Alumni Reflections

Scenes from the OCC campus then (left) and now (right).

It’s great to keep hearing from our wonderful former students! Since we started “The OCC Effect” in 2017 we’ve heard from so many of you who were positively impacted by your time on campus. Your success is a significant part of OCC’s story which began more than a half-century ago when we first opened our doors in 1961. If you would like to join in the conversation please visit our Alumni web site and tell us your story. In the meantime, here are a few more for you to enjoy.

Joseph Nicoletti, ‘97

  • Major: Nursing
  • Occupation: Clinical Hospital Liaison
  • Resides in Syracuse

“I am a 1976 graduate from SUNY College of Health Professions at Upstate Medical University from the Respiratory Therapy Program. While working as Registered Respiratory Therapist at St. Joseph’s Hospital I elected to obtain my nursing degree from OCC. I graduated from the nursing program in 1997 and worked in the SICU-Open Heart Unit for a number of years. All totaled, I spent 20 years in the acute care arena at St. Joseph’s Hospital. I left the hospital and utilized my skills, experience, and contacts to work in the medical sales field for 10 successful years, at which time I was offered a position with Franciscan Health Support, a division of St. Joseph’s Health Network. I have been at Franciscan for the last 11 years of my active health career. While here at Franciscan I obtained my BSN in Nursing from SUNY Empire State College. While here at Franciscan Health I have been the Director of the Respiratory Therapy Dept., promoted to Executive Director of Clinical Services, and presently serve as the Clinical Liaison with St. Joseph’s Hospital Provider Outreach Network Team, Franciscan and their physician groups.”

“My nursing degree from OCC has helped to propel my professional career to a higher level. My basic nursing degree from OCC combined with my Respiratory Therapy degree made me a unique health care professional, in the hospital setting and in the business world.  Both of these degrees go hand in hand and carry a lot of weight when dealing with many patient health issues and co-morbidities. After receiving my nursing degree my scope of practice and marketability really opened up for me. I feel blessed at my personal and professional success. My experience with the College of Nursing was very rewarding. The College of Nursing really strives to prepare their students for the real working world and has them prepared to take their national nursing boards. That designed curriculum really gets you prepared, no question.”


Denise Hsu, ‘97

  • Major: Radio & TV
  • Occupation: Special Education Teacher

“I didn’t believe in myself but through the steps I took at OCC it helped me focused and live my dream. First I pursued acting in New York but quickly realized after making no money that providing an education to students with disabilities was my true calling. Thank you to my professors and the college for their selfless giving through a trying time in my life.”


Karen Harrison, ‘88

  • Major: Business Administration
  • Occupation: Professor of Communication Studies at OCC
  • Resides in Syracuse

“OCC is a great place for new beginnings! Moving to Syracuse from Atlanta and a career in corporate travel, I was more than ready for a career change. OCC was just the place to begin to explore new opportunities. I jumped right in and focused my attention on earning an associate degree in Business Administration. Before I knew it, I was on my way to Syracuse University where I earned Bachelors’ and Masters’ degrees in Communication. My dream of a new career became a reality when I was offered an opportunity to teach at OCC! I felt I had come full circle. From student to professor, OCC has been an environment where I’ve been able to thrive. A strong belief that “all things are possible,” coupled with a connection to the college’s mission and the students it serves, I have carved out a rewarding career at an institution that I deeply care about.”


Jay Lurie, ‘72

  • Major: General Studies
  • Occupation: Video Journalist and Documentary Producer
  • Resides in Buffalo

“Onondaga Community College had a profound impact on my life; particularly my last semester. During that time I had two professors, Kathy Stampalia and Doug Brode. From Stampalia’s Introduction to Broadcasting class I learned to bring a professional approach to my school work. With a semester of Doug Brode’s Poetics of the Film I discovered the artistry of film-making. I am thankful every day for the legacy of their influence on my career.”

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