Come Sit With Us

OCC students built a bench at the corner of Westcott and South Beech Streets as part of a Service-Learning project.

Students enrolled in OCC’s Architectural Technology and Interior Design majors have made their mark in Syracuse’s Westcott neighborhood. Over the course of two weekends they cleaned up the corner of Westcott and South Beech Streets and built and installed a bench there as part of a service-learning project. “The neighborhood lacked a place for people to sit down,” said Assistant Professor Diana Jaramillo. “We wanted to build something the community could use that is functional.”

Professor Diana Jaramillo

The bench was designed by Jaramillo and entered into a contest being put on by the Westcott Neighborhood Association. When her design was selected, she turned the installation into a service-learning opportunity for her students. “It was a very meaningful project for us. As we were building it community members were coming up, asking us questions and getting excited about this addition to our community,” said student Cody Musso, a 2018 graduate of Auburn High School. “It was a rewarding experience,” added Kaitlyn Iordan, a 2018 graduate of Baldwinsville High School. “It was fun working with other students and rewarding to know something we worked on is there for people to enjoy.”

The completion of the bench and the lessons learned during the project were exactly what Jaramillo was hoping for. She said it’s important for students to know it takes a team effort to achieve success. “Whatever you dream of building, it can come true but it’s never accomplished by just one person. Architecture is often seen as, ‘who is this famous architect?’ It’s a monumental team of engineers, designers, clients and contractors that make a building happen. Our bench took about 20 people working on it between design and construction. You can never do it alone. You are going to have to work with other people.”

OCC offers degrees in both Architectural Technology and Interior Design. You can learn more about the majors at these websites:

Architectural Technology

Interior Design

OCC students built this bench at Westcott and South Beech Streets as part of a Service-Learning project.

Frank Delia

Frank Delia
  • Major: Business Administration
  • HS: Baldwinsville, Class of 2017

Frank Delia never would have been an outstanding student at OCC or an All-American goalie on the 2018 National Championship team were it not for a conversation he had with his uncle. During Delia’s senior year at Baldwinsville High School he committed to play lacrosse at a four-year college which plays at the Division III level (Division I is the highest level). As Baldwinsville won the Section 3 championship and advanced all the way to the New York State semifinals, Delia’s uncle came to the conclusion his nephew had been under recruited and told him so. “He said, ‘I think you should look at another school. You have too much talent.’ After thinking about it I texted a buddy of mine playing at OCC, then got in contact with Coach Chuck Wilbur. One thing led to another and here I am!”

Just as everything worked our perfectly on the lacrosse field, so too did it in the classroom. Delia is a Business Administration major who loves the learning environment. “Things feel very personal in the classroom because of the small class sizes. My academics are great here. I feel really good about it.”

As he begins his sophomore year Delia finds himself in the best position possible. His dream of earning a Division I scholarship is alive and well and he’s looking forward to helping the Lazers pursue their 12th national title. “The tradition here is amazing. You look back at all of the great players who have come through here. It’s such an honor to play here and win a championship and make All-American. It’s opened so many opportunities for me. I’m so glad I came here.”

Life of Service: Michael Lefancheck ’85

Michael Lefancheck (first row center) with his parents and children after being sworn in as President of the NYS Association of Chiefs of Police last July.


Major: Administration of Justice

High School: Liverpool, class of 1983

Michael Lefancheck’s boyhood dream was to be a police officer. Onondaga Community College helped make his dream come true. He earned a degree in the Administration of Justice program which is now known as Criminal Justice. “OCC’s program is excellent. It provided me with the necessary education and helped me develop other skills I would need to become a better police officer.”

His “other skills” came from a public speaking class and an internship at Hillbrook Juvenile Detention. The internship turned into a job as a juvenile counselor, an opportunity which he says helped him learn how to talk to people. “Often when you arrive on a call you are seeing people at their lowest point. Being able to bring a sense of calm and get people to do something they may not want to do in a peaceful way is critical.”

In 1987 Lefancheck went from Hillbrook to the Baldwinsville Police Department. Thirty-one years later he’s still there serving the village as Chief of Police. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I love where I am and consider myself fortunate to have the ability to have a positive impact on the community while also shaping new officers.”

Lefancheck is a frequent visitor to the OCC campus. He enjoys returning and speaking with today’s Criminal Justice students. “I want to learn from them as much as I hope they want to learn from me. Students may inspire me to think differently about a situation and I hope I can instill in them some of the qualities that afforded me a successful career in law enforcement in return.”

Lefancheck recently served as President for the Onondaga County Chiefs of Police and is currently President of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police. He has four children. The oldest is a graduate of OCC and the youngest is a student here.

EOP Students of the Month

EOP’s October Students of the Month are (left to right): Jose Ballaguer, Mariamo Mkoma and Brittany Perez.

OCC’s Educational Opportunity Program, or “EOP” as it is more commonly referred to, is starting a tradition by naming Students of the Month. “This award is about rewarding students who are working hard,” said EOP Navigator Shannon Sangster. “They are personable, pleasant to be around and care about school.”

EOP’s October Students of the Month are:

  • Jose Ballaguer          High School: Mexico, class of 2016                    Major: Humanities
  • Mariamo Mkoma     High School: Nottingham, class of 2017           Major: Early Childhood Education
  • Brittany Perez           High School: Baldwinsville, class of 2017         Major: Adolescence Education

All are first-generation college students. “Winning this is great. It’s motivating me to do better,” said Mkoma who came to the United States from Kenya. “This shows people who don’t come from a lot can be something,” added Perez. “It’s good to be recognized and be a good example so other people see it’s possible,” said Ballaguer.

The EOP office provides access, academic support and financial aid to students who show promise for succeeding in college. If students need to use a computer, print documents, get help with their school work or financial advice the EOP office is where they go. The office is located on the second floor of the newly renovated Coulter Hall.

Congratulations to EOP’s three Students of the Month!

My Experience as Student Trustee

Katelyn Malecki, 2016-17 Student Trustee
Katelyn Malecki, 2016-17 Student Trustee

Katelyn Malecki is a 2015 graduate of Baldwinsville’s Baker High School and the Student Trustee on Onondaga Community College’s Board of Trustees. The position comes with great responsibility. As the voice of the students, Malecki has full voting power and participates in closed-door meetings, known as Executive Session, along with the other board members. Below are Malecki’s thoughts on being the Student Trustee.

The typical reaction I get when I tell a fellow student I am the Student Representative to the Board of Trustees is, “What’s that?”  It is also what my reaction was when I was first told about the position.  Before I got this position, I didn’t know there was a board that met every other month or that there was a student on it who had the same voting power as any other trustee.

I was sworn-in as Student Trustee last November during the monthly board meeting which was held on the second floor of the Whitney Applied Technology Center.  When I was going through the application process, I kept hearing that it was such a good opportunity and that it was unlike any of the other officer positions.  I didn’t know what that truly meant until I actually sat down at the table with the other trustees and took in my surroundings.  I saw so many successful people from our community with their names listed on prestigious-looking name plates and then I saw my own name on a nameplate that was placed in front of me.  Although it was a bit overwhelming at first, it was also very inspiring to be sitting at a table with people like that.  After being sworn-in, the meeting began and I entered into a world where I had previously never been.

I quickly realized that board meetings are updates about what is happening across campus.  They allow me to learn a lot about the college, but they also have taught me some life advice.  At the January meeting one of the trustees stated that the reason why all of the people sitting at the table were successful was because they genuinely have a passion for what they do.  Sitting at that table inspired me to aspire.  It showed me that I, a current student at Onondaga Community College, can one day be just as successful as the other board members.  I can already see how having this position is helping shape my future.

Although just the opportunity to have the experience of being on a board like this and having the same amount of voting power is truly spectacular, one of my favorite parts of being in a position like this as a student is getting to see the college in such a different way.  I view the college as a student, as a student leader, and as a student board member.  It also makes me feel like my college experience right now is truly preparing me for the “real world” and my future.  I am able to see how a board of this nature operates and witness events like audit presentations which typically aren’t things 19-year-olds get to experience.  And for all of that, I will be forever grateful to all the people on this campus who helped me receive this incredible opportunity—it has completely transformed my time spent here at OCC.

I was able to serve in this valuable position and you can too!  If you are interested in becoming the next Student Trustee, please visit Sarah Collins in the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement in room G114 of the Gordon Student Center.

New Board of Trustee Members

New Student Trustee Katelyn Malecki (left) and new Trustee Eulas Boyd (right) with Board of Trustees Vice Chair Melanie Littlejohn (center).
New Student Trustee Katelyn Malecki (left) and new Trustee Eulas Boyd (right) with Board of Trustees Vice Chair Melanie Littlejohn (center).

Onondaga Community College’s Board of Trustees welcomed two new members and granted Trustee Emeritus status to an outgoing member during its monthly meeting November 15.

Eulas Boyd was sworn-in by Board Vice Chair Melanie Littlejohn. Boyd has extensive experience in higher education having held leadership positions at Rochester Institute of Technology, Queens College – CUNY, California State University – Dominguez Hills, Le Moyne College, SUNY Cortland and Cornell University. He earned degrees from SUNY Buffalo and Cornell University. He also did Advanced Course Work in High Education Administration at Syracuse University. Boyd was appointed by Onondaga County Executive Joanne M. Mahoney.

Katelyn Malecki in Business classroom WhiTn3y Commons.
Katelyn Malecki in Business classroom WhiTn3y Commons.

Katelyn Malecki was sworn-in as the new Student Trustee. Each year the Board of Trustees includes one student member who attends monthly meetings and participates in all votes. That person also becomes a member of the Student Association. Malecki is a Business Administration major with an Honors minor. She’s a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa, the Business Club and the Whole Earth Club.

After graduating from Baldwinsville High School in 2015 Malecki attended a make-up school in Los Angeles. About half way through the program she decided it wasn’t for her but stuck it out and earned a certificate. “I learned so much about independence and how to work with different people. It was a life-learning experience.”

Malecki returned home to Baldwinsville but her interest in makeup and fashion remained strong. “When I was a child I had this Phantom of the Opera book. One of the pages was a picture of Michael Crawford (the Phantom) having his makeup put on. It just fascinated me.”

Dr. Gary R. Livent
Dr. Gary R. Livent

Malecki came to OCC with her more than 40 college credits earned in high school. She will earn her degree next May and plans to transfer to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. She says she’ll be sorry to leave OCC.  “I really love it. It’s sad I will only be here for a year. I’ve had so many wonderful opportunities. I’m meeting great people and have great classes. It’s such a fantastic school.”

Also during Tuesday’s meeting outgoing Board member Dr. Gary R. Livent was granted Trustee Emeritus Status. He served for 18 years. Livent was appointed in 1998 by County Executive Nicholas J. Pirro.

Joe Madison

TOP OF STORY Joe Madison

Joe Madison had already completed a semester of college work by the time he graduated from Baldwinsville high school in June 2015. Madison earned a total of 16 college credits, making his transition to college  much easier.

Madison is an Engineering Science major with an Honors minor. His high-level performance in class has earned him induction into international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. He credits the faculty with playing a huge role in his success. “The professors here are very nice and helpful. With the smaller class sizes you can interact more. Instead of big huge lecture halls where the teacher just stands up there and writes things and then you leave, here you get to ask questions and know your professor and they are very helpful both in class and during their office hours.”

Madison is utilizing the College’s Career and Applied Learning Center to get a first-hand look at what a degree in Engineering Science will mean to him. He’s setting up job shadows which will allow him to see what workers in the field do on a daily basis. It’s one more way in which he’s enjoying his time at OCC. “My experience here has been very good. I’m very impressed with it. You’re not spending a ton of money while you’re deciding what you are going to be doing someday.”

Bridge to Better Health

OCC Nursing students carry health supplies across a footbridge in the highlands of Guatemala.
OCC Nursing students carry health supplies across a footbridge in the highlands of Guatemala.

They left with a strong desire to help others. They returned with a sense of satisfaction and an appreciation for life here at home. Seven of the College’s Nursing students spent their semester break on an unforgettable service learning trip. They brought medical supplies, provided health care and shared knowledge with the people of Guatemala.

Assistant Professor Lee Berg coordinated the trip for the third year in a row. She planned fundraisers and oversaw the collection of medical supplies. One week before their scheduled departure Berg and the students gathered to pack up their supplies. They filled 16 suitcases as close to the 50 pound limit as possible. When they finished they still had supplies left over which have already been set aside for the next trip.

OCC’s contingent took off from Syracuse December 29. When they stepped off the plane in Guatemala and began making their way to the rural area where they would spend the next 10 days of their lives it was evident they weren’t in the United States any more. “There was a tremendous amount of pollution in the air,” said student Lindsy Coon (Central Square high school). “Everyone there burns there trash. Vehicle emissions are bad too. You would see a van going up a hill leaving a big, black cloud of smoke behind it.”

Once they arrived in the community of San Lucas Toliman the students went right to work. They spent two days in a rural mountain village building fuel-efficient stoves in homes which vented to the outside. Residents were used to cooking inside over an open fire without any ventilation, blackening walls and lungs with damaging smoke which would contribute to significant respiratory problems. Cooking over an open fire in the home also increases the risk of severe burns, especially for children.

OCC students also broke up into teams of two and worked on teaching projects including hygiene, injury prevention and overcoming diarrhea. “We did our best to tailor our donations to what we were teaching,” said Coon. “When we talked about hygiene we gave everyone toothpaste, tooth brushes, body wash and hair products.”

When the topic was injury prevention they gave children donated shoes. “A lot of the children are barefoot. Wearing shoes prevents parasites. We made bringing shoes a priority because it’s a direct health intervention,” said Coon.

Students found natives were actually surrounded by solutions to their health problems. “We used plants to make shampoos and a substance similar to Vicks Vapo Rub,” said Shaowen Chen (Baldwinsville high school). “For diarrhea we worked on rehydration with plants which grow there.”

On January 7 the students said good-bye, boarded a plane and returned to Central New York. “I was so happy to come home. I walked in our kitchen and couldn’t believe everything we have,” said Coon. “It was very rewarding to go there,” said Cheng. “I would definitely do it again.”

A slideshow can be found at the bottom of this story. The Nursing students who went on the service learning trip are:

  • Rita Brush, Henninger high school
  • Lindsy Coon, Central Square high school
  • Shaowen Cheng, Baldwinsville high school
  • Kaylee Hartley, Edward-Knox high school
  • Josh McGinley, Whitesboro high school
  • Hannah Rhodes, Binghamton high school
  • Kira Kelley, Lafayette Junior-Senior high school

Berg and the students would like to thank the following business and organizations whose generosity made this trip possible:

  • M&T Bank
  • Wegmans
  • OCC’s Whole Earth Club
  • The entire OCC Community which generously donated supplies and funds
  • Families and friends of the students who also contributed supplies and fund

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Steve Einbinder

Steve Einbinder is a member of OCC’s initial graduating class of students in the Nuclear Energy Technology (NET) major. He first came to OCC in 1999 fresh out of Baker High School in Baldwinsville. He enrolled in Architectural Technology, but full-time work in the hotel industry pulled him away from his studies.

In 2011 Einbinder returned to OCC as a Mechanical Technology major. As he was nearing completion of his degree he learned OCC would be starting its NET program. “My father and brother both had nuclear backgrounds. My goal was to get into Nine Mile or one of the power plants. It’s very difficult to get into the industry. They are always looking for someone with a bachelor’s or master’s. To have a two-year program that gets you into the industry is a great thing.”

In May 2015 Einbinder will earn his second degree from OCC then go to work in the nuclear industry. As a 34-year-old father of three he’s proud of what he’s accomplished. “I thought when I was in college the first time and working full-time it was hard. It was even more difficult this time having to juggle work, college and family life.”

Aerospace Scholar

OCC was well represented once again in NASA’s National Community College Aerospace Scholars program. Only five students in all of New York State were invited to participate and one of them came from OCC, Madeline Taft. She’s an Engineering Science major from Charles W. Baker High School in Baldwinsville (class of 2014).

Student contestants were required to create a mock mission to Mars as part of an online competition. They needed to consider every detail including how many people would go, how they would build the space craft to get there and how much everything would cost. Presentations using graphics were required.

“Going in I didn’t think I had much of a chance,” said Taft. “As I did more and more work I started to think, ‘It would be pretty cool if I got this.’” Her hard work earned Taft an all-expense paid trip to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

“Her accomplishments and the repeated accomplishments of our students in the NASA competition are remarkable,” said Fred Jaquin, Ph.D., Department Chair of Chemistry and Physical Science. “We’re proud to be competing and succeeding at the highest level.”