High school students interested in careers in science, technology, engineering or math related fields attended Onondaga Community College’s STEM Camp during the last week of July. Students spent half of each day in class developing a knowledge base of modern manufacturing, robotics design and programming, while adding to team building experiences. During the other half of the day students took field trips to businesses and explored their relation to robotics and automation. Participating businesses included Byrne Dairy, Lockheed Martin, National Grid, Schneider Packaging Equipment and Time Warner Cable News.
Students also visited SALT Makerspace (pictured above) located inside the Delavan Center at the corner of West Fayette and Wyoming Streets in Syracuse. “SALT” stands for Syracuse Arts Learning and Technology. The facility provides access to equipment for metalworking, woodworking and 3-D design and modeling. The space is available for local inventors and artists to use.
STEM campers toured the facility and saw the 3-D printer and other high-tech devices in action. Students also met an entrepreneur who uses SALT Makerspace regularly in conjunction with her business. Jordan Dudden owns a startup called JoJo Rings. She creates fashionable pieces of jewelry by turning keys into rings. Dudden, who is a graduate of Skaneateles High School and Syracuse University, comes to SALT Makerspace to heat the keys so they can be bent without breaking, sized, cleaned and buffed. JoJo Rings are available in stores in more than 40 states and on the internet. She has sold more than 3,000 rings. Each month she partners with a nonprofit organization, sharing a portion of the proceeds with the charity.
STEM Camp’s primary sponsor is Time Warner Cable (TWC) as part of its Connect a Million Minds program, a philanthropic initiative to address America’s declining proficiency in STEM-related fields. Using its media and employee assets, TWC creates awareness of the issue and inspires students to develop the STEM skills they need to become the problem solvers of tomorrow.
It was the fall of 1981 and Bill Bonnell was driving to the OCC campus for his first day of college classes. He didn’t have music blaring with the windows down. He wasn’t carpooling with any fellow graduates of North Syracuse High School. Bonnell was driving to campus with his mother, Janice Bonnell, whom he had made a deal with. “She was working as a nurse at Course-Irving Hospital but was a few credits short of getting her degree. I convinced her to come back to school with me and finish her work. How many kids go to college with their mom?”
Bonnell’s mother has been a central figure in his life. He lost his father to cancer when he was a freshman in high school. Bonnell’s three older siblings were out of the house by then, so it was just him and his mother. “She had to be my mom and my dad. She was always very supportive of me in every endeavor. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her never ending support.”
Where Bonnell is today is at the top of the television sports producing profession. He’s coordinated coverage of practically every major sporting event you can think of. If you’ve watched Super Bowls, Olympic Games, professional tennis tournaments, pro football or college football, you’ve seen his work. Bonnell has won more than a dozen Emmy Awards throughout his career – a career that started when he was in high school and blossomed while he was a student at OCC.
Bonnell often uses the word “serendipitous” when describing his career journey. Every opportunity has introduced him to people who have led him to future opportunities. It started as a student at North Syracuse High School where a severe ankle injury sidelined him from playing basketball. He dreamed of becoming a sportscaster, so he decided to contribute by being the public address announcer for home games.
Back in those days, Syracuse public broadcasting station WCNY televised live high school sports events. One night they showed up at North Syracuse for a basketball game with their big production truck and a large crew of workers. “To see that truck and all of those people come into your school was a big deal.” Bonnell introduced himself to the person in charge, told him he wanted to work in the industry and a career was launched. He started working behind-the-scenes on statewide broadcasts of Syracuse University football, Empire State Games, wrestling, lacrosse, basketball and more. “They really took me under their wing. For a kid like me it was unprecedented to get that kind of experience.”
Bonnell loved working behind the scenes on what is known as the production side of a telecast. “I learned very early in my career doing graphics (the words and pre-produced pictures you see on your screen) was the ground level of production. I worked hard to learn graphics.”
In July of 1981, a month before Bonnell would start taking classes at OCC, he went to the Carrier Dome where ABC was televising the National Sports Festival, a multi-sport competition created by the United States Olympic Committee to showcase Olympic sports in Olympic off-years. Bonnell introduced himself to people working for ABC. Two months later, he was working on ABC’s Monday Night Football.
When Bonnell started taking classes at OCC he was going non-stop. There were classes during the week, Syracuse football broadcasts on Saturdays and on Sundays he was flying to wherever the Monday Night Football game was. “The people in the Radio & TV major were very understanding and great to work with. I loved my professors, Vinny Spadafora, Cathy Hawkins, Tony Vadala, who was very new at that time, and all of those people. They knew the importance of me getting experience. I still had to do all of the work but they helped me juggle all of these things at the same time.”
Bonnell earned his degree in 1983. “Going to OCC was a great experience. The classes were small. It was very intimate and personal. It felt like family.” He transferred to Syracuse University and continued his busy work schedule outside of class. In the summer of 1984 he would get the biggest break of his career. ABC hired him full time to work at the Summer Olympics. Bonnell spent a couple of months preparing in New York City, then flew to Los Angeles for the games. He was the graphics production assistant for ABC’s prime time shows, working under legendary sports producer Roone Arledge. Bonnell’s experience was so positive he considered not returning to Syracuse University.
While working in Los Angeles he found himself having life discussions with a co-worker named Bob Iger. “Bob told me ‘You’ve got to go back. You’ve got to finish. Get your degree. ABC Sports will always be here.’ Based on what I considered to be his fatherly advice I went back and finished.” It was good advice from a successful businessman. Today Iger is well-known in his role as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Walt Disney Company.
Bonnell graduated from Syracuse University in the summer of 1985. As he was finishing his last class, he was hired by CBS Sports to work on their National Football League coverage that fall. The list of sports events he’s covered and people he’s worked with since the 1984 Summer Olympic Games are as impressive as any you will find in the broadcasting industry:
CBS Sports broadcast associate assigned to the Chicago Bears during their 1985 Super Bowl season.
Joined ABC Sports in 1987 where he worked in the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary as assistant to the producer. It was the final Olympic Games produced by Arledge.
Went to ESPN in 1989 to work on its Sunday Night Football telecasts.
Moved to NBC Sports in 1990 where another legendary producer, Dick Ebersol, hired him to work on the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. Ebersol would become his mentor and they would work side-by-side for 10 years. During that time Bonnell worked on Olympic Games, Super Bowls, Notre Dame football and major tennis tournaments.
In 2002 he was hired at ESPN as a coordinating producer, where he works today. For the last 10 years he has been in charge of the Saturday night prime time college football games broadcast on ABC. He’s also overseen Grand Slam Tennis Tournaments and high-profile ESPN events including the NFL Draft, the College Baseball World Series and the ESPY Awards. Bonnell has produced the last 10 college football Rose Bowl games and the last seven national championship games. You can see him discuss pre-event coverage plans for January’s title game between Ohio State and Oregon here.
As Bonnell’s career has flourished so too has his personal life. During one of his trips home to Syracuse to visit his mother in the late 1980s, he dropped in on her at Crouse-Irving Hospital. “I saw this lady who worked with my mother running around and asked my mom, ‘Who is that?’ She said, ‘That’s Mary Beth Dennis.’ I tried for months to get her to go on a date with me and she kept saying no.” Dennis eventually gave in and they spent their first date enjoying dinner at the Sherwood Inn in Skaneateles. “When I got home that night my mother said, ‘You have dots all over your face!’” Bonnell had chicken pox and two weeks later his new girlfriend would too. Despite the virus their relationship survived. They married in 1990. Today they have two children: 14-year-old William and 12-year-old Katherine.
While the children enjoy some down time in the summer, Bonnell’s is filled with work. In July he produced ESPN’s ESPY Award Red Carpet Show. Ten days later he was producing the Special Olympic World Games in Los Angeles. He loves coordinating coverage for sizable events. The one he dreams of working on the most has nothing to do with sports. “I’d love to produce the Academy Awards someday. I love big events. I love entertainment. I’ve worked on Olympics, Super Bowl’s, national championship games. The Academy Awards would be a tremendous accomplishment.”
Accomplishments are what Bonnell and his family are all about. His mother earned her Nursing degree from OCC in 1982. His wife is also an OCC grad. Mary Beth earned her Math & Science degree in 1985. Even one of Bonnell’s brothers, Robert, has a diploma from OCC. He graduated in 1977 with a degree in Business Administration. “I really love OCC and the experiences I had there. I know the Electronic Media Communications Department is in great hands with Tony Vadala’s leadership. OCC has been a big part of my life and always will be.”
Today the OCC student body includes representatives from dozens of countries. In the early 1960s when the College was in its infancy there were very few international students. Nicolas Habayeb was the first to ever earn a degree from the College. “If OCC didn’t exist when I came to this country I could never have afforded college. I would have just been a social security number. I cannot forget how much everyone at OCC helped me. I’m where I am today because of OCC.”
Habayeb’s journey from halfway around the world to Syracuse was unexpected. Nicolas and his wife, Hyam (pictured together above), were living in Haifa, Israel. He was working at a refinery and she was working at a bank. They dreamed of moving somewhere warmer. Central New York wasn’t on their radar until they heard about a brand new college, Onondaga Community College, through a relative attending Syracuse University. The relative sent Nicolas an application; he applied and was accepted. The Habayeb’s decided they were moving to Syracuse and arrived at 5 a.m. on October 1, 1962. Five hours later Nicolas was attending his first class at OCC’s Midtown Plaza building. “Tuition was only $150. We didn’t have much money. We were very fortunate to have OCC,” he said.
Habayeb found his major and his profession almost by accident. He came to the United States with the ability to speak fluently in four languages: English, French, Arabic and Hebrew. Despite his strength in languages he wanted to become a chemical engineer. Habayeb registered for seven classes including physics, chemistry and math. “At the end of the first week I dropped physics. The second week I dropped chemistry. Then I dropped math. I knew I needed to get a degree in something but wasn’t sure what.”
Habayeb’s struggles led him to realize something he had taken for granted; his ability to fluently speak several languages. He thrived in French because it was one of the four languages he had mastered while living in Israel. He would ultimately earn a master’s degree and become a teacher. Habayeb taught French at East Syracuse Minoa High School from 1969 until he retired in 1994.
Hyam Habayeb began taking classes at OCC in 1965 and earned a degree three years later in Medical Technology. She worked at St. Joseph’s Hospital for 35 years as a medical technologist specializing in microbiology.
Despite being retired from their primary jobs, the Habayeb’s still own and operate a successful business. Multilingual Translation Services is based in East Syracuse and helps people in 32 different languages. “With all of the refugees coming to the United States, we are here to help them,” said Nicolas.
Less than one year after moving to Syracuse the Habayeb’s gave birth to a daughter, Doris. She never attended OCC but her two sons did. Nicholas Courgi graduated in 2014 with a degree in Professional Communication. His brother Alex is presently enrolled in the Hospitality Management program.
“OCC has been such a big part of our family,” said Nicolas. “When I see what the school has become it is fantastic. I feel very proud to have been a student at OCC.”
Members of OCC’s Class of 1965 came together for a 50th class reunion Friday, July 17. Attendees were welcomed by College President Dr. Casey Crabill, toured the campus and were treated to lunch in the Bistro at the Gordon Student Center.
Among the attendees was Nicolas Habayeb, a Class of ’65 member who holds the distinction of being the College’s first international student toi earn a degree. Habayeb and his wife arrived in Syracuse from Israel October 1, 1962. He started class that day. “When I see this school and what it has become it is fantastic,” he said. “I am very proud to have been a student here.” Hyam Habayeb also attended OCC and graduated in 1968. You can read more about the Habayeb’s journey to the United States and the foundation they built at OCC here.
Also in attendance was Phil Klein, a retired Music professor who spent 22 years instructing and assisting students. Klein owns the distinction of being the author of OCC’s alma mater. “Shortly after I started teaching here I was asked if I would write an alma mater,” he said. “I had been writing music so it came to me pretty quickly. I wrote the music first then added the words. I’m proud it’s still here today.”
Vocal Music Department Alumni are encouraged to attend and participate in the 2015 Vocal Alumni Summer Sing! The event will be held Thursday, August 13 at 7 p.m. in the Academic II Recital Hall. The fabulous Sabine Krantz will accompany your vocals on the piano. Attendees and participants will also have an opportunity to tour the new Academic II building which spans the Furnace Brook Gorge. Interested in participating? Email Professor Jean Loftus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Onondaga Community College Political Science Professor Nina Tamrowski has become an influential voice in New York State’s Higher Education system. In late June she was sworn-in as a member of the SUNY Board of Trustees. The position goes hand-in-hand with her being the newly elected president of the Faculty Council of Community Colleges. “I am privileged to be in this role representing community college faculty,” Tamrowski said. “Faculty expertise in determining curriculum and academic standards is ever-present in this model of shared governance. Only through shared governance can we attain the best educational policies for our students and communities.”
Tamrowski has been a professor at OCC since 1991. Besides teaching numerous courses she also coordinates student internships with local government and political offices.
Stephanie DeRosa was the Salutatorian of Skaneateles High School’s Class of 2013. She had the grades to go to college wherever she wanted. As she began the process of choosing a school she kept going back to advice her father had given her. “Dad graduated from a community college. He always said ‘you get the best service at a community college and you pay the least for it.’” DeRosa took a long look at two and four-year colleges, examined the bottom line and made her decision. “When I compared the financial costs it made sense to go to OCC.”
DeRosa enrolled in OCC’s Engineering Science program and also pursued an Honors Minor. She earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average and was invited to join international student honor society Phi Theta Kappa. DeRosa was named the top student in the Engineering Science major and earned her degree in May 2015. The foundation she built at OCC traveled thousands of miles with her to the prestigious University of California at Berkeley where she is now majoring in electrical engineering and computer science.
Two years after Stephanie made the decision to come to OCC it was her younger sister Jenn’s turn. She had done her sister one better in high school, being named Valedictorian of Skaneateles’ Class of 2015. “I always thought I wanted to go far away for college. When I started crunching numbers and speaking with professors at four-year schools, I realized I was going to get the same education at OCC and spend a lot less money. In the end it was an easy choice to be smart with your life and make conscious decisions rather than emotional decisions.”
Jenn is now a freshman at OCC, majoring in Mathematics and Science with an Honors Minor. She’s hoping to have the same experience at the College her sister had. “I loved my time there,” said Stephanie. “Every professor was willing to talk about the material outside of class, they were always available during office hours and they always responded to emails. That isn’t something you will find everywhere.”
When you support Onondaga Community College, you are making a statement that you believe in the importance of quality affordable education for everyone. You are creating new opportunities and new beginnings for students and our greater community.