Celebrating Success

TOP OF STORY Celebration of Success 002OCC’s Celebration of Success was held Thursday, April 7 in the SRC Arena and Events Center. The annual event provides student scholarship recipients the opportunity to share their success stories with College supporters.

Three students stepped to the podium, told their unique stories and thanked OCC’s Foundation for its support.

  • Latoya Simpson is a Nursing major who will graduate next month. She earned her degree while commuting from Buffalo. Simpson was the recipient of the Mary Porcari Brady Nursing Support Scholarship. “When I realized I had received the scholarship I said to myself, ‘LaToya, you’re about to see your dreams come true.’ I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you to the OCC Nursing department faculty and staff for always believing in me and equipping me with the tools necessary for greatness in my professional life.”
  • Karim Abdel-Razek discussed his journey from Egypt to Central New York where he graduated from Syracuse’s Nottingham High School on his way to OCC. One year ago he earned a degree in Architectural Technology. He’s about to complete work toward his Engineering Science degree. He also earned his Green Card. “Thank you to everyone who has been there for me. Thank you to the OCC Foundation and generous donors who help make students dreams a reality.”
  • Jamel McMullin, Jr. began to envision success in his life both personally and academically during his time on campus. He went from OCC to the University at Buffalo to Syracuse University where he is now pursuing a master’s degree. “For a kid from the south side of Syracuse who grew up without a father in my life, if I can be here today doing some of the things I’m doing I want you to know you can be whatever you want to be. You can do whatever you want to do. All you have to do is believe it and picture it in your mind.”
The OCC Singers performed the National Anthem along with "Tribute" and "Trickle Trickle."
The OCC Singers performed the National Anthem along with “Tribute” and “Trickle Trickle.”

The Celebration of Success was masterfully emceed by WSYR TV, Newschannel 9 Anchor and Managing Editor Dan Cummings. The OCC Singers performed throughout the event under the direction of Dr. David Rudari. They were accompanied by Professor Katherine Ciarelli.

Event speakers included OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill, OCC Foundation Board Chair James F. Holland of SRC, Inc. and OCC Board of Trustees Chair Allen J. Naples.

The Celebration of Success was sponsored by:

  • Diamond level – M&T Bank
  • Gold level – American Food & Vending, MVP Health Care
  • Silver level – Learn As You Grow Child Care Center, Bottar Leone Attorneys
  • Bronze level – SRC, International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers, Visual Technologies
  • Copper level – appel osborne landscape architecture, INFICON, One Group, Research & Marketing Strategies Inc.

For more information on how you can make a difference in the life of a student contact the OCC Foundation at (315) 498-6060 or occfoundation@sunyocc.edu.

Anchor in Class

FEATURE Dan CummingsEvery weekday morning Dan Cummings’ alarm goes off at 2:30. Two hours later he’s on the air, helping Central New Yorkers start their day as co-anchor of WSYR TV, Newschannel 9’s “The Morning News.” Cummings has been a staple of local media for nearly 40 years while working as an award-winning journalist.

Since 2008 he’s also been a professor at OCC bringing his unique perspective to the class he teaches, “Public Information Officer Basic Course.” Some of his students already work as volunteer firefighters or emergency medical technicians. One day they may be in a position where they will have to answer questions from the media. “I enjoy bringing my experience as the person who has been in the field reporting and asking questions,” Cummings said. “It helps me prepare them for what they will encounter. The students come with an active experience or interest. It’s wonderful to teach and engage and share conversation from the media side and hear what they have to say.”

Cummings was born and raised in southern Cayuga County. He earned a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Geneseo and a master’s degree from Cornell University. In 2013 he won an Edward R. Murrow award in the category of Best News Documentary for “Saints Among Us,” which told the stories of newly-canonized Saints Marianne Cope and Kateri Tekakwitha.

2014 Celebration of Success

2014 Alumni Faces honorees (left to right): Andy Italiano, '85, Gabriel Bol Deng, '04, Stella Barbuto Penizotto, '90 and Cody Jamieson, '08.
2014 Alumni Faces honorees (left to right): Andy Italiano, ’85, Gabriel Bol Deng, ’04, Stella Barbuto Penizotto, ’90 and Cody Jamieson, ’08.

Onondaga Community College’s annual “Celebration of Success” was held Wednesday, October 1 in the SRC Arena and Events Center. The event honors extraordinary alumni and scholarship recipients. Four graduates were named “Alumni Faces” for their professional achievements and contributions to the College and the community:

Gabriel Bol Deng, ’04, Mathematics – Humanitarian

Deng was 10 years old when militiamen led a violent attack on his village of Ariang in South Sudan. He fled, not knowing the fate of his parents or siblings. After surviving a perilous journey to reach a refugee camp in Ethiopia, Gabriel received a life-changing opportunity when he, along with other “Lost Boys,” was resettled in the United States in 2001. After completing his associate degree from Onondaga and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Le Moyne College, Gabriel went back to Ariang and used his education to bring people hope. Gabriel founded HOPE for Ariang Foundation in 2007, building clean drinking wells and a school that provides education to over 600 children. Today, Gabriel shares his story and mission with schools and organizations around the world.


Andrew P. Italiano, ’85, Radio/Television – Sports Videographer

As soon as Italiano visited the Radio/Television department at Onondaga, he knew what he wanted to do with his life. Through hard work and determination, Andrew became a world-renowned sports videographer. He has spanned the globe covering everything from the rock band Metallica to the Olympic Games, Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournaments, and regular season and championship games for the NBA, NFL and MLB. Through it all, he credits the faculty in the Radio/Television department in giving him a start in the business and looks to provide similar help to others whenever possible.


Cody R. Jamieson, ’08, Recreational Leadership – Attack, Rochester Knighthawks (NLL)

Considered by many to be the best lacrosse player in the world, Jamieson led Onondaga to two national championships during his tenure at the College. During that time he was a two-time All-American. In 2007, Cody was the first and only lacrosse player to win the Dave Rowlands Award given to the Junior College Athlete of the Year. After graduating from Onondaga, Cody became a star player at Syracuse University before being drafted by the Rochester Knighthawks of the National Lacrosse League with the first overall selection in 2010. Cody has gone on to lead the Knighthawks to three world championships and was named championship game MVP in 2012 and 2013.


Stella Barbuto Penizotto, ’90, Human Services – Child Care Professional

Penizotto is the co-owner of “Shining Stars Daycare” with three state-of-the art child care centers in Onondaga County. Stella credits Onondaga for a solid foundation in education and the College’s Small Business Development Center for its guidance when she expanded her company. Today, she employs over 70 people and services 330 families. Stella frequently holds fundraisers to benefit several area non-profits while also assisting local students with employment opportunities. She was named “NYS Small Business Person of the Year” in 2010 and represented New York at a White House event where she met President Barack Obama.

During the celebration each recipient spoke at the podium. Newschannel 9, WSYR TV Managing Editor and News Anchor Dan Cummings emceed the event. The annual Celebration of Success is possible thanks to our generous donors and sponsors including:

Diamond Sponsor: M&T Bank

Gold Sponsors: MVP Health Care, Welch Allyn

Silver Sponsors: Bottar Leone, PLLC, Learn As You Grow Child Care Centers

Bronze Sponsors: Dunkin Donuts, INFICON, National Grid, Pioneer Companies, SRC, Inc., Stickley Audi & Co., Visual Technologies

Copper Sponsors: Appel Osborne Landscape Architecture, Cayuga Tree Service, Inc., Geddes Federal Savings and Loan Association, Hueber-Breuer Construction Co., Inc., Ironworkers Local 60, ONEGROUP Bailey & Haskell Insurance, Research and Marketing Strategies, Inc., Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 267 .