2018 Commencement

Onondaga Community College hosted its 55th commencement Saturday, May 12 in the SRC Arena and Events Center. Dr. Casey Crabill presided over the ceremony at which nearly 1,100 students were eligible to receive their degrees.

Student Commencement Speaker Andrea Capodagli

Student speaker Andrea Capodagli addressed fellow graduates. She came to OCC in 2009 after graduating from Bishop Grimes High School. She quit after a semester-and-a-half but returned to the College in 2016. Capodagli became an outstanding student, earned a degree in Communications with an Honors minor and will transfer to Syracuse University where she will major in Public Relations. During her speech she asked classmates to think of challenges they face as tools and inspirations to propel them forward, to take advantage of educational opportunities and to be selfless. She also implored fellow students to take chances in life. “Be brave! Do something that initially scares you because when you do something that terrifies you, you are going to be challenging yourself. You will be utilizing the skills that you have learned here, and you are going to exceed all potential! Never give up on yourself, because you have more power to transform your life than you realize.”

Recent OCC grads can share their story with us at sunyocc.edu/alumni.

During commencement the College handed out four honorary doctorate degrees to individuals who have exhibited professional excellence, meritorious and outstanding service, and whose accomplishments serve as examples of the SUNY system’s diverse student body. The recipients were:

  • Evelyn C. Carter, Director of Community Relations, Wegmans
  • Mary Beth Frey, Executive Director, Samaritan Center
  • Michael F. Melara, CEO, Catholic Charities of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse
  • Wayne O’Connor, Regional Executive Director of Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection

OCC’s commencement ceremony will be rebroadcast on WSYR TV’s “MeTV” channel Saturday, May 19 from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. MeTV can be found at 9.2 with a digital antenna, Spectrum Cable channel 1240, Verizon Fios channel 470 and New Visions cable channel 23.

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Alumni Face Honoree – Michael Meath ’87

mike_meathcover

Onondaga Community College annually recognizes distinguished graduates by naming them ”Alumni Faces” for their accomplishments and  contributions to the community. The 2016 class will be honored during a ceremony October 26 at 5:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall which is located in the Academic II building. One of the graduates we will honor that night is Michael Meath.

Communication is key for Michael Meath ’87. It’s been a constant throughout his professional life as he’s experienced a high level of success.  “You can have all the skills and knowledge in the world but if you cannot effectively communicate with others, than you will never be able to get your ideas heard or supported.” He’s turned his outstanding communication skills into a nearly 40 year career that has spanned health care, energy, and education; and as a consultant sought by hundreds of organizations around the country dealing with sensitive or crisis situations.

Meath is a Central New York native who graduated from Bishop Grimes High School in 1975. After two years at Le Moyne College and some volunteer work in the Gulf Coast, he took a job as a building manager for the Syracuse Diocese and then Loretto. While working at Loretto, he decided he should learn more about fire and life safety, especially with at-risk populations. That’s when he enrolled in OCC’s Fire Protection Technology program. After earning his degree he spent two years working as a loss control consultant for The Hartford insurance company, then director of health and safety for Agway, Inc. Each step up the career ladder came with more responsibilities. During the next few years, he began working with legislators and regulators on behalf of Agway, handling public relations as a spokesperson for the company, and responding to crisis situations. Along the way, he continued his education and picked up a SUNY bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Economics, and a master’s degree in Communications Management from Syracuse University.

Meath obtained all of his degrees while working full-time as a way to complement his growing responsibilities and interests.
Meath obtained all of his degrees while working full-time as a way to complement his growing responsibilities and interests.

Meath rose to the level of vice president at Agway Energy Products and led the development of a new company, which was ultimately sold along with other Agway businesses in 2003. It was the perfect time for him to strike out on his own. “My work in corporate communications, government relations, and new business development turned me on to a new business model that focused on crisis management and communications.” He started his own business, Strategic Communications, LLC, which he would quietly build into a highly sought after consulting firm for organizations trying to navigate sensitive and confidential situations. Meath would own and operate Strategic Communications for eleven years. In 2014 he sold the company as two separate businesses to two trusted employees in Syracuse and Washington, DC. Meath works as a senior adviser to both, and has a small handful of his own clients around the United States. For the past ten years, he’s been an active adjunct professor in ethics, strategic management and crisis communications at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications, and an affiliated program at McMaster University in Hamilton, ON.

Meath says time spent on Onondaga’s campus in the 1980s built the foundation for his successful career. “Without a doubt, OCC helped me focus my career and further education – and helped shape my interest in dealing with crisis situation decision making. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t utilize these teachings in what I am doing. To receive an Alumni Faces award is a tremendous honor. In addition, I feel a special connection with Onondaga each time I walk the bridge that stretches over the gorge. My father, who passed away more than 25 years ago, was president of the company that built that bridge, so I feel a closeness to him each time I am on campus.”

 

All-State Students

OCC student Iga Szczepanik receives her PTK All-State honors from (left) OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill and (right) SUNY Senior Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges and the Education Pipeline Dr. Johanna Duncan-Poitier.
OCC student Iga Szczepanik receives her PTK All-State honors from (left) OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill and (right) SUNY Senior Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges and the Education Pipeline Dr. Johanna Duncan-Poitier.

Tuesday, March 8 was a big day for Onondaga Community College in the state capitol. The annual USA Today Phi Theta Kappa All-New York Academic Team Recognition Ceremony at the New York State Museum in Albany had an OCC feel to it.

Leighann Bulich
Leighann Bulich

Students Leighann Bulich and Iga Szczepanik were among those honored for their academic excellence and community service. Another OCC student, Music major Brittany Montpetit wowed the crowd with a stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. College President Dr. Casey Crabill also played an important role in the celebration by introducing student honorees.

Bulich came to OCC from Lake George Jr.-Sr. High School (60 miles north of Albany) where she was a member of the class of 2014. Bulich served her community as a member of the West Glens Falls Emergency Squad and an emergency medical technician. She graduated from OCC in December 2015 after just three semesters on campus. She took more than 20 credits each semester, worked as an RA and was Vice President for Service in the College’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. Bulich earned a degree in Emergency Management with an Honors minor. She is now attending the University of Nebraska at Omaha where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Emergency Management. Her career goals include becoming an Emergency Manager at a V-A Hospital and a management position with FEMA. Bulich was unable to attend the event.

Iga Szczepanik
Iga Szczepanik

Szczepanik is an International Student from Swidnica, Poland. She started learning English when she was in preschool and today speaks the language fluently. Szczepanik came to the U.S. when she was high school aged and graduated from Bishop Grimes in 2014. She’s majoring in Business with minors in both Women’s Studies and Honors. She’s also a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa and is President of OCC’s chapter. Szczepanik also works as a student ambassador, going to area high schools and promoting the Honors Minor program. After earning her degree in May Szczepanik plans to Rochester Institute of Technology and pursue a degree in international business.

Montpetit is a Music major with a specialization in Voice who will earn her degree in May 2016. She’s also a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa and a 2014 graduate of Cicero-North Syracuse high school.

Assemblymen Al Stirpe (D, 127th District) and Gary Finch (R, C, I, 126th District) were also part of the OCC contingent. They brought with them New York State Assembly Certificates of Recognition for Sczezpanik and Bulich.

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Best in Class

 

TOP OF STORY PTK All-New York Academic Awards and State Assembly Appearance 002

Leighann Bulich
Leighann Bulich

Two OCC students will receive statewide honors for their academic excellence and community service. Leighann Bulich and Iga Szczepanik will represent the College at the USA Today Phi Theta Kappa All-New York Academic Team Recognition Ceremony Tuesday, March 8 at the New York State Museum in Albany.

Bulich came to OCC from Lake George Jr.-Sr. High School (60 miles north of Albany) where she was a member of the class of 2014. Bulich served her community as a member of the West Glens Falls Emergency Squad and an emergency medical technician. She graduated from OCC in December 2015 after just three semesters on campus. She took more than 20 credits each semester, worked as an RA and was Vice President for Service in the College’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. Bulich earned a degree in Emergency Management with an Honors minor. She is now attending the University of Nebraska at Omaha where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Emergency Management. Her career goals include becoming an Emergency Manager at a V-A Hospital and a management position with FEMA.

Iga Szczepanik
Iga Szczepanik

Szczepanik is an International Student from Swidnica, Poland. She started learning English when she was in preschool and today speaks the language fluently. Szczepanik came to the U.S. when she was high school aged and graduated from Bishop Grimes in 2014. She’s majoring in Business with minors in both Women’s Studies and Honors. She’s also a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa and is President of OCC’s chapter. Szczepanik also works as a student ambassador, going to area high schools and promoting the Honors Minor program. After earning her degree in May Szczepanik plans to transfer to Rochester Institute of Technology and pursue a degree in international business.

 

Iga Szczepanik

 

Iga Szczepanik is a leader on campus and she’s determined to become a leader in the world of business. “In the United States less than 5% of the CEO’s of big companies are women. I like the idea I can educate myself and change that in the future,” she said. “Going to school here will bring me to something bigger and better. I hope it will make me a role model for women in the future.”

Szczepanik is an International Student from Swidnica, Poland. She started learning English when she was in preschool and today speaks the language fluently. Szczepanik came to the U.S. when she was high school aged and graduated from Bishop Grimes in 2014. Now she’s majoring in Business with minors in both Women’s Studies and Honors. She’s also a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa and is President of the OCC’s chapter this year. “I wanted to hold a leadership position. I thought by being President of PTK I could help break the stereotype that girls can’t do it.” Szczepanik also works as a student ambassador, going to area high schools and promoting the Honors Minor program.

After earning her degree in May 2016 Szczepanik plans to transfer to a four-year college and pursue a degree in international business. Between now and then she’s excited to be at OCC and is enjoying the community college experience. “I love coming to class and having all of these different people in it. You’ll have a mom, you’ll have a war veteran, you’ll have a girl that’s just like me. I love that it gives you completely different experiences than you would get at a four-year school. When I go on to a four-year school I will be proud to say I went to a community college. I accomplished so much. I am proud of who I am and what I did. People should be proud of who they are and what they do. There is a lot to be proud about here at OCC.”