Onondaga Community College bid farewell to its 56th graduating class during the 2019 commencement ceremony which was held May 18 in the SRC Arena and Events Center. Nearly 700 students were eligible to receive their degrees having completed their coursework in either the fall 2018, spring 2019 or summer 2019 semester.
OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill congratulated students on what they had achieved and told them she looked forward to their future accomplishments. “Our community here in Central New York, indeed our society as a whole, needs skilled learners, confident problem solvers, good critical thinkers – people like you. Even as we celebrate what you have done already, we are most excited about what you will do next. Wherever you go from here, remember Onondaga Community College and what you learned here. It will serve you well.”
Electrical Technology major Marigone Istogu was the student speaker. She shared her story of surviving war in her home country of Kosovo and moving to the United States four years ago without knowing a word of English. “I was told electrical engineering was not an appropriate field for a woman to pursue. Someone even said to me only men are smart enough to handle the difficult courses required of an engineering student.” Istogu proved her doubters wrong, became an outstanding student and president of the college’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. “Do not let the odds that may be stacked against you determine your path to success,” she told her classmates. “If I had listened to every discouraging word I heard, I wouldn’t be standing here today. Turn negative noise into positive action.” Istogu will work at National Grid this summer and transfer to Syracuse University in the fall.
Following Istogu’s speech the College honored Music Professor Emeritus Dr. Donald Miller. In 1986 he composed “Here Rests In Honored Glory,” a tribute to veterans who gave their lives for our freedoms and their surviving families. In 2018, thanks to the leadership of New York State Assemblyman William Magnarelli and now retired State Senator John DeFrancisco, “Here Rests in Honored Glory” became New York State’s Official Hymn of Remembrance. During commencement Assemblyman Magnarelli presented Dr. Miller with the framed legislation, then the OCC Singers and Brass Ensemble performed the song under the direction of Music Professor Dr. David Rudari, DMA.
OCC Professor of Social Science and SUNY Board of Trustee member Nina Tamrowski introduced attendees to the College’s 2019 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence winners. They were:
- Dana Marzynski, Excellence in Classified Service
- Kelly Larrivey, Excellence in Professional Service
- Jennifer Naples, Excellence in Professional Service
- Christian Heisler, Excellence in Faculty Service
- Christopher Thuot, Excellence in Faculty Service
- Carolyn Bice, Excellence in Teaching
- Oksana Korol, Excellence in Teaching
- Kristen Lounsbery, Excellence in Teaching
- Buffy Quinn, Excellence in Teaching
- Mary Ellen Faughnan-Kenien, Excellence in Adjunct Teaching
- Nicole Hotaling, Excellence in Adjunct Teaching
Before students received their degrees, the College awarded honorary degrees to three individuals who have exhibited professional excellence, meritorious and outstand service, and whose accomplishments serve as an example of the SUNY system’s diverse student body. The honorary degree is the highest form of recognition by SUNY to persons of exceptional distinction. The recipients were:
- Frederick Marvin (posthumous) – Marvin was a world-renowned concert pianist. His generosity led to the creation of an endowment in his name to support Music majors with a specialty in Piano. He also gifted OCC one of his prized Steinway pianos for students to use along with a collection of musical works.
- Margaret M. “Meg” O’Connell – O’Connell is the Executive Director of the Allyn Family Foundation, a private organization committed to supporting Central New York. She is spearheading the development of a new building in downtown Syracuse which will house the Salt City Market. She has served on numerous not-for-profit boards and was Interim President of Onondaga Community College during the 2012-2013 academic year.
- Dirk Sonneborn – Sonneborn served as the Executive Director of the Gifford Foundation from 2011 to 2018. Prior to that he was the Vice President for Development and Marketing at the Central New York Community Foundation, President of Exponential Business Development Company, and a Certified Public Accountant since 1980. He has served Central New York as a member of numerous community organization boards.
OCC’s 2019 commencement will be rebroadcast on WSYR TV’s “MeTV” channel Saturday, May 25 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. MeTV can be found at 9.2 with a digital antenna, Spectrum Cable channel 1240, Verizon Fios channel 470 and New Visions cable channel 23.