SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson shared a powerful story with students during the annual USA Today Phi Theta Kappa All-New York State Academic Award ceremony. The Chancellor recalled her first exposure to a community college. Her mother was pursuing a college degree when she got married, started a family and put her own education on hold. Many years later when all seven children had been raised, her then 60-year-old mother decided to go to a community college and complete work toward her degree. “Many of you are like my mom. You’ve had to juggle jobs, careers and families and all of the other responsibilities that go along with being a productive and contributing citizen of our country. We’re here today to celebrate not only your academic strengths but the other qualities like leadership and service you’ve provided to your college community.”
The Chancellor’s remarks set the tone for a wonderful ceremony in which Phi Theta Kappa honor society students from each of the State’s community colleges were named to the All-New York Academic team. OCC’s two honorees were Giavanna Sylvester and Matthew Honeywell. Sylvester is a 2013 graduate of Fabius-Pompey High School who earned a degree in Humanities and Social Sciences. She is now pursuing her Psychology degree at Sierra Nevada College in Lake Tahoe and was unable to attend the event. Honeywell is a 1989 graduate of West Genesee High School and a veteran of the United States Navy. He earned a degree in Human Services in December and is now enrolled at SUNY Oswego. Honeywell was a foster child. He is working to become a therapist for children in foster care, adopted children and their families.
OCC Professor Dr. Annie Tuttle is the Regional Coordinator for Phi Theta Kappa in New York. During the event she spoke about what a privilege it was to serve in her role and to meet and work with outstanding students across the state. She also took a moment to highlight some individual student stories, including that of one of OCC’s honorees. “Matthew Honeywell and his wife are activists against human trafficking,” Tuttle told those in attendance. “They helped create a human trafficking prevention program in Syracuse, training hotel staff in how to spot and stop human trafficking.”
OCC Music major Alexandra Lombardo also played a significant role in the celebration of academic excellence and community service. The Cicero-North Syracuse High School graduate sang the national anthem.
The ceremony was held March 6 at the New York Museum in Albany.