Onondaga Community College annually recognizes distinguished graduates by naming them “Alumni Faces” for their accomplishments and contributions to the community. The 2017 class will be honored during a ceremony November 1 at 5:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall which is located in the Academic II building. One of the graduates we will honor that night is Dr. Deirdre Hunter.
Dr. Deirdre Hunter’s interest in STEM-related fields began at an early age. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Hunter loved to follow her father around while he worked as a mechanic, tuning-up engines in his garage. “I was always fascinated by the work my father did. He had to understand the importance and delicate nature of each part to have the engine run properly.” Her interests put her on a unique path. “For me it was all about gaining knowledge. It never crossed my mind to not take courses in certain fields based on my gender because it all came so naturally to me.”
Hunter came to Onondaga Community College and enrolled in Engineering Science. “After the first class I knew I had made the right choice. The class sizes were small and students were all very dedicated. We were all financing our educations and had a vested interest in succeeding.” One of Hunter’s professors, Eugene Camerota, encouraged her to continue her education beyond OCC. “He saw something in me I didn’t see in myself. He helped me fill out an application for Syracuse University and mailed it. I am forever grateful for his encouragement.”
Hunter earned a bachelor’s degree at Syracuse and in 2015 added a doctorate in engineering education from Virginia Tech. Today she is a Lecturer of Engineering Design at Rice University in Houston. She credits OCC with helping build the foundation for her success. “If I would have attended a four-year university right out of high school I do not think I would have excelled academically to the extent that I have. For me OCC was not an only choice, it was my choice.”