The OCC Effect: Darren Pikul ‘16

Darren Pikul, ’16 is pictured at Florida Atlantic University where he is a 4.0 student and is pursuing his master’s degree in Higher Education Leadership.

When Darren Pikul graduated from high school in the Poughkeepsie area, he chose Onondaga Community College because he was recruited to play on the Men’s Tennis team. Little did he know the school would open up doors he never thought possible. “Other than tennis, I really didn’t have a plan in place other than practice and going to class. The offerings at OCC allowed me to get involved as much as I wanted so what I walked away with went well beyond anything I dreamed of.”

Pikul with OCC Men’s Tennis Coach, John LaRose after receiving a SUNY Chancellor’s Award

Pikul became a leader on campus. He was an officer in student government and an RA in the residence halls. These responsibilities and experiences allowed him to develop relationships with a wide variety of students, administrators and faculty. It gave him a greater understanding of higher education outside the classroom. “OCC President Dr. Crabill played an incredible part in my success. She genuinely cares for students and on numerous occasions would provide time for me to talk about what I wanted to do next and where would be the best fit. I now know how unique and special it is for a college president to do something like that.”

After earning his associate degree Pikul transferred to SUNY Oneonta where he repeated his same successful formula. He became involved in student government, was named to the search committee for Oneonta’s next president, and continued his collegiate tennis career. Pikul now attends Florida Atlantic University (FAU) where he owns a 4.0 grade point average and is working toward a Master’s in Higher Education Leadership. He serves as the Director of the Graduate & Professional Student Association at FAU while also interning at the Center for Higher Education Innovation in the Office of the President at the University of Central Florida. 

Pikul credits his time at Onondaga with building the foundation he needed for his success. “OCC made me who I am today. Dr. Crabill, Coach LaRose and many others provided me with a great opportunity to succeed. Through those opportunities I found my passion in higher education.”

After graduating from FAU Pikul will begin his professional career in higher education while pursuing a doctorate. His focus will be policy and government. Pikul plans to bring fresh ideas and provide students with the same type of experience he had while giving them the freedom to learn, get exposed to new opportunities and identify their passions.

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