Single mom involved on and off campus
Casey VanKuren, a senior double-major in English and human development, intended to spend her freshman year at Binghamton before transferring somewhere else. The only hitch? Once the Johnson City resident got here, she didn’t want to leave.
“I fit in really well, so I decided to stay,” she says. “I felt like I belonged here.”
No surprise, considering the number of activities she joined.
VanKuren, a single mother of a 5½-year-old daughter, juggles responsibilities as a Discovery Advisor, founder of the Binghamton Gaming Group, volunteer for the SOS Children’s Shelter, mentor to a Johnson City sixth-grader and participant in English Conversation Pairs. And, last fall, she added becoming a tour guide and interning at a local elementary school to her list.
VanKuren knows firsthand how difficult it can be for off-campus students to connect socially on campus. In her role with Discovery she reaches out to off-campus students to get them involved with campus life. Her biggest success so far was a barbecue for off-campus students that helped people connect.
Working with the sixth-grader in Johnson City to improve her reading and social skills, and with the children at the SOS Shelter to raise their morale, has helped bring focus to VanKuren’s career plans: to become a teacher and to help children.
As her daughter headed off to kindergarten last fall, VanKuren headed off to intern in a kindergarten class at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in Binghamton.
Libby Tucker, associate professor of English, calls VanKuren “vibrant and spirited.” VanKuren, who was a teaching assistant for Tucker, has impressed the faculty member with her dedication to her academic work.
She is one of the best folklore students I have had the pleasure to know,” Tucker says, “not only highly insightful but also very creative and enthusiastic.”