The Secret To Her Success

Iga Szczepanik, ’16 is pictured in New York City where she works as a Project Manager and plans to pursue a Master’s degree.

Lessons learned outside the classroom at Onondaga Community College have provided the foundation for Iga Szczepanik’s success. “With the support of great professors and advisers at OCC, I stepped out of my comfort zone, took on roles that might have been overwhelming at a large university, and was recognized for my effort. It helped me know I was capable of so much more.”

Szczepanik is a native of Poland who moved to the United States when she was high school-aged. After graduating from Bishop Grimes in 2014, she came to OCC. Szczepanik majored in Business Administration, was president of the college’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), and worked as an Honors Ambassador promoting OCC’s Honors program at area high schools. She was named a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence winner, the highest honor a SUNY student can receive.

After earning her associate degree, Szczepanik transferred to Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) where her OCC resume played a significant role in her success. “Because of my experiences I was able to apply for many scholarships and afford my education there. My involvement in clubs, PTK and the Honors program helped me distinguish myself from other applicants.” Szczepanik continued her spirit of involvement at RIT where she became president of her sorority, held down several jobs on campus and completed three paid internships. “Being a good student is important, but it is more necessary to show what makes you different. I was able to distinguish myself from other applicants and talk about so much more during my job interviews.”

While earning her bachelor’s degree in International Business with minors in New Media Marketing and Women & Gender Studies, Szczepanik turned her final internship into a position as a project manager with EffVision, a worldwide leader in IT and technical support solutions. She’s currently applying to graduate programs in the New York City area and plans to pursue a master’s degree in Business or Economics next year. She’s come a long way since her days on the OCC campus and is proud to share stories about her community college background with all who will listen. “OCC was essential for me to find out what I wanted to do and gain leadership experience. I proudly talk about it and recommend it to friends and family who are soon graduating high school. Sometimes people are surprised to learn I started at a community college, but I don’t feel ‘judged’ or ‘less.’ What speaks the loudest is your attitude and your work ethic.”

2018 Student Commencement Speaker

 

Andrea Capodagli, Student Commencement Speaker.

Andrea Capodagli is OCC’s 2018 Student Commencement Speaker. She was selected following a campus-wide nomination and interview process. Commencement will be held Saturday, May 12 at 10 a.m. in the SRC Arena and Events Center.

Capodagli is a Communication Studies major with an Honors minor. She’s a member of the College’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa who has assisted fellow students as a Peer Connector in the Advising Center and worked as an intern in the Corporate Communications office at SRC, Inc. Capodagli is a licensed cosmetologist who founded, “A Movement of Shear Faith.” She volunteers her time to provide free haircuts to the less fortunate. She is a 2009 graduate of Bishop Grimes High School who plans to transfer to Syracuse University in the fall and major in Public Relations.

You can hear Capodagli talk about her time at OCC in this month’s edition of our podcast, “Higher Ed News You Can Use from Onondaga Community College.”

Andrea Capodagli

  • Major at OCC: Communication Studies with an Honors minor
  • High School: Bishop Grimes, class of 2009

Andrea is a high-achieving student, a mentor to fellow students and a successful intern at one of Central New York’s top companies. The life she presently leads makes her past seem like a distant memory. “It’s 180 degrees different from what it used to be. My first time here at OCC I got D’s and F’s. Now I’m getting A’s.”

Andrea was born in Romania, adopted as an infant and brought home to Central New York. Her adoptive mother had a heart condition which made childbirth too risky. Unfortunately, she would pass away when Andrea was in elementary school. “I never wanted to try in school. I believe one of the reasons I didn’t was because of the emotional trauma I was going through. It affected my well-being and education.”

Nearly a decade ago Andrea came to OCC after earning her high school diploma. After a semester-and-a-half she quit school. Andrea drifted. “I was really lost. I was in and out of jobs and abusive relationships.”

One day while in Binghamton she walked into a church for the first time in three years. “I had never been there before. Somehow I felt like I was home. Things started changing in my life.” A short time later she would go to school, become a New York State Licensed Cosmetologist and gain experience in salons.

In the spring of 2016 Andrea decided to take two classes at OCC @ Liverpool; English and Introduction to Psychology. Regular encouragement from Professors James Resti and Thomas Zino motivated her to do well. “They would say and write things on my papers like, ‘You have a good grasp of the material. You demonstrate advanced critical thinking skills.’ I was blown away they would take the time to compliment me. I was hearing things about myself I’d never heard before.”

In the fall 2016 semester Andrea took two more class, this time at the main campus. A Public Speaking class with Dr. John Trombetta proved inspirational. “The confidence I gained in myself through that class was unbelievable. It made me think I could really make a difference.”

Andrea was inducted into international honor society Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) during the spring 2017 semester. She had achieved a 4.0 grade point average with the classes she had taken since coming back to OCC and continued to retake old classes from 2009 she had done poorly in. “Being a PTK member has given me so many advantages. I feel like I’m ahead of the game.”

Andrea’s transformation has been noticed across campus. “As an educational advisor, I related Andrea’s story to many of the students I work with,” said Steve White. “Andrea truly represents the best OCC has to offer and I enthusiastically recommend her as someone who will not only be an asset to any organization she joins, but also as someone who will serve as a catalyst and as a leader, inspiring and making those around her better.”

Outside class Andrea works as a Peer Connector in OCC’s Advising Center assisting fellow students with the registration process. She’s also an intern in the Corporate Communications office at SRC, Inc., an independent, not-for-profit, research and development corporation which applies science, technology and information to solve grand challenge problems in the areas of defense, environment and intelligence. “It’s been a great experience being a student there, learning things in the classroom and seeing things in the workplace as well.”

Andrea will earn her degree next May. She plans to transfer to a four-year college.

Alumni Faces – Class of 2016

2016 Alumni Faces honorees (left to right): Dr. Thomas Zengeya, Kathy Rowe, OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill, Jeff Cleland and Michael Meath.
2016 Alumni Faces honorees (left to right): Dr. Thomas Zengeya, Kathy Rowe, OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill, Corporal Jeff Cleland and Michael Meath.

OCC honored its 2016 class of Alumni Faces October 26 in the Recital Hall of the Academic II building. Four distinguished graduates were recognized for their professional achievements and contributions to the College and the community.

cropped-cleland-etchingCorporal Jeff Cleland, ‘13

  • Major at OCC: Liberal Arts & Sciences – General Studies
  • Profession: Public Policy and Veterans Affairs
  • High School: West Genesee, Class of 2005

Jeff Cleland was a Corporal in the United States Marine Corp. He worked as an Infantry Machine Gunner while serving in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. After retiring from active duty Cleland began a career of public service at Clear Path for Veterans and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families. Today he is leading research and policy efforts for the Military Service Initiative at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, TX.

cropped-meath-etchingMichael F. Meath, ‘87

  • Major at OCC: Fire Protection Technology
  • Profession: Strategic Communications Consultant
  • High School: Bishop Grimes, Class of 1975

Michael Meath has helped hundreds of businesses throughout the nation deal with crisis communications. When unexpected events occur Meath is called in to provide strategic insight and practical, down-to-earth business sense. Meath also shares his wisdom with college students by teaching public relations, business ethics and crisis communications at McMaster University and Syracuse University.

 

cropped-rowe-etchingKathy Rowe, ‘80

  • Major @ OCC: Radio & Television
  • Profession: Radio Personality
  • High School: North Syracuse, Class of 1977

Kathy Rowe was an on-air personality at radio station Y94 (WYYY-FM) for more than 30 years. She started working there in 1982 and was Y94’s morning show host for more than a decade. During her distinguished career Rowe also worked at Syracuse radio stations WAQX-FM and WOLF-AM.  Rowe is married to Syracuse Jazz Fest founder and executive producer Frank Malfitano, ’67 who is also one of OCC’s Alumni Faces.

 

cropped-zengeya-etchingDr. Thomas T. Zengeya, ‘02

  • Major: Mathematics & Science
  • Profession: Research Scientist

Thomas Zengeya is a native of Zimbabwe who came to the United States in 2001 to study science. He earned degrees from four SUNY schools including OCC, ESF, Oswego and Binghamton. Zengeya is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the National Cancer Institute in Maryland. He has several awards, publications and presentations to his credit.

The honorees etchings, which are pictured next to each of their stories, were placed in the Alumni Faces exhibit in the first floor hallway of the Academic II building.

The ceremony was highlighted by outstanding musical performances by faculty in the College’s signature Music department. Dr. David Rudari, D.M.A. sang both the National Anthem and OCC’s Alma Mater. Dr. Rudari also teamed up with Professor of Piano Dr. Kevin Moore on “The Impossible Dream” from Man of LaMancha.

The Alumni Faces ceremony was part of a day-long celebration across campus. Each of the honorees had the opportunity to speak with students whose academic interests align with the honoree’s career achievements. Cleland spent time with student veterans, Meath met with Business Club and Honor students and Zengeya shared his thoughts with math, science and international students. Each of the honorees was also invited to lunch with College President Dr. Casey Crabill.

You can view a slideshow highlighting the day’s events below. Congratulations to our 2016 Class of Alumni Faces!

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2016 Alumni Faces Honorees

The Alumni Faces display in the Academic II building.
The Alumni Faces display in the Academic II building.

Four distinguished graduates have been named 2016 “Alumni Faces” honorees for their professional achievements and contributions to the College and the community. Jeff Cleland, Michael Meath, Kathy Rowe and Dr. Thomas Zengeya will be honored for their accomplishments during an induction ceremony Wednesday, October 26 at 5:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall which is located in the Academic II building.

Let’s meet the 2016 Alumni Faces!

Jeff Cleland, 2016 Alumni FaceJeff Cleland, ‘13

  • Major: Liberal Arts & Sciences – General Studies
  • Profession: Public Policy and Veterans Affairs
  • West Genesee, Class of 2005

Jeff Cleland was a Corporal in the United States Marine Corp. He worked as an Infantry Machine Gunner while serving in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. After retiring from active duty Cleland began a career of public service at Clear Path for Veterans and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families. Today he is leading research and policy efforts for the Military Service Initiative at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, TX.

 

Michael Meath, 2016 Alumni FaceMichael F. Meath, ‘87

  • Major: Fire Protection Technology
  • Profession: Strategic Communications Consultant
  • High School: Bishop Grimes, Class of 1975

Michael Meath has helped hundreds of businesses throughout the nation deal with crisis communications. When unexpected events occur Meath is called in to provide strategic insight and practical, down-to-earth business sense. Meath also shares his wisdom with college students by teaching public relations, business ethics and crisis communications at McMaster University and Syracuse University.

 

Kathy Rowe, 2016 Alumni FaceKathy Rowe, ‘80

  • Major: Radio & Television
  • Profession: Radio Personality
  • High School: North Syracuse, Class of 1977

Kathy Rowe was an on-air personality at radio station Y94 (WYYY-FM) for more than 30 years. She started working there in 1982 and was Y94’s morning show host for more than a decade. During her distinguished career Rowe also worked at Syracuse radio stations WAQX-FM and WOLF-AM.  Rowe is married to Syracuse Jazz Fest founder and executive producer Frank Malfitano, ’67 who is also one of OCC’s Alumni Faces.

 

Thomas Zengeya Wall of Fame photoDr. Thomas T. Zengeya, ‘02

  • Major: Mathematics & Science
  • Profession: Research Scientist

Thomas Zengeya is a native of Zimbabwe who came to the United States in 2001 to study science. He earned degrees from four SUNY schools including OCC, ESF, Oswego and Binghamton. Zengeya is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the National Cancer Institute in Maryland. He has several awards, publications and presentations to his credit.

Congratulations to our 2016 Alumni Faces honorees!

Awards for Student Excellence

 

OCC's five SUNY Chancellor's Awards for Student Excellence winners are (left to right) Iga Szczepanik, Jade Lewis, Leighann Bulich, Toni Jones and Dan Quackenbush.
OCC’s five SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence winners are (left to right) Iga Szczepanik, Jade Lewis, Leighann Bulich, Toni Jones and Dan Quackenbush.

Five OCC students received SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence April 5 in Albany. The awards were presented by SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher at a ceremony at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center. Honorees demonstrated the ability to combine academic excellence with other accomplishments which may include leadership, campus involvement, athletics, career achievement, community service, or creative and performing arts. OCC’s five honorees were:

Leighann Bulich

  • High School: Lake George Jr.-Sr., 2014
  • Major at OCC: Emergency Management
  • Leighann took more than 20 credits each semester, was an RA, an officer in international honor society Phi Theta Kappa and a certified emergency medical technician. She earned her degree in December 2015 and is now attending the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Toni Jones

  • High School: Corcoran, 1998
  • Majors at OCC: Communication Studies, Humanities and Social Sciences with an Honors minor
  • Toni is a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa and a member of the History Club who went on several study abroad trips. Toni is 36-years-old and will graduate this May along with her mother, 58-year-old Sharon Hill.

Jade Lewis

  • High School: Silver Creek, 2014
  • Majors at OCC: Electronic Media Communications and Humanities with an Honors minor
  • Jade was a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa, played on the Women’s Soccer team, was an RA and a member of the Politics Club. She will graduate in May and transfer to Syracuse University.

Daniel Quackenbush

  • High School: Cicero-North Syracuse, 2014
  • Major at OCC: Electronic Media Communications and Computer Information Science
  • Daniel achieved a perfect 4.0 grade point average, was a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa and the Politics Club. He will graduate in May and transfer to Rochester Institute of Technology.

Iga Szczepanik

  • High School: Bishop Grimes, 2014
  • Major at OCC: Business Administration with minors in Women’s Studies and Honors
  • Iga is an international student from Poland. She’s president of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa and a student ambassador. She will graduate in May and transfer to Rochester Institute of Technology.

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2015 Alumni Faces Inductees

2015 Alumni Faces (left to right): OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill, Dinyar Vania, '99, London Ladd, '95, Anne Marie Abt, DPT, '75 and Richard Delmonico, Ph.D., '77.
2015 Alumni Faces (left to right): OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill, Dinyar Vania, ’99, London Ladd, ’95, Anne Marie Abt, DPT, ’75 and Richard Delmonico, Ph.D., ’77.

Onondaga Community College honored four distinguished alumni by naming them 2015 “Alumni Faces” for their professional achievements and contributions to the College and community. The ceremony took place Wednesday, October 28 in the Recital Hall of the Academic II building.

The 2015 honorees are:

Anne Marie AbtAnne Marie Abt, DPT, ‘75

Major: Mathematics & Science

Profession: Physical Therapist

Anne Marie Abt came to OCC from Bishop Grimes knowing she wanted a career in physical therapy. She earned her associate degree and graduated from Upstate Medical Center two years later. Today Dr. Abt is a physical therapist in the Jamesville-Dewitt School District where she works with students with diagnosed disabilities. Dr. Abt is also an adjunct instructor in the Physical Therapy Education Program at SUNY Upstate Medical University, teaching a pediatrics therapy course to doctoral students. She is a board certified pediatric clinical specialist and is part of the Fitness Inclusion Network affiliated with Upstate, which promotes inclusive fitness for children and adults with disabilities.

 

Richard DelmonicoRichard Delmonico, Ph.D., ‘77

Major: Humanities

Profession: Neuropsychologist

Richard Delmonico is a graduate of Liverpool High School who credits OCC’s Counseling Department with helping him decide on a major, consider career options and complete applications for bachelor degree programs. Delmonico also earned degrees from colleges in California, Connecticut and Missouri. Today he is the chief of neuropsychology at the Kaiser Permanente Rehabilitation Center in northern California where he specializes in working with people with neurological disorders such as traumatic brain injuries. Dr. Delmonico is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of California and the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Neurological Society.

 

London laddLondon Ladd, ‘95

Major: Art

Profession: Illustrator

London Ladd is an illustrator who creates the visuals that help tell the stories of some our nation’s most historic figures. The Corcoran High School graduate came to OCC as a Computer Science major, switched to Art and developed into a nationally renowned children’s book illustrator. He’s worked for some of the nation’s largest publishers including Scholastic, Disney/Hyperion and Lee & Low Books. His subjects have included Martin Luther King Jr. and Frederick Douglas. In between projects Ladd remains active in the community, serving as a facilitator for Syracuse’s Say Yes to Education after-school program. He is a member of the Syracuse Public Arts Commission.

 

Dinyar VaniaDinyar Vania, ‘99

Major: Music

Profession: Opera Tenor

Music always played a significant role in Dinyar Vania’s life, but he didn’t realize his greatest gift until he became a student at OCC. Vania graduated from Marcellus High School with the dream of being a percussionist. OCC’s Music faculty discovered he had enormous potential as a vocalist and worked with him to enhance those skills. After graduation Vania went to New York City, performed in several choral ensembles and earned principal roles on the main stage for the New York City Opera Chorus. Vania is now one of the most sought after talents in opera throughout the United States and Europe.

During the ceremony each recipient delivered brief remarks. There was also an outstanding performance of Brindisi from LA TRAVIATA. It was performed by 2015 Alumni Face honoree Dinyar Vania, OCC Student Vocalist Brittany Montpetit (Cicero-North Syracuse High School), the OCC Concert Choir and Pianist Katharine Ciarelli under the direction of Conductor David J. Rudari, D.M.A. You can view the performance here:

Earlier in the day the Alumni Faces honorees spent time on campus interacting with students in the disciplines they majored in. It was a wonderful opportunity for students to interact and receive valuable career advice.

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You can see a complete list of the College’s Alumni Faces honorees here.