Visit from the Champ

Women's Basketball attendees wait patiently for an autograph from Breanna Stewart.
Women’s Basketball Camp attendees wait patiently for an autograph from Breanna Stewart.
OCC Women's Basketball Coach Mike Wheeler presents Breanna with an OCC t-shirt.
OCC Women’s Basketball Coach Mike Wheeler presents Breanna with an OCC t-shirt.

Young athletes attending OCC’s Basketball Camp in Allyn Hall gymnasium got the thrill of a lifetime when an unexpected visitor arrived. Loud cheers and applause greeted Breanna Stewart, arguably the best collegiate Women’s Basketball player in the country. In her first two season with the University of Connecticut, the Huskies have won two national championships and Stewart has been named the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player both times.

Stewart held a question-and-answer session with campers. Most questions focused on basketball, but there was the occasional non-basketball question such as, “Do you like tacos?” “Yes I do!” she replied. After answering questions, the 6’ 4″ Stewart towered over awe-struck young women as she patiently signed autographs for each of the 80 campers and posed for dozens of cell phone pictures.

Having the opportunity to meet a champion made quite an impression on the campers:

  • “It inspires me to be better and live up to my full potential as Breanna did.” -Allison Cole
  • “I’m not going to be as tall as her but I hope one day I can go into the WNBA. She’s really good and I hope I can be at least half of that.” -Alexia Chemotti
Breanna with OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill and senior vice president David Murphy. She's holding an "ESPY Award" she had just won from ESPN.
Breanna with OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill and senior vice president David Murphy.

They weren’t the only ones having fun. Stewart got just as much out of the visit. “I love the opportunity to spend time in the community and give back,” she said. “I want to show people, especially young girls in this community, they can reach their dreams if they really set their minds to it.”

Stewart’s visit to OCC was the result of a strong connection between the College and Cicero-North Syracuse High School from where Stewart graduated. Her high school coach, Eric Smith, spoke at camp earlier in the week. OCC’s Women’s Basketball coach Mike Wheeler is a C-NS alum, and a freshman on his team this year will be Samantha Roberts, a former high school teammate of Stewart. “Having Breanna come to our camp was wonderful,” said Wheeler. “She’s a fantastic person and a tremendous role model for all women’s basketball players.”

 

 

Restoring a Treasure : Ed Riley

Ed Riley in front of the famed mural at the Hotel Syracuse
Ed Riley in front of the famed mural at the Hotel Syracuse

The man behind the rebirth of the landmark Hotel Syracuse is a former Onondaga Community College student. Edward “Ed” Riley might not be where he is today had a serious sports injury not led him to rethink how to turn his lifelong passion for historic architecture into a career.

Riley grew up on the west side of Syracuse and graduated from Christian Brothers Academy. He attended Syracuse University on scholarship to play lacrosse. A knee injury his freshman year forced him to reevaluate everything. “Since I couldn’t play lacrosse anymore I took another look at architecture. People were suggesting OCC as a good, affordable place to start.”

Riley enrolled at OCC and immediately felt at home in the Architectural Technology program. “It was top notch. It was run in a true office setting. The professor was the principal and the student was the apprentice. When we graduated we were able to transition to the workforce with ease.” Ultimately Riley would earn a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse and pursue his professional career.

Riley working with a contractor in the Grand Ballroom of the Hotel Syracuse
Riley working with a contractor in the Grand Ballroom of the Hotel Syracuse

Riley started his own practice and chose to fill vacancies with people with OCC backgrounds whenever possible. “I valued the product and knew OCC interns and employees could come right in and be profitable.” Riley would eventually sell his practice and focus on learning how to refurbish historical buildings. His quest for knowledge took him across several states, including Hawaii, before eventually coming back to Syracuse where he was considering a specific project. “The Hotel Syracuse had been on my mind for quite some time but it wasn’t until recently I felt the timing was right and I had the knowledge to do it right.”

Riley took on the challenge of renovating and restoring one of America’s classic buildings and now the old Hotel Syracuse is set to reopen July 4. It will be known as the Marriot Downtown. “I think the new name will give her the fresh start she needs. For the people of Syracuse she will always be the Hotel Syracuse, but for visitors the new name will provide them with the assurances Marriot brings.”

Riley plans to keep looking for new projects. As he does he continues to carry a deep appreciation for the learning environment he found at the College. “The faculty at OCC instilled good habits and I carry these practices with me every day. The solid foundation I built at OCC has allowed me to treat all projects with the upmost respect.”

Financial Fitness Fair

Students receive valuable financial advice at AmeriCU's Financial Fitness Fair.
Students receive valuable financial advice at AmeriCU’s Financial Fitness Fair.

AmeriCU Credit Union’s ongoing commitment to educating students about financial literacy was on display November 13 when it held a Financial Fitness Fair in Storer Auditorium.

The event featured multiple ways in which participants could learn how to secure their financial future:

  • Students had an opportunity to win prizes in the Cash Cube.
    Students had an opportunity to win prizes in the Cash Cube.

    Six informational booths provided students the opportunity to ask questions and gain valuable information. Participating students earned an opportunity to go in the “cash cube” and win valuable prizes.

  • A “Real Life MIllionaire” panel discussion included: Brian Sheehan, former CEO of Saatchi Australia & LA; Marc Jones, retired professional football player and President & CEO of Dreissig Apparel; and Vicki Brackens, financial education entrepreneur and current co-host of Financial Fitness on WCNY TV.

Following the panel discussion an ice cream social was held so students could engage with panelists.

The Financial Fitness Fair was presented in cooperation with OCC’s Office of Student Engagement.