Honoring New York State’s Best

Celebrating our All-State Students are (left to right) SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson, OCC honoree Matthew Honeywell, OCC Professor and PTK New York State Regional Coordinator Dr. Annie Tuttle and OCC PTK and Honors Coordinator Jackie Barstow.

SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson shared a powerful story with students during the annual USA Today Phi Theta Kappa All-New York State Academic Award ceremony. The Chancellor recalled her first exposure to a community college. Her mother was pursuing a college degree when she got married, started a family and put her own education on hold. Many years later when all seven children had been raised, her then 60-year-old mother decided to go to a community college and complete work toward her degree. “Many of you are like my mom. You’ve had to juggle jobs, careers and families and all of the other responsibilities that go along with being a productive and contributing citizen of our country. We’re here today to celebrate not only your academic strengths but the other qualities like leadership and service you’ve provided to your college community.”

Giavanna Sylvester

The Chancellor’s remarks set the tone for a wonderful ceremony in which Phi Theta Kappa honor society students from each of the State’s community colleges were named to the All-New York Academic team. OCC’s two honorees were Giavanna Sylvester and Matthew Honeywell. Sylvester is a 2013 graduate of Fabius-Pompey High School who earned a degree in Humanities and Social Sciences. She is now pursuing her Psychology degree at Sierra Nevada College in Lake Tahoe and was unable to attend the event. Honeywell is a 1989 graduate of West Genesee High School and a veteran of the United States Navy. He earned a degree in Human Services in December and is now enrolled at SUNY Oswego. Honeywell was a foster child. He is working to become a therapist for children in foster care, adopted children and their families.

OCC Professor Dr. Annie Tuttle is the Regional Coordinator for Phi Theta Kappa in New York. During the event she spoke about what a privilege it was to serve in her role and to meet and work with outstanding students across the state. She also took a moment to highlight some individual student stories, including that of one of OCC’s honorees. “Matthew Honeywell and his wife are activists against human trafficking,” Tuttle told those in attendance. “They helped create a human trafficking prevention program in Syracuse, training hotel staff in how to spot and stop human trafficking.”

OCC Music major Alexandra Lombardo also played a significant role in the celebration of academic excellence and community service. The Cicero-North Syracuse High School graduate sang the national anthem.

The ceremony was held March 6 at the New York Museum in Albany.

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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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Our 2018 All-State Students

Matthew Honeywell and Giavanna Sylvester have been chosen to represent OCC on the 2018 USA Today Phi Theta Kappa All-New York State Academic team. They will be honored at a recognition ceremony March 6 in Albany.


Honeywell grew up in the foster care system, survived abuse and was adopted at age 11. He graduated from West Genesee High School in 1989, served in the United States Navy and worked several jobs while trying to determine his career path. He enrolled in OCC in the spring of 2016, started as an Accounting major and switched to Human Services. He became an outstanding student and was inducted into honor society Phi Theta Kappa. Honeywell earned his degree in December 2017 at the age of 47.

He now attends SUNY Oswego with the goal of becoming a therapist for children in foster care, adopted children and their families. He also wants to work on policy issues related to adoption and change confidentiality laws which prevent children from searching for answers to questions as they try to find out about themselves. Honeywell has already accomplished his biggest goal in life. It’s something he gets to experience and enjoy every night when he goes home. “The one thing I always wanted more than anything else was my own family because I never had one. Even after I was adopted I never felt close to my adopted mom and dad.” Honeywell and his wife have a daughter and a son who is in his second semester at OCC.


Sylvester graduated from Fabius-Pompey High School in 2013, spent a year in New York City, then returned to Central New York to attend OCC. “It was the best decision for me because I wasn’t ready grade-wise to get into a four-year college. Class sizes were smaller and I got a lot of attention here.”

During her time on campus she was a member of honor society Phi Theta Kappa, Student Conversation Circles, the History Club and earned a degree in Humanities and Social Sciences. “All of the opportunities and experiences I had made my experience at OCC very fulfilling.”

Sylvester finished taking classes at OCC in the fall 2017 semester. She is now enrolled at Sierra Nevada College in Lake Tahoe where she is pursuing a degree in Psychology with the goal of becoming a counselor.

Congratulations to Matthew Honeywell and Giavanna Sylvester!


Zakary George


Zakary George received advice at a very young age which set him on his career path. “When I was in the 3rd grade my teacher told me I should be a talk show host. I always loved talking and still do today.”

George came to OCC from Fabius-Pompey High School where he was one of 70 members of the class of 2013. “I was surprised by the small class sizes at OCC. It made my transition very easy.”

George hasn’t stopped talking since arriving on campus. He works at the student radio station, “SuperMix,” as both a disc jockey and a sports talk show host. He also serves as a play-by-play announcer and color commentator on sports broadcasts for the media club.

George is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, OCC’s student honor society. He’s majoring in Electronic Media Communications (EMC) and doesn’t hesitate to take advantage of his professors’ expertise. “I love the faculty, especially the EMC department. They are always very helpful.”

George is scheduled to graduate in May 2015. He’s planning to transfer and pursue a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting and journalism.