From OCC To The Bench

Michelle Morley earned a degree from OCC in 1984. Today she’s a Circuit Court Judge in central Florida.

Michelle Morley remembers a time when she didn’t fully appreciate what higher education could do for her. She had graduated from the Academy of Mt. St. Ursula in the Bronx in 1975. That fall she went to college to study accounting. She quit after one semester and entered the working world. “I thought I didn’t need a college degree and could make it by just working harder. When I matured and realized my mistake, OCC helped me get back on track.”

By the time Morley came to Onondaga Community College she had dug a hole for herself. She had bills to pay and needed to continue working full time while taking classes. The College understood her situation and adjusted accordingly. “OCC enabled me to take the classes I needed on a schedule that accommodated my employment obligations. I was also able to work part time in the Registrar’s Office during busy times of the year on a schedule that complimented my full time job.”

Despite the many obstacles she faced, Morley was able to earn her Business Management degree in 1984, less than two years after she had started taking classes. She would go on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tampa and her law degree from Stetson University. Today she is a Circuit Court Judge in the Fifth Judicial Court headquartered in Bushnell, Florida, about an hour west of Orlando. Thirty-five years after receiving her degree at Onondaga she hasn’t forgotten how the College was there for her. “I remain grateful to OCC, the faculty, and staff that helped me so willingly and so effectively when I needed it most.”

Common Read Author Coming To Campus

Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat is coming to Onondaga Community College. Her novel Breath, Eyes, Memory is this year’s common read on campus. The book was published when she was 25 years old and was featured on Oprah’s Book Club.

Danticat will host a discussion with students Monday, September 9 at 11:15 a.m. in Storer Auditorium. The event is open to the entire campus community and the public. Immediately afterwards Danticat will sign copies of Breath, Eyes, Memory in the lobby outside Storer Auditorium.

Danticat has published numerous books include Claire of the Sea Light, a New York Times notable book; Brother, I’m Dying, a National Book Critics Circle Award winner and National Book Award finalist; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner; and The Dew Breaker, a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and winner of the inaugural Story Prize. The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, she has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and elsewhere.

Why You Should Get Involved on the OCC Campus and How to Do It

We hear all the time from students wondering why they should get involved on-campus? The answer is that it’s going to help you build your future. Students who get involved on-campus have experience to add to a resume and items to add to their transfer application if they choose to go onto four year school.

Getting involved at OCC has never been easier! Browse some options below and fill out the Get Involved Form or visit us on September 4th from 11 am – 1 pm at the Get Involved Fair in the Gordon Hallway.

1. Join a Club or Organization

We’ve got 20+ clubs and organizations on-campus spanning many different interests. Join one to have fun between classes and occasionally go on cool trips. Fill out our interest form to get more information on clubs around campus.

2. Become a Social Media Reporter or Ambassador

Do you love posting to social media? Are you a fan of taking photos and videos? Would you like vlog or blog for the college? If you answered yes to any one of these questions then the social media reporter position could be for you. Fill out the online application to get started with that today!

3. Apply to be a Student Ambassador

Do you feel passionate about being a Lazer? Then maybe becoming a student ambassador is right for you. You’ll get to take groups of prospective students on tours and tell them why it’s great to be a Lazer!

4. Become a Senator-at-Large

The spring 2019 Senators-at-large are (left to right) Michaela Denson, Armando Adrian, Patrick McGuinness, Dawn Penson, Paris Graziano and Alexandra Hoffman.

Interested in getting involved with student government? Get your foot in the door by becoming a Senator-at-Large for Fall! Senators represent the interests of specific groups on-campus!

Fill out the online form and select any of these options for more info!

5. Volunteer for a Service Project

Day of Service 034
Students revitalized a resident garden at the Van Duyn Center on Onondaga Day of Service.

OCC has plenty of ways you can volunteer on campus and in the community. We host blood drives, work at nonprofits in the community and dedicate a whole day to volunteering on Onondaga Day of Service in the Fall. Fill out our online form to receive more info about volunteer opportunities.

6. Mentor First-Year Students 

If you’re a returning student, then you could apply to be a first-year peer mentor for incoming students. You’ll be focused on connecting with first-year students by helping them get involved in campus life, reminding them of important dates and making sure they are on track to graduate. Fill out our online form to receive more information on how you can help the next generation of Lazers succeed.

7. Become a Resident Assistant (RA) 

There are lots of reasons why you should become an RA. You’ll get to lead a group of students in the residence halls and get them involved when they come to OCC. You’ll also get free room and board! Fill out our online form to get more info on becoming an RA or getting involved with residence life in general.

To get more info on how to get involved with these opportunities and more, fill out our online Get Involved Form!

Social Jobs For Students

The new academic year comes with new job opportunities for students. If you are someone who likes to help others you may be perfect for a Student Ambassador position. They represent the college in a variety of ways including:

  • Giving campus tours to prospective students and their families.
  • Giving campus tours to high-level visitors, such as the SUNY Chancellor.
  • Participating in student panels for various events including orientation and OCC Advantage outreach to area high schools.

Student Ambassador is not a work-study position. Rate of pay is $11.10 an hour.

Anyone interested should contact the Office of Student Recruitment at, or (315) 498-2221.

Director of Student Recruitment Dana Acee (left) and Digital Marketing Specialist Zach Snyder (right) are looking for students to work for them. They are pictured on the OCC campus with the statue “Herculium” in front of the Whitney Applied Technology Center.

If you love social media there are some exciting opportunities. The Department of Marketing & New Media is looking for Social Media Reporters and Social Media Ambassadors. A Social Media Reporter helps create content for OCC social media channels, runs the official OnondagaCC Snapchat account, helps with social media contests and provides feedback on strategic marketing. Social Media Reporters often have the opportunity to get involved in other interesting projects as well. If you enjoy social media and are comfortable speaking with fellow students this could be for you! Average time commitment is 5 to 8 hours a week. The rate of pay is $11.10 an hour. This is for work-study students. If you are not a work-study student, the Social Media Ambassador position may be exactly what you’re looking for. Students will receive rewards for posting about OCC to their personal social media accounts. The rate of pay is $11.10 an hour.

Students can apply for either of the social media opportunities on Purple Briefcase, by visiting, or by emailing Digital Marketing Specialist Zach Snyder at

These exciting job opportunities are the subject of our podcast, “Higher Ed News You Can Use From Onondaga Community College.” You can listen to the podcast by clicking on this link. Enjoy the podcast!

OCC’s Career Services Office will host a Part-Time Job Fair for all students Thursday, August 29 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Gordon Student Center Great Room. Students will have the opportunity to apply for part-time positions both on and off campus. Students should dress professionally and bring a resume if they have one.

The Career Sevices Office provides students with a variety of employment related services year round including resume and cover letter review, job searching and interview preparation, career exploration, job shadowing and internship opportunities. Students interested in attending the Part-Time Job Fair can access a list of participating employers through Purple Briefcase, OCC’s online career portal and job board. Employment opportunities are regularly posted on Purple Briefcase throughout the year as well.

The Career Services Offices is located in Coulter Hall, room C110. If you enter Coulter through the main entrance, the Career Center is on your immediate right. You can contact the Career Services office by email at or by phone at (315) 498-2585.

Dawn Penson

Dawn Penson is the Student Trustee for the 2019-20 academic year. She is pictured in the Office of Accessibility Resources in Coulter Hall.

Dawn Penson will represent the students on OCC’s Board of Trustees during the 2019-20 academic year. As the Student Trustee she will attend monthly meetings and participate in all votes. Penson is a 41-year-old mother of three with a perfect 4.0 grade point average in the Human Services major. She is also blind. “I have experience being on the board for Arise, the National Federation of the Blind Syracuse chapter and all of the other advocacies I am involved with. I will bring experience to the Board of Trustees while highlighting my own position as a grown woman with children who came back to school with a disability.”

Penson lost her sight in 2012 after being diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic disorder that leads to a breakdown and loss of cells in the retina. “Before I lost my sight, I was very vain. It was all about me. The National Federation of the Blind and the New York State Commission for the Blind helped me to see there is life after blindness. Just because you’re blind or have a disability doesn’t mean you’re broken.”

Despite what she has lost, Penson doesn’t have any regrets. In fact, she feels fortunate. “My youngest son says all the time, ‘mommy I wish you could see.’ I see perfect. I see better now that I don’t have my sight than when I could see. If there was a cure today, I would not take it because the world to me is beautiful. Now I see the character of someone. Before it was all of the superficial things. It took me a long time to be secure with myself. I am very happy with myself.”

Penson will be sworn-in as Student Trustee at the first board meeting Tuesday, October 1. The meeting will be held in room W210 of the Whitney Applied Technology Center and is open to the public.

All the Fun Things to Do During the First Week of Classes for Fall 2019

Tomorrow is the first full day of classes at OCC! We’re so excited to welcome you to campus. Here are all the fun things to do during the first week of classes at OCC!

Monday, August 26th

Party on the Quad
10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Mawhinney Quad
Kick-off the semester right with this annual tradition on the Quad! With games and free swag what else could you want?

Tuesday, August 27th

Welcome Back Breakfast
7:30 – 9:30 a.m. at the Mawhinney Quad
Have free breakfast to start off the semester right!

Welcome Back Evening Students
5 – 7 p.m. at the Mawhinney & Whitney Lobbies
Have a treat and learn about the services available for evening students!

Wednesday, August 28th

Fiesta with the Faculty
12 – 2 p.m. at the SRC Arena
Following the college Convocation from 11:15 a.m. – 12 p.m., stay and enjoy a free lunch and meet your professors!

Thursday, August 29th

Part-time Job Fair
11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Gordon Great Room
Need some extra cash for the semester? Join Career Services to learn about part-time work opportunities on and off campus and fill out applications.

Lazer Auditions
11 a.m. – 2 p.m. in the Gordon Great Room
Want to be a part of campus photoshoots? Want to be an OCC Social Media Brand Ambassador, Social Media Reporter or play our mascot Blaze? Stop
by to audition!

Paint Night
7 – 9 p.m. at the Gordon Bistro
Come and enjoy the first Paint Night of the year with your friends! Ge there early, space fills up fast!

Friday, August 30th

Drive-in Movie: TBD
9 p.m. between Gordon and Allyn Hall Gym
Enjoy a movie under the stars with your friends!

Saturday, August 31st

Trip to the Zoo
12 – 4 p.m. at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo
Spend some time with the animals of Syracuse at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo! Vans will be departing from the SRC Arena at 12 p.m. & 2 p.m.

Sunday, September 1st

Miniature Golf & Ice Cream
6 – 10 p.m. at the Fairmount Glen & Carol’s Polar Parlor
Join our friends for a round of mini-golf and an ice cream! Vans will be departing from the SRC Arena at 6/7/8 p.m. and will drop off for miniature golf first and then for ice cream.

Monday, September 2nd (Labor Day)

Women’s Soccer Game
1 p.m. at Lazer Stadium
Come out and watch the Lazers compete against Adirondack Community College!

Men’s Soccer Game
3:30 p.m. at Lazer Stadium
Come out and watch the Lazers compete against Adirondack Community College!

Seph’s Survival Guide to College Living – Roommates

Onondaga Community College is a social college. Students from all over the world attend class here in little old Syracuse, alongside those who’ve never left Onondaga county in their life. We didn’t get as far as we have without being social and outgoing.

Personally, I’m a quiet guy. My definition of a good Friday night is to pull my chair up to my desk with a mug of tea and play some games on my computer. However, to lower my student debt, I’ve taken to living in triple-occupancy suites. For a guy like me, it’s a new experience to suddenly have two other guys I communicate with, face-to-face, on a daily basis, outside of the classroom.

If you find yourself in a similar position, don’t panic. I’ll list a few rules to abide by to get along with your roommates and have a safe and productive college experience.

  • Communication – In this day and age, sending a text to a friend is as simple and autonomous as breathing. However, maybe your roommate doesn’t want to share their phone number, or perhaps they don’t even use a phone. How to proceed?

    My friends, let me introduce you to a revolutionary new idea called ‘talking’. Yup, good ol’ verbal communication. Sit down and talk to your roommates. Let them know what’s bothering you, discuss whose turn it is to take out the trash, or (politely!) explain how their loud music interrupts your studying.
  • Cleanliness – I know, you’re a young, attractive 18-year old, barely out of your teens and finally out from under the tyrannical rule of your parents. But guess what? You stink. Literally. And your roommates don’t really want to live in a room with dirty socks and underwear thrown on every chair!

    I know that you’re probably not as bad as that, but seriously, college is the perfect time to learn how to take care of yourself in a safe environment. Shower regularly, clean up your messes, throw your clothes in the laundry, and don’t forget to wash behind the ears. Do these things, and you’ll get along with your roommates just fine.

  • Orderliness – Related to the above, making sure that everything has its own place is essential to cohabitation. If you have a dresser, fill it with clothes. If you have a hamper, put your dirty things in there as soon as you finish changing. Keep trash in the trashcan, and put your books back in the bag when you’re finished with homework. No one likes tripping over your guitar in the middle of the night on the way to the bathroom.

  • Headphones – A little out of left-field, but a good set of headphones or earbuds goes a long way towards keeping peace with your roommates. Your music may be amazing, and your favorite YouTube video super entertaining, but most people aren’t exactly thrilled to hear the audio blasting from your speaker.

Keep to these rules, and your experience in the Residence Halls will be just fine. Remember, it’s only four semesters for an Associate degree in your field of study. I’m sure that you can spend a few months of the year living in peace with your fellow students.

Seph’s Survival Guide to College Living – A Blueprint or Two

So you’ve decided to apply for a room in the Residence Halls, or maybe it’s your second year, and you’re sticking around for the long haul. Congratulations! But one question that might be on your mind is, Seph, I know what room I have and what building I’m in, but what do these rooms look like? How much space do I have?

Well, anonymous reader, it just so happens that I’ve lived in two different Residence Halls during my time here: Shapiro Hall and Residence Hall B. The way I figure it, I can tell you exactly what to expect if you end up going to either one of these buildings. How many rooms, where are the bathrooms, who to talk to when that guy down the halls gets a bit too loud with his weekend party…

Shapiro Hall

Formerly known as H3 (some of the bus drivers and older staff will refer to it this way, so don’t get confused), the hall is a big, white stone building right next to Mulroy Hall on the outskirts of campus. Well, it’s separated from Mulroy Hall by a small patch of woods, but there’s a path around back that’ll take you right there, no sweat.

The front door is conveniently located right in front of the building, on the driving circle where the Lazer Line shuttle drops off students. Though there are doors on the sides facing the two parking lots, if you open them, the fire alarm goes off, and you’ll end up having a conversation with the RHA. Inside is the security office, where they’ll ask for your OCC ID card, and then let you into the Hall proper.

The first thing you’ll see is a big, metal elevator. Though it creaks and groans like a grouchy old man, it’ll get you to where you’re going, or you can use one of the two stairwells on either side of the building. Shapiro has four floors, though confusingly, the main entrance is located on the second floor. You can thank Onondaga Hill for the headache it causes every time you accidently press 1 in the elevator.

The second, third, and fourth floors all have pretty much the same layout. There’s a common area on all three floors with a water fountain, a soda machine, two big TVs, a sink, and a few comfy couches spread around. You’ll often find at least one student in there, watching TV or taking a nap. There are two big bathrooms on either side of the building, one for guys and one for girls, with two single-occupancy bathrooms in between. There’s also a kitchenette, but it’s really just a sink, an oven, and a microwave.

The second floor is where the RA office is located, in case you get locked out of your room (don’t worry, everyone does it their first semester). There’s also a small gym on the first floor, right next to the laundromat, just in case you don’t feel like making your way to the YMCA.

Residence Hall B

Located right between A and C, Residence Hall B is primarily for returning students. You guys get the cushy treatment, as B is the apartment-style housing. This means that you share what amounts to a decently-sized apartment with a few other people. Nice!

There’s ample parking space for those three Residence Halls, and the Lazer Line shuttle shows up regularly as well. Once you go in the front doors, the security booth will let you into the hall further. To your right is the laundry room, which boasts six washers and dryers each. To your left is the RA counter, where there is usually someone who can help you out.

Across from the RA counter is the elevator and the stairs. They’ll get you where you need to go, and since there are only 3 floors, you never have to walk that far to get where you need to go. On each floor, the hallway is straight, so you can see straight through to each side, where a secondary stairwell is located. Each room has a main door, which leads to the kitchen area. The kitchen has a small den room, and a hallway that leads to the bedrooms and bathrooms.

The kitchen is spacious, with a full-sized fridge, oven, and sink, lots of counter and cabinet space, and even a washing machine, though you’ll need to get your own soap. The den has a couch, two chairs, a coffee table, and a stand that can fit a huge TV for Game Night. There are two bathrooms in the hall, and two closets for storing anything you can’t fit in your room.

Speaking of rooms, there are three singles and one triple-occupancy. I live in a triple, which has three beds, three wardrobes, and three desks. The walls and doors are pretty thick, so the most you’ll get is muffled music from a noisy neighbor, and you can’t even hear the other students, unless they knock on the door. Don’t forget to attend the ceremonial burning of the room, where the college building a fake room in the parking lot and burns it down as a warning of what might happen should you start a fire!

While I can’t say much about A and C, I hope this helps you get an idea of what they layout of your Hall will be like. Life in the Halls can be pretty hectic, but it’s a lot of fun at the same time, and I hope that you’ll have a wonderful time while you study too!

SUNY Search Engine Comes To Campus

Coulter Library Chair Fantasia Thorne-Ortiz (left) and Media Specialist Dennis Thoryk (right) test a new cloud-based, SUNY system-wide search engine available to students.

The process of finding exactly what you’re looking for at Coulter Library has gotten easier for students. In July Onondaga Community College went online with a SUNY system-wide, cloud-based search engine. It provides simple, one-stop searching for books and e-books, videos, articles, digital media, and more. “This provides consistency among SUNY schools,” said Dennis Thoryk, Media Specialist at Coulter Library. “Students who walk into SUNY Oswego or SUNY Albany will be using the same system.” Thoryk oversaw the internal transition process which took about a year to complete and replaced a system which was approximately 20 years old.

Another benefit to the new system is its ability to reach beyond SUNY libraries. Thanks to an inter-library loan feature, if a student is looking for something which Coulter library doesn’t have the new search engine will also check area libraries which are not part of the SUNY system. Students using the new search system will always be receiving the latest information about what is available. “This is up to date because it’s cloud based. It’s completely different from what we used to have. It’s more secure and more up-to-date,” said Thoryk.

You can access the new search engine here.