One by one, all five children of Sally and Alvaro Robles have come to Onondaga Community College. Each has majored in something different including Humanities, Art, Mechanical Technology and Hospitality Management. Wednesday night their youngest, Hannah, was recognized as the top student in the Business Administration major during the annual Curriculum Honors ceremony. “I really enjoyed the Business program. All of the faculty helped me know I was in the right program and I knew I chose the right school,” she said. Hannah is the second family member to be named tops in their major. In 2013 her brother Chayanne earned Curriculum Honors for the Mechanical Technology major.
All five of the Robles were homeschooled before coming to OCC. “It was nice to have this introduction to being in a classroom here as opposed to a big four-year school,” Hannah said. “We also saved a lot of money while getting the same education we could have gotten somewhere else. This way we only have to pay more expensive tuition for two years.”
Hannah made the most of her two years on the OCC campus. She maintained a 3.9 grade point average and earned membership in the College’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. She received the Diversity Honors Scholarship both years at OCC and was also the recipient of the Wegmans academic scholarship. She also never hesitated to challenge herself, taking difficult courses like Chinese I and Chinese II. “Everyone in my family took Spanish and I wanted to be different. I really liked Chinese and I enjoyed the language. I hope to do an internship in China when I transfer.”
In the fall Robles will enroll at the Rochester Institute of Technology where she will major in Marketing. “I hope to work as a Marketing executive for nonprofits. I love community service. I work in the food pantry at my church. I hope I can do marketing for them. Non-profits need marketers to help them get donations.”
Congratulations to Hannah and all of our Curriculum Honorees! You can view a slideshow of all of the curriculum honorees photographed with OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill and Provost Dr. Daria Willis. Below the slideshow is a list which includes each student’s name and the major for which they were honored.
The division of Natural and Applied Sciences at OCC has a new Dean and his name is Dr. Kwesi Amoa. We’re proud to welcome this skilled organic chemist, father, author and educator to OCC.
Amoa joined us from Westchester Community College where he was the Dean of Mathematics and Science. Prior to that, he has served as a dean at Huston-Tillotson University and faculty member at Medgar Evers College.
Beyond his experience as an educator, Amoa is an established organic chemist with a track record of success. Over the years, his research interest has shifted from the synthesis of anti-viral and anti-carcinogenic agents to environmental chemistry and chemical education. He even created a series of Youtube videos called KemSolutions which has reached around 1 million people.
In his personal life, Amoa is first and foremost and husband and a father of three children. He enjoys being outside and is looking forward to exploring all the outdoor activities Central New York has is plenty like fishing and hiking. For all the Trekkies out there, you’ll find a friend in Amoa. What’s his favorite series? Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
So if you see Dr. Amoa on campus, be sure to stop and say hello! His office is location in Academic Affairs on the 1st floor of Whitney.
Students interested in STEM-related are finding OCC is a great place to begin their journey. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I took a class in deferential equations here,” said Oksana Drulyk (Liverpool HS, 2016). “That’s when I figured out I wanted to go into Actuarial Science.” Drulyk will earn her degree in Mathematics & Science this May. She plans to transfer to Le Moyne College in the fall.
Adnan Aljuboori is a native of Iraq who came to the U.S. in 2011. He switched between science-related majors until he found the one best suited for him. He initially chose a computer-related degree program based solely on how much money he would make, decided it wasn’t for him but still had many other STEM-related programs to choose from. “Someone told me, ‘do what you love and the money will follow.’ So now I am doing what I love.” Aljuboori enrolled in the Engineering Science major and is pursuing his dream of becoming a civil engineer. He will earn his degree in May and transfer to either Syracuse University or Cornell University.
Keith Hale is a United States Army Veteran who went from being a soldier stationed at Fort Drum to a student at OCC. “I’m an ELT (Electrical Engineering Technology) major and I’ve already had opportunities open up just from the classes I’m taking here.” Hale will earn his degree in December and plans to go directly into the workforce after doing so, but isn’t ruling out continuing his education. “I’d like to wind up with a company which would help me get my four-year degree.”
Jacob Pietrowicz (Phoenix HS, 2016) is a Mechanical Technology major with dreams of becoming a race car mechanic. “The Mechanical Technology program here is all hands-on. Either you are working on a computer or in the lab cutting metal. It’s been a great experience for me.”
Jesus Collazo Tornes is an Engineering Science major who worked at an automotive plant in Cuba before coming to the United States. “I knew from the beginning what I wanted to do. I was working for an electric car company and I was familiar with the practical part. I came here to take the theory.”
All of these students are the beneficiaries of OCC’s commitment to develop strong STEM programs that provide hands-on learning opportunities that link students to immediate openings in the local workforce with an A.A.S. degree. Students who prefer to pursue a bachelor’s degree can begin their coursework at OCC at a reduced cost, earn an A.S. degree and transfer to any of the numerous four-year colleges OCC has transfer agreements with.
Another advantage for OCC students are the smaller class sizes and access to courses taught by professors rather than graduate teaching assistants. “In the sciences, introductory courses such as General Biology or General Chemistry at a four-year college would be taught in a large lecture hall setting with over 100 students in the classroom. Instructors may not have a chance to get to know each student on a personal level,” said MaryAnn Page, Associate Professor of Biology. “At OCC, these lectures are smaller (perhaps 20-40 students) and many times the professors teaching lectures are also teaching the labs. We get to know our students as individuals and have a more complete knowledge of their strengths and understanding of course content beyond simply their grade in the course.”
OCC offers degrees in nine STEM-related majors including:
When a deaf person views a play, their vision is drawn to the interpreter off stage making it hard to follow the actions of the play. But for the first time ever in Central New York, that won’t be the case. The OCC Players Spring Play, “Harvey” by Mary Chase, will present the first ever shadow signing performance in Syracuse. Interpreters will sign on-stage right alongside the actors themselves so a deaf person won’t need to split their attention to enjoy a show. All shadow signing will be done by Third Eye Interpreters for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community.
This groundbreaking performance for Central New York will be held Saturday, April 28th with a matinee showing at 2 p.m. In addition, the OCC Players will be doing 3 other performances that are listed below.
April 27th – 11:30 a.m. & 8 p.m.
April 28th – 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Come enjoy the timeless tale that will make you think about the lines between reality and illusion.
Stephanie Rosado has a plan. After she earns her Hospitality Management degree in May, Rosado wants to start a food truck business. Her specialty will be Hispanic food. She’ll call her truck, “Love to Love.” “When I see two people happy, that’s love. When I read love, I think about my kids and my family. I love to love and think about it all day!”
“Love to Love” is also the name of Rosado’s anti-bullying project. It became a priority in her life when she realized a family member was being bullied. “My nephew was being bullied in school and he was scared to talk to my sister about it. I wanted to use my project as a way to help him talk about it. It’s so important for kids to know there’s someone out there who wants to help them whether it’s their parents, their teacher or someone else. They don’t have to be scared.”
Her “Love to Love” project included a video, a speech for children and a poster with two hearts. The color white was used to show the empty side of the heart, the red showed the good part of the heart filled with love. Her project was so successful she presented it at three SUNY state-wide conferences.
Rosado’s anti-bullying campaign is just the latest way in which she’s focused on helping others. She spent five years as a member of the Army National Guard. In 2005 she was deployed to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina where she served as a truck driver. “I remember what it looked like… buildings with all of the windows gone, highways filled with empty cars. We worked hard and we worked together. The appreciation people had for us being there made it all worthwhile.”
Rosado began attending OCC in 2015 while raising her two sons. During her three years here she actively strived to make campus a better place for all as a member of two groups; the Diversity Council and Student Conversation Circles about Race, Gender, Religion, Economic Status and Sexual Orientation. “In ‘The Circles’ it’s safe to talk about things. We could talk among each other without worrying about offending each other. When I listened to other people talk I would think, ‘Wow, I didn’t think of it that way.’ I wish this was a course everyone had to take. I think if people would take the time to listen to others it would change the way they feel.”
If you love algebra, Onondaga Community College has a two-year degree program which can help you qualify for a job with a starting salary of more than $50,000 a year.
It’s the Nuclear Technology major. The program was created five years ago in response to a workforce demand. Exelon, which operates the Nine Mile and Fitzpatrick nuclear plants, estimated approximately half of its workforce would be eligible to retire in the next 10 years.
The Nuclear Technology major can only accept 24 students a year. Each class contains students of all ages. “We’ve had students right out of high school and we’ve had students who already had bachelor’s degrees and couldn’t get jobs,” said Woody Everett, Coordinator of the Nuclear Technology major. “They took their nuclear classes and two years later were working.”
Each summer eight students are chosen for internships at Nine Mile nuclear plant. They are paid $17.51 an hour and spend time working in different areas including electrical maintenance, mechanical maintenance, instrument and control maintenance, and operations. Zach Phillips (Fulton H.S.), who will earn his degree this May, found the internship opportunity to be exactly what he was looking for. “While I was there I knew it was right for me. I asked a lot of questions and pestered people every day. I also met several former OCC students who are established there. I learned a lot from them and they are doing well there.”
The adjunct professors in the Nuclear Technology major are experts in the field. They are all currently employed at the nuclear plant. In some respects, the classes are an extended job interview. “The people who are going to be deciding whom gets hired already know our students before they apply,” said Everett.
When it’s time to hire, OCC’s students are extremely desirable. “They love our students because they’re local. They have family here, they know what the weather is like here and they want to be here. Often times when they hire someone from outside the area they leave after six months because they don’t like the winters,” said Everett.
Students majoring in Nuclear Technology also take several Electrical Technology courses. Their diverse skill set has led to job opportunities outside the nuclear industry at strong Central New York companies including Huhtamaki, Ingersoll Rand and Nucor.
Five of Onondaga Community College’s best and brightest students had their moment in the spotlight when they traveled to Albany to receive the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. The awards were handed out April 10 inside the Albany Capital Center.
The Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence acknowledges students who have received recognition for distinguished achievements. It is the highest honor which can be bestowed upon a SUNY student. Honorees demonstrated the ability to combine academic excellence with other accomplishments which may include leadership, campus involvement, athletics, career achievement, community service or creative performing arts.
Before students received their awards they were congratulated by SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. “I am immensely proud of these students, who have demonstrated academic excellence and dedication to enriching their campuses and communities. From research publications in industry journals to volunteering in hospitals and local clinics to holding leadership roles at their institutions, I am inspired by each student we recognize today. Congratulations to all of the students receiving this year’s award.”
Recipients also heard from SUNY Empire State College Alumna Erin Hamlin. She’s a 4-time Olympian, a 2-time World Champion and a 2014 Olympic Bronze Medalist in the sport of Luge. Before her speech a video was played showing Hamlin’s career highlights. She was greeted with a standing ovation as she walked to the podium.
Each of OCC’s SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence winners were called to the stage individually to receive their medal and have their picture taken with Chancellor Johnson and College President Dr. Casey Crabill. OCC’s honorees are:
High School: Jordan-Elbridge, class of 2004
Major at OCC: Business Administration with an Honors minor
Blake spent several years working at Lowe’s before coming to OCC. He became and outstanding student and served as president of the College’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. Blake earned his degree in December and currently works for Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter. In the fall he will transfer to Syracuse University and major in Economics.
High School: Utica Proctor, class of 2016
Major at OCC: Mathematics & Science with an Honors minor
Ifrah is a native of Kenya who moved to the United States in 2003. During her time on campus she was a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa and tutored students in math. She earned her degree in December and now attends SUNY Binghamton where she is majoring in Integrative Neuroscience with a minor in Africana Studies.
High School: West Genesee, class of 1989
Major at OCC: Human Services
Matthew grew up in the foster care system and is a veteran of the United States Navy. At OCC he was a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. He earned his degree in December and now attends SUNY Oswego. He plans to become a therapist for foster care children, adopted children and their families.
Hometown: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Major at OCC: Mathematics & Science
Hien is an international student from Vietnam who is working to become a pharmacist. When he started taking classes at OCC he did not know how to speak English. Today he is a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. After he earns his degree, Hien plans to transfer to the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
Hometown: Valencia, Carabobo in Venezuela
Major at OCC: Electronic Media Communications
Fabrizio is an international student from Venezuela. He’s an All-American tennis player, a Resident Assistant in the residence hall and a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. Fabrizio plans to continue his tennis career at a four-year college while pursuing a degree in Marketing.
The story of Anas Almaletti is nothing short of remarkable. After graduating from high school in Jordan, he came to the United States to be with his father who was operating a cell phone repair service. He started classes at Onondaga Community College the following fall in 2006 and prepared himself for the language barrier and post September 11, culture he had experienced since his arrival. However, from his first day of classes he was encouraged and inspired. “I could read, but not speak the language, but my professors and classmates helped me through the process so having a small setting and identifying with my instructors on a personal level was instrumental in adapting to the work.”
When he first enrolled at OCC, Almaletti wanted to be a doctor, but he soon found out that he was not passionate about the coursework involved in the profession. He would transfer after graduating in 2008 to Binghamton University with a focus on Chemistry, but continued to find himself uninspired after graduating with the degree two-years later. He decided to take a year off to work with his father and reevaluate his options when he discovered the spark he was looking for. “Soon after I started working for my father I realized the business needed a lot of organizational and marketing help so I set about improving these areas and almost immediately I found my passion.”
Almaletti became a fixture in the company and would go on to get his MBA from Syracuse University in 2014 in order to fully commit to the profession. While at SU he began incorporating his education into how he could grow his father’s company because he knew the model of repairing and refurbishing cell phones was not a high growth opportunity. That year, AT&T bought out Cricket Wireless. He saw an opportunity to establish satellite branches locally and draw on his education coupled with what he had learned while working with his father. Today, Almaletti heads up about 15 Cricket Wireless stores and is as surprised as anyone. “I had no idea I would be where I am today once we started this process, all of this started with me wanting to help my father’s business and to see where we have come is truly unbelievable.”
Most of his stores have been open for only a year or two. He’s in the process of reviewing their profit analytics before committing to further expansion but is optimistic. He still operates his father’s store, with his brother, and due to their success his father has been able to retire. Looking back, he feels much of his success is due to the start he received at OCC. “The best thing the College taught me was they were going to support me, but I was going to have to put the work in. This type of mindset has stayed with me and allowed me to push through some tough times in order to get to where I am today.”
“I do not like them in a box. I do not like them with a fox.” OCC Provost Dr. Daria Willis read those words to Pre-K students as she shared the Dr. Seuss classic “Green Eggs & Ham” with them. Dr. Willis was at McKinley-Brighton Elementary school along with dozens of other College employees as part of Read Across America Day, a nationwide celebration that takes place annually on March 2. Harsh winter weather postponed the celebration at McKinley-Brighton until April 9.
The festivities were part of a double dose of reading pleasure. The College also hosted a book fair at McKinley-Brighton. More than 1,300 new books were brought in and spread out on tables in the library. Students came to the library one class at a time and were given the opportunity to review the reading choices. Each student was allowed to select two books to keep. Student’s also received a backpack highlighting OCC’s partnership with McKinley-Brighton. 5th grade students who do reports on their new books will be treated to a pizza party in June.
The Book Fair was made possible thanks to a grant from the Delta Kappa Gamma Educational Foundation with additional assistance from the OCC Foundation.
The reading events were part of a partnership between OCC and three Syracuse schools aimed at helping students think about career opportunities and higher education at a younger age. The partner schools include McKinley-Brighton, Meachem Elementary and J.T. Roberts Pre-K 8 School.
When you support Onondaga Community College, you are making a statement that you believe in the importance of quality affordable education for everyone. You are creating new opportunities and new beginnings for students and our greater community.