Raeann Ouderkirk

  • Major: Nuclear Technology
  • High School: Mexico, class of 2016

Raeann Ouderkirk is on the brink of beginning a career in the nuclear industry. It’s a career which was recommended to her by an annual visitor to her family’s home in Oswego County. “We have a friend who is a contractor for nuclear plants who is always moving around. Every summer he would come and stay at our house while he was working at the local plants. He suggested I go into nuclear. We checked it out and I decided to try it out.”

Ouderkirk came to OCC in the fall of 2016 and has excelled in the Nuclear Technology major. Last summer she was selected for an internship at Nine Mile Point nuclear facility. During her two months there she spent time in electrical maintenance, mechanical maintenance, instrument and control maintenance, and operations.

Ouderkirk will earn her degree in May. She hopes to get a job at Nine Mile working in electrical maintenance or instrument and control maintenance. “I’m very satisfied with where I’m heading. I would tell anyone interested in Nuclear Technology to be prepared to study every minute of the day and ask questions when you’re confused.

You can learn more about the College’s Nuclear Technology program here.

Party on the Quad: Spring 2018 Edition

Party on the Quad Fall 2018 (Blog Article Resized)

Date: May 2nd 2018
Time: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Location: Clock Tower Quad (Rain Location: SRC Arena)
Theme: Boardwalk on the Quad
OCCID Required in Order to Get Food. (No meal swipe will be charged ) 

Party on the Quad is returning for the Spring semester! On Wednesday, students can come and blow off some steam ahead of finals. There will be free food (just make sure to bring your OCCID), bouncy houses, ski ball, henna, photo booths and more!

The first 100 students will get their choice of free Bluetooth speakers, sunglasses and Party on the Quad t-shirts while supplies last.

For a full list of activities, visit the student website.

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OCC Nursing Program Among New York State’s Best

Nursing student Matt Duda (left) practices draining a tracheostomy on a simulated patient under the watchful eye of Professor Cynthia Arcuri (right).

Matthew Duda thinks Onondaga Community College’s Nursing program is as good as it gets. “What separates it is the positive learning environment. From day one the message from faculty to the students has been, ‘this is hard but you can do this and we are here to help.’ Our instructors take a genuine interest in helping students succeed. They are always asking the students for feedback in a constant attempt to improve the learning experience.”

People with Registered Nursing.org agree. That’s why the organization recently named OCC’s Nursing program one of the top ten in all of New York State. In its evaluation Registered Nursing.org stated: “Onondaga Community College produces competent and confident nursing graduates who succeed to fill gaps in nursing care throughout the state and beyond. OCC graduates advance the standards of nursing care.” OCC received a score of 93.33 out of 100.

Duda is a 1996 graduate of Bishop Ludden High School who tried his hand at many different occupations before winding up in OCC’s Nursing program. His work history includes positions as an editor and producer at World Wrestling Entertainment and an English teacher in Yemen in a program sponsored by the State Department.

Today life couldn’t be better for Duda. He and his wife Taylor are expecting their first child in the fall. He hopes to be earning his Nursing degree a year from now as he continues on his path to becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist. He’ll get where he wants to go with guidance from OCC’s Nursing program. “It’s the best value by far. The affordable tuition makes this program ideal for anyone who already owns a mountain of student loan debt or for those smart enough to not take any on in the first place.”

You can learn more about OCC’s Nursing program by visiting the College’s website.

Marigone Istogu

Three years ago Marigone Istogu came to the United States from her home country of Kosovo. Today she is an Electrical Technology major at OCC, owner of a perfect 4.0 grade point average and a member of the leadership team with the College’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. How did she do it? “I’m a hard worker. When I want something I work hard for it. I don’t give up.”

Istogu came to the U.S. on a fiancé visa. She had become engaged to an Kosovo-born American citizen and married shortly after arriving here. While adjusting to married life she was also busy learning the English language. “I took a course for ESL (English as Second Language), I watched movies, I only read things that were in English and I practiced with my husband and his family.”

In 2017 Istogu began taking classes at OCC. “I like it here. The people are friendly and I have adapted quickly because of the people around me. Everywhere I go people are friendly and offer help.” Her career goal is to become an engineer. “I like math and I like challenges. As an engineer you face a lot of challenges. I enjoy my labs where I get to build circuits.”

Outside class the 24-year-old participates in Toastmasters, an organization that helps members improve their communication, public speaking and leadership skills. She takes part in Conversation Circles about Race, Gender, Religion, Economic Status and Orientation. Istogu also volunteers regularly. “I like to help people when I can. It feels good. I like to get involved, meet new people and learn new cultures.”

Istogu will earn he degree in December 2018. She plans to transfer to Syracuse University.

Award-Winning Employees


Business Administration Professor J.T. Ryan works with a student in the Whitney Commons classroom. Ryan was awarded the “John & Suanne Roueche Excellence Award” from The League for Innovation for Community Colleges.

Seven Onondaga Community College professors and administrators have been recognized for their outstanding contributions to higher education and the community during the spring 2018 semester. The awards include a cross-section of local, regional and national honors. The honorees include:


Dr. Malkiel Choseed, Professor, English/Reading/Communication

  • Malkiel was awarded the inaugural “Dale P. Darnell Distinguished Faculty Award” by the American Association of Community Colleges.
  • Malkiel has taught at OCC since 2005.



Jason Furney, Professor, Mathematics

  • Jason was named Technology Alliance of Central New York (TACNY) “Educator of the Year” for his outstanding contributions to STEM education at the college level.
  • Jason has taught at OCC since 2013.




Nancy Gabriel, Professor, Human Services and Teacher Education

  • Nancy was named a “Champion for Children – Early Childhood Leader” by the New York Association for the Education of Young Children.
  • Nancy has taught at OCC since 1995.



Sarah Gaffney, Vice President of Finance

  • Sarah received the “Women Under 40 Award” from the American Association for Women in Community Colleges.
  • Sarah has worked on behalf of OCC students since 2004.




J.T. Ryan, Faculty Senate President and Professor, Business Administration

  • J.T. was awarded the “John & Suanne Roueche Excellence Award” from The League for Innovation for Community Colleges.
  • J.T. has taught at OCC since 2005.



Dr. Julie White, Senior Vice President, Student Engagement and Learning Support

  • Julie was accepted into the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence.
  • Julie has worked on behalf of OCC students since 2013.




Dr. Daria Willis, Provost and Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs

  • Daria received the “Women Under 40 Award” from the American Association for Women in Community Colleges.
  • Daria has worked on behalf of OCC students since 2016.



“Our workforce rivals that of any community college in the nation. The list of honorees and their diverse disciplines reinforces that. We are so proud of each of our professors and administrators who were recognized for their accomplishments,” said Onondaga Community College President Dr. Casey Crabill.

Setting An Example

Carlos Prillwitz retired from the United States Army and came to OCC to earn a college degree.

Carlos Prillwitz’s decision to pursue a college degree was about more than giving himself career options. He had a point to prove to his three daughters. “I always told them you get out of it what you put into it. I wanted to show them you can do anything in this world as long as you put your mind to it.”

Prillwitz is a native of Los Angeles who spent 22 years in the United States Army. While a member of Fort Drum’s 10th Mountain Division, he met his wife in nearby Alexandria Bay. They married in 1999 and settled in her hometown of Syracuse after he retired. Prillwitz had never attended college so when he entered the post-military working world he was forced to settle for an entry level position. “My supervisors were in their 20s. After nine months I put in my notice and decided it was time to go to college.”

Prillwitz had heard from fellow Army veterans about the difficulties of going to school at an older age. “They told me horror stories but once I got into the classroom at OCC everything was fine. I actually had a younger student tell me I was an inspiration to her and other students.”

Prillwitz majored in Business Administration and did so well he was selected to join the College’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa during his final semester on campus. “I wasn’t a very good student in high school. Coming here and excelling and showing my kids what I could do meant a lot.”

When he wasn’t in class, Prillwitz could often be found in OCC’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs which is located on the second floor of Coulter Hall. “I would go there quite often and interact with other veterans. I felt it was important to spend time with them and I enjoyed doing so.”

Prillwitz will earn his degree in May and hopes his daughters will follow in his footsteps. “I’ve had nothing but positive experiences here. I love OCC. I’m pushing my daughters to come here. You get a great education with minimal costs. You learn from professors who also teach at Le Moyne, Syracuse and Cornell. You can’t beat it.”

Prillwitz plans to transfer to Le Moyne College where he will pursue a bachelor’s in Business Administration with a specialization in Analytics.

Delivering Help To Those In Need

Nursing students and faculty members outside the hotel where they stayed in Guatemala.

Students enrolled in OCC’s Nursing program spent the holiday season giving to others. They traveled to Guatemala where they participated in service-learning over the semester break. “It was quite the adventure,” said Nursing major Troy Adams. “We were shocked by the poverty there but the people were so kind and appreciative.”

Students built six stoves for families.

Adam and nine classmates brought everything from valuable medical supplies, to everyday items like toothbrushes, band-aids and clothes, along with a strong desire to make a difference in the lives of others. Once they landed in Guatemala the first few days were spent building wood burning stoves in homes. Stoves there are used for cooking and are burning all day long. The existing stoves were deteriorating and didn’t vent to the outside, leaving walls covered in dangerous creosote and families with significant health problems.

Students built new stoves in six homes, then left them to cure while they presented local citizens with health clinics and information sessions. “In rural Guatemala there isn’t a lot of access,” said student Sarah Kimmelman. “There aren’t a lot of supplies and there’s not a lot of funding.”

Students hosted free clinics where they checked things like blood pressure and blood glucose levels. They taught residents how to make shampoo and a substance similar to Vick’s Vapo Rub. Students worked with children and focused on teeth brushing, hand washing, burn prevention and general hygiene.

Students offered residents a free health clinic.

The service-learning trip was an eye-opening experience for students. “Those people literally didn’t have a floor under their feet and they were so happy to see us and so appreciative,” said student Theresa Ott. “You really learn how to not take for granted things we have because people who have so much less are so much more content in life.”

The students efforts were noticed in Washington, D.C. They were awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award at the “Silver Level.” This is the premier volunteer awards program, encouraging citizens to live a life of service through presidential gratitude and national recognition.

The trip was made possible in large part thanks to the support of National Grid, M&T Bank and the entire campus community.

Leah Walsh

  • Major at OCC: Communications
  • High School: Auburn, class of 2015

Leah Walsh’s senior year of high school was similar to that of so many other students. She was busy applying to colleges, working a part-time job and having fun with her friends. A Ted Talk with an author named Rick Warren piqued her curiosity. Then she read his book, The Purpose Driven Life and everything changed. “I decided to take a gap year and enact on the very visions that brought me to life. So I bought a one-way ticket to Kenya, and continued to backpack through Europe.”

The experience transformed her life. Walsh decided she wanted to dedicate her life to helping others and her path would begin at OCC. “I came here so I could get my head back in the game and use OCC as my platform for what comes next. Rather than putting all of my money and time into a four-year school I thought it would be best to start here.”

Walsh served the campus community as Vice President of Clubs & Organizations in the Student Association. “I really enjoyed being a representative for students, listening, giving them a voice and standing up for them. I think students need that voice. I think our team has been really good about listening to students and responding to them.”

Walsh was also a member of the College Leadership Council, Diversity Council, Campus Funding Committee, the National Society of Leadership and Success, was Chair of the Unity Day event in April and is a member of the international honor society Phi Theta Kappa.

In the fall she’ll be attending either Syracuse University, New York University or a college in London as she pursues a communications-related career. She’s heading to a place she couldn’t have predicted just a few years ago. “My gap year served as the basis for everything that followed. Without it I wouldn’t have the ambition or motivation or mindset I have now. OCC turned out to be the right choice for me. It was a good steppingstone.”

Ceramic Celebration

It may not feel like spring outside yet, but you know it’s time for spring when the annual “Feats of Clay” exhibit opens on campus! Once again the ceramic creations of area high school students are on-display in the Gallery at the Ann Felton Multicultural Center. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

On Friday, May 4 students from over 30 participating high schools will take over OCC’s quad when they compete in the “Feats of Clay Olympics.” Events will include the “Cylinder Stack,” “Mug Production,” “No Hands Throw,” “Blindfold Throw,” “Pot Put,” and the “Highest Coiling.”

“Feats of Clay was created in 1987 as a way to promote education of the ceramic arts in high school. This is the 14th year the exhibit has been on campus. You can view of a slideshow of some of this year’s remarkable work below.

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Open House Homecoming

Carlos Perez, ’00 returned to campus for Open House along with 45 students from the Bronx school where he serves as a Dean.

Two decades ago Carlos Perez felt like he was going nowhere. He had graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx in 1996. The Dominican-born Perez loved playing baseball but no colleges were showing any interest, so he went to work. “I spent two years at a dead end job as a stock boy when I came across a baseball coach and a school that were willing to take a chance on me.”

In the spring of 1998 Perez met OCC head baseball coach Joe Antonio and his life changed forever. “He introduced me to a team of individuals who dedicated their time to ensure my success.” The team of individuals included Terry Ancona, an admissions officer who helped Perez enroll and formed a lasting bond with him. “She was a mother figure whose door was always open whenever needed.” There was Bonnie Belcher, Director of the Educational Opportunity Program. “She took me in as her personal student and instilled a ‘yes you can’ attitude in me that never allowed me to give up.” Another critical person was financial aid officer Tanya Rodriguez. “She went above and beyond her assignment to make sure all necessary funding was covered so I didn’t have to worry about money. Finally, Perez remembered guidance counselor Tim Singer. “He taught me how to think outside the box, how to manage time, emotions and life as a whole.”

Perez with the New York City skyline behind him.

Thanks to his own hard work and the support system around him, Perez earned a degree in Humanities two years after arriving on campus. Lessons learned at OCC in the classroom, on the baseball field and through conversations with his mentors formed the foundation upon which all future success would be built.

Saturday, April 14 Perez returned to OCC. He arrived on campus with a bus load of students from The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology where he is the Dean of School Culture and the Head Baseball Coach. They had boarded the bus in the early morning hours and made the trip up from the Bronx. “I brought 45 students to expose them to the college experience and show them what it takes to get there. That is, their academic excellence starts in the ninth grade and continues throughout their high school career.”

Perez also used the opportunity to share his journey with the students. “Many of them know I hold a master’s in Education and a bachelor’s in Sociology from Syracuse University but didn’t know the road I took to get there. I needed them to know Onondaga Community College was the bridge that took me to that place.”

During Open House, Perez stood proudly inside the SRC Arena. The building didn’t exist when he was an OCC student. He marveled at the many improvements which had been made across campus and reflected on the College’s impact on him. “The people who helped me and this place were part of the magic that made OCC feel less like a community and more like a family. I’m proud to have grown up here, to have become a student here and most of all to have become a graduate. I was also quite proud of how much the college had expanded and developed. Many of the things that were just words, thoughts and ideas at the time had come to fruition and I was seeing them with my own eyes.”

The visit was equally impactful for his students, many of whom looked tired when they arrived and gained energy throughout the visit. “They were impressed with the facilities and never imagined that a two-year school could have so much to offer. More importantly, students said they were now more likely to consider OCC and other two year colleges outside New York City once it was time to apply to college.”