P-TECH Program Sparks Careers

William DeJesus grinds metal in OCC’s machine shop classroom in the Whitney Applied Technology Center. DeJesus started taking classes at OCC two years ago while he was a high school junior. Next May he will earn his Mechanical Technology degree.


OCC’s P-TECH program has worked out better than William DeJesus could have imagined. He’s found his passion and had the opportunity to go to the White House to talk about it. “I know I made the right decision. This program set me on a path going in one direction.”

P-TECH students (left to right) Robert Felder, William DeJesus and Lilly La share their stories with Congressman John Katko and White House Adviser Ivanka Trump.

DeJesus began taking P-TECH classes at OCC two years ago when he was a junior at the Institute of Technology at Syracuse Central (ITC). P-TECH stands for Pathways in Technology Early College High School. The program helps high school students earn valuable credits toward an associate degree while partnering with industry leaders. P-TECH students can pursue a degree in either Electrical Engineering Technology or Mechanical Technology. “I was nervous when I started coming to OCC. I wondered how I was going to manage classes at two different places. But with all of the support of the professors here and the support at the high school I was able to do it.”

In June, DeJesus was a member of the first graduating class of the P-TECH program at ITC. A few weeks after commencement he and two other students participated in a roundtable discussion at the school on education and workforce development. White House adviser Ivanka Trump participated in the discussion and was so impressed with the students she invited them to Washington for a jobs-related bill signing ceremony two weeks later. “It was a phenomenal experience. Being in that room where so many famous people had been before us, you got a chill going through you.” DeJesus took advantage of the setting, networking with CEO’s from IBM, FedEx and Wal-Mart and exchanging contact information with them.

DeJesus (far left) at a bill signing ceremony at the White House in July.

DeJesus also received three job offers during the summer but made the decision to continue his education full-time at OCC. Thanks to the 32 college credits he amassed while attending ITC, he will earn his associate degree in Mechanical Technology next May. “The P-TECH program has opened up so many opportunities for me. In my family I’m the first person to go to college.”

The P-TECH program is continuing to present opportunities for all who follow DeJesus. Nearly 100 high school students are taking classes at OCC as part of P-TECH. They’re coming to campus from DeJesus’ alma mater, ITC and The Center for Instruction, Technology and Innovation (CiTi BOCES) in Oswego County. OCC also offers P-TECH programs in Clinical Laboratory Technology, Computer Information Systems, Drone Technology and Health Information Technology.

You can learn more about supporting OCC students through the Believe In Better fundraising campaign here.