Wanted: Student Actors for Historic Play

The “Syracuse Journal” from July 1918 tells the story of the tragedy at Split Rock. OCC students have written a play about the disaster which will come to the stage this spring. The newspaper and other artifacts related to Split Rock are on display at the Town of Onondaga Historical Society Museum in Onondaga Town Hall at 5020 Ball Road. The Museum is open Monday through Friday from 1-3 p.m.

Student actors are needed for a play commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the deadly Split Rock explosion. Auditions will be held Monday, February 26 at 11:15 a.m. in Mawhinney Hall, room 114.

The play is titled “Split Rock: Stories from the 1918 Explosion.” It was written by OCC students as part of an Honors class focused on the tragedy. During World War I, a limestone quarry off Split Rock Road in the Town of Onondaga had been turned into a munitions factory. TNT was being manufactured there when a fire started. Workers battled the blaze until they ran out of water. The raging fire resulted in an explosion which killed 55 workers and injured 50.

“Split Rock: Stories from the 1918 Explosion” will be directed by Scott Peal, Education Coordinator for the Onondaga Historical Association. Peal will be on campus for the auditions. Roles which need to be filled include:

  • Jenny and Luther – a munitions plant patrolman and his wife
  • Ernest – an African American munitions plant worker
  • Sam – a munitions plant worker
  • Clara – a young mother about to give birth

Students seeking more information or who are interested in auditioning are asked to contact Professor Laurel Saiz at saizl@sunyocc.edu. The play will include brief musical sections. If you have any special musical talents, please let Professor Saiz know.

Get Paid While You Train for a Job in Manufacturing


Interested in a career in manufacturing? You can get started on one thanks to a paid apprenticeship program which includes benefits and built-in pay increases.

Onondaga Community College is teaming up with local employers to offer an Apprenticeship Accelerator Career Training Program. During the 10-week-long program participants will be trained for positions including CNC Machinist, Machinist, Tool Maker and Maintenance Mechanic. Students will be paid during the program.

Participants who successfully complete the coursework will enter into a 4-year apprenticeship in advanced manufacturing which includes benefits and built-in pay increases. Students will complete their apprenticeships at one of the following employee partners: Bartell Machinery Systems in Rome, Kilian Manufacturing in Syracuse, Precision Systems Manufacturing in Syracuse, Selflock Screw Products in Syracuse and Stickley in Manlius.

The 10-week-long program will be held on the Onondaga Community College campus. Anyone interested in a career in manufacturing is encouraged to register for an information session at www.aactjobs.com. The info session will be held Tuesday, February 20 from 6-9 p.m. in Coulter Hall, room C116.

Apprenticeship Accelerator Career Training is the product of a unique collaboration coordinated by OCC’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. Training is provided by OCC with additional apprenticeship, project and employer support provided by the American Apprenticeship Initiative, Manufacturers Association of Central New York and Jobs for the Future.

In the fall of 2017 OCC coordinated a similar program in Madison County. A total of 10 participants completed the coursework and qualified for apprenticeships at Knowles Capacitors, Canastota N/C Corp., Consolidated Precision Products, Manth Brownell and All Seasonings.

Moise Laub

Moise Laub is pictured in the Gordon Student Center. The flag hanging closest to the clock represents his native Haiti. Laub purchased the flag and donated it to the College so it could be displayed in the Great Room.
  • High School: Norman HS in Oklahoma, class of 2006
  • Major at OCC: General Studies

Moise (pronounced mo-EES) grew up in an orphanage in Haiti where he dreamed daily of living in the United States. “In Haiti you look at America as your rainbow where everything is perfect. America is the light inside you that is giving you hope. It’s your sense of survival and your ticket out of Haiti.”

His dream came true when he was 12-years-old. Moise was adopted by an American family and raised in Norman, Oklahoma. “Life in Oklahoma was great. I had a community of people that were there for me. As an adopted child from another country you do a lot of adjusting. The church community made it easier for me to adjust and have support and security.”

During his senior year of high school Moise’s girlfriend became pregnant. “I had to decide how to provide for my family. Two months after graduation I joined the Navy and we moved to San Diego.” While in the Navy, Moise took an online class through OCC. He enjoyed his experience and decided to come to campus to visit. “I felt very comfortable here. It felt natural to start college here and establish myself.”

After more than 10 years of  service, the Navy granted Moise a “career intermission,” a three-year-long sabbatical from service so he could attend college. Moise enrolled at OCC and found the experience to be everything he was hoping for. “This college has made me feel very comfortable about my potential. Everyone has given me so much support and constant encouragement. It has given me a sense of belief in myself and what I can achieve as long as I apply yourself.”

Moise has served the campus community as a member of the Student Association, Onondaga Community College Association Board’s Finance and Audit Committee and the Campus Funding Committee. He is also a member of the Diversity Council, the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program and the National Society of Leadership and Success.

Moise is a 30-year-old father who will earn his degree this May. He hopes to transfer to Syracuse University, major in International Relations and eventually attend law school. “I’m starting to reflect on my life and appreciate where I came from and where I am today. I’m very lucky to be where I am.”

Raising a Champion

Mary and Hy Bryant hold a 1998 photo of their daughter Cara, son Huyland and granddaughter Kayla. The Bryant’s raised their granddaughter after Cara was the victim of a homicide.

Mary Bryant remembers her granddaughter Kayla’s reaction after she learned she had been named Most Valuable Player of the 2017 Cara Bryant Memorial Volleyball Tournament. “She said to me, ‘I hope I didn’t get this because of who I am.’ I told her, ‘No. It’s because of how good you are.’”

Kayla Bryant

Cara Bryant was a standout volleyball player at OCC who was the victim of a homicide in 2002. Kayla Bryant is her daughter. She was 5-years-old when her mother was taken from her. Kayla has been raised by her grandparents, Mary and Hy Bryant whom she refers to as her parents. “She calls us mom and dad and that’s fine and dandy,” said Mary. “That’s the role we have in her life. We feel like neither one of us is trying to replace Cara but Cara isn’t here so we have to be what we are.”

The Bryant’s are part of the fabric that makes up Onondaga Community College. Mary has been a professor in the Computer Studies major for more than 30 years. Hy started OCC’s volleyball program in 1982 and was its first coach. He also served as OCC’s Athletic Director on three separate occasions. The constant grind of recruiting which required him to drive all over New York State led Hy to step away from his coaching responsibilities at OCC and become volleyball coach at Marcellus High School where he would coach Cara.

Cara played “setter” which is considered to be volleyball’s most important position. “The setter has to get ready, look at the other team, where the blockers are, who’s in the front row, who your dominant hitters are and know what plays you’re going to run,” said Hy. Cara would excel as Marcellus’ setter, graduate in 1994 and go on to play the same position at OCC.

Kayla Bryant

Thanks to Hy’s involvement with the Marcellus volleyball program the sport was a constant in Kayla’s life. “I would always go to the games,” Kayla said. “I was the ball girl and the players would always hang out with me.”

As Kayla got older she would play volleyball year round and develop into an outstanding player. Like Cara, she excelled at the position of setter. “I wanted to play through her and for her. I think being a setter was just kind of a given,” said Kayla.

Kayla graduated from Marcellus High School in 2016 and decided to attend Onondaga Community College. “We were so pleased Kayla decided to come to OCC,” Mary said. “She could have gone somewhere else and done well but she would have never been a part of the tournament named after her mother.”

The College started hosting an annual volleyball tournament in 1986. After Cara’s death in 2002, then Athletic Director Bob McKenney reached out to the Bryant’s with the idea of putting Cara’s name on the event.

Despite OCC being the home team every year, it hadn’t won its own tourney since 1999. That changed in October 2017 when Kayla Bryant led her team to the tournament championship and was named tournament MVP. “Kayla was steady, smart and very cool out there,” said Hy. “She was a very good court general or quarterback.”

Kayla Bryant’s MVP trophy from the tournament named after her mother.

Kayla’s performance in the Cara Bryant Memorial Tournament mirrored her sophomore season. She led the Lazers to the conference regular season and tournament titles, was named conference player of the year, conference tournament MVP and first team All-Region.

With her sophomore season behind her Kayla is looking to the future. She’s a General Studies major who plans to transfer to SUNY Alfred in the fall and continue her volleyball career. She also hopes to continue to incorporate the past into her future by wearing number 8, the same number her mother wore. “I’ve always worn 8. It’s a really valuable symbol to me. That’s our number. People say we share a lot of on-court qualities. It’s nice we had the chance to connect on the volleyball court.”

After Cara Bryant’s death a fund was started through the OCC Foundation in her memory. The fund recently became endowed and that money will be used each year to support the Women’s Volleyball program. If you would like to contribute to this fund or support OCC students in other ways, you can do so by donating online. You can also reach the OCC Foundation via email at occfoundation@sunyocc.edu.

Handing Out Happiness

An excited student at J.T. Roberts PreK-8 School receives a book from Meredith Cantor-Feller, OCC’s Interim Dean of Visual, Performing & Applied Arts.

Fourth graders at J.T. Roberts PreK-8 School were smiling from ear to ear during a recent visit by Onondaga Community College administrators. Interim Dean of Visual, Performing & Applied Arts Meredith Cantor-Feller and Coulter Library Chair Fantasia Thorne-Ortiz presented students with lightly used books for them to read and share with each other.

The visit was the product of a partnership between Roberts and OCC aimed at helping students start thinking about career opportunities and higher education at a younger age. The College has similar partnerships with McKinley-Brighton Elementary and Meachem Elementary.


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Fundraising for Students

February is Student Philanthropy Month on the OCC campus! Generous donations by OCC employees will benefit students throughout the month.

Employee donations will be turned into Lazer Tokens which students can earn when they go to the Learning Center (in Gordon) or Career Services (in Coulter) and take advantage of the services they offer. Students who sign up for one-on-one meetings, workshops or tutoring will receive Lazer Tokens while also increasing their chance of succeeding at their goals. Students can also earn Lazer Tokens by attending the spring Transfer Fair Wednesday, February 7 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Gordon Great Room.

With the LAZER tokens they earn while benefitting from these services, students will have the opportunity to help direct those employee donations to support two funding initiatives developed by Phi Theta Kappa and the Student Association. Students will also become eligible to win one of ten $250 LAZER Card grants. The winners will be announced Wednesday, March 7 during “Show Me The Money Day” in the Gordon Great Room during College Hour.

Thanks for taking part in Student Philanthropy Month!

Lazers Join The 1,000 Point Club

Samantha Britton (left) and Tyler Sullivan (right) joined the 1,000 point club on the same day.

When a basketball player scores 1,000 points at the community college level, it’s quite an accomplishment because student-athletes only have two years of eligibility. When two players from the same college reach the milestone on the same day it’s the rarest of feats.

Onondaga Community College’s Samantha Britton and Tyler Sullivan both went over the 1,000 point mark on February 3. “To be able to do it in two years is my single biggest accomplishment. Basketball is such a big part of my life. It means a lot,” said Britton. “I did it in high school in four years,” added Sullivan. “But to do it in two years here is good.”

Britton is a Human Services major from Kenmore West High School in Buffalo. She entered Saturday’s game needing 17 points. She scored 18 in the first quarter, surpassing 1,000 points on a layup.

Sullivan played scholastically at Liverpool and is majoring in General Studies. He was 19 points away going into Saturday’s game. A 3-point shot in the second half pushed him over the top.

While both players are proud of their individual accomplishments, it’s team success they care most about. Both the Women’s and Men’s team won their games against Corning Community College Saturday. “It definitely means more that it happened in a win,” said Britton. “I probably wouldn’t have cared if I got it in a loss,” added Sullivan.

Britton and Sullivan both were named Region 3 and Mid-State Athletic Conference Players of the Week. Sullivan was also named the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Player of the Week.

In April, Britton was named Honorable Mention All-American and Sullivan was named All-American. He is just the second All-American in Men’s Basketball history, joining Joseph Olsen who earned similar honors in 2004.

Congratulations to Samantha Britton and Tyler Sullivan!

Thomas Nguyen

Thomas Nguyen performs during the fall Phi Theta Kappa induction ceremony in Storer Auditorium.
  • High School: Cicero-North Syracuse, class of 2016
  • Major: Music with a specialization in Piano

Love of a musical instrument came relatively late for Thomas Nguyen (pronounced WIN). While many Music majors recognize their calling at a young age, Nguyen didn’t start taking piano lessons until the summer between his junior and senior years of high school. “I’ve only been playing for three years. I thought coming to OCC made sense so I would have more time to build up my skills.”

Nguyen started playing on his grandmother’s piano until his parents, who immigrated to the United States from Vietnam, made the decision to invest in new one. “My parents have given me all of the blessings and the necessary steps for me to achieve where I am today. I am so fortunate.”

After playing for just three months Nguyen made the decision to participate in a competition. “I really had shaky hands. I was like a rattlesnake. I couldn’t even think straight. I crashed and burned but I learned a lot. Learning from our mistakes is a part of living.”

Nguyen says his Piano professor at OCC, Dr. Kevin Moore has played a critical role in his development. “He’s helped me with the performance aspect. You have to have a certain level of pride when you walk on the stage and say, ‘this is the music. This is the way it’s supposed to be.’ He’s helped me overcome my stage fright which I never realized I had.”

Nguyen’s new-found courage was on-display in November when he played the piano at the fall induction ceremony for international honor society Phi Theta Kappa (PTK). “It was my first time playing with an ensemble. It was really outside my comfort zone and it made me a better musician.”

During the ceremony Nguyen was inducted into PTK, an accomplishment he wouldn’t have thought possible when he was a student at Cicero-North Syracuse. “In high school I was the most run-of-the-mill average student. I put in just above the minimum effort. When I was inducted into PTK I felt like I was going someplace in life.”

Nguyen will earn his degree in May and plans to transfer to SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music. In the meantime he plans to enjoy his final semester on campus. “OCC is running a fabulous operation. The professors here are great. They teach you how to live life. All of them bring something new to the table, some new way to view life and some new way to think.”

Why You Should Become a Student Officer at OCC

cropped 2017-18 Student Officers having fun
This year’s class of Student Officers.

Being a student officer at OCC is one of the most important roles on campus. These officers help shape campus policy and act as the voice of the students when the college is making decisions. Here are 4 reasons why you should run for a student officer position.

To run for student office, stop by the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement in Gordon 114 and pick up the forms.

1. You’ll Earn Free Tuition

All 6 student officers get a stipend for their tuition at OCC. It’s a reward for a job well done. Being a student officer is a commitment above and beyond your normal duties so we want to make sure it’s worth it.

2. You’ll Learn New Skills

As a student officer, you could help plan, promote and execute events. You’ll also sit in on meetings with important people at the college to offer advice and work on initiatives. Either way, being a student officer means you’ll learn new skills that will help you down the line.

3. It Will Look Good on a Resume

Student leadership is a great resume builder. If you’re looking to build or add to your resume then this is a great experience to add to your resume. Future employers and colleges will be impressed that you took a leadership role. And remember those new skills you learned, those will also be things you can add to your resume.

4. Your Voice Will Be Heard

Student Officers are the voice of the students to the college’s most senior level administration including the President. You’ll have an opportunity to make your voice heard and help make decisions that will affect the entire student body.

To run for student office, stop by the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement in Gordon 114 and pick up the forms.

Helping Students Explore Career Options

Abbey Baird is Director of OCC’s Career Services Office which helps students find internship, volunteer and employment opportunities.

Onondaga Community College’s Career Services Office is preparing students for opportunities which will help them explore career options. Numerous student focused workshops will be happening throughout the month, leading up to a large internship, volunteer and employment fair on campus. The list of workshops includes:

Wed, Feb 7          Walk-in Resume Clinic                                                                11am-1pm          Coulter 110

Thurs, Feb 8        Wizard of Oz-themed Resume and Wardrobe Clinic           11am-2pm          Coulter 116

Tues, Feb 13       Mardi Gras-themed Resume Clinic                                          12pm-2pm          Coulter Lobby

Mon, Feb 19       Walk-In Resume Clinic                                                               10am-1pm          Coulter 110

Tues, Feb 20       Walk-In Resume Clinic                                                              9:30am-2pm      Coulter 110

Wed, Feb 21       Walk-In Resume Clinic                                                               11am-1pm           Coulter 110

Thurs, Feb 22     Walk-In Resume Clinic                                                              9am-2pm            Coulter 110

Fri, Deb 23           Walk-In Resume Clinic                                                            2pm-4pm            Coulter 110

Mon, Feb 26       Walk-In Resume Clinic                                                             10am-1pm            Coulter 110


The workshops will prepare students for an Internship, Volunteer and Job Fair which will held in the SRC Arena Wednesday, February 28 from 11am to 2pm.

The Career Services office is conveniently located in room 110 of Coulter Hall which is just inside the main entrance on the right side. You can reach the Career Services offices via email at careerservices@sunyocc.edu or by phone at (315) 498-2585.

Abbey Baird, Director of the Career Services program is our guest on this month’s edition of our podcast, “Higher Ed You Can Use from Onondaga Community College.” We encourage you to listen to our conversation and learn more about all of the services available to students in our Career Services office. Enjoy the podcast!