December Degrees

Provost Dr. Daria Willis speaks at the December Graduate Recognition ceremony in Storer Auditorium.
Provost Dr. Daria Willis welcomes graduating students and their family members to the December Graduate Recognition ceremony in Storer Auditorium.

Amil Vargas Castillo has lived the words he shared with fellow students at the December Graduate Recognition Ceremony. “Don’t give up. Sometimes we have to fail to become successful. I never gave up and now I am an exceptional student.”

Castillo shared reflections on his journey with fellow graduating students December 6 in Storer Auditorium. He’s a native of Puerto Rico who began taking classes at OCC in August 2014. He was far from home and fighting to survive academically. “I struggled a lot the first semester and almost didn’t make it. I nearly lost my financial aid but I didn’t give up.”

Amil Vargas Castillo (left) receives a handshake and a tassel from OCC Provost Dr. Daria Willis.
Amil Vargas Castillo (left) receives a handshake and a tassel from OCC Provost Dr. Daria Willis.

Castillo found the support he needed in the office of the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP).  “The people in the CSTEP office became my family here. They helped me with books, counseling, where to go for tutoring and so many other things. My best friends at OCC I met in CSTEP. It’s where I got to know myself.”

Castillo went from a struggling student to one who earned all “A’s” and “B’s” and is now the proud owner of an associate degree in Mathematics & Science. He plans to transfer to Clarkson or the Rochester Institute of Technology and pursue a bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering. Castillo credits OCC with helping him build the foundation which has made the next stage of his education journey possible. “Coming to OCC was the best decision I ever made. It was an amazing experience. I am way better prepared for a four-year school now than when I started here.”

Congratulations to Amil Vargas Castillo and all of our December 2016 graduates!

 

Making Superheroes

McKinley-Brighton Elementary 4th grader Nyomi Thomas shows the superhero she created. The best drawings will be hung in OCC's Coulter Library.
McKinley-Brighton Elementary 4th grader Nyomi Thomas shows the superhero she created. The best drawings will be hung in OCC’s Coulter Library.
OCC's Meredith Cantor-Feller works with students as they make their superheroes.
OCC’s Meredith Cantor-Feller works with students as they make their superheroes.

Superheroes are coming to Onondaga Community College’s Coulter Library! They’re being created by 4th grade students at Syracuse’s McKinley-Brighton Elementary School.

Meredith Cantor-Feller, OCC’s Interim Dean of Visual, Performing & Applied Arts visited McKinley-Brighton December 5 and worked with two dozen students on the superhero project. She handed out construction paper and pencils, asked students to list five qualities a superhero should have then draw their superhero. At the end of class Cantor-Feller collected their artwork. The best drawings will be framed and hung in the children’s book section of the newly renovated Coulter Library at OCC.

You can see students outstanding work in the slideshow below.

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The creation of superheroes is the product of a partnership between McKinley-Brighton and Onondaga Community College aimed at helping students. OCC Administrators have also worked with students on journal making and qualities which make outstanding leaders.

SUNY Oswego in Syracuse

 

OCC Alumna Leea Sinay is pursuing her bachelor's degree at SUNY Oswego's Metro Center in downtown Syracuse.
OCC Alumna Leea Sinay is pursuing her bachelor’s degree at SUNY Oswego’s Metro Center in downtown Syracuse.

Leea Sinay always wanted to earn a bachelor’s degree. Her challenge was figuring out how to do so close to her Onondaga County roots. SUNY Oswego’s Metro Center, located in downtown Syracuse, turned out to be exactly what she was looking for. “I have a very busy schedule. This is great because it accommodates my schedule and everything I have going on.”

Sinay was an outstanding scholastic athlete who graduated from Marcellus High School in 2010 and chose to attend Wagner University to play lacrosse. After one year she decided to return to Central New York. Sinay transferred to Onondaga Community College, was named a first team All-American in lacrosse and was a key member of the 2012 National Championship team. She earned a degree in Humanities in May 2012, considered an offer to play Division I lacrosse but decided to stay in the area.

Sinay remained with OCC’s Women’s Lacrosse program, working as an assistant coach under Tom MacDonald. Their conversations regularly included a reminder from MacDonald she needed to pursue a bachelor’s degree. “He always stayed on me about getting my education knowing that if I wanted to be a head coach somewhere I would need my four-year degree. I always wanted to continue going to school but I needed to find the right situation.”

The right situation turned out to be SUNY Oswego’s Metro Center, located in the Atrium Building at 2 Clinton Square in downtown Syracuse. Sinay transferred there and her life schedule fell into place. She’s working part-time nearby at National Grid, taking two classes at the Metro Center and taking two more classes online, all while continuing to coach women’s lacrosse at OCC. “It’s so great. I can work most of the day, walk right over from National Grid for class then head up to OCC to coach lacrosse. It’s perfect. I don’t have to travel a lot and I’m getting my four-year degree.” Sinay is a Business Administration major who will graduate in the spring of 2018.

The SUNY Oswego Metro Center is home to 14 bachelor’s, master’s and advanced certificate programs. For more information on Metro Center higher education options which may fit your schedule call (315) 399-4100, email metro@oswego.edu and visit the Metro Center website.

Robert Laframboise

Robert Laframboise
Robert Laframboise
  • Major @ OCC: Health Information Technology

It’s never too late to turn your life around. Robert Laframboise is proof of that. “I’m doing life the right way this time. I’m about 10 years behind where I should be but it’s okay.”

Laframboise grew up in Auburn, one of four children raised by a single mother. He remembers being smart in school, too smart for his own good in some cases. “Learning came so easy to me I got bored and would act out. My desk would get moved out into the hall and that’s where I would spend most of my time.”

By the time Laframboise became a teenager he had had enough of school. “I always wanted to work. I didn’t want to go to school because you didn’t make money in school. Since about 13 years old I’ve been working.”

Laframboise would earn his GED in 2002 but spent most of his time working in concessions and the transportation industry. The hard labor led to a back injury which he never fully recovered from.

Years of personal struggles and what he called “dead end jobs” led him to OCC. “I remember the day very clearly. I found out in the morning I had gotten passed over for a promotion. I knew what I had to do. On my lunch break I applied to OCC.”

Laframboise started taking classes in the fall 2015 semester. He began in Liberal Arts & Sciences – General Studies and later changed his major to Health Information Technology. Today he’s 31 years old, a newlywed (he married in August) and a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. What made the difference? “I changed my outlook. Instead of worrying about what other people were thinking I decided to only worry about myself.”

Laframboise is also enjoying working as a tutor in OCC’s Learning Center. He helps students with biology. “I like tutoring. It gives me an intrinsic reward. The best way to learn is to teach.”

Laframboise will earn his degree in December 2017. He hopes to receive a scholarship from a four-year college. If it doesn’t happen he’ll be prepared to enter the workforce with his associate degree. Whichever route he takes he knows he’s a better person today in large part due to what he overcame to get here. “I realize that without the difficulties I experienced I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

We are the Champions… Again!

OCC's winning team in the New York Beef Council's Veal Culinary Tour and Competition (left to right): Chris Sheppard, Brandon Clary, Chef Deb Schneider, Alex Courgi and Lexi LaFountain.
OCC’s winning team in the New York Beef Council’s Veal Culinary Tour and Competition (left to right): Chris Sheppard, Brandon Clary, Chef Deb Schneider, Alex Courgi and Lexi LaFountain.

Somewhere an engraver is getting used to putting the words “Onondaga Community College” and “Champion” on cooking competition plaques. In November, four students enrolled in the Hospitality Management major traveled to Canandaigua and earned first place honors in the New York Beef Council’s Veal Culinary Tour and Competition. “We’re just really proud,” said OCC faculty member and Chef Deb Schneider. “It’s a great accomplishment for our students and our program.”

cropped-hospitality-management-winners-002Student teams from OCC’s Hospitality Management major have made a habit of winning these competitions. In each of the last three years during the month of May, students have earned first place honors in the Beef Farm Tour and Culinary Competition. Those were also held in Canandaigua.

Planning and preparation for this November’s competition began shortly after the start of the fall semester. Four students were selected to compete: Brandon Clary (Oswego H.S.), Alex Courgi (Fayetteville-Manlius (H.S.), Lexi LaFountain (Town of Webb H.S. in Old Forge) and Chris Sheppard (Corcoran H.S.).

College teams would be required to make veal schnitzel sliders while using only six ingredients. There were limits to which items could be used, also known as the “market basket.” “We got around it by making our own,” said Schneider. “Instead of taking sauerkraut out of a can we made our own and added caraway to it to give it more flavor. We made our own mustard and added beer to it which was part of the recipe.” The sauerkraut and beer each took four weeks to make. Students also made slider rolls.

In the months leading up to the competition students gathered regularly to practice making their recipes. “We worked on this every Monday for the past two months to make it really good,” said LaFountain. “Through our practice we’d done this enough times so we knew what we were doing,” added Clary.

By the time the competition began OCC’s team was ready. They were competing against five other colleges: Alfred State, SUNY Cobleskill, Erie Community College, Finger Lakes Community College and Morrisville State College. OCC won first place! “It was really fun… It was a very exciting experience for all of us,” said Shepard. OCC’s team was presented with a check for $2,000 which was split evenly between the four students.

The event also included lectures, presentations and tours of a veal producer and Noblehurst Farms, a dairy farm in western New York. It was quite an experience for students like Courgi. “I had never been on a dairy farm. It was very interesting to see the whole process and how things work.”

Congratulations to OCC’s team! You can watch a video produced by the New York Beef Council here.

OCC's team poses for a photo with the ceremonial check after earning first place honors.
OCC’s team poses for a photo with the ceremonial check after earning first place honors.

Understanding Leadership

5th graders in McKinley-Brighton Elementary School learn about leadership.
5th graders at McKinley-Brighton Elementary School learn about leadership.

Responsible. Honest. Trustworthy. These were some of the words 5th grade students at Syracuse’s McKinley-Brighton Elementary School used to describe qualities they believe leaders should have. The students were taking part in an hour-long workshop on leadership and the benefits of being part of McKinley Brighton’s Student Council.

OCC's Sarah Collins speaks with students about leadership.
OCC’s Sarah Collins (center) speaks with students about leadership.

The workshop was the product of a partnership between McKinley-Brighton and Onondaga Community College aimed at helping students. Participating OCC administrators were Katharine Rumrill-Teece who is Dean of Humanities & Social Sciences, Interim Dean of Visual, Performing & Applied Arts Meredith Cantor-Feller and Sarah Collins, Director of Student Leadership Development.

During the workshop students also watched videos of Kid President on teamwork and leadership and how to change the world.

The partnership between McKinley-Brighton and OCC was announced during a celebration in September. It includes students in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. In October Cantor-Feller worked with 3rd graders on journal making. More activities are planned throughout the academic year.