Summer Learners Take The Next Step

OCC students participating in the Bridges to Baccalaureate program this summer at SUNY Binghamton were (left to right): Jovan Diaz, Princess Figueroa, Ahmed Mohamed, Rebecca Agosto Matos, and Causwell Hyde.

Five students intent on attending four-year institutions spent part of their summer conducting research at SUNY Binghamton as part of the Bridges to Baccalaureate program. The students are all members of OCC’s Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) and Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program. Bridges to Baccalaureate helps students make the transition from community colleges to four-year institutions while increasing the pool of community college students who go on to research careers in the biomedical sciences.

OCC’s students worked side-by-side in research laboratories with students from Monroe Community College and Westchester Community College. The program concluded with students presenting about their work during a poster session. OCC’s representatives and the focus of their work included:

  • Jovan Diaz – Cardiovascular Disease and Obesity in High Sugar-Fed Flies
  • Rebecca Agosto Matos – Using Kinetic Isotope Effect to Reveal Mechanism for Acid Amide Hydrolysis
  • Ahmed Mohamed – Does atrazine affect the metabolic rates of Drosophila melanogaster?
  • Causwell Hyde – Synthesis and Antimicrobial Studies of Flavonoid-derived Anisotropic Gold and Silver Nanoparticles
  • Princess Figueros – Investigating Endocrine Flexibility in Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) exposed to NaCl

“I enjoyed being in the Bridges program and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the sciences,” said Rebecca Agosto Matos. “The research performed is a good introduction to individuals who have no laboratory experience. Throughout the summer I got the chance to work in the only Chemistry laboratory available monitored by Dr. Vetticatt. It was a fun experience in which I learned and applied methods that were previously studied in Organic Chemistry lecture, and laboratories at Onondaga Community College. At first, I thought that I wouldn’t be able to get used to working so closely with chemicals nor be able to get used to the smell of some chemicals such as ether. As time went on I started to notice how I didn’t mind certain smells and I became completely comfortable working with and creating new chemicals. I enjoyed the experience, the company of the individuals from the laboratory, and the little community that our laboratory shared with the surrounding laboratories.”

Congratulations to our students for their outstanding work! You can learn more about the CSTEP and LSAMP programs on our website.

OCC’s Newest American Citizen

Carlos Roldan in the office of the Collegiate Science & Technology Entry Program in Coulter Hall.

Carlos Roldan is one of Central New York’s newest American citizens. He was sworn-in February 4 during a naturalization ceremony at Fowler High School.

Roldan works at OCC as a Technical Assistant in the office of the Collegiate Science & Technology Entry Program, known as C-STEP. He’s a native of Ecuador. His wife, Lydia is from Central New York. They met in 2012 while she was in Ecuador teaching English as a Second Language. They married in 2013 and moved to the Syracuse area one year later.

Perhaps Roldan’s biggest transition has been adjusting to the weather. In Ecuador, which straddles the equator, the temper fluctuates very little throughout the course of an entire year. “It’s much different here. The weather can be very extreme. I learned here in Syracuse good boots, good jacket, you’re good to go.”

Roldan’s hobbies include mountain climbing (he’s climbed several of the Andes Mountains), mountain biking and soccer. At age 43 he still plays soccer regularly both indoors and outdoors. The Roldan’s have a 3 ½ year old son Gabriel who is learning the game. “The first word he said was ‘ball.’” Soon they’ll have another child to teach the game to. Son number two is due in mid-March.

It will be a busy year for the Roldan’s. Carlos has been accepted into SUNY Oswego’s Business Administration program and will begin pursuing a master’s degree this summer. He previously earned a bachelor’s in Hotel & Tourism Management.

Congratulations Carlos on becoming a U.S. citizen!

Finding Identity: Chidera Joseph ’16


Major: Business Administration

High School: Jamesville Dewitt

Chidera Joseph came to the United States from her native Nigeria when she was adopted by her aunt. She went through the Jamesville-Dewitt school system and when it came to graduate only one thing was one her mind. “I just wanted to get away from Syracuse because I was having all of these different feelings and felt getting away would help solve all of those issues.” However, Joseph’s aunt, Anthonia Joseph, resisted her impulse and implored her to think about attending a college more local, particularly OCC. “My eventual decision to go to OCC was not mine, it was my aunt’s, because she knew a simple move was not going to be cure all and would in fact only add to my struggles.”

She arrived at OCC in 2014 with the sole intent of coming for one year and then transferring, so her first year only involved her to go to class, work and then back home. When her grades came in her aunt knew she could do better and told her she would need to finish her degree before transferring. It was during her second year, where she began to have a change of heart which in turn led to her transformation. “During my second year I made more of an effort to get involved and I was really surprised on windfall of opportunities that came my way because of it, which totally reversed my initial thought process about attending OCC.”

Joseph was highlighted during the 2016 commencement ceremony.

Joseph would get involved in student government, become a calculus tutor, and participated in the campus’ Race and Ethnicity Conversation Circles and join OCC’s Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP). With her new found energy and interest came a windfall of opportunities from a host of campus employees, including President Dr. Casey Crabill, which drove her to reach further and dream bigger. “Dr. Crabill, Professor Jerry Farnett, Professor Eunice Williams and Mr. Drake Harrison all had a tremendous impact on my second half success at OCC and during my transfer process to Cornell University. I came calling to their respective doors many times for a multitude of reasons and never once was I turned away.”

She is currently on track to graduate this December with a Communications degree with a focus on pre-law. Recently, Joseph had her honors topic selected, which is a highly competitive feat, so she will be researching and writing her thesis on The Effect of Media on Black Youth in the School to Prison Pipeline. After she completes her studies she plans on attending law school with a focus on family law so that she can dedicate her expertise towards children and women. Ironically, after becoming an attorney her dream is to come back to Syracuse. “I want to work on the South side, and after attending OCC Syracuse will always be home to me, and I feel it is important to come back and give back in the community that invested in you.”

Student Commencement Speaker

Dewayne Garner Jr. has been selected to be the Student Speaker at OCC’s 2015 Commencement. The ceremony will be held Saturday, May 16 at 1 p.m. in the SRC Arena and Events Center.

Garner Jr. is a 2012 Cicero-North Syracuse High School graduate and second generation OCC student. Both of his parents earned degrees here: Dewayne Garner Sr. in Engineering Science in 1999 and Kionna (Scott) Garner in Human Services in 1998. Garner Jr. majored in Mathematics and Science and took first place in a competition at the Emerging Researchers National Conference in Washington, D.C. He credits his faith in God, his family and his involvement with On Point for College and OCC’s CSTEP and LSAMP programs with putting him on the right path. “A lot of the experiences and successes I’ve had thus far on my academic journey are a direct result of programs and the and the people in them. They made a significant impact on everything I accomplished.” Garner plans to transfer to a four year institution, major in biomedical engineering, then move on to a Ph.D. program.

If you are unable to attend Commencement you can watch it live at It will also be rebroadcast on WSYR TV’s “MeTV” channel May 23 at 9 a.m. The “MeTV” channel can be found at 9.2 with a digital antenna, 1240 on Time Warner Cable, 470 on Verizon FiOS and 23 on New Visions.

Researching Learning

One week before the start of the spring semester the campus is quiet and cold. Sub-zero wind chills greet those brave enough to go outside. If you don’t have to go outside why bother? It’s a perfect week for students to sleep in before classes resume.

The mindset is much different inside Ferrante Hall where 10 students are coming to a biology laboratory every morning at 9:00 and receiving day-long, hands-on training in microbiology research techniques. The students, part of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) and the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry (CSTEP) Programs of OCC and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), are participating in a weeklong “PowerLab,” a collaboration between OCC and RIT. “This is a great opportunity for the students who are really serious about knowing science,” said RIT Assistant Professor Dr. Robert Osgood who is running the program. “You have to LOVE science and want the opportunity to practice it to be willing to give up your winter break. Basically they are giving up sleeping-in to be here.”

Dr. Robert Osgood (right) works with student Jessica McCormack (left) during PowerLab.
Dr. Robert Osgood (right) works with student Jessica McCormack (left) during PowerLab.

The PowerLab is designed to expose students to concepts, techniques, benefits and advantages of research in a short timeframe requiring intense focus.  The assignment this week involves learning the laboratory, principles, procedures and protocols, then putting them to use while extracting DNA samples from saliva. The process is complex and involves multiple steps. The lab setting provides students the opportunity for hands-on learning. “To learn is to hear, to see and to do. That’s exactly what this PowerLab is about. It’s open-ended, hands-on stuff. When you get your hands involved in science it tends to stick in your mind,” said Osgood.

Students enjoyed the opportunity to work in a small group in a lab setting:

  • “It was great to be able to do something out of the ordinary. I’m much more of a hands-on student.” -Harrison Franklin (Jamesville-Dewitt), OCC Engineering Science major
  • “I loved the ability to work in small groups, have all of our questions answered and work hands-on in a lab. I’m a visual learner. The ability to see things being worked on and to work on them yourself was a huge help.” -Bria Cherebin (Nottingham), RIT Chemical Engineering major
  • “I like that it’s very hands-on. It allows us to get involved rather than sit in a classroom and listen to a lecture.” -Kaitlin Brockway (Saranac Lake), RIT Software Engineering major
  • “This is a great opportunity to actually touch materials and learn how to use them.” -Jessica McCormack (City-As High School in Manhattan), OCC Mathematics and Science major
DeWayne Garner Jr.
Student DeWayne Garner Jr. adds isopropyl to a saliva sample during the DNA extraction process.

Perhaps no student was more comfortable in the lab than OCC sophomore DeWayner Garner Jr. (Cicero-North Syracuse).  In February 2014 Garner was invited to participate in the Emerging Researchers National Conference in Washington, D.C. Garner gave a presentation on the immunomodulation of cystic fibrosis and won first place in the category of Microbiology, Immunology, and Virology. Garner enjoyed PowerLab and thinks students should strongly consider it in the future. “If you haven’t been introduced to research it’s a good primer. It helps you build certain skills. If you decide to go into research in the future this will put you ahead of the game.” Garner is a Mathematics and Science major on track to graduate in May. He plans to transfer to a four-year institution, major in biomedical engineering, and ultimately pursue a Ph.D.

“PowerLab is a great environment to ask questions in and to learn,” said Osgood. “Everyone who attends is like-minded and wants to learn about science. It offers students the opportunity to be taught or to practice and refine what they have learned. Regardless of their knowledge or skill level, the PowerLab approach leaves students encouraged, enlightened and confident as they engage their future in science. All of the advantages of having students from various scientific backgrounds learn from each other while they are learning together are realized with the PowerLab atmosphere.”

Drake Harrison is OCC’s CSTEP Director. He sees huge benefits coming from the weeklong event. “PowerLab and other opportunities like this one are fundamental to the education of students. They walk away with a heightened sense of awareness and confidence through what I call ‘community building.’ PowerLab allows students to build relationships with each other and develop support systems which can have a positive impact on performance.”

Students interested in finding out more information about PowerLab or CSTEP can do so by contacting Harrison at (315) 498-2307 or