Summer Learners Take The Next Step

OCC students participating in the Bridges to Baccalaureate program this summer at SUNY Binghamton were (left to right): Jovan Diaz, Princess Figueroa, Ahmed Mohamed, Rebecca Agosto Matos, and Causwell Hyde.

Five students intent on attending four-year institutions spent part of their summer conducting research at SUNY Binghamton as part of the Bridges to Baccalaureate program. The students are all members of OCC’s Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) and Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program. Bridges to Baccalaureate helps students make the transition from community colleges to four-year institutions while increasing the pool of community college students who go on to research careers in the biomedical sciences.

OCC’s students worked side-by-side in research laboratories with students from Monroe Community College and Westchester Community College. The program concluded with students presenting about their work during a poster session. OCC’s representatives and the focus of their work included:

  • Jovan Diaz – Cardiovascular Disease and Obesity in High Sugar-Fed Flies
  • Rebecca Agosto Matos – Using Kinetic Isotope Effect to Reveal Mechanism for Acid Amide Hydrolysis
  • Ahmed Mohamed – Does atrazine affect the metabolic rates of Drosophila melanogaster?
  • Causwell Hyde – Synthesis and Antimicrobial Studies of Flavonoid-derived Anisotropic Gold and Silver Nanoparticles
  • Princess Figueros – Investigating Endocrine Flexibility in Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) exposed to NaCl

“I enjoyed being in the Bridges program and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the sciences,” said Rebecca Agosto Matos. “The research performed is a good introduction to individuals who have no laboratory experience. Throughout the summer I got the chance to work in the only Chemistry laboratory available monitored by Dr. Vetticatt. It was a fun experience in which I learned and applied methods that were previously studied in Organic Chemistry lecture, and laboratories at Onondaga Community College. At first, I thought that I wouldn’t be able to get used to working so closely with chemicals nor be able to get used to the smell of some chemicals such as ether. As time went on I started to notice how I didn’t mind certain smells and I became completely comfortable working with and creating new chemicals. I enjoyed the experience, the company of the individuals from the laboratory, and the little community that our laboratory shared with the surrounding laboratories.”

Congratulations to our students for their outstanding work! You can learn more about the CSTEP and LSAMP programs on our website.

Class of 2019 Times Two

Natalina Natoli received her Solvay High School diploma and OCC associate degree in June. Next month she’ll enter Syracuse University as a junior. She’s pictured on the OCC quad.

Natalina Natoli was a freshman at Solvay when she began considering the possibility of earning her associate degree by the time she received her high school diploma. “My guidance counselor said, ‘we can try this. You might be able to get all of the credits you need to earn your degree.’”

Fast forward four years to June 22, 2019. The auditorium at Solvay High School was filled for graduation when Natoli was unexpectedly called up to the stage. There to greet her was Onondaga Community College President Dr. Casey Crabill who presented Natoli with her associate degree in Liberal Arts & Sciences: Humanities & Social Sciences. “I felt a mix of embarrassment and pride. Embarassed because I was singled out but proud of what I had accomplished. The reaction from the whole community made me feel proud. I knew I had earned my degree but had no idea they were going to acknowledge it.”

How was Natoli able to earn both her high school diploma and associate degree simultaneously? “I learned how to balance my life. The workload wasn’t unbearable as long as I paced myself and balanced it all out.” Natoli earned 72 college credits in high school, 46 through OCC’s “College Credit Now” program which allows students to take college-level classes in their home high schools. She also took three classes on the OCC campus and three more online. “There were times I had to sacrifice sleepovers or things with my friends because I had papers due or classes to take. I was able to balance it all out and still have relationships.”

All of her hard work will pay off this fall when she enters Syracuse University as a junior majoring in Marketing with a minor in Environmental Sustainability Policy. “I don’t know if I could have gone to S.U. if I didn’t save so much money on the first two years of college. Doing this really let me go to the four-year school that I wanted.”

Natoli is grateful for that conversation she had with her guidance counselor four years ago and the opportunity it presented her with. “I’m fortunate we had this option through OCC. I became a full college student before I even left high school. There were some things I missed out on in high school but it was immensely worth the experience, time, and money saved. It was unbelievably worth it.”

Impacting The Region

Onondaga Community College is creating a significant positive impact on the business community while generating a return on investment to its major stakeholder groups – students, taxpayers and society. Those are the findings of a study conducted during Fiscal Year 2017-18 by Economic Modeling Specialists International. Among the report’s highlights:

  • Impact on Business – OCC added $619.3 million in income to Central New York’s economy, approximately equal to 1.4% of the region’s total gross regional product.
  • Alumni Impact – The net impact of OCC’s former students currently employed in the regional workforce amounted to $496.6 million in added income.
  • Impact on Students – Each dollar students invested in their education will result in a return of $6.70 in higher future earnings. Students’ average annual rate of return is 21.7%.
  • Benefit to Taxpayers – For every dollar of public money invested in OCC, taxpayers received $3.90, translating to a 9.3% return on investment.
  • Benefit to Society – For every dollar invested in an OCC education, society received a cumulative value of $14.10 in return.

The results of this study demonstrate that OCC creates value from multiple perspectives. The college benefits regional businesses by increasing consumer spending in the region and supplying a steady flow of qualified, trained workers to the workforce. OCC enriches the lives of students by raising their lifetime earnings and helping them achieve their individual potential. The college benefits state and local taxpayers through increased tax receipts and a reduced demand for government supported social services. Finally, OCC benefits society as a whole in New York by creating a more prosperous economy and generating a variety of savings through the improved lifestyles of students.

Degrees of Success

Mackenzie Eck (left) is a member of Jordan-Elbridge High School’s and Onondaga Community College’s class of 2019. On June 22 she will receive both her J-E diploma and her OCC associate degree. Eck is pictured with J-E High School Principal Mark Schermerhorn. They are seated in front of a display which pays tribute to J-E’s graduates of distinction.

Mackenzie Eck planned to graduate from high school one year ago. She had powered through her freshman, sophomore and junior years at Jordan-Elbridge and earned enough credits to receive her diploma after just three years. She had also amassed 30 college credits, 23 of those through Onondaga Community College’s “College Credit Now” program which allows students to take college-level classes in their home high schools. Her plans changed after a conversation with her school counselor. “Miss (Jamie) Susino told me ‘there’s this program that could save you some money. You could get college credits. Go to OCC, get ahead and do great things.’”

Eck took her counselor’s advice. During her senior year of high school, she took Physical Education at J-E and attended OCC full time. She earned a total of 33 credits while majoring in Mathematics & Science. Her course load included demanding classes such as Calculus, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. “At first my parents told me it would be really hard. I finished my first semester and got all A’s and B’s. That’s when I got really excited and wanted to do more.”

On Saturday, June 22 Eck will be rewarded… twice. During J-E’s graduation ceremony she will receive her high school diploma and her associate degree from OCC. College President Dr. Casey Crabill will be on the stage to personally congratulate her. “It will be a great moment, but I didn’t do this to get attention. I just wanted to get ahead.”

Eck found her OCC experience to be very enjoyable, from the class registration process to the classroom. “I was amazed with all of the support I received. I worked with Jenna Alexander in Advising most of the time. She was great. Even though I was the youngest person in class the professors didn’t treat me any different. I’m really glad I got this opportunity.”

In the fall Eck and all of her 63 college credits will transfer seamlessly to the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. She believes her OCC experience has given her the confidence she needs to experience success at a four-year college. “I know a lot of people can be nervous about the transition from high school to college. The OCC program was a really smooth transition. If you take classes in high school and you take classes at OCC, you get the best of both worlds. You can smoothly transition into college.”

Number 12

Sophomore Gavin Kesserling celebrates the Lazers 12th National Championship.

The Onondaga Community College Men’s Lacrosse team captured its 12th national championship, defeating Nassau Community College 7-6 in overtime Sunday, May 19. The game was played at Genesee Community College in Batavia, NY.

Head Coach Eric Miccio

The Lazers trailed 6-5 late in the 4th quarter when sophomore Kyle Worsley (South Carroll HS, Mt. Airy, MD) tied the game with a between-the-legs shot with :43 seconds left in regulation. Percy Booth (LaFayette HS) scored the game winner with :17 seconds left in the first overtime period.

During championship weekend the Lazers avenged their two regular season losses. On March 9, OCC was defeated by Nassau 12-4. On March 2, the Lazers lost to Harford Community College 12-8. OCC defeated Harford in the national semifinals on Saturday and Nassau in the national championship game Sunday. “The road to redemption. It doesn’t get any better than this. It’s as storybook as it gets,” said head coach Eric Miccio. “After our first lost to Nassau we just grew and got better as time went on.”

Goaltender Frank Delia

Sunday’s win marked the first coaching national championship for Miccio who succeeded Chuck Wilbur. Miccio won two national championships under Wilbur as a player at OCC in 2009 and 2010. He also won a New York State Championship at West Genesee in 2008.

OCC sophomore goaltender Frank Delia (Baldwinsville HS) was named the National Defensive Player of the Year after stopping 19 of 25 shots in the championship game. “Last year winning the national championship was great. This year as a sophomore I was a leader. It was my year to do it. I grew a lot over the season and spent this past weekend with some of the greatest kids I’ve ever met. It was truly the best moment of my OCC career.”


Here’s a look at the Lazers victory by the numbers:

  • This is the Lazers 3rd consecutive national championship.
  • This is the Men’s Lacrosse program’s 12th national championship.
  • This is the Lazers athletic program’s 16th national championship overall. The list includes 12 in Men’s Lacrosse, 2 in Women’s Lacrosse, 1 in Men’s Tennis and 1 in Men’s Basketball.

OCC’s Aerospace Scholars

OCC’s Nathan Burroughs leads his team through an activity at the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars program at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

The NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars program was everything three Onondaga Community College students could have hoped for, and then some. “The whole experience was super rewarding. It was really cool to see so many people who were passionate about what they were doing,” said Nathan Burroughs (Homer HS, 2016).

OCC’s Rebecca Agosto Matos (left) is pictured with her NASA mentor.

Burroughs, Wayne Ennis (Corcoran HS, 2007), and Rebecca Agosto Matos (East Syracuse Minoa 2017) were members of a select group of community college students chosen to visit NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia April 14 to 17. Their adventure began much earlier in the semester when they participated in a related five-week online activity. “The time we needed to commit was definitely worth the experience on the back end,” said Ennis. “To complete the work in advance you have to have persistence,” added Dr. Fred Jaquin, a Chemistry and Physical Science Professor at OCC who oversees the NASA program on campus. “You have to have a schedule and get things done on time. You have to be committed.”

Students were put to work the moment they arrived at the Langley Research Center. They were divided into teams of 10 and no group contained students from the same college. Each team was assigned a mentor who was a NASA employee. “We were handed a box of parts and had five or six hours to build a robot. Ready? Set? Go! There was a competition at the end of the day and in the middle of the day we had to take a break and go on a tour,” said Burroughs. “The first day was stressful but we worked together and got through it,” added Matos. “It was fun. We worked through it and everything went very well,” said Ennis.

OCC student Wayne Ennis (sitting in green shirt) works with his team.

Throughout their time at Langley the students had several opportunities to interact with NASA professionals and learn from them. “I thought most of the people at NASA would have a masters or Ph.D. There were people there who had associate and bachelor’s degrees too. It was open to people from all different levels,” said Matos. “We had a talk with the Deputy Director of the Langley facility and he said he had been there 20 years which was about half of the normal career at NASA. Usually people retire after 40, 50, 60 years because they’re so passionate about what they do. It just blew me away,” added Ennis.

All three students are in their final semester at OCC and all agree the NASA experience reaffirmed they are on the right academic path. “I always knew I wanted to be a Mechanical Engineer. Going there solidified it for me,” said Burroughs. “This gave me more motivation to pursue my major. Our mentor was a Mechanical Engineer who was researching friction to understand more about launching spacecraft. It’s something I had never considered as a career,” added Ennis who is a Engineering Science major. “I’m a Mathematics & Science major. After I transfer, I’d like to backtrack credits and get an Engineering Science degree from here,” said Matos who hopes to attend Cornell in the fall.

NASA will host another Community College Aerospace Scholars program in the fall. Students interested in participating should contact Professor Jaquin at “It’s a great opportunity for students. In the next 10 years we’re going to be back on the moon. There’s going to be a lot of work in engineering and aerospace. There’s a lot of terrestrial work NASA does. They do a lot of satellite data analysis and lower level flight analysis and atmospheric sampling. There are and will be a lot of job opportunities,” said Jaquin.

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Cooking Champions

Winners of the New York Beef Council and North American Meat Institute’s Recipe Development Competition are (left to right) student Jesse Midgley, Chef Deb Schneider, student Rose Thompson, and student Alexander Moran.

“Taco Tuesday” at OCC student Rose Thompson’s house is where the inspiration came from. Thompson (Westhill HS) and fellow Hospitality Management majors Jesse Midgley (Fayetteville-Manlius HS) and Alexander Moran (Bishop Grimes HS) were in the early stages of preparing to represent OCC in the New York Beef Council and North American Meat Institute’s Veal Recipe Development Competition. “Our plan was to create two recipes, test them with each other and pick our favorites. While I was eating tacos for dinner that night, I knew Mexican was the way I wanted to go,” said Thompson.

Once the students each created two recipes, they came together to decide which they would enter. “We spent three hours testing recipes,” said Midgley. “It was hard only choosing one, but we chose the right one,” added Moran. The group decided to go with Thompson’s creation, Southwest Veal Poblano Pepper Bombs. The mouth-watering ingredients included Chipotle tabasco sauce, cilantro, garlic, salsa, and of course poblano peppers and veal. Once they settled on her recipe, they repeatedly practiced making it and tweaking it until they came with up a product they could all agree upon.

The competition was about more than which team could make the tastiest dish. Students had to submit the recipe with photos and a short video, the story behind how they came up with it, and had to complete a quiz based on a virtual veal farm tour video. “From start to finish it took us about a month to get everything together,” said Thompson.

When it came time for the competition, OCC’s team was ready to go. “I felt very confident,” said Moran. “I had known Jesse and Rose for about a year and we had been great friends. It made the competition a lot of fun with very little stress.”

In late April the students were notified they had earned first place. For their efforts each student received a $500 scholarship. “Winning was the best feeling in the world. Even if we hadn’t have won, the experience was a win by itself,” said Moran. “This was a much-needed break from all of the work going on at the end of the semester. The scholarship money was very much a surprise. I think the three of us competed for the love of food and a little recognition,” added Midgley. “The best part of the whole competition is that our names will forever be a part of OCC in Hospitality management,” concluded Thompson.

You can find the students’ winning Southwest Veal Poblano Pepper Bombs recipe by clicking on this link.

Spring is National Championship Season at OCC

Jerome Luckey proudly displays his national championship medal. Luckey was the top high jumper in the country at the NJCAA Track & Field championships. Luckey is pictured in the SRC Arena and Event Center.

Jerome Luckey knew this day was going to be different. The Onondaga Community College freshman high jumper was getting ready for the NJCAA Track & Field Championships last Friday at Mohawk Valley Community College. “I was warming up and I was just flying over the bar. I was thinking ‘today’s going to be a good day.’”

When the meet started, Luckey made his first jump at 5’9”. The bar kept going up an inch at a time and the freshman Graphic Design major from Monticello High School kept clearing it. The final time he made it over the bar cleanly it was 6’7” above the ground. It was a new personal record, an OCC record and on this day, good enough to earn a national championship in the high jump.

Three Lazers Men’s Tennis players earned national championship honors. They are (left to right) Jeremy Attrill from Australia, Sebastian Perez from Colombia, and Ezequiel Martin from Argentina.

Luckey was one of four Lazers student-athletes to be crowned national championships over the weekend. The Men’s Tennis team competed in the national tournament in Georgia and just missed out on being the best in the country, finishing second overall. During the tourney three different Lazers earned national champion honors. Sophomore Jeremy Attrill was 2nd singles national champion and freshman Ezequiel Martin won 3rd singles. Also, Attrill teamed up with freshman Sebastian Perez to win the national championship for 1st doubles.

This coming weekend OCC’s Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse teams will both be playing for national championships. The Men will play in the national semifinals Saturday at 4 p.m. versus Harford Community College. The winner of that game will play the winner of Nassau CC versus Howard CC for the national championship Sunday at 4 p.m. The Men’s semifinals and finals will be played at Genesee Community College in Batavia.

The Women will play in the national semifinals Saturday at 11:30 a.m. versus Harford Community College. The winner of that game will play the winner of Monroe CC versus Anne Arundel CC Sunday at 12 p.m. for the national championship. The Women’s semifinals and finals will be played at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, MD.

Awards and Farewells

Student Trustee Allison Guzman-Martinez was recognized for her service during her final Board of Trustees meeting. She is pictured with Board Chair Allen J. Naples (left) and OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill (right).

Onondaga Community College’s Board of Trustees handed out a series of year-end awards and said farewell to two invaluable trustees during its May 7 meeting.

The John H. Mulroy Founder’s Awards were presented to three individuals. This is one of the College’s highest honors. It recognizes those whose exemplary service has significantly advanced the mission, vision, and excellence of OCC and enhanced its capacity to provide students of all ages and backgrounds with the opportunity to explore, discover, and transform their lives through access to high-quality, affordable higher education. The recipients were:

  • Alicia Calagiovanni & Richard Calagiovanni, ‘68 who have both played critical roles in the success of the OCC Foundation which supports students annually by giving hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships.
  • Professor Emeritus Donald Miller who is the composer of “Here Rests in Honored Glory,” New York State’s official Hymn of Remembrance.

OCC Foundation Chair Dennis Hebert, ’69 will also receive a John H. Mulroy Founder’s Award at a future Board of Trustees meeting.

Sophomore Liam Stewart received the Trustee Award for Students in recognition of his extraordinary service to fellow students and extraordinary contributions to the College’s mission and strategic goals. Stewart served the campus community as Vice President of Clubs and Organizations in the Student Association. He’s a Communication major and a member of the Men’s Basketball team. Stewart is a 2015 graduate of Saratoga Springs High School.

Trustees also recognized the students who organized last month’s Unity Day. Each student honored received a medal and a certificate for their efforts. Honorees were Harth Alawad, Allison Guzman-Martinez, Alyssa Hanies, Suaad Obaid, Colin Reilley, and Xavier Townsend,

The Board bid farewell to two Trustees. Student Trustee Allison Guzman-Martinez completed her term. She will be receiving her degree in Liberal Arts & Sciences: Humanities & Social Sciences after being named the top student in the major. Guzman-Martinez will transfer to SUNY Stony Brook.  She is a 2017 graduate of Westhill High School. During the next academic year the Student Trustee will be Dawn Penson.

This was also the final meeting for Board Chair Allen J. Naples who became a Trustee in 2010. Naples was granted Trustee Emeritus status by OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill. Trustee John Sindoni will replace Naples as Board Chair.

Congratulations to all!

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Ready To Help Others

Business Administration major Wendy Emborski is pictured outside Whitney Commons, the eye-catching business classroom on the second floor of the Whitney Applied Technology Center.

Wendy Emborski is a big believer in helping others, whether she’s giving blood regularly at the Red Cross or preparing people’s taxes for free. “People need help. Somebody’s got to do it. You see something and you do something. I can’t do everything about everything, but I can do some things.”

Emborski is a 44-year-old Business Administration who will earn her degree in December. She’s taking three credits a semester at night while working full-time during the day making signs at KinaneCo in Syracuse. Many years ago, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art. Today her goal is to become an accountant or an actuary. “When I was in high school, I was afraid of math. Since coming here I’ve had different teachers and they’ve made it not as frightening. Now it’s more interesting and it’s almost fun.”

Every three weeks Emborski can be found at the Red Cross donating blood through a lengthy process called apheresis. The blood is taken from one arm and run through a special machine to separate it so that only certain parts are collected. This allows more of a single component, such as red blood cells or platelets, to be collected in one sitting. The remainder of the blood is returned to the donor’s circulation through the opposite arm. “It’s such an easy way to help someone. For a few hours of your time you can help save someone’s life, and then you can make more!”

Emborski’s desire to help others was recognized recently by Ralph Lyke, a 2013 OCC alumnus who oversees Peace Incorporated’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program which operates each year in Shoppingtown Mall. Each Sunday during tax season, Emborski showed up at Lyke’s office and voluntarily processed taxes for people who had come in during the week. “She’s a profile in social capital through her volunteerism,” said Lyke. “She reminds me of a quote from Audrey Hepburn. ‘As you grow older, you will discover you have two hands; one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.’ Wendy stands out in our society. She’s not just looking out for ‘number one.’ She’s willing to lend a helping hand to our low-income tax payers.”