“Start Now” Provides a New Opportunity for Success

The Start Now program brought Sarah Motayne to OCC from Brooklyn. She is pictured at the entrance to campus off State Route 175.

Sarah Motayne remembers that feeling of disappointment. She hadn’t been a great student at Benjamin Banneker Academy for Community Development in Brooklyn but dreamed of attending SUNY Oswego and majoring in Business. “When I didn’t get into Oswego, I was pretty upset. I was bummed.” Her ‘plan B’ was a school in New Jersey but she didn’t get the financial aid she needed. Then she received an email about the new “Start Now” program at Onondaga Community College. “I read it and thought ‘maybe this is a sign I should do this!’ I decided to come here and I’m glad I did.”

The Start Now program is a new joint venture between OCC and SUNY Oswego. New York City students who apply to SUNY Oswego but are unable to gain immediate admittance are provided a pathway there through OCC. Motayne was one of 25 “Start Now” students who attended OCC during the fall semester. They were supported by a student navigator and participated in joint programming at SUNY Oswego designed to help facilitate their transition. Start Now is funded by a SUNY Performance Improvement Fund.

Motayne entered OCC as a Business Administration major but switched to Communication Studies after her first semester. “I want to go to Cosmetology school eventually. I thought I would major in Business to learn how to run a business, but it wasn’t what I thought it would be. I decided to major in Communication because whatever you do you are going to need to know how to communicate properly.”

In the classroom Motayne has done so well she’s been invited to join OCC’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. Her time on campus has become about much more than just improving her grades. She serves as a Student Ambassador giving campus tours to prospective students, works as an usher at the SRC Arena and is a member of the college’s Black Student Union. “My mom is so proud of how well I am doing here and that gives me so much joy. I’m grateful to be here and have this opportunity. I know I made the right choice. I’m glad I chose this path.”

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