Honoring Our 2017 Alumni Faces

OCC President Casey Crabill with the 2017 class of Alumni Faces (left to right): Ed Riley, Janet Riley, Marthe Ngwashi, Deirdre Hunter and John DelVecchio.

They returned to campus with their stories of success. There was a real estate developer, a nurse, a professor of engineering, a television director and an attorney. What brought them together was a common bond, Onondaga Community College. OCC paid tribute to these five former students on the night of November 1, recognizing them as distinguished Alumni Faces during a ceremony in the Recital Hall. “Each one of them has gone on to make their mark in Central New York and beyond with notable careers, service to community and living a life that exemplifies the importance of giving back to others,” said College President Casey Crabill during her opening remarks.

The Class of 2017 is:

John DelVecchio

John D. “JD” DelVecchio, ‘79

  • Major: Radio & Television (now Electronic Media Communications)
  • Profession: Television Director for the Golf Channel
  • High School: Corcoran, class of 1977

DelVecchio is an Emmy award-winning television sports director who has overseen coverage of some of the world’s biggest sporting events. Today he works for the Golf Channel. His resume includes the Olympics, College Football, Saturday Night Live, David Letterman and the Cosby Show.

 

Deirdre Hunter

Deirdre N. Hunter, Ph.D., ‘02

  • Major: Engineering Science
  • Profession: Professor of Engineering
  • High School: Jersey Village High School in Houston, class of 1998

Hunter fell in love with science and engineering while working on cars with her father in his auto repair business. She earned degrees from OCC, Syracuse University and Virginia Tech. She was one of the few women in her educational field and received many accolades for her research. Today she is a Lecturer of Engineering Design at Rice University in Houston.

 

Marthe Ngwashi

Marthe Ngwashi, Esq., ‘03

  • Major: Business Administration
  • Profession: Lawyer
  • High School: Nottingham High School, class of 1994

After earning her associate degree at OCC and her bachelor’s at SUNY Empire State College, Ngwashi worked in the State Attorney General’s Office where co-workers encouraged her to pursue a law degree. She took their advice and today practices law in her firm, Ngwashi & Associates PLLC in Buffalo.

 

Ed and Janet Riley

Edward M. Riley

  • Major: Architectural Technology
  • Profession: Developer
  • High School: Christian Brothers Academy, class of 1972

Riley is a nationally renowned developer. In 2016 he completed one of the hallmark projects of his career when he restored the old Hotel Syracuse. It reopened in August 2016 as the Marriott Syracuse Downtown.

 

Janet H. Riley, ‘74

  • Major: Nursing
  • Profession: Registered Nurse
  • High School: Bishop Ludden, class of 1972

Riley was a Registered Nurse at Crouse Irving Memorial Hospital, a Triage Nurse at Syracuse University Health Center, and held several nursing and management positions at SUNY Upstate Health & Science Center prior to her retirement.

Earlier in the day the honorees spent time with current students enrolled in the majors in which the alumni earned degrees. They told students about their journey from the OCC campus to where they are today, offered career advice and answered questions.

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In conjunction with the Alumni Faces being on campus the College announced a new initiative, “The OCC Effect.” We’re asking former students to share their stories with the tens of thousands of people who make up the OCC community. If you attended OCC please take a moment, visit our alumni web page and let us know how your time at OCC impacted your life. Your story is a significant part of OCC’s story which began more than a half-century ago when we first opened our doors in 1961. We’re proud our middle name is “community” and we’d love to hear about OCC’s effect on you. We’ve assembled a few stories about our alumni which we hope will inspire you to share your story with us.

2017 Alumni Faces Honoree Ed Riley

Ed Riley pauses during the renovation of the old Hotel Syracuse. On the wall behind him is a famous mural which was uncovered during the restoration process.

Onondaga Community College annually recognizes distinguished graduates by naming them “Alumni Faces” for their accomplishments and contributions to the community. The 2017 class will be honored during a ceremony November 1 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 Ed Riley.

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 University 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. The old Hotel Syracuse reopened in 2016 as the Marriot Syracuse Downtown. “The new name gave her the fresh start she needed. For the people of Syracuse she will always be the Hotel Syracuse, but for visitors the new name provided the assurances Marriot brings.”

Riley is now working on a similar project in Niagara Falls. His latest challenge is to restore a shuttered hotel once known as “The Niagara.” As he continues to turn old landmarks into new community showpieces Riley carries a deep appreciation for the learning environment he found at OCC. “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.”

 

Alumni Faces Class of 2017

The etchings of Alumni Faces honorees are on display in the Academic II Building (above) and the Gordon Student Center.

Five former students have been named 2017 “Alumni Faces” honorees for their professional achievements and contributions to the college and the community. They will be honored for their accomplishments during an induction ceremony Wednesday, November 1 at 5:30 p.m. in the Academic II building’s Recital Hall. The honorees are:

 

DelVecchio

John D. “JD” DelVecchio, ‘79

  • Major: Radio & Television (now Electronic Media Communications)
  • Profession: Television Director for live sports events
  • High School: Corcoran, class of 1977

JD DelVecchio is an Emmy award-winning television sports director who has overseen coverage of some of the world’s biggest sporting events. Today he works for the Golf Channel. His resume includes Olympic Games, College Football, Saturday Night Live, David Letterman and the Cosby Show.

 

Hunter

Deirdre N. Hunter, Ph.D., ‘02

  • Major: Engineering Science
  • Profession: Professor of Engineering
  • High School: Jersey Village High School in Houston, class of 1998

Dr. Deirdre Hunter fell in love with science and engineering while working on cars with her father in his auto repair business. She earned degrees from OCC, Syracuse University and Virginia Tech. She was one of the few women in her educational field and received many accolades for her research. Today she is a Lecturer of Engineering Design at Rice University in Houston.

 

Ngwashi

Marthe Ngwashi, Esq., ‘03

  • Major: Business Administration
  • Profession: Lawyer
  • High School: Nottingham High School, class of 1994

After earning her associate degree at OCC and her bachelor’s at SUNY Empire State College, Marthe Ngwashi worked in the State Attorney General’s Office where co-workers encouraged her to pursue a law degree. She took their advice and today practices law in her firm, Ngwashi & Associates PLLC in Buffalo.

 

Riley

Edward M. Riley

  • Major: Architectural Technology
  • Profession: Developer
  • High School: Christian Brothers Academy, class of 1972

Ed Riley is a nationally renowned developer. In 2016 he completed one of the hallmark projects of his career when he restored the old Hotel Syracuse. It reopened in August 2016 as the Marriott Syracuse Downtown.

 

Riley

Janet H. Riley, ‘74

  • Major: Nursing
  • Profession: Registered Nurse
  • High School: Bishop Ludden, class of 1972

Janet Riley was a Registered Nurse at Crouse Irving Memorial Hospital, a Triage Nurse at Syracuse University Health Center and held several nursing and management positions at SUNY Upstate Health & Science Center prior to her retirement.

Congratulations to our Class of 2017! You can see a list of Alumni Faces honorees here.

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 University 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 Syracuse 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.”

Serving the Community

Students enrolled in Onondaga’s Architectural Technology and Interior Design majors spent part of a beautiful fall afternoon helping clean up Syracuse’s Elmwood Park. The effort was OCC’s way of contributing to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Apple Day of Service which was recognized internationally Saturday, September 27, 2014.

Ivan Hanson, a sophomore Architectural Technology major from Syracuse (Christian Brothers Academy) enjoyed the experience.  “We cleaned up a lot of brush and trash. It was very rewarding and exciting to take part in it. It was a great way to get together and help out the community,” he said.

Ivan Hanson

Ivan Hanson has discovered his passion at OCC. After graduating from Christian Brothers Academy in 2011, Hanson went to a four-year school and majored in Physics. “Two years in I realized it wasn’t my thing.” Hanson transferred to OCC and found his thing, Architectural Technology. “I really love it. It’s my passion.”

In the spring of 2014 part of Hanson’s curriculum involved studying the College’s newest building, Academic II as it was going through the LEED certification process. LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. “I enjoyed learning about LEED so much I spent part of my summer studying for the LEED Green Associate exam.” He passed it with flying colors. “I think the College being part of the green movement is great not only for students like myself but for the entire community.”

Hanson is on track to graduate in May 2015. He plans to transfer and pursue his bachelor’s degree.