Service Learning Champions

Architecture and Interior Design Club members and volunteers take a break while building a playground in Syracuse. Back row (left to right): Jeff Anthony, student; Maria Malagisi of OCC's Career and Applied Learning Center; Gary Thurston, student. Front row (left to right): Arsen Aliyev, student; Jessica Salisbury, student; Gordana Dimitrevsky, student; Krystal Tyrell, student; Teresa Godiers, Architectural Technology & Interior Design Department Chair.
Architecture and Interior Design Club members and volunteers take a break while building a playground in Syracuse during the 2012-13 academic year. Back row (left to right): Jeff Anthony, student; Maria Malagisi, OCC’s Career and Applied Learning Center; Gary Thurston, student. Front row (left to right): Arsen Aliyev, student; Jessica Salisbury, student; Gordana Dimitrevsky, student; Krystal Tyrell, student; Teresa Godiers, Architectural Technology & Interior Design Department Chair.

OCC’s dedication to community service has earned it a place on the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The award is in recognition of OCC students achieving meaningful, measureable outcomes in the communities they serve and a clear commitment to community service and service learning.

For the 2012-13 academic year 1,570 OCC students engaged in community service of any kind, contributing a total of 84,359 hours to the communities they serve. OCC was one of only 19 SUNY campuses singled out for its contributions to the community.

“Participating in community service is an important part of any college experience, and a hallmark of our strategic plan,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “Each of our SUNY campuses has an astounding array of options for students as well as faculty and staff to give back to their local communities, and to have a greater impact on communities across the country and abroad. Congratulations and thank you to each of the campuses recognized by the President’s Honor Roll this year.”

College students make a significant contribution to their communities through volunteering and service, according to the most recent Volunteering and Civic Life in America report. In 2012, 3.1 million college students dedicated more than 118 million hours of service across the country — a contribution valued at $2.5 billion.

Greg Guevara

RESIZED Greg GuevaraGreg Guevara has turned a semester of success at OCC into success the whole community is benefiting from. “When I came here I wasn’t very confident about what I was capable of. My family kept motivating me and I wound up getting a 4.0. That success gave me confidence and motivated me. Because of that I’ve tried to take advantage of every opportunity I can.”

Guevara has become president of student honor society Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) and credits the faculty members who run the organization with putting him in a position to succeed. “Annie Tuttle and Jackie Barstow have given me a lot of opportunities to develop myself outside of class organizing events and doing public speaking. Through PTK I’ve learned how much I enjoy working with the community.”

Guevara has a lengthy list of community accomplishments:
*Helped organize a pediatric cancer fundraiser on campus which raised $700 for Paige’s Butterfly run and the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.
*Volunteered with events and organizations such as Ten Tons of Love, Special Olympics, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

On campus Guevara tutors several subjects at the Learning Center. Prior to that he was a disability note taker for meteorology students.

Guevara came to OCC from Allynwood Academy in Hancock, NY (Catskills region). While majoring in General Studies with a minor in the Honors program he’s received recognition at the highest levels:
-Won the Faculty Award for Academic Excellence Endowment Scholarship.
-Nominated for a 2014-15 SUNY Chancellors Award.
–Is conducting a chemistry research project on enzymatic reactions of dopamine as it relates to Parkinson’s disease.

Guevara will graduate in December 2014. He’s earned a scholarship which will allow him to study abroad in the Yucatan Penninsula where he will focus on ancient Mayan traditional Medicine. He plans to transfer to a four-year school in time for the fall 2015 semester.

Ben Mauro Returns!

On a chilly December afternoon former OCC student Ben Mauro heated up the campus with hot guitar riffs and good advice for current students. Mauro is a former OCC music major and highly sought-after live guitar player who has spent the last 15 years touring with Lionel Richie. Mauro came to campus in May and held a question-and-answer session with students in Academic II’s spectacular Instrument and Choral Rehearsal room.

This time Mauro met with students in Storer Auditorium and he brought his guitar with him. Mauro played some of his original music and some Lionel Richie songs as well. He answered questions from students and told them how he grew up in nearby Camillus, went to West Genesee High School and came to OCC. After years of working seven days a week and playing in dozens of bands he made his way to the top. Mauro encouraged students to think big. “Whatever your dream is, it’s possible. You don’t have to be rich. You don’t have to be from a big city. Love what you want to be and be persistent.”

While he is back in Central New York, Mauro will play a concert at Syracuse’s Palace Theater where he will release his solo CD.

The Art of Education – James Williams II, ’02

RESIZED James Williams 2

OCC has always been much more than a college to James Williams II. It’s been a significant part of his life for as long as he can remember. His mother Eunice Williams started working at OCC in 1996. Today she is the College’s Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer. When her son graduated from East Syracuse Minoa High School in 2000 there was little question where he would go to college, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions of his life. “OCC is that steppingstone that got me to be where I am now,” he said.

Williams calls the late Nick Todisco his mentor on the OCC campus.
Williams refers to the late Nick Todisco as his mentor at OCC.

Where Williams is now is in a very good place. He’s a husband, a father and a college professor who teaches art. Williams blossomed as an artist on the OCC campus. His mentor was Nick Todisco, a legendary art teacher who passed away in October 2012 at the age of 75. “He pushed me to be better and to want more for myself. My desire to paint and investigate how to be a better artist came from my time at OCC.”

Williams graduated from OCC in 2002 with a degree in graphic arts. He transferred to SUNY Cortland at the same time as the woman he would eventually marry, TyaNisha, who transferred in from SUNY Morrisville. Both were resident assistants and hard-working students. In 2004 he earned a bachelor’s in studio art and she earned a teaching degree. Three years later they would marry.

Williams went from Cortland to the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore where he earned a master of fine art in 2009. Today he is still there, working as an adjunct professor, teaching foundation courses such as painting and drawing. His dedication to his students is something he learned from the most influential people in his life. “Nick Todisco’s attention and desire to make me better made me feel responsible to do the same now as a teacher. Deborah McDowell (Art Department Chair at OCC) always showed the same level of dedication. Because of their example I don’t mind staying late for my students and helping them. I’ve found over the years as students have left many of them have stayed in contact with me and wanted to get together. I’ve also learned similar lessons from my mother as well. She is very selfless when it comes to helping others.”

Williams is a busy man on campus. Besides teaching he is also the Gallery Installation Manager for the Maryland Institute College of Art’s more than one dozen galleries. In his spare time, inspired by his youth, Williams paints. “The romanticizing of childhood, particularly my own, had me create many alter egos such as Little Rooster, a young energetic boy who lives with his mother and father in the U.S. during the 1930’s. Many of Little Rooster’s stories parallel many personal moments from my life both past and present. It is through losing himself in his imagination that he becomes the courageous hero that he was destined to be and learns to overcome in reality one hardship after another.” You can view Williams work at his website.

Williams is a perfectionist when he paints. It’s the way he was raised and the way he was educated. “When I’m in my studio I can hear Nick telling me ‘it’s not good enough and I need you to keep pushing.’ So I’ll wipe down my painting and start all over again. It doesn’t matter if it’s something I’ve been working on for 10 hours. Both Nick and my mom raised me to not accept less.”

Williams and his wife TyaNisha at a 2010 exhibit of his work on the OCC campus.
Williams and his wife TyaNisha at a 2010 exhibit of his work on the OCC campus.

One of his proudest moments as an artist came in 2010 when he returned to the OCC campus and his art work was on display in the gallery at the Ann Felton Multicultural Center. “It was great to see current OCC students there along with my parents and professors. It was a humbling and very emotional experience.”

The mural that is Williams’ life is starting to look like a wonderful work of art. He has a great job and family, his wife is pursuing her master’s degree while working as a middle and high school teacher in the Baltimore area, and they have a one-year-old daughter, Indigo. While Williams admits the conversation about where she will go to college is a long way off, he’s confident her parents will let her know the path they took. “With tuition being so high at some colleges I will tell her OCC is a great option. No matter who you are it provides students the ability to try out everything before they decide what they truly want to focus on.”

Simulating Danger

Students Tom Albring (near) and Chris Richards (far) test the drunk driving simulator in the Gordon Great Room.
Students Tom Albring (near) and Chris Richards (far) test the drunk driving simulator in the Gordon Great Room.

“Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.” A large sign bearing those words greeted students in the Great Room of the Gordon Student Center December 3rd. The sign was part of a drunk driving simulator set up for students to use so they could see first-hand the dangers of operating a vehicle while impaired.

Each simulator included a steering wheel, foot pedals, and a large monitor which positioned student motorists on a two-lane road with oncoming traffic. The simulators were altered to mimick driving conditions for a person with a blood alcohol content level of .10. Response times were slowed making it a struggle to keep the vehicle in the proper driving lane or able to stop in a timely fashion. When students finished driving they received citations listing the laws they would have broken were they actually on the road.

Student Tom Albring (Jordan-Elbridge) tried the simulator and was surprised by the results. “It felt like I had less control. I’m definitely not going to drink and drive.” Student Chris Richards (Skaneateles) had a similar experience. “I noticed I could get in an accident a lot easier. There is no way I’m going to drink and drive.”

Welcome to America!

RESIZED Naturalization Ceremony 2014 Group PhotoOCC’s Storer Auditorium was transformed into a New York State courtroom December 2 when it hosted a naturalization ceremony. Seventy-six people from 39 countries were sworn-in as American citizens. New York State Family Court Judge and Acting Supreme Court Justice Michael Hanuszczak presided over the ceremony. OCC Music Professors David Rudari, D.M.A. and Kevin Moore performed patriotic songs during the event.

The candidates for citizenship came from the following countries: Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burma, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, People’s Republic of China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cuba, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Mexico, Moldova, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Somalia, South Korea, South Sudan, Sudan, Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Venezuela, Vietnam and Yemen.

The naturalization ceremony was presented in conjunction with the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Americanization League of Syracuse and Onondaga County.

The ceremony was covered extensively by the local media including the television stations of CNY Central, Post Standard/, and Time Warner Cable News.

OCC’s student body has a very diverse and global composition. Among the College’s more than 12,000 students are representatives of 57 different countries, including the United States.

Meet the Faculty: Karl Klein

Karl W. Klein
Associate Professor of Computer Studies

Hometown: Kennett Square, PA

Education: B.S., Slippery Rock University; M.Ed., University of Virginia.

History at OCC: I was hired in 2002 to help OCC faculty put courses into the online SUNY Learning Network. I also assisted in the move into the virtual world via the ANGEL learning management system. Today I teach most of my courses in Computer Applications and Digital Media areas. I also teach a course on Sustainability in the new Interdisciplinary Department which I am privileged to be a part of.

Little-Known Facts: I spent six years in the U.S. Navy, most of it aboard the USS Nimitz which was the world’s largest warship at that time. I was also a firefighter for the National Park Service in the early 1990s. I helped fight fires in Yosemite National Park and the Okefenokee Swamp on the Florida-Georgia border.

Meaningful Experiences Outside Education: While serving in the military and traveling around the world I learned people are not as different from me as I thought.

Words of Wisdom: I am most grateful to have been given the opportunity to work at OCC. As a first generation college student myself (and the first in my entire extended family), I know firsthand how transformative an education can be.

Employee Accomplishments – December 2014

Wendy Allen, Academic Services, completed her Master’s Degree in Education from Le Moyne College.

Robert Bridge, D.M.A., Music, was the guest soloist with the Crane Percussion Ensemble during the fall concert at SUNY Potsdam in October 2014.

James Carey, Business Administration, helped raise money for the Lymphatic Education & Research Network by running in the New York City Marathon. It was his 24th marathon spread out over a 40 year running career. 

Nancy Carr, Disabilities Services, presented a paper on “Strategies for Anti-Bullying” at the New York Statewide AHEAD Chapter.

Robert Charron, Architecture & Interior Design, was architect for a design team that won a Central New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architecture 2014 Design Award for their work on a Historic Preservation Handbook for Thousand Island Park.

Malkiel Choseed, English/Reading/Communication, will be presenting at the 2015 annual conference on College Composition and Communication in Tampa, Florida.

Gladys Cleland, English/Reading/Communication and Electronic Media Communications, presented at two conferences in October – Robobusiness: Automation and Robots in Boston and The National Student Electronic Media Convention in Seattle. Her presentations highlighted student development and leadership in technical fields.

Candice Dance and Michael Oppedisano, Mathematics, presented a session titled “Puzzle Fun – The Geometry of the Soma Cubes,” at the American Mathematical Association of Two Year Colleges annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee in November 2014.

Crystal L. Etzel, English/Reading/Communication, had a children’s book published, “Estel’s Adventures in Grammarcy.” It is a chapter book about the parts of speech and is designed to teach children the definition and use of nouns, pronouns, proper nous, adjectives, adverbs and verbs.

Karen Fabrizio, RHIA, CHTS-CP, CPRA, Health Information Technology, authored her second book this year, ICD-10-CM Coding for Long-Term Care:  A Comprehensive Training Guide. It provides technical and clinical information for professionals working in the healthcare arena. Fabrizio was recognized as the American Health Information Management Association’s (AHIMA) Member Of The Day on November 10th. Fabrizio was nominated by a current student in the HIT program:

Bridgette L. Jacob, Ph.D., Mathematics, will present a paper that she co-authored titled Improving Teachers’ Reasoning about Sampling Variability: A Cross Institutional Effort at the Ninth Congress of European Research in Mathematics Education (CERME9) in Prague in February 2015. As part of the same research project, she will present a Research Symposium with seven others from North Carolina State and Syracuse University titled Development of Teachers’ Statistical Reasoning and Confidence in Teaching Statistics at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Research Pre-session in Boston in April 2015.

Tracy Martin, C-STEP, performed in The Acme Mystery Company’s production of Murder Most Faire in October and November locally and across the state. Martin has been a member of the company since 1998. She will be featured in Acme’s holiday production of Hijacked Holiday every Thursday at the Spaghetti Warehouse in Syracuse and other Central New York venues throughout the holiday season.

Kevin Moore, Music, authored a book for high school/teenage students titled “Your Legal Rights Online,” published by Rosen Publishing and available at Amazon; performed on piano as accompanist to Dr. David Rudari on the song  “O, Captain, My Captain” for the Lincoln Convocation; was a panelist for “Lincoln’s Constitution” in the Academic II Recital Hall; performed as solo pianist at Mohawk Valley Community College in piano works by Mozart and Rachmaninoff; performed a solo piano recital which included the Mozart Sonata in A major, Mendelssohn Scottish Fantasy and 12 Preludes by Rachmaninoff.

Lael Pierce, C-STEP, completed “Nourishing Tomorrow’s Leaders,” a program co-sponsored by The Gifford Foundation, CNY Community Foundation, Leadership Greater Syracuse, Human Services Leadership Council and City of Syracuse Residents.

Stephen Pierson, English/Reading/Communication, presented a paper as a co-panelist at the 2014 SUNY Council on Writing held at OCC September 26. Dr. Pierson’s panel was entitled Becoming a College Student, Becoming an Academic Writer: Cultivating Transformation. Dr. Pierson also gave a paper at the 49th Annual Two-Year College Association of the Northeast Conference, held in Baltimore on  October 23. Dr. Pierson’s paper was entitled “Using Bakhtin to Teach Reading and Writing about Literature.”

Calvin Prothro, Chemistry & Physical Science, presented at a science colloquium at Wells College. His presentation was titled “Exploration of the Solar System and Why We Need To Go.”

Eric Rose, Hospitality Management, was selected to cook at the world famous James Beard House in February 2015. He will be preparing a multiple course meal paired with appropriate wine that will feature dishes inspired by New York’s culinary bounty.

David J. Rudari, Music, appeared as a soloist for OCC’s Convocation, the College’s 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony, the Phi Theta Kappa Fall Induction Ceremony, the Naturalization Ceremony, and the December Graduation Recognition Ceremony. He led the OCC Singers in a performance for the October Celebration of Success. He serves as the Choral Director at Liverpool First Presbyterian Church and is the faculty member affiliated with the new Music Learning Community in Residence Hall A. He also reprised excerpts from his Spring Faculty Recital with Dr. Kevin Moore and Jean Loftus, Music, in October for the Departmental Convocation. In addition he is slated for present a recital of Schubert’s Die Winterreise during the Spring Semester with Dr. Moore. Rudari was invited to guest conduct the All-County Senior High Chorus in Dundee, NY and the All-County Junior High Chorus in Mexico, NY.

Engracia Schuster, Modern Languages, participated as Plenary Speaker at the “International Institute of Critical Pedagogy and Transformative Leadership” Conference in Chihuahua, Mexico in October. She was keynote speaker at the annual regional meeting of the New York State Foreign Language Teachers Association at East Syracuse Minoa High School. Her presentation was titled “Critical Thinking in Language Learning,” the same title as that of her recently published book.

Sheila Sicilia, Computer Studies, participated in a panel presentation titled “K-12/College STEM Gap” at the STEM in Urban Education conference in October. She also participated in a panel discussion titled “Performing the Art of Democracy” at the “Intersection: Ensembles + Universities” symposium in New York City in November.

Jamie Sindell, English/Reading/Communication, is participating in a pilot study sponsored by Excelsior College and funded by a New York State HESC (Higher Education Services Corporation) grant. Sindell will assist in creating and testing the new argument section of their Online Writing Lab (OWL) that teaches argument for first-year and remedial writers.

Pauline Shostack, Library, was invited to become a member of the YMCA Folksmarch Advisory Council.

Nina Tamrowski, Social Sciences and Philosophy, received the International Educator of the Year Award from the International Center of Syracuse.

Rebekah Tanner, ’14, Learning Center, is enrolled in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate Trauma Studies program at SUNY Oswego. In October she presented at the Global Awareness Conference at SUNY Oswego. Her presentation was titled “Awakening a Sleeping Confederacy, Awakening a Sleeping Language.” Tanner’s ceramic art piece titled “Spool of Yellow Thread” was included in the juried CNY Arts / Everson Museum “On My Own Time” exhibition during October and November.

Denise Valdés, English/Reading/Communication, was appointed to the board of directors for the YWCA of Syracuse and Onondaga County.

Julie A. White, Ph.D., Student Engagement and Learning Support, presented a paper titled, “No Plan B:  Conflicting Policy Worlds for Community College Students” at the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education in November in Washington, D.C.

Sally Whitney, Enrollment Development & Secondary School Outreach, presented “Partnering for Success in P-TECH” at the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships Annual Conference in Chicago in October. Whitney also graduated from Leadership Greater Syracuse in November.

Gerry Wright, Library Science, was responsible for bringing “LINCOLN: The Constitution and the Civil War Exhibit” to OCC. The exhibit was displayed in the Atrium of the Whitney Applied Technology Center from October 22 to December 12.

Eunice Williams, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, served as a panelist at the Syracuse/Onondaga County NAACP’s November workshop titled “Prejudice and Discrimination.”

Building a Workforce Through Scholarship

Making the generous donation from Thompson & Johnson Equipment Co. to student success are (left to right): Bill MacBlane, Vice President of Finance; Chip Gorham, Executive Vice President; David Schneckenburger, President; Amy Gullotta, OCC Foundation Director of Development; John Zacharek, OCC Foundation Executive Director; Adam Park, General Service Manager.
Making the generous donation from Thompson & Johnson Equipment Co. to student success are (left to right): Bill MacBlane, Vice President of Finance; Chip Gorham, Executive Vice President; David Schneckenburger, President; Amy Gullotta, OCC Foundation Director of Development; John Zacharek, OCC Foundation Executive Director; Adam Park, General Service Manager.

One of Central New York’s oldest businesses is increasing its commitment to student success. Thompson & Johnson Equipment Co., Inc. has given the OCC Foundation $120,000 to create an endowed scholarship and internship program for students interested in pursuing a career in the material handling industry.

Thompson & Johnson is known as “The Forklift People.” The company provides material handling solutions to its more than 1,000 customers across New York State. Thompson & Johnson opened its doors for business in 1954. Today it is headquartered on Fly Road in East Syracuse and also has locations in Albany, Binghamton and Elmira.

Thompson & Johnson employs more than 125 people whose average tenure is 11 years. When employees leave, replenishing the workforce with qualified people is challenging. That’s why they are creating a pathway for qualified students. “Not enough people are going into the trades,” said Thompson & Johnson President David Schneckenburger. “We believe OCC is a gem for our community. If we can help OCC better fulfill its mission and educate future workers for our industry, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.”

Thompson & Johnson is a long-standing supporter of OCC. With this recent gift, their total support to the College and its students is in excess of $150,000.

Jon Clark


When Jon Clark was 18 years old he decided to go to work full-time. Eventually he realized he needed to continue his education, came to OCC and today is one of the College’s top students.

Clark grew up in Boscawen, New Hampshire and graduated from Merrimack Valley High School in 2007. He started working but found he was just going through the paces. “I held a number of jobs that never seemed to catch my interest,” Clark said. What did catch his interest was a colleague named Christopher Guerrera who turned out to be his mentor. Guerrera would hire Clark three times at three different businesses in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and New York. At each stop along the way he worked with Clark and reinforced in him the importance of focusing on details.

After one year as a full-time employee at Oneida Air Systems, Clark made the decision to become a full-time student while working full-time. “Coming here at an older age made it more of a challenge to focus on everything but it’s also made succeeding more rewarding.”

While working as manufacturing manager at Oneida Air Systems, Clark is majoring in Business Administration. He is also a member of OCC’s student honor society, Phi Theta Kappa and is its vice president for leadership. He’ll graduate in December 2015 and plans to transfer to a four-year college and major in finance.