The OCC Effect: Dominic Tibbetts II ‘16

Dominic Tibbetts II on set at his new home in Montana

High School: West Genesee

The only thing Dominic Tibbetts ever wanted to be was a sports broadcaster. A visit to Onondaga Community College’s Electronic Media Communications (EMC) program piqued his interest. “The faculty I spoke with really knew the business. Many still work in the industry so when I added their experience to the latest technology provided in the program I was immediately sold.”

While at OCC, Tibbetts was able to partner with a friend on a local radio show through the College’s web platform, “Supermix” and took advantage of sports internship opportunities through WSYR TV, NewsChannel 9 and CNY Central. The internships were invaluable because their sports anchors and reporters, Steve Infanti, Niko Tamurian and Matt Hauswirth were all very gracious with their time and interest in his development. Tamurian and Hauswirth were also OCC graduates and Tamurian was an adjunct instructor in the EMC major as well. “All the professors in the program were great. Niko willingly took time to develop my talents and went out of his way to harness my interest in sports to become the professional I am today.”

Dominic Tibbetts II with his familiy (L-R) father Dominic, sister Madelynn and mom Rosalee

After OCC, Tibbetts attended Ithaca College where he continued his broadcast journalism studies and interned in Los Angeles for a semester. During his final semester he applied for jobs across the country. “I sent out 41 tapes to places I had never heard of and was fortunate enough to get a call from KXLF in Butte, Montana which ultimately led to be my current job.” Tibbetts has settled right in to his new home and has added his knowledge of other sports such as rodeos and skijoring to his resume, which have been fascinating opportunities for him.

While his goal is to work for a network, he appreciates where he is and is enjoying his journey in a field that he loves. “Working in the business is a dream come true and I cannot thank OCC and the faculty enough for molding me into the well-rounded person I am today – the choice to start there truly was a great decision for me and I will be forever grateful for what they did for me.”

The Flight Brothers

OCC graduates and CNY Central photographers Matt Landers (left) and Quindell Williams (right) are the first licensed drone pilot operators at a Central New York television station.

Ten years ago, Matt Landers and Quindell Williams were students together in Onondaga Community College’s Electronic Media Communications (EMC) major. Today they’re teammates in flight, becoming the first licensed drone pilots for a Central New York television station. When big news happens they’ll be getting in their CNY Central (channels 3, 5 and 6) news vehicle and responding to the scene with their drone. “When we were asked to launch the drone program it was an honor,” said Williams. “I’m very excited, humbled and honored to be part of this,” added Landers. “It adds a whole new skill set and a whole new challenge.”

Landers (Cicero-North Syracuse HS 2007 and OCC 2009) and Williams (Nottingham HS 2003 and OCC 2008) went through rigorous training before launching CNY Central’s drone operations. They studied relentlessly for a highly detailed written test and also traveled to Virginia Tech for three days of intense, around the clock training. “We really enjoyed working with each other,” said Williams. “We motivated each other. Our close working relationship made this all worthwhile.”

The next time you see drone footage on one of CNY Central’s television stations or its website you can do so knowing it was gathered by two graduates of OCC’s EMC program. “We’re honored. We know it’s up to us to set a standard both for our station and all stations in the viewing area.”

You can learn more about OCC’s Electronic Media Communications program by clicking on this link.

Mentoring Tomorrow’s Professionals

OCC Alumnus and CNY Central Photojournalist Matt Landers (right) works with Electronic Media Communication majors as they prepare for a shoot in Whitney Commons.

It’s not unusual to walk past a class in OCC’s Electronic Media Communications (EMC) major and see a member of the Central New York broadcast industry speaking with students. Current broadcast professionals regularly visit campus and share their experiences with students. “We’ve had many special guests ranging from photographers to news directors,” said Zach Sheridan, an EMC major and 2016 graduate of Fabius-Pompey High School. “They offer real-life examples of problems or issues they deal with every day and help give us a greater understanding.”

Each instructor within EMC has either worked in or is presently employed in the broadcasting industry. Most are behind the scenes staffers who play critical roles in the success of a broadcast. Others are people you see on-camera such as Niko Tamurian, a 2005 grad of the EMC program and Sports Director of CNY Central TV.

EMC Adjunct Professors Laura Bailey (left) and Tammy Palmer (right) pictured at Newschannel 9.

Earlier this semester students enrolled in Television News Production were given a challenging assignment by their professors who are both Syracuse broadcast professionals. Tammy Palmer is an anchor and reporter at WSYR TV, Newschannel 9. Laura Bailey is a Director at the same station and is also a 2017 winner of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching. Professors Palmer and Bailey divided their students up into news gathering crews and gave them two-and-a-half hours to shoot, write and edit a story. It’s a tall task for those who do the job every day and even more challenging for students.

Each student crew was paired with a highly talented broadcast professional volunteering his or her time to work with students. They included Emmy-award winning CNY Central photojournalist and OCC Alumnus Quindell Williams, CNY Central photojournalist and OCC alumnus Matt Landers, Newschannel 9 photojournalist and OCC alumnus Evan Bailey, OCC alumnus and SUNY Oswego videographer Jim Kearns and Newschannel 9 multimedia journalist Olivia Ugino. Throughout the process they continuously offered advice on shooting, editing and writing techniques.

Some of the student crews beat the two-and-a-half-hour deadline, some did not. The lessons learned from those in the industry were invaluable. “It was great to get this hands-on experience while working with people currently employed in broadcasting,” said Jacob Manrow, an EMC major and 2016 graduate of Jordan-Elbridge High School. “Getting in-depth, real-world experience this early in my career gives me a competitive edge when taking my next steps.”

The EMC professors overseeing the exercise were pleased with the results. “Walking into class the students were very nervous about not only the assignment, but the whole semester,” said Bailey. “Two-and-a-half-hours later they had new confidence about what they could accomplish.”

“Mentoring is crucial in so many fields,” added Palmer. “Newsrooms lose experienced journalists every day. We need to make sure the next generation has the opportunity to learn from the men and women who do important work daily. Now more than ever the media is facing a skeptical audience. The cycle of passing down valuable lessons can’t fade away. Knowledge is power.”

You can learn more about OCC’s Electronic Media Communications major here.

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Celebrating Student’s Success

Onondaga Community College paid tribute to its student scholarship recipients and generous donors during the Celebration of Success. The event was emceed by 2008 alumnus Matt Hauswirth, Weekend Sports Anchor at the television stations of CNY Central.

Highlighting the festivities was the announcement that the residence hall currently known as “H-3” will be renamed in honor of Ephraim E. Shapero. He served as Chairman of the Onondaga County Board of Supervisors which later became known as the Onondaga County Legislature. Shapero played a critical role in the founding of OCC in 1961. His outspoken support and leadership overcame many objections to the growth of the College, including the move from downtown Syracuse to its current home on Onondaga Hill. Beginning in the fall 2017 semester the residence hall will be known as Ephraim E. Shapero Hall.


The Foundation would like to thank the following generous event sponsors.

  • Chancellor Sponsor – M&T Bank
  • Dean Sponsors – Learn As You Grow Early Childcare Centers and Bottar Leone Attorneys
  • Department Chair Sponsors – SRC, Bond Schoeneck & King Attorneys, Community Bank N.A., Hezel Associates, Marriott Syracuse Downtown, C&S Companies
  • Professor Sponsors: RMS Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc., Syracuse Community Connections, Josall Syracuse Inc., Jubilee Homes of Syracuse, Inc., J.M. McDonald Sports Complex, DARCO Manufacturing Inc., Sherwood Inns & Appetites and Syracuse Jazz Fest.

Alum Wins an Emmy!

Quindell with his camera and his Emmy

Quindell Williams has achieved a major professional milestone. He’s earned an Emmy Award for his outstanding work as a photojournalist for the television stations of CNY Central (Channels 3, 5 and 6) in Syracuse.

Williams is a 2003 graduate of Nottingham High School who earned an Electronic Media Communications degree from OCC in 2008.

Williams is a member of a team of journalists at CNY Central who won an Emmy Award in the category of Daytime Newscast for their coverage of the guilty verdict in the trial of Dr. Robert Neulander. Williams’ co-workers who shared in the award included Sarabeth Ackerman, Megan Coleman, Amelia Couch, Alex Dunbar, Rae Fulkerson and Matt Mulcahy.

“It was a GREAT feeling knowing that I, along with an awesome news team were even nominated. To win it felt even greater,” said Williams. “To be able to share this award with my family and colleagues is a truly wonderful feeling. Beyond that I’m simply humbled by the opportunity to be recognized for doing the job I love!”

Congratulations Quindell!

Quindell Williams with his Emmy Award.
Quindell Williams with his Emmy Award.

Sports Central

Matt Hauswirth '08 (left) and Niko Tamurian '05 (right) at the CNY Central News Desk.
Matt Hauswirth ’08 (left) and Niko Tamurian ’05 (right) at the CNY Central News Desk.

Tune-in to the television stations of CNY Central for the latest scores and highlights and you are guaranteed to see a graduate of Onondaga Community College’s Electronic Media Communications program. That’s because Matt Hauswirth, ’08 joined the award-winning sports department earlier this summer as both weekend anchor and reporter. The leader of the unit is Sports Director and OCC Alumni Face honoree Niko Tamurian, ’05.

Hauswirth and Tamurian have seemingly been shadowing each other for years. Both are graduates of East Syracuse Minoa High School. When Tamurian joined CNY Central as a weekend anchor and Hauswirth was a student at OCC, Hauswirth became Tamurian’s first intern. “I learned so much from Niko,” said Hauswirth. “Seeing what he accomplished and knowing our similar backgrounds helped me believe I could do this one day.”

Tamurian and Hauswirth review footage for the evening sportscast.
Tamurian and Hauswirth review footage for the evening sportscast.

After earning his associate and bachelor’s degrees Hauswirth began his TV sportcasting career in West Virginia. He was there for five years when a position opened at CNY Central. Tamurian was now the Sports Director and had become a fixture in the community. “I knew Matt would be perfect for the job because of his local knowledge, experience with big college sports and love of the area,” Tamurian said. Everything fell into place and Hauswirth made his on-air debut in June. “I admit I was nervous,” Hauswirth said. “I kept thinking that family and friends were able to see me. Niko was there to help for my first couple of sportcasts which allowed me to get into the groove pretty quickly.”

While it’s too soon to call this a happy ending its clearly a wonderful development for both OCC alumni. “It’s a dream come true for me. This is such a great sports town and its wonderful to be close to family again,” said Hauswirth. “Seeing Matt in front of the camera at CNY Central is a great feeling,” said Tamurian. “There’s the full-circle effect of seeing him progress as an intern to a professional. The excitement on his face is a reminder of how lucky we are to work in an area and industry we both love.”

The Growing Human Library

Niko Tamurian, '05, Sports Director at the stations of CNY Central, was the human book "sportscaster" at OCC's 2015 Human Library.
Niko Tamurian, ’05, Sports Director at the stations of CNY Central, was the human book “sportscaster” at OCC’s 2015 Human Library.

The concept of a “human library” didn’t start on the OCC campus, but it did become so popular here it is now the focus of a study being led by Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, or “iSchool” as it is more commonly referred to. “We’re really excited to be a part of this,” said Pauline Lynch Shostack, Chair of OCC’s Coulter Library. “We hope it will lead to more of these kinds of events.”

OCC Business Administration department chair J.T. Ryan (left) discussed his days with Mid-Lakes Navigation as the book "Canal Boat Captain."
OCC Professor J.T. Ryan (left) discussed his days with Mid-Lakes Navigation as the book “Canal Boat Captain.”

The human library provides students the unique opportunity to ask “books” questions. Experts from the campus and the community play the role of books, sharing their personal stories with students in one-on-one or small group settings. For example, at the 2015 human library event OCC Faculty Chair J.T. Ryan was the book “Canal Boat Captain.” He told students stories about his days as a boat captain for Mid-Lakes Navigation.

Shostack first heard of a human library one night several years ago when she was scrolling through her Twitter feed. A college in western Massachusetts was tweeting about an event with human books. “I read the article and thought, ‘This would be a great library event!’ I followed the link in the story, found there was a human library organization in Denmark and kept reading more and more about it.”

Shostack and now retired librarian Angela Weiler began working on the concept and brought it to life at Coulter Library in 2013. “We did the first one and I said, ‘This is a wonderful way for community members to connect in a unique way!’ We should share it with local and regional libraries.” She contacted the Central New York Regional Library Council to organize a meeting with local and regional libraries. When Coulter hosted the human library one year later Syracuse University participated along with Tompkins Cortland Community College and some local public libraries.

Pauline Lynch Shostack, Chair of OCC's Coulter Library
Pauline Lynch Shostack, Chair of OCC’s Coulter Library

In 2015 Coulter hosted the third edition of the human library. It was bigger and better than ever with more human books, more diversity and more students participating. In one room there was Professor Christine Braunberger, who had actually written a book on tattoos, playing the role of a human book discussing tattoos. Several media personalities participated and played the role of books which mirrored their careers including CNY Sportcaster and OCC Alumnus Niko Tamurian, WSYR TV Meteorologist Jim Teske and 93Q radio personality Amy Robbins. Once again the event was a huge success.

The human library is now the focus of a three-year project funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services which is part of the National Leadership Grants for Libraries Program. Three faculty members from Syracuse University’s iSchool are partnering with Coulter Library and the Fayetteville Free Library to learn how to identify, catalog and electronically promote the human expertise available in their local communities. All of the information will be available for the public in a new Community Profile System app which the iSchool will develop.

This new app will give human library planners a foundation to work with. It will also give users a database of experts who can be utilized year round. “This will be an ongoing resource for us. Let’s say you are a student and you are putting together a paper on the Erie Canal. You would search the database, learn that one of our faculty members used to be a boat captain and you may be able to use him as a resource for your class work.”

OCC did not host a human library event this year because of the ongoing renovations in Coulter. The event will return in the spring 2017 semester when the work is complete and Coulter will be the test site for the app. “It’s very exciting to see how far this whole project has come and where it’s going,” said Shostack. “After doing this event for three years we realize what amazing expertise we have on our campus. This technology will help connect the campus community in ways they’re not usually connected.”

STEM Scholars Featured On CBS5 Morning Show

Professor Maryann Page (red sweater) works with STEM Scholars as a CBS5 crew records a story on the program.

Students in OCC’s STEM Scholars program were featured on CNY Central’s CBS 5 morning newscast November 24 as part of its weekly “Terrific Tuesday’s” feature. The segment highlights outstanding students, teachers and academic programs in Central New York. CBS5 anchor Allison Bybee and photojournalist Dennis Harmon came to campus November 20 and gathered the story with Associate Professor of Biology Maryann Page and our students. Page oversees the STEM Scholars program. You can view the story here.

The STEM Scholars program is an entry point for students interested in pursuing a career within a growing industry. New York State ranks 3rd in the nation for projected growth in STEM jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 477,000 STEM-related jobs will be available in New York by 2018.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. Onondaga offers nine different STEM degree programs:

  • Computer Forensic Science
  • Computer Information Systems
  • Computer Science
  • Electrical Engineering Technology
  • Engineering Science
  • Environmental Technology
  • Math and Science Liberal Arts
  • Mechanical Technology
  • Nuclear Technology

Students selected to be STEM Scholars at OCC receive a scholarship renewable each semester provided they maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average and continue full-time progress toward their associate degree.

In 2013 the College’s STEM Scholars program received a grant totaling nearly $600,000 from the National Science Foundation, ensuring students in specific programs will have both merit and need-based funding into the foreseeable future. The first scholarships were awarded in 2014. Selected STEM scholars receive scholarships up to $5,000 per semester, and are also supported by peer mentors, faculty mentors, and are encouraged to engage in internship opportunities that will prepare them for their transfer and career choices.

Life Lessons Learned at the Children’s Learning Center

Shavya Lakhe
Shavya Lakhe

Shavya Lakhe always loved playing with blocks in OCC’s Children’s Learning Center (CLC), but in April the 5-year-old student started using them in a way he never had before. “We noticed he was building houses with them,” said CLC Director Michele Ferguson. “Our teachers asked him about it and he explained that his grandparents home in Nepal had just been destroyed by an earthquake.”

Shavya learned about the devastation during a conversation at home.  “My mommy told me about the earthquake. It crushed and broke things including my grandparents house. They are okay but they are living in tents now.” The earthquake and Shavya’s grandparents became the primary topic at the CLC. It went from science-based discussions about what earthquakes were and how they happened, to good citizen-type discussions about how everyone could help. “All of our children were going home at night and speaking with their parents about it,” said Ferguson. “Our whole school community became interested and wanted to help in some way.”

The children and the CLC’s team of teachers decided to hold a fundraiser to benefit the people of Nepal. The children would bake cookies and muffins, then hold a bake sale. “The baking process was a great lesson in math and science for the children,” said Ferguson. They also got a lesson in marketing, making signs advertising the benefit to other students and their parents.

On the day of the bake sale students ran cash registers. They traded cookies for money and learned how to make change. When the bake sale was over everyone was excited to learn they had raised $162 for earthquake victims in Nepal. Anonymous donations helped raise the total to a round amount of $200.

CLC Director Michele Ferguson shows children the check they will be presenting to the American Red Cross.
CLC Director Michele Ferguson shows children the check they will be presenting to the American Red Cross.

Everyone’s hard work was rewarded June 9 when a representative of the American Red Cross came to the CLC. Tom Czajak, a grants specialist with the organization, explained to the children how their money would be spent. “All of this money will help victims in Nepal. We will use it to buy blankets, water and to help the volunteers working with the Red Cross network throughout Nepal,” he said. Local television stations CNY Central and Time Warner Cable News came as well to documents the children’s efforts.

What began as a natural disaster on the other side of the world turned into a wonderful experience for students, teachers and parents at the CLC. “We never think a child is too young to learn important lifelong lessons,” said Ferguson. “We can always help one another whether the people we are helping are here or far away.” Shavya and his family are living proof of that. “I’m happy we raised this money,” he said.

Shavya is interview by journalists (left) Andy Wolf of CNY Central and (right) Alexa Green of Time Warner Cable News.
Shavya is interview by journalists (left) Andy Wolf of CNY Central and (right) Alexa Green of Time Warner Cable News.

Human Library Brings Books To Life

Students had the unique opportunity to ask books questions during the Human Library event at Coulter Library. People played the role of “books,” sharing their personal stories with students in one-on-one or small group settings.

Pauline Lynch Shostack (left) and Angela Weiler (right) organize the event.
Pauline Lynch Shostack (left) and Angela Weiler (right) organize the event.

This was the third year the College hosted the event. “It’s grown each year in a number of ways,” said Pauline Lynch Shostack, Chair of OCC’s Coulter Library. “We had more students signing up for the event in advance, more human books participating, more volunteers working and longer hours for the event. It’s exciting how popular it has become.” Shostack and Angela Weiler, a Reference and Instruction Librarian, organized the event.

A huge schedule and list of books covers a wall in Coulter Library.
A huge schedule and list of books covers a wall in Coulter Library.

The Human Library was held on the third floor. Volunteers at a registration table greeted “books” and “readers” as they arrived. The wall behind the registration table was covered with a massive schedule of sessions and complete listing of all of the books. Volunteers worked to piece everything together and keep the schedule running on-time.

Rooms throughout the remainder of the floor were filled with colorful and informative conversations, and some visual presentations as well. Christine Braunberger, an English/Reading/Communication Professor, was the human book, “Stories in the Flesh: Tattoo in America.” Braunberger and student Cody Watson discussed each other’s tattoos. Watson is a student-veteran who served a year in Afghanistan while stationed at Fort Drum. “It was great to speak with her. She had an instant understanding of my tattoos and their origin,” said Watson.

Student Arlene Brodbeck, who is majoring in Communications, made an appointment with the book, “93Q Radio Personality.” The book was Amy Robbins who has been a staple in the Syracuse radio scene for more than a quarter of a century. “It was a wonderful experience to hear how she started and to understand there’s a lot more to her day than just talking on the radio,” said Brodbeck. “She told me the way to get started in the business is to get your foot in the door somewhere with an internship.”

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Student Nick Swan, a Computer Information Systems major, was inspired by his book “Syracuse Firefighter.” Swan’s conversation with firefighter Patrick Foody left him pondering his career options. “It was amazing. It really opened my eyes. I didn’t know much about firefighting but now I’m considering a career in it.”

The Human Library is made possible in large part thanks to the event’s sponsors: OCC Foundation, Student Association, Diversity Services and American Food & Vending.