- High School: Marcellus
- Major at OCC: Criminal Justice
Sandy Klinzman has a simple message for all students at OCC. “Get involved! Everything you do on campus can impact your life. There are so many opportunities. If you want something changed, change it!” Klinzman is leading by example. She’s President of the Student Association which provides programming and services to students across campus. Being a student leader is something which seemed unimaginable to her not long ago.
In 1997 Klinzman dropped out of Marcellus High School. She chose to earn her GED rather than keep attending school. By her own admission she was going through a selfish phase which would set her back many years.
Two years later Klinzman became a mom. As her daughter became school-aged Klinzman started considering her own education. “I started to think, ‘I should probably set a good example for her. I wanted her to know if you decide not to go to college right after high school it’s not the end of the world. It’s never too late to go back and make something of yourself.”
Klinzman began taking classes at OCC in 2013. She was a Humanities major focused on getting her education and little else. “When I first started here I had tunnel vision. I didn’t make any friends. I didn’t interact with many people. I took my classes and I left.”
Her love of crime-related television shows would ultimately change everything. Klinzman took a Criminal Justice class, enjoyed it and decided to join the Criminal Justice Club on campus. Thanks to the encouragement of Professors Jessica Field and Peter Patnode she took a leadership position in the organization. “I started interacting with people and doing more things on campus.”
It was Patnode who ultimately convinced Klinzman to pursue the position of Student Association President. His confidence in her is something she will be eternally grateful for. “He told me I would be a great fit and I really appreciate that. He and Professor Field made me feel comfortable and made me feel the Criminal Justice major would be right for me. They are so ‘all about the students.’”
Twenty years after dropping out high school Klinzman will earn her associate degree this May. Her daughter, Sklyer Thorpe is now a junior at Marcellus who studies Cosmetology at OCM BOCES. She plans to attend OCC and pursue a Business degree. Her mother’s decision to go to college and get involved has made a difference. “If I hadn’t taken that one Criminal Justice class I would have never gotten into the field I’m interested in getting into now. It’s so important to interact with people. This is your college experience. Make the most of it because this experience doesn’t come to everybody. It’s an opportunity not to be wasted.”