Why You Should Get Involved on the OCC Campus and How to Do It

We hear all the time from students wondering why they should get involved on-campus? The answer is that it’s going to help you build your future. Students who get involved on-campus have experience to add to a resume and items to add to their transfer application if they choose to go onto four year school.

Getting involved at OCC has never been easier! Browse some options below and fill out the Get Involved Form or visit us on September 4th from 11 am – 1 pm at the Get Involved Fair in the Gordon Hallway.

1. Join a Club or Organization

We’ve got 20+ clubs and organizations on-campus spanning many different interests. Join one to have fun between classes and occasionally go on cool trips. Fill out our interest form to get more information on clubs around campus.

2. Become a Social Media Reporter or Ambassador

Do you love posting to social media? Are you a fan of taking photos and videos? Would you like vlog or blog for the college? If you answered yes to any one of these questions then the social media reporter position could be for you. Fill out the online application to get started with that today!

3. Apply to be a Student Ambassador

Do you feel passionate about being a Lazer? Then maybe becoming a student ambassador is right for you. You’ll get to take groups of prospective students on tours and tell them why it’s great to be a Lazer!

4. Become a Senator-at-Large

The spring 2019 Senators-at-large are (left to right) Michaela Denson, Armando Adrian, Patrick McGuinness, Dawn Penson, Paris Graziano and Alexandra Hoffman.

Interested in getting involved with student government? Get your foot in the door by becoming a Senator-at-Large for Fall! Senators represent the interests of specific groups on-campus!

Fill out the online form and select any of these options for more info!

5. Volunteer for a Service Project

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Students revitalized a resident garden at the Van Duyn Center on Onondaga Day of Service.

OCC has plenty of ways you can volunteer on campus and in the community. We host blood drives, work at nonprofits in the community and dedicate a whole day to volunteering on Onondaga Day of Service in the Fall. Fill out our online form to receive more info about volunteer opportunities.

6. Mentor First-Year Students 

If you’re a returning student, then you could apply to be a first-year peer mentor for incoming students. You’ll be focused on connecting with first-year students by helping them get involved in campus life, reminding them of important dates and making sure they are on track to graduate. Fill out our online form to receive more information on how you can help the next generation of Lazers succeed.

7. Become a Resident Assistant (RA) 

There are lots of reasons why you should become an RA. You’ll get to lead a group of students in the residence halls and get them involved when they come to OCC. You’ll also get free room and board! Fill out our online form to get more info on becoming an RA or getting involved with residence life in general.

To get more info on how to get involved with these opportunities and more, fill out our online Get Involved Form!

Seph’s Survival Guide to College Living – Roommates

Onondaga Community College is a social college. Students from all over the world attend class here in little old Syracuse, alongside those who’ve never left Onondaga county in their life. We didn’t get as far as we have without being social and outgoing.

Personally, I’m a quiet guy. My definition of a good Friday night is to pull my chair up to my desk with a mug of tea and play some games on my computer. However, to lower my student debt, I’ve taken to living in triple-occupancy suites. For a guy like me, it’s a new experience to suddenly have two other guys I communicate with, face-to-face, on a daily basis, outside of the classroom.

If you find yourself in a similar position, don’t panic. I’ll list a few rules to abide by to get along with your roommates and have a safe and productive college experience.

  • Communication – In this day and age, sending a text to a friend is as simple and autonomous as breathing. However, maybe your roommate doesn’t want to share their phone number, or perhaps they don’t even use a phone. How to proceed?

    My friends, let me introduce you to a revolutionary new idea called ‘talking’. Yup, good ol’ verbal communication. Sit down and talk to your roommates. Let them know what’s bothering you, discuss whose turn it is to take out the trash, or (politely!) explain how their loud music interrupts your studying.
  • Cleanliness – I know, you’re a young, attractive 18-year old, barely out of your teens and finally out from under the tyrannical rule of your parents. But guess what? You stink. Literally. And your roommates don’t really want to live in a room with dirty socks and underwear thrown on every chair!

    I know that you’re probably not as bad as that, but seriously, college is the perfect time to learn how to take care of yourself in a safe environment. Shower regularly, clean up your messes, throw your clothes in the laundry, and don’t forget to wash behind the ears. Do these things, and you’ll get along with your roommates just fine.

  • Orderliness – Related to the above, making sure that everything has its own place is essential to cohabitation. If you have a dresser, fill it with clothes. If you have a hamper, put your dirty things in there as soon as you finish changing. Keep trash in the trashcan, and put your books back in the bag when you’re finished with homework. No one likes tripping over your guitar in the middle of the night on the way to the bathroom.

  • Headphones – A little out of left-field, but a good set of headphones or earbuds goes a long way towards keeping peace with your roommates. Your music may be amazing, and your favorite YouTube video super entertaining, but most people aren’t exactly thrilled to hear the audio blasting from your speaker.

Keep to these rules, and your experience in the Residence Halls will be just fine. Remember, it’s only four semesters for an Associate degree in your field of study. I’m sure that you can spend a few months of the year living in peace with your fellow students.

What’s Happening for Week 13 of Spring Classes at OCC

Hey guys, we’ve officially made it to the last month of classes. Finals are right around the corner, so make sure to study hard and play fast, and what better way to relax than to check out one of the ASL and Deaf History Month events this week? Remember, Final Exams start on Wednesday, May 15th, so crack open a textbook and get to reading!

April’s Maker Challenge is in celebration of National Library Week. Come down to the Makerspace to create a library-themed Lego masterpiece, or share a photo of your creation on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #OCCmakers. All entries received by April 29th will be entered into a drawing for an iTunes or Google Play gift card.

Monday, April 15, 2019

11:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Gordon Great Room, SUNY’s Got Your Back

  • Students, faculty, staff, and community members are invited to come down and create comfort kits for the victims and survivors of violence, and learn methods of better prevention and response to violence.

11:15 AM – 12:30 PM, Coulter C204, PTK General Meeting

  • All current and newly invited members are invited to join the general meeting.

11:15 AM – 12:15 PM, Mawhinney M104, Presentation: Is There An Interpreter In Your Classroom?

  • Questions will be answered on the expectations of teachers, students, and interpreters when there are deaf or otherwise hearing impaired students in the classroom. ASL-English interpretation will be provided.

Attention: All applications for the Rob Edson Scholarship Award for Leadership and Excellence are due on Monday, April 15th, 2019.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

11:15 AM – 12:30 PM, Coulter C204, PTK Member Fellowship Event

  • A potluck lunch for every member to enjoy. Please bring a dish if possible and come for a good time with your fellow members. Restricted to PTK membership only.

11:15 AM – 12:15 PM, Coulter C340C, 3D Printer Certification Workshop

  • As a part of the Spring 2019 Makerspace events, come get certified with the wonderful technology of 3D printing! Co-sponsored with the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement.

11:15 AM – 12:15 PM, Mawhinney Fishbowl, ASL Lunch

  • Lunch will be served in recognition of ASL and Deaf History month.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

6:00 PM – 8:30 PM, Mawhinney M245, Family ASL Movie Night: “Legend of the Mountain Man” (PG)

  • Bring the family to watch an all-Deaf movie! Subtitled for non-signing audience members.

Friday, April 19, 2019

6:00 PM – 9:00 PM, Fairmount Panera Bread, Deaf Coffee Chat

  • Socialize with members of the Deaf community and fellow ASL students.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

1:00 PM, Chuck Wilber Field, Lazers for the Cure: OCC Lazers vs Hudson Valley CC

  • The Onondaga Men’s Lacrosse team will be hosting the first annual “Lazers for the Cure” event to benefit the Carol Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund. The vent will include raffle baskets and a 50/50 drawing.

What’s Happening for Week 12 of Spring Classes at OCC

Hey guys, it’s that time of the semester again: Unity Day is this Wednesday! Let’s all celebrate the cohesion that binds us by studying hard together. Finals are only a few weeks away, so make sure to tackle the hard questions now so you won’t have to worry about them later.

Dr. Kevin Moore will be holding a FREE piano recital in P100 on Sunday, April 7, at 2:30PM. Come on down to be serenaded by the majesty of Schubert, Mozart, and Brahms.

Monday, April 8th, 2019

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, #FreeIfYouCanFindMeOCC

  • It’s the last #FreeIfYouCanFindMeOCC of the semester! Come out and get asome

5:00 PM – 9:00 PM, Business Club Fundraiser, 3600 W Genessee St

  • Come on down to Chipotle Mexican Grill and get connected!

Tuesday, April 9th

2:00 PM, “Conceal/Reveal: Invisible Burka” by Nabil Mousa, featuring film screening, artist talk and reception, Gordon Great Room

  • Arts Across Campus presents the world premiere of the sculptural installation “Conceal/Reveal: Invisible Burka” by Syrian-American artist and human rights activist Nabil Mousa. The event will feature a film screening, artist talk and reception. Mousa says, “I make art in the name of social justice, reflecting upon my journey as an artist and a citizen. I am an artist. I am an American. I am an Arab. I am a gay man. I am an activist. I am a peacemaker.” The event will take place in the Gordon Great Room and refreshments will be served.

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

10:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Unity Day, OCC Main Campus,

  • Unity is Strength, Division is Weakness. Join us for a chance to win one of such prizes as 23&Me Ancestry Kits, Apple Watches, Gift Cards, and much more!

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

12:30 – 2:00 PM, Our Own Veils: Revealing Our Personal Identities, Gordon Great Room

  • In association with the exhibition “Conceal/Reveal: Invisible Burka,” Arts Across Campus presents “Our Own Veils: Revealing Our Personal Identities,” a panel discussion featuring Syrian-American artist and Human Rights activist Nabil Mousa and students from the refugee and immigrant communities and the LGBTQIA+ community; moderated by Chris Kukenberger, Professor of Art (refreshments provided).

What’s Happening for Week 5 of Spring Classes at OCC

What’s up, everybody? I hope you guys are doing well in class. Just a reminder that February’s Maker Challenge is to make something using only toilet paper, paper towel rolls, and tape. Submit your creations to the Makerspace during open hours or share a photon on Twitter at #OCCmakers by the 28th for a chance to win an iTunes or Google Play gift card!

February is also Black History Month, so check out the exhibits and brush up on your history with some exciting activities, hosted by your fellow students!

Also, all this month you can recycle VHS tapes by dropping them off in the marked bin by the stairs in Coulter Library. Do your part for the environment, man!

Monday, February 18th, 2019

11:00 AM – 1:00 PM, Mawhinney, Crush the Career Fair

  • Come on down for some tips to help you prepare for the Career Fair on the 27th!

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Mawhinney M218, Friendly Math Competition

  • Who doesn’t like math puzzles? Come down and see if you can solve all twenty questions before time runs out. Prizes available!

11:15 AM – 12:20 PM, Academic II Recital Hall, Talk and Demonstration on Tabla: South Asian Percussion Instrument

  • OCC South Asia Club Presents: A Demonstration and Introduction to Tabla by Shahzad, Classical Asian Music Performer.

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

11:15 AM – 12:30 PM, OCC Main Campus, #FreeIfYouCanFindMeOCC

  • Check Instagram for a hint, and come find the secret area where free food or prizes are being handed out!

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Coulter, Crush the Career Fair

  • Come on down for some tips to help you prepare for the Career Fair on the 27th!

6:30 PM, SRC Arena A205 (Multi-Purpose Room), The Hunger Banquet

  • RSVP to attend an event to help us understand how people around the world eat. Sponsored by the African American & Latino Peer Support Program (ALPS), Community Care Hub, and Residence Life.

All The Events for the 2nd Week of Classes

Party on the Quad Fall 2018 (Blog Article Resized)

Now that we have wrapped up the first week of classes, here are all the fun and free things happening here at OCC.

Pro Tip: All the Events can be viewed at Onondaga’s Welcome Website.

Tuesday September 4th, 2018

10 AM – 3 PM

Come over to the Quad and play a friendly game of Blitzball! A cross between Paintball and Dodgeball.

Wednesday September 5th, 2018

11:15 AM – 12:30 PM

Come get motivated for the semester, and listen to Eric Thomas’s speak in the SRC Arena during college hour. 

Thursday September 6th, 2018

11 AM – 1 PM

Come over to Gordon Great Room, and learn more about how you can get involved in clubs, organizations, or athletics here on campus, at the Get Involved Fair! 

Friday September 7th, 2018

6 – 10 PM

Hop on one of the shuttles leaving from SRC Arena, and come play a round of mini golf, and cool off with some ice cream! Vans will be departing from the SRC Arena at 6pm/7pm/8pm and will drop off for miniature golf first and then for ice cream.

Saturday September 8th, 2018

Come hang out with all the animals at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo here in Syracuse. Shuttles Departure from SRC Arena at 12, 1, and 2.

8 Ways to Find Assistance Outside of the Classroom at OCC

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You can be the best student and have the hardest work ethic. But there still can be significant things in your life preventing you from succeeding academically. The Community Care Hub seeks to connect OCC students with the resources they need to remove obstacles in a person’s personal life. Here are 9 big ways the Community Care Hub at OCC can help you with life struggles.

Pro Tip: Fill out the benefits eligibility form to see what services you are eligible for and visit the Community Care Hub website

OCC’s Food Pantry

You can’t focus on school if you’re hungry. More college students today face issues earning enough money for food than before, so there’s no shame in getting help. OCC’s Food Pantry is open to all students and provides food to supplement short-term hunger. Watch this informational video for more info on the food pantry!

Long-Term Food Assistance

If you’re facing the prospect of going without food the long-term, the Community Care Hub can help connect you with resources in the community that can help address the problem. Don’t let the worry of affording food get in the way of building a better future.

Resources for Pregnant or Parenting Students

The Community Care Hub can help you find daycare and ways to afford these services while going to school. Whether it’s the Children’s Learning Center on-campus or off-campus resources, we can connect you to resources to reduce the stress associated with finding and affording childcare.

Tax Preparation

Most people don’t know where to begin when they file their taxes. The Community Care Hub can connect you with resources to help you file your taxes and get the most out of your money. Our community partners will also be on campus at various points throughout the semester.

Transportation Assistance

Having trouble getting to OCC? The Community Care Hub can provide you with bus passes, connect you with scholarships to fix your car and connect you with other ways to get classes on campus.

Affordable Healthcare & Medicaid

OCC can’t provide you with health insurance. But we can help you see if you’re eligible for Medicaid and assist you in finding a healthcare plan you can afford. Let us assist you in tackling your healthcare needs so you can focus on school!

Financial Assistance

Most people have trouble finding financial assistance in the community that can help fund their education. Our staff members will work with you to identify resources you may be eligible for and additional possibilities for addressing your financial concerns long-term.

Visit our website to learn more!

Succeeding at Life: The Story of Mary Lee Berg


Two generations ago, Mary Lee Berg’s grandmothers needed their parents’ consent to become nurses. They didn’t get it.  Inspired by what they couldn’t do, Mary Lee, who goes by Lee, became a nurse and a professor, encouraging students at OCC to follow in her footsteps.

Berg started her nursing career as a licensed practical nurse and earned her associate degree at St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing and received her bachelor’s degree from Keuka College. When she first started out, Berg was only interested in nursing. As time went on, it became clear she had a true passion for teaching.

Berg described in vivid detail the moment when she realized teaching was her calling. “There was this new phlebotomist who couldn’t seem to draw blood on babies and I was assigned to work with her and help her out. I tried walking her through it verbally, showing her and telling her how to do it but nothing worked. At this point, the bosses told her if she couldn’t figure it out she was fired. Finally, I tried putting my hands over hers and guided her hands through the process and it finally clicked. It turns out she was worried about squeezing the babies heel too hard during blood draws.”

In that moment, Berg found her calling in teaching. For Lee, seeing the light come on and her excitement when she finally “got it” was an incredible and satisfying moment. She went for a master’s degree at SUNY IT and began teaching at Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC), where she was offered an opportunity to go on a professional development trip to Vietnam. After this trip, Lee hoped that one day she might be able to lead nursing students on a service learning trip to a developing country.

Eventually, the commute from Solvay to MVCC became too much and Berg applied for a job at OCC. “It was really one of the best decisions I made,” Lee said. “I love interacting with the community at OCC and the diversity here is wonderful.”

When she first got here, Berg hit the ground running. She started an affordable study abroad program in Guatemala for nursing students looking to make a difference. Hannah Rhodes, a student who went on the Guatemala trip, praises the program and Professor Berg. “She told us about her past experiences, and what we would be doing there,” Rhodes said. “Without her class and guidance, the Guatemala trip wouldn’t have been as smooth.”

Rhodes also describes the incredible impact Professor Berg had on her. “I also had her in class. She really prepares us by demonstrating births and how to take care of newborn babies. I had the amazing opportunity of observing a birth, which ended up turning into a C-section. Lee was right there with me up until we went into the operating room.”

In her spare time, Berg likes to watch old movies and is a member of the Syracuse Cinephile Society. Professor Mary Lee Berg is an Associate Professor in the Nursing Department at Onondaga Community College. She sits on numerous committees and serves on one of the Middle States Work Groups. Professor Berg is always looking for donations of shoes, over the counter medications, first aid supplies and more to bring to the people in Guatemala. If you would like to help, you may contact her at m.l.berg@sunyocc.edu.

Restoring a Treasure : Ed Riley

Ed Riley in front of the famed mural at the Hotel Syracuse
Ed Riley in front of the famed mural at the Hotel Syracuse

The man behind the rebirth of the landmark Hotel Syracuse is a former Onondaga Community College student. Edward “Ed” Riley might not be where he is today had a serious sports injury not led him to rethink how to turn his lifelong passion for historic architecture into a career.

Riley grew up on the west side of Syracuse and graduated from Christian Brothers Academy. He attended Syracuse University on scholarship to play lacrosse. A knee injury his freshman year forced him to reevaluate everything. “Since I couldn’t play lacrosse anymore I took another look at architecture. People were suggesting OCC as a good, affordable place to start.”

Riley enrolled at OCC and immediately felt at home in the Architectural Technology program. “It was top notch. It was run in a true office setting. The professor was the principal and the student was the apprentice. When we graduated we were able to transition to the workforce with ease.” Ultimately Riley would earn a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse and pursue his professional career.

Riley working with a contractor in the Grand Ballroom of the Hotel Syracuse
Riley working with a contractor in the Grand Ballroom of the Hotel Syracuse

Riley started his own practice and chose to fill vacancies with people with OCC backgrounds whenever possible. “I valued the product and knew OCC interns and employees could come right in and be profitable.” Riley would eventually sell his practice and focus on learning how to refurbish historical buildings. His quest for knowledge took him across several states, including Hawaii, before eventually coming back to Syracuse where he was considering a specific project. “The Hotel Syracuse had been on my mind for quite some time but it wasn’t until recently I felt the timing was right and I had the knowledge to do it right.”

Riley took on the challenge of renovating and restoring one of America’s classic buildings and now the old Hotel Syracuse is set to reopen July 4. It will be known as the Marriot Downtown. “I think the new name will give her the fresh start she needs. For the people of Syracuse she will always be the Hotel Syracuse, but for visitors the new name will provide them with the assurances Marriot brings.”

Riley plans to keep looking for new projects. As he does he continues to carry a deep appreciation for the learning environment he found at the College. “The faculty at OCC instilled good habits and I carry these practices with me every day. The solid foundation I built at OCC has allowed me to treat all projects with the upmost respect.”