Finding His Way at OCC

TOP OF STORY Jacob Nicholson singing
Jacob Nicholson (singing) credits the outstanding environment in OCC’s Music major with helping him discover his career path. He is pictured with student Shane Bucci in the Academic II Recital Hall.

It’s June 2014. Jacob Nicholson is about to graduate from Pulaski High School in Oswego County. In two months he’ll be a freshman at SUNY Potsdam’s prestigious Crane School of Music majoring in music education. A plan is in place but something doesn’t seem right. “At the time I felt really unsure about pursuing that major, or even music at all,” said Nicholson. That’s when he made the decision to come to Onondaga Community College, a decision which would change the course of his life.

OCC Music Professor David Rudari
OCC Music Professor Dr. David Rudari

Nicholson arrived on campus in time for the fall 2014 semester. People made him feel comfortable right away beginning with a music professor. “Dr. David Rudari became my advisor. He was very welcoming and encouraged me to continue with music. He explained how much I could grow working with faculty and students.”

Dr. Rudari remembers his first meeting with Nicholson and time spent with him during his two years on campus.  “Jacob came to us as the majority of our students have; eager, talented, active in their home school’s performing arts organizations, actively searching for his niche in the vast world of Music.  He readily transferred his skills and enthusiasm to our Department and established himself as a strong leader.”

Nicholson enjoyed speaking with fellow Music majors as well and learning their plans. Through those conversations he discovered the path he wanted to take. “I had an interest in psychology and had heard about music therapy from my peers, so I started reading more about it in books and online.”  Music therapy is an established health profession in which music is used to address physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of individuals. “After my research, I was just about positive that music therapy was what I wanted to do.”

Music Therapist Clare Arezina
Music Therapist Clare Arezina

Nicholson became co-president of OCC’s Music Club. In that role he helped plan a career panel with individuals who had pursued different careers involving music. That’s when he met Clare Arezina, a music therapist who worked at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. “I asked her all of my unanswered questions. It solidified my career choice.”

Today Nicholson is enjoying his first semester at SUNY Fredonia where he’s majoring in music therapy. He’s grateful for the guidance he received during his two years at OCC and the impact it had on his life. “The professors encouraged us to use them to help decide what we wanted to do. When I was fresh out of high school I wasn’t confident in what I was doing. Now I feel more confident about pursuing music therapy than I ever have about anything. I’m grateful for the opportunities I received at OCC.”

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