Jesse Midgley

Jesse Midgley in OCC’s student run restaurant, “Stonewalls” which is located on the first floor of the Gordon Student Center.
  • Major: Hospitality Management
  • HS: Fayetteville-Manlius, class of 2010

Fatherhood has helped Jesse Midgley focus on what’s important. “The driving factor for me is my kids. I wanted to set an example for them. They made me sit down and figure out what I wanted with my life and what I wanted them to see that I have in life.”

His road to success didn’t start smoothly. Eight years ago Midgley graduated from Fayetteville-Manlius High School, went to college that fall and dropped out. He tried again a couple of years later but finances were a problem. In the summer of 2017 he began taking classes at OCC and it’s been a perfect fit. He’s achieved President’s List status each semester while enrolled in the Hospitality Management major. He also works full time at the Cheesecake Factory as a cook and designated trainer. There’s no down time when Midgley gets home. He and his fiancée are raising their three children ages 5, 3 and 2.

Midgley’s passion for cooking started at a young age. He remembers going to his grandfather’s house once a week and cooking dinner for whomever was there. “One time we cooked sausages, ground the meat ourselves, filled the casings and made sauce for it. When we served it, I remembered seeing people eat the food and knowing I had made it. That feeling of pride was something I could translate into a career. I think it’s really important to have a career you can take pride in. I just ran with it. I found a job in food service then I found this program and knew it was what I wanted to do.”

His favorite faculty member (so far) is Chef James Taylor. “His depth of knowledge is huge. His life experience is something I hope to have someday. I’ve learned so much more in my year-and-a-half with this program than what I learned in five years on my own.”

Midgley will earn his degree next May. He plans to attend culinary school and hopes to one day own his restaurant. He’s thrilled to be fulfilling his dream and isn’t concerned with any monetary gain. “People think you’re going to make a lot of money. You’re not going to. You really have to love it. The passion has to kick in. You’re going to put in super long hours. It’s that reward you get at the end that makes it all worth it.”

2018 Alumni Face Honorees: Mark Re ‘85 and Nancy Pasquale ‘90


Nancy Pasquale (left) and Mark Re (right) are members of OCC’s 2018 Class of Alumni Faces.

Onondaga Community College annually recognizes distinguished graduates by naming them “Alumni Faces” for their accomplishments and contributions to the community. The 2018 class will be honored during a ceremony October 3, at 5:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall which is located in the Academic II building. Two of the graduates we will honor that night are Mark Re and Nancy Pasquale.

Mark Re and Nancy Pasquale first met in the late 70’s. Working in separate career ventures at the time, they soon found themselves longing for their real passions which led them to OCC. First, Re would return to obtain a degree in Business Administration. His success inspired Pasquale to earn one in Humanities. “We had each other and both worked really hard to get where we are today, but some of our fondest memories were when we were both starting our education and sitting across from each other at the dining room table with piles of books surrounding us,” said Pasquale.

The two adult learners felt comfortable at OCC right away thanks to a supportive environment. “The professors were terrific and I am still friends with some of them to this day,” Re said. Both of them agree their time at OCC shaped them and provided the necessary foundation and confidence to continue on and fulfill their dreams. “We both have degrees from other institutions, but our OCC diplomas are positioned in the same way and just as prominently as our others because that is where it started for us,” Re added.

Since graduating from OCC, Re completed his bachelor’s at Syracuse University and has been promoted through the real estate ranks from Branch Manager to Vice President and Regional Manager at Howard Hanna Real Estate Services. Pasquale completed her bachelor’s from SUNY Cortland and her Master’s from Syracuse University and recently retired after 22 years of service as a high school English teacher in the Fayetteville-Manlius and Solvay school districts.

Looking back on their life from when they first met, their experience at OCC and their professional careers, giving back or “Paying It Forward” has always been a central theme for both Re and Pasquale. Whether it be financially or donating their time, both of them are passionate about opening doors of opportunity to those in need, which has led them to co-chair the OCC Advantage Program. The unique college-readiness and scholarship program gives students at East Syracuse Minoa, Onondaga Central and Solvay High Schools the opportunity to attend OCC tuition free. “When Casey [OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill] came to us to chair the committee we knew it was going to be a challenge, but one we were both passionate about in order to give back not only to the institution that gave us our start, but to the area school children who never thought college was an option to them,” Pasquale said. “We are both humbled and grateful for receiving this honor from an institution we love and respect.”

2018 Class of Alumni Faces

The latest Alumni Faces honorees are recognized on the first floor of the Academic II building.

Six distinguished former Onondaga Community College students have been named 2018 “Alumni Faces” honorees for their professional achievements and contributions to the college and the community. They will be honored for their accomplishments during an induction ceremony Wednesday, October 3 at 5:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall. Their likenesses will be added to the Alumni Faces display in the Academic II building.

The 2018 class of Alumni Faces is:

David Bamonte, ’81
High School: North Syracuse
Major at OCC: Music
Profession: Educator and Trumpet Player

David has traveled the world playing the trumpet with acclaimed conductors such as Leonard Bernstein and Zubin Mehta. Today he is a member of the Oregon Symphony and a professor at Portland State University.


Jim Campagna, ’79
High School: North Syracuse
Major at OCC: Radio & Television
Profession: Television News Director

Jim is News Director at WSYR TV, Newschannel 9. Throughout much of his career he shared his expertise with the next generation of professionals, serving as an adjunct professor in OCC’s Electronic Media Communications (EMC) major from 2001 to 2015. Today he continues to serve as a member of the EMC Advisory Board.


Nancy Pasquale, ’90
High School: The Convent School
Major at OCC: Humanities
Profession: Educator and Advocate

Nancy was a founding member of the college’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the national honor society for community colleges. She taught English at Fayetteville-Manlius and Solvay High Schools until she retired in 2015. Today she serves a co-chair of the OCC Advantage fundraising initiative.


Mark Re, ’85
High School: Bishop Ludden
Major at OCC: Business Administration
Profession: Real Estate Regional Manager

Mark is Vice President and Regional Manager of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services. He has been a steadfast supporter of OCC, serving on the Foundation Board since 2004. He is co-chair of the OCC Advantage Fundraising initiative.


Jeremy Thompson, ’09
High School: LaFayette
Major at OCC: General Studies
Profession: Professional Lacrosse Player

Jeremy was an All-American lacrosse player at Lafayette High School, OCC and Syracuse University. He was also a two-time New York State Champion and a National Champion with the Lazers. He and his brother Jerome are the face of Nike’s line of Lacrosse gear and part owners of Thompson Brothers Lacrosse.


Jerome Thompson, 2006-2009
High School: LaFayette
Major at OCC: General Studies
Profession: Professional Lacrosse Player

Jerome and his brother Jeremy are the face of Nike’s line of Lacrosse gear and part owners of Thompson Brothers Lacrosse. Jerome helped lead the Lazers Men’s Lacrosse team to National Championships in 2007 and 2009. Both he and his brother Jeremy continuously give back to the Native American community and are revered as icons and role models for their work.


Congratulations to our Alumni Faces Class of 2018! You can see a complete list of all of our Alumni Faces honorees here.

Laurie Halse Anderson, ’81

  • Major at OCC: Humanities
  • High School: Fayetteville-Manlius High School, Class of 1979

Laurie is a novelist whose books have become required reading for young adults, providing them with an outlet as they undergo transformations in their lives. She underwent her own transformation as a college student. “OCC is where I found my mind. I needed to grow up and get disciplined. The quality of the professors made a huge difference in my life. There was something about the attention I got from them that has never left me. It meant a great deal toward guiding me on the path to more education and more self-discovery.” Laurie is one of OCC’s distinguished Alumni Faces honorees and a recipient of the Outstanding Alumni Award from the American Association of Community Colleges.

Please take a moment, visit our Alumni web site and tell us how OCC impacted your life.

Jill Wilson

Jill Wilson
  • High School: Fayetteville-Manlius, Class of 2012

Jill Wilson’s dream is to earn a master’s degree in Nutrition Science from Syracuse University. OCC’s Hospitality Management program is helping her make that dream come true.

Before coming to OCC, Wilson attended SUNY Oswego. She majored in Wellness Management and minored in Health Science and Nutrition. “I had an internship with a dietitian on the Oswego campus. I spoke with her about my goals. She helped me figure out I needed to take prerequisite courses before I could apply to SU.”

The need for prerequisite courses brought her to OCC. She arrived in the fall 2016 semester as upgrades to the facilities within the Hospitality Management major were being completed. “All of the professors and chefs here have been wonderful and the facilities are incredible. I’ve felt very welcome and have enjoyed my time here.

Wilson will begin pursuing her master’s at S.U. in the fall semester.

Our SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence Winners

Five OCC students will receive SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence April 5 in Albany. The awards will be presented by SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher during a ceremony in the Empire State Plaza Convention Center.

Honorees demonstrated the ability to combine academic excellence with other accomplishments which may include leadership, campus involvement, athletics, career achievement, community service or creative performing arts. OCC’s honorees are all members of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa.


Hassina Adams

  • Hometown: Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Major at OCC: General Studies with an Honors minor
  • Adams works at a refugee center three nights a week and is the head teacher for a class of middle school-aged girls. She plans to transfer and double major in International Relations and Political Science. She wants to become a lawyer who advocates for refugees.


Heather Flewelling

  • Hometown: Oswego. Earned her GED in 1999.
  • Major at OCC: Humanities & Social Sciences with minors in Honors and Women’s Studies.
  • Flewelling is a 34-year-old mother who will transfer to Syracuse University. She will pursue a bachelor’s in Public Health with a minor in Medical Anthropology.


Ashley Haskins

  • High School: Sandy Creek, Class of 2008
  • Majors at OCC: Nuclear Technology and Electrical Engineering Technology
  • Haskins is in training as an equipment operator at Nine Mile Point. She plans to become a licensed reactor operator.


Chloe Hoffman

  • High School: Fayetteville-Manlius, Class of 2015
  • Major at OCC: Liberal Arts & Sciences – Humanities + Social Sciences with an Honors minor
  • Hoffman intends to transfer to SUNY Geneseo, pursue a bachelor’s in American History and a master’s in Education.


Betheny Witherell

  • High School: Mexico, Class of 2007
  • Major at OCC: Mathematics & Science
  • Witherell plans to transfer to SUNY Upstate Medical University and pursue a degree in Medical Imaging Science/Radiography.

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Congratulations to our five SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence winners!

Stating the Case for OCC

State Senator John DeFrancisco (right) meets with OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill (left) and student Chloe Hoffman (center).

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.”

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We are the Champions… Again!

OCC's winning team in the New York Beef Council's Veal Culinary Tour and Competition (left to right): Chris Sheppard, Brandon Clary, Chef Deb Schneider, Alex Courgi and Lexi LaFountain.
OCC’s winning team in the New York Beef Council’s Veal Culinary Tour and Competition (left to right): Chris Sheppard, Brandon Clary, Chef Deb Schneider, Alex Courgi and Lexi LaFountain.

Somewhere an engraver is getting used to putting the words “Onondaga Community College” and “Champion” on cooking competition plaques. In November, four students enrolled in the Hospitality Management major traveled to Canandaigua and earned first place honors in the New York Beef Council’s Veal Culinary Tour and Competition. “We’re just really proud,” said OCC faculty member and Chef Deb Schneider. “It’s a great accomplishment for our students and our program.”

cropped-hospitality-management-winners-002Student teams from OCC’s Hospitality Management major have made a habit of winning these competitions. In each of the last three years during the month of May, students have earned first place honors in the Beef Farm Tour and Culinary Competition. Those were also held in Canandaigua.

Planning and preparation for this November’s competition began shortly after the start of the fall semester. Four students were selected to compete: Brandon Clary (Oswego H.S.), Alex Courgi (Fayetteville-Manlius (H.S.), Lexi LaFountain (Town of Webb H.S. in Old Forge) and Chris Sheppard (Corcoran H.S.).

College teams would be required to make veal schnitzel sliders while using only six ingredients. There were limits to which items could be used, also known as the “market basket.” “We got around it by making our own,” said Schneider. “Instead of taking sauerkraut out of a can we made our own and added caraway to it to give it more flavor. We made our own mustard and added beer to it which was part of the recipe.” The sauerkraut and beer each took four weeks to make. Students also made slider rolls.

In the months leading up to the competition students gathered regularly to practice making their recipes. “We worked on this every Monday for the past two months to make it really good,” said LaFountain. “Through our practice we’d done this enough times so we knew what we were doing,” added Clary.

By the time the competition began OCC’s team was ready. They were competing against five other colleges: Alfred State, SUNY Cobleskill, Erie Community College, Finger Lakes Community College and Morrisville State College. OCC won first place! “It was really fun… It was a very exciting experience for all of us,” said Shepard. OCC’s team was presented with a check for $2,000 which was split evenly between the four students.

The event also included lectures, presentations and tours of a veal producer and Noblehurst Farms, a dairy farm in western New York. It was quite an experience for students like Courgi. “I had never been on a dairy farm. It was very interesting to see the whole process and how things work.”

Congratulations to OCC’s team! You can watch a video produced by the New York Beef Council here.

OCC's team poses for a photo with the ceremonial check after earning first place honors.
OCC’s team poses for a photo with the ceremonial check after earning first place honors.

Chloe Hoffman

Chloe Hoffman
Chloe Hoffman
  • High School: Fayetteville-Manlius, Class of 2015
  • Major at OCC: Liberal Arts & Sciences – Humanities + Social Sciences with an Honors minor

When Chloe Hoffman was a high school senior she had a lot of questions she hadn’t found answers to yet. “I didn’t know where I wanted to go to college or what I wanted to major in. I did know I didn’t want to spend $20,000 in my first year figuring things out.”

Hoffman chose OCC and flourished as a student. Her list of accomplishments as a freshman includes:

  • Induction into international honor society Phi Theta Kappa.
  • Serving as an Honors Ambassador, going to local high schools to speak with students about OCC’s Honors Program.
  • Trustee Award winner
  • Women’s History Month essay winner
  • 3rd place in Library Research Award

“I enjoyed OCC so much starting in my very first week here and it has never stopped. Coming here made sense for me. It was the best decision.”

Hoffman will earn her degree in May 2017. She plans to transfer to a four-year college.

Press Club Award Winners

Student newspaper “The Overview” was well represented at the Syracuse Press Club’s annual Professional Recognition Awards ceremony Saturday, May 2 at Drumlins in Dewitt. In the “Student contest” portion of the awards OCC earned four awards.

Best Print News Story:

  • First place – Jay Ciarpelli for “Food Prices Added, Food Prices Adjusted.” Ciarpelli is a 2009 Cicero-North Syracuse High School graduate who earned a Liberal Arts degree from OCC in May 2014. In the fall Ciarpelli will transfer to the University of South Florida where he will major in American Sign Language.
  • Second place –  Nicole Moore for “College Sets Goal of Higher Graduation Rates for ’16.” Moore came to OCC from Fuquay-Varina High School in North Carolina. She earned a Communications degree from OCC in May 2014 and is currently majoring in Public Relations at SUNY Oswego.

Best Print Feature Story:

  • First place – Maeve Byrne for “When a Loved One Dies, Share Feeling and Concerns, Counselor Says.” Byrne is a 2013 graduate of Westhill High School. After attending OCC she transferred to Le Moyne where she is scheduled to graduate in December 2016 with a communications major and a creative writing minor.
  • Second place – Kevin Putnam for “Bartending Class Teaches More Than Mixing Drinks.” Putnam is a 2011 graduate of Fayetteville-Manlius High School who graduated from OCC in May 2014 with a Liberal Arts degree. He’s presently a junior at Le Moyne majoring in accounting.
Laurel Saiz (left) and Tom Boll (right).
Laurel Saiz (left) and Tom Boll (right).

Faculty advisors to The Overview are Professors Laurel Saiz and Tom Boll, both of whom had successful tenures at Syracuse’s Post Standard. Saiz was a reporter there and Boll was an editor.