It’s final exam time in the world of state government. A new budget is due April 1st. In the days and weeks leading up to the deadline representatives of OCC went door-to-door, asking lawmakers for their continued support of the College.
OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill and Government Relations coordinator Susan Tormey led the last minute push. They were joined by students Hassina Adams, Maurice Brown, Heather Flewelling and Chloe Hoffman who are members of the Politics Club.
During their own version of “March Madness” OCC representatives visited the offices of State Senators John DeFrancisco (R, C, IP – 50th) and David Valesky (D, IP – 53rd) along with Assembly members Pamela J. Hunter (D – 128th), William B. Magnarelli (D – 129th) and Al Stirpe (D – 127th).
“It’s interesting when you meet with politicians because they have the power of the purse,” said Brown. “We advocated for the school, talked about what the college has and what the college needs. It was interesting to see the dynamic.”
Flewelling enjoyed the chance to lobby on OCC’s behalf. “It was an incredible opportunity to see the support our school gets from Assemblywoman Pam Hunter and to share how Onondaga Community College has inspired me. This experience showed me how important it is in today’s world to advocate for others and for ourselves.”
“This was an experience I was grateful to be a part of,” said Hoffman, a 2015 graduate of Fayetteville-Manlius High School. “I tried to provide legislators with a real student’s experience. I let them know the opportunities OCC has presented me with. I don’t think I’d be where I am today without coming to OCC and I really wanted the local representatives to understand that.”
Adams also appreciated the opportunity to get involved. “Meeting Assemblywoman Pam Hunter was an amazing experience because I got the opportunity to talk about my experiences on campus while addressing some of the challenges that most students encounter. I got to see how much of an impact student voices can make and that the more engaged we are on matters that affect our education, the more change we can enact as a student body.”
It’s budget season in New York State! Every year around this time lawmakers hear from constituents who are looking for increased support in the upcoming year.
At OCC it’s the perfect opportunity for President Casey Crabill and members of the College’s Politics Club to deliver their message about all of the great work being done on campus and vision for the future. Crabill along with students Maurice Brown and Kristen Bella just completed meetings with State representatives Senator John DeFrancisco (R, 50th District), Assemblywoman Pam Hunter (D, 128th District), Assemblyman William Magnarelli (D, 129th District), Assemblyman Al Stirpe (D, 127th District) and Senator Dave Valesky (D, 53rd District).
“It was a good experience,” said Brown, a sophomore from Brooklyn. “We advocated for more funding. I got to learn first-hand how politicians think and what their concerns were.”
“The experience taught me that local and state governments are just as fundamental as the federal government,” said Bella, a freshman from Finger Lakes Christian High School in Seneca Falls. “I’m confident my voice as well as OCC’s voice was heard and our representatives truly care about our students and their futures.”
Another session with a lawmaker will be happening March 10 when students meet with Assemblyman Gary Finch (R, 126th District) on the OCC campus.
The advocacy visits are coordinated by Susan Tormey, the College’s Associate Vice President for Advancement Communications.
Students in OCC’s Politics Club spent Friday, April 24 in Albany seeing how State Government works. Their non-stop day included:
Meeting with Al Stirpe, a Democrat who represents the 127th Assembly district.
Tour of the State Capitol.
Observation of the Assembly and Senate while in session.
Lunch with Lauren Szczesny, an OCC student who is interning in the office of Assemblywoman Addie Russell this semester. Szczesny is a graduate of Central Square’s Paul V. Moore High School who is majoring in Liberal Arts & Sciences.
Meeting with Jacob Wilkinson who serves as counsel for State Senator Dave Valesky, a Democrat who represents the 53rd district.
Student members of OCC’s Politics Club participated in the political process when they joined College President Dr. Casey Crabill and Associate Vice President of Government Relations Susan Tormey on a tour of local State Senate and Assembly representatives.
The contingent presented OCC’s 2015 Legislative Priorities to lawmakers at the offices of Senator John DeFrancisco (R, 50th District), Senator Dave Valesky (D, 53rd District), Assemblyman William Magnarelli (D, 129th District) and Assemblyman Al Stirpe (D, 127th District).
Politics Club members Amanda Guereschi, Jonathan Rowe and Daniel Quackenbush used the opportunity to tell each lawmaker about their experiences at OCC. They were selected to participate by Political Science Professor Chris Thuot, Ph.D.
Guereschi is a graduate of Chittenango High School and a Humanities major with minors in Honors and Women’s Studies. “It was a great experience to see democracy in action and a wonderful opportunity to show support for a college that means so much to me. It was also great to see and hear our representatives express their interest in OCC student’s success,” said Guereschi.
Rowe came to OCC from Horseheads High School and is an Electronic Media Communications major. “It was an honor to speak with each Senator and Assemblyman. The conversations were very positive,” said Rowe.
During the day of advocating OCC representatives also visited the office of Judge Martha Mulroy. She’s the daughter of John Mulroy, Onondaga County’s first County Executive and a man credited with being OCC’s founding father. “Judge Mulroy gave us great advice on the political process and how to run for office,” said Quackenbush. “Visiting her and all of the legislators was a very inspirational experience.”
Two of OCC’s best and brightest students were honored for their academic excellence and community service Monday, March 9 in Albany. Alena Cerro and Greg Frietag represented the College at the USA Today Phi Theta Kappa All-New York Academic Team Recognition Ceremony at the New York State Museum. SUNY Community College students from across the state were singled out for their achievements.
Students and family members in attendance were treated to inspirational remarks from SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher and Dr. Rod A. Risley, Executive Director of Phi Theta Kappa, the student honor society for two-year college students. During the ceremony each student was called up individually, presented an honorary medal and photographed with Zimpher and Risley.
Four of Central New York’s elected representatives came to the museum to congratulate Cerro and Freitag including: Assemblyman William Magnarelli (D, 129th District), Assemblyman Sam Roberts (D, 128th District), Assemblyman Al Stirpe (D, 129th District) and Senator Dave Valesky (D, 53rd District).
Following the event Cerro and Frietag were escorted to the New York State Assembly chambers were they were singled out for their accomplishments. Assemblyman Al Stirpe, a Democrat representing the 127th District told his colleagues about Cerro and Freitag’s achievements:
“Alena Cerro is an Electronic Media Communications major at Onondaga Community College. She is vice president for public relations for the College’s Alpha Sigma Zeta chapter. Cerro also serves as an Honors Program Student Ambassador and Honors Program Committee Student Representative. Cerro has earned President’s List status each semester on campus, received numerous scholarships and awards and participated in service learning projects. She is an intern in OCC’s External Relations and Marketing & New Media departments. Cerro is a 2013 graduate of Liverpool High School.”
“Greg Freitag is a Hospitality Management major at Onondaga Community College. He has maintained a 4.0 GPA while volunteering for campus events, working several jobs and raising seven children. Freitag works full time on the overnight shift as a Plant Utilities Engineer at SUNY Upstate Medical University. He also works in the hospitality industry at the Courtyard by Marriott in Armory Square where he has been named employee of the month. In 2014 Freitag medaled in the Empire State Games Track & Field competition. This summer he will be one of 12,000 participants in the National Senior Games in Minneapolis. Freitag is a 1977 graduate of Olympia High School in Greece, New York.”
William Magnarelli, a Democrat representing the 129th District also addressed fellow colleagues. “Alena is a young lady with her whole future in front of her. Greg’s accomplishments are remarkable as well. Both of them are to be commended and I wish them the best in their future endeavors.” When Magnarelli finished speaking members of the Assembly applauded Cerro and Freitag.
The day of recognition was greatly appreciated by Cerro and Freitag.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. It’s an honor to be able to accept this award on behalf of my college and the mentors who have nominated me for it. It’s just such a special day. I’m so lucky to be here,” Cerro said.
“I am overwhelmed. I think of myself as such a regular guy, not someone who’s worthy of all the attention that’s been given me. It’s all been a great honor and an extreme pleasure,” Freitag said.
When you support Onondaga Community College, you are making a statement that you believe in the importance of quality affordable education for everyone. You are creating new opportunities and new beginnings for students and our greater community.