- High School: Mexico, Class of 2007
- Major: Mathematics & Science
An unfortunate event changed the direction of Betheny Witherell’s life and steered her towards a new career. Last May she was driving on Colvin Street in the Syracuse University area when her car was rear-ended. Witherell’s injuries required her to go through a series of medical imaging procedures. As she studied her X-rays she started wondering if she had stumbled upon something. “I thought it could be a career for me. I wanted to have a career that is interesting and helps people. It’s funny how things work out sometimes.”
Witherell graduated from Mexico High School in 2007 and became a Licensed Massage Therapist. In her spare time she took up rock climbing. “A lot of the people I climbed with were engineers. Climbing with them made me think about things from a scientific and mathematical perspective. I decided if I could rock climb and conquer that challenge I could go back to school.”
Witherell enrolled at OCC in time for the fall 2014 semester. Making the jump from full-time employee to full-time student was a big one. Scholarship opportunities at OCC made it possible. Witherell was named a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) Scholar and received the Community Scholars Scholarship through the OCC Foundation. “I couldn’t have afforded college and life outside college without the scholarships. It made being in college and being successful a lot easier for me.”
Before Witherell’s car accident she was pursuing a career in geology. In the spring 2016 semester she was one of nine OCC students selected to participate in NASA’s New York Space Grant program. She took a class on campus for Methods of Scientific Research. It led to a summer internship in Colgate University’s Geology department where she focused on computer modeling and enjoyed the experience. “Any student who gets a research opportunity should take advantage of it. Learning to think logically and problem solve is very important.”
Witherell’s outstanding academic performance has earned her membership in international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. She’s also been named one of the College’s five SUNY Chancellor’s Award winners for this academic year.
Witherell plans to transfer to SUNY Upstate Medical University and pursue a degree in Medical Imaging Science/Radiography. She credits OCC’s faculty with having a significant impact on her growth as a student. “I’ve really enjoyed it here. I’ve always been amazed by how much professors want you to succeed. They all tell us, ‘We’re here for you’ and it’s true. The professors are really focused on the students and willing to give you good advice for the future.”