at Pencey, he describes to him a conversation Holden had with the headmaster about the game of life. The headmaster told Holden that life is a game and that Holden must play his part. Holden rejects this advice, narrating for the reader: “game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it’s a game, all right—I’ll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren’t any hot-shots, then what’s a game about it? Nothing. No game” (Salinger 12-13). Holden resents the expectation that he must conform to the preconceived expectations of society where he must do well in school, for the school promotes a society he hates. He clings to his loner status by rejecting the social conventions dictating that he must conform to the education system.

Holden also feels disconnected from school because rather than find his chosen family at a school like Harry, Holden despises his classmates. He describes his classmates at Pencey as crooks, and at Elkton Hills, he admits that he left because he was surrounded by phonies, citing the Headmaster, Mr. Haas, as the phoniest person at the school. A phony is described as a person who puts on airs for others, appearing to be what they are not. He hated the headmaster at Elkton for treating poorer families with no respect and catering to wealthier families. While Harry finds a father figure in Dumbledore, the headmaster, and Hagrid, the gamekeeper, Holden fails to find any chosen family at school, and rather resents his classmates and teachers. Holden feels no connection to his school, and subsequently to society, causing him to remain the American Loner.

While Harry’s parents died when he was a baby, he constantly strives to overcome his lonely status as an orphan. He is not connected to his aunt, uncle, or cousin, so he looks forward to school because he found the familial ties he was lacking with his only living blood relatives. Though Harry does not feel connected to his cousin Dudley, he protects his cousin when Dementors (demons his cousin cannot see because Dudley is a muggle) attack the pair. Harry feels no emotional connection to his cousin, yet he still protects him because he does not want to be a loner. Harry despises his cousin, but because they are family, Harry protects Dudley, even though using defensive spells outside of school gets Harry in trouble with the Ministry of Magic. He risks his freedom because he wants to have a family and reject his lonely orphan status.

While Holden’s parents are both living, he feels no bond between them. When Holden leaves Pencey, he chooses to spend time away from home in a hotel room rather than go to see his parents or either of his living siblings. Even though Holden cares for his little sister, Phoebe, he keeps her at a distance rather than forming a close bond with her. When Phoebe tells Holden she wants to accompany him to the cabin he’s running off to, he hurts her to prevent her from coming with him. He chooses to remain disconnected to the only blood relative that actually wants to have a relationship with him. Both Holden and Harry are disconnected from the blood relatives that raised them, but while Harry strives to find a familial bond elsewhere, Holden chooses to maintain his lonely status.

Harry is born into a role as a loner and Holden has blood relatives, yet Harry constantly strives to gain an emotional connection with those around him and reject his loner status. Holden welcomes his status as a loner, rejecting his blood relatives and avoiding the formation of close bonds with schoolmates, teachers, and family. Harry embraces his role at Hogwarts as a student working towards becoming a productive member of society, illustrating classic qualities of the English hero. While Harry constantly strives to join society, Holden embraces his loner status and avoids creating ties to people and to his past, much like the typical American Hero. Holden resents his education as an institution, forcing him to join a corrupt society that he hates. He would rather remain a loner and continue living on the outskirts of society and avoiding contact with people. Catcher in the Rye ends with Holden telling Phoebe that he is considering moving away and living in solitude. When he ends with his narration, he admits that he is now thinking of adopting an attitude like Bromden in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and pretending to be deaf and dumb to avoid making connections with people by alienating himself from human contact.

Standardized Testing by Alex Tubridy

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There are many ways in which to gauge a student’s cognition, including problem solving, critical thinking, and testing. However, when it comes to testing, the format and frequency of the test, this has become an issue in today’s educational system as standardized testing is now required in the United States.

 

A standardized test can be defined as a test that is administered and scored in a consistent, or “standard” manner. They are designed in such a way that the questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations are both consistent, administered, and scored in a predetermined, standard manner. When former president George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) on January 8th, 2002, annual testing be-came mandated across the nation. Students would be tested in math, reading, and science, starting in the 3rd grade, and ending in the 10th grade, with the only gap year being the 9th grade. Schools would be judged based on referred to as Adequate Yearly Progress, and if it wasn’t sufficient, the state could take over or close the school.

 

In the NCLB Act, President Bush outlined that he wanted 100% proficiency in state math and reading tests by 2014. This goal was unrealistic both when it was set, and now as 2014 draws nearer. In 2010, Massachusetts was the only state proficient in mathematics, and not one qualified for proficiency in reading. Similarly, U.S. students slipped from 18th in the world in math in 2000 to 31st place in 2009, with a similar decline in science and no change in reading.

 

The decrease in test scores cannot all be attributed to the teachers, however. The NCLB act said that states must report the assessment scores of 95% of their students. There are no exceptions to this, which means that dis-advantaged students are required to take the same test as everyone else. This includes students who have Individual Education Plans. An Individual Education Plan (IEP) sets developing goals and objectives that correspond to the needs of the individual student, and is utilized for disabled students who cannot obtain goals of their grade lev-el. If a student has special accommodations specified by their IEP for test taking, these accommodations are only allowed as long as they do not interfere with the nature of the assessment. This means that although some students may be granted their usual accommodations, others will have to test without them. Additionally, students with mild or physical disabilities are required to take the same test as non-disabled students and have their scores count-ed.

 

Non-English speakers face a similar problem when it comes to testing. All students who are learning English are given a three-year window to take the tests in their native language, but then after the three years, they are forced to take the tests entirely in English. However, only ten states test English language learners in their native languages. Expecting students to have mastered the most difficult language to learn in just three years and to test as proficient in it while native English speakers can’t do the same shows that this is an unfair practice.

 

Due to the high amount of pressure that is put on teachers for their test results, there has been an increase in the number of teachers that are “teaching to the test.” This is a practice where teachers spend less time on out-side subjects and topics that aren’t relative to the test, and teach only material that is to be included on it. A study done by the University of Maryland found that, “the pressure teachers were feeling to ‘teach to the test'” since NCLB was leading to “declines in teaching higher-order thinking, in the amount of time spent on complex assignments, and in the actual amount of high cognitive content in the curriculum.” Less time is being spent on subjects such as social studies and science, and more time is being spent on the mandated testing areas of math and reading.

 

The format of the tests also does not foster higher level thinking skills. Multiple-choice questions make students believe that there are only right and wrong answers to questions. According to researcher Gerald W. Bracey, by using the multiple choice format, students are not being tested on this such as, “creativity, critical thinking, resilience, motivation, persistence, curiosity, endurance, reliability, enthusiasm, empathy, self-awareness, self-discipline, leadership, civic-mindedness, courage, compassion, resourcefulness, sense of beauty, sense of wonder, honesty, and integrity.”

 

Education at the state level is also involved with the sham that is standardized testing. States are able to individually set what they determine to be proficiency by weakening the standards they set. For example, a student taking the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) test is California may be deemed proficient, but would have not met proficiency if they had taken the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) in Connecticut. The variability at the state level of what is determined to be proficiency causes a great deal of fluctuation when it comes to the national mandated tests.

For an example of a country succeeding in the absence of standardized tests, one can look at Finland. In annual reports from the Program for International Student Assessment, Finland was atop the rankings from 2001-2008. Rather than using standardized tests, or hardly any testing at all, success is measured through assessments that encourage students to be active learners that are able to find, analyze, and use information to solve problems. The ability of the students to use higher order thinking skills helps to develop cognitive ability and problem solving skills that seems to be absent in American students.

 

The presentation that I did in class was focused on most of the same issues that were presented in this paper, but just did a quick overview of them rather than getting too in depth into each issue. For the interactive portion of my presentation, I made up two separate quizzes that were administered to all other class members. The first quiz was typed entirely in Finnish, and was near impossible to complete correctly without any knowledge of the language. This quiz was designed to show how English learners may not be completely proficient in the language, but are still forced to take the test. The second quiz was the exact same as the first quiz, but this quiz was in English. Once starting the timer, the participants were only given a short amount of time to look over the quiz before time was called. This was done to simulate a situation where students with IEP’s aren’t always given the accommodations they are used to when taking standardized tests, and their scores are still counted in the results.

 

I believe that if the problem of standardized testing is to be adjusted, that there needs to be more than a few things that are changed. First, I believe that the rate at which tests are administered needs to be reduced. Rather than testing every year between 3rd and 9th grade, I believe that testing should only take place every other year starting in the 4th grade and ending in the 10th grade. This would result in a total of four tests, each administered in key times of intellectual development. Second, the format of the tests needs to be changed. Rather than being all multiple-choice, new types of questions need to take the place of a portion of the multiple choice. From this, skills such as creativity and critical thinking can be taken into account. Skills such as these would prove to be more valuable in the real world, where problems are not always solved with only one answer, and new and innovative ways of solving the problem are valued. Third, the tests should be based on a more even distribution of more topics rather than math and reading. Though these two are arguably the most valuable skills learned, testing in history, social studies, and science would also prove valuable to the developing minds of our children. How are well-rounded individuals supposed to be raised if they are constantly being tested solely on math and reading?

 

Although I believe that standardized tests are necessary in order to gauge the development of school children, they need to be modified to fully reach their potential. They need to be administered less often, be more mindful of disadvantaged students, and be more inclusive of other subjects and aspects of mental development.

 

 

Men and Women For and With Others: Honors Gives Back by Liz Piotrowski

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The Canisius All-College Honors Program has traditionally been involved with community service activities in the past, but, wishing to revamp the program, I have collaborated with Will Siegner, a Campus Ministry Service Intern that often liaises with St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy, to get Honors students even more involved with the community. For the past two months, we have made biweekly trips to St. Luke Mission of Mercy on Walden Avenue in downtown Buffalo with. While at St. Luke’s, the students serve the patrons that receive their free dinner, talk to the patrons, and help to clean up after the meal is served. The experiences at St. Luke’s work to immerse students in our city, as well as to remind them to view the world from a new perspective. In addition to providing a hot meal from 4-5pm six days a week, St. Luke’s house also serves as a halfway house for men transitioning from prison life, has temporary housing units for women and children, runs a fully functioning elementary school for students in kindergarten through sixth grade, offers sandwiches for anyone in the community, and conducts daily masses at the Roman Catholic Church. Every Honors student that has participated in serving dinner has had a great experience. One student stated “What surprised me the most about the people who come to St. Luke’s was their gratitude to us for volunteering and their praise to God that they had received something as small as a hot meal.” Volunteering at St. Luke’s has allowed many Honors students the chance to explore their community in a safe and proactive way. We are looking forward to continuing this project biweekly through the spring semester of 2014 as well as starting an Honors Only Community Day in collaboration with St. Luke’s on November 2nd, 2013.