Dr. Daryll Dykes, ’83 Named National Alumni Award Honoree

Dr. Daryll Dykes, ’83

Onondaga Community College alumnus Dr. Daryll Dykes, ‘83 has been named a 2018 Outstanding Alumni Award winner by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). Dykes will receive the award Tuesday, May 1 at the AACC’s annual convention in Dallas, Texas.

Dykes love of medicine started early. When he was a young boy growing up on Syracuse’s west side, he enjoyed visiting his mother while she worked as a nurse. After graduating from Fowler High School in 1980, Dykes joined the United States Marine Corps as a way of paying for college. When he completed his military obligation Dykes came to OCC and majored in Mathematics & Science. “The classes and professors really ignited my passion for learning. The professors saw my talent, invested in it and pushed me to do great things,” Dykes said.

Dykes turned his passion for medicine into his career. Today he is one of the nation’s premier spine surgeons and owns his own practice, Medical and Surgical Spine Consultants of Minnesota.

Dr. Daryll Dykes, ’83

“We are so proud of Dr. Dykes and his accomplishments,” said OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill. “He is richly deserving of this recognition, and we congratulate him. We’re grateful too that in the years since he earned his degree he has been willing to return to campus and speak with students who today sit where he once sat. His message of hard work, perseverance and determination have had a positive impact on those he has spent time with.”

Dykes is one of only three national Outstanding Alumni Award honorees in 2018. He is also the fourth OCC honoree in the last five years joining Dr. Emad Rahim (2017), Laurie Halse Anderson (2015) and John Dau (2014). There are 1,462 community colleges in United States serving approximately 12 million students annually. According to the AACC, Onondaga Community College is the first institution to have four Outstanding Alumni Award honorees in five years.

Congratulations Dr. Daryll Dykes!

Recently we announced a new initiative, “The OCC Effect.” We wanted to hear from our former students about the ways in which OCC impacted their lives. If you would like to join in the conversation please visit our Alumni web site and tell us about your experience. Your success is a significant part of OCC’s story which began more than a half-century ago when we first opened our doors in 1961. We’re proud our middle name is “community” and we’d love to hear what OCC’s effect has been on you.

Dykes_4
Dr. Daryll Dykes, ’83 accepts his award at the AACC National Conference.

Isir and Hamdi Farrah

Sisters Hamdi (left) and Isir Farah (right).
  • Majors: Humanities and Social Sciences
  • High School: Fowler, Class of 2016

Isir and Hamdi Farah are Somali-born sisters whose parents were determined to give them a better life. That’s why a decade ago they walked from Somalia to a refugee camp in Kenya and stayed there until they were allowed to immigrate to the United States in March 2009. Upon arrival one of their first challenges was the English language. “Learning English happened pretty easy,” said Hamdi. “When we came here there weren’t many other Somalians here. We were surrounded by English speaking people. It’s actually taken me longer to learn to write.”

Hamdi is 20 years old, her sister Isir is 19. Both credit Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection with helping them adjust to life on campus. Hillside is a program which helps students overcome the barriers that cause them to drop out and abandon their education. “I made friends through Hillside,” said Isir. “I got to see another side of students who I saw in class. I felt like I grew up because Hillside helped me do activities with other students outside class.”

Both sisters are enjoying their second year on campus. “I really like OCC. It’s the best school for me. It gives me hope for the future. The professors are really awesome and the tutors are great,” said Hamdi. “OCC is very good. I felt coming here was the best choice. Everyone is so diverse here. I feel like we are all the same,” added Isir.

The Farah family includes mom, dad and eleven children ranging in age from 22 to 4. Both sisters are focused on doing well in college and setting a good example for their siblings. “I want my mother to be able to say, ‘your sister did it. You can do it,’” said Hamdi. “I’m going to graduate no matter what happens. We will be the first in our family to do so. I guarantee it,” added Isir.

This year’s Common Read, “God Grew Tired of Us” by former Lost Boy John Dau has caught the attention of both sisters. Dau is a 2005 alumnus of OCC who will be on campus this month to share his story with students. “Even though we never saw the violence he saw we look forward to meeting him,” said Isir. “I am reading his book for two classes and it makes me more grateful for what we went through.”

Dr. Emad Rahim

  • High School: Fowler, Class of 1997

Dr. Emad Rahim’s life story is the subject of a documentary titled, “Against The Odds.” He’s a survivor of genocide in the Killing Fields of Cambodia who took advantage of the opportunities he found in the United States. “My experience at Onondaga Community College not only provided me with the academic foundation I needed to find my footing in higher education, but also helped me develop the skills I needed for career advancement.” Rahim is an Endowed Chair and Director of the Project Center of Excellence at Bellevue University in Omaha, Nebraska. In 2017 he received 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.

Carolyn Carbone, ’93 and Sarah Hassett, ’13

Syracuse Police Department Officer Carolyn Carbone, ’93 (left) and her daughter Officer Sarah Hassett, ’13 (right).
  • High School: Carbone – Fowler High School, Hassett – Solvay High School
  • Major at OCC: Criminal Justice

Carolyn Carbone and Sarah Hassett are the first mother and daughter duo in the history of the Syracuse Police Department. Before they became police officers, they earned Criminal Justice degrees from OCC. Carbone gave birth to Hassett while a student at OCC and utilized the on-campus day care, the Children’s Learning Center while she went to class. “I appreciate my mom more and more each day for working as hard as she did to get through school and provide for my brothers and me so we could have a better life,” Hassett said. Carbone shares a similar sentiment about her only daughter. “She makes me proud every day. I’m grateful we went to OCC and can share this experience of being police officers. It’s a bond that will be with us forever.”

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

Kyaw Kyaw

Kyaw Kyaw
  • High School: Fowler, Class of 2017
  • Major @ OCC: Nursing

Kyaw (pronounced: CHAW) and her parents’ dream of living in the United States came true June 26, 2013 when they arrived in Syracuse from Thailand. They were total strangers. They didn’t know anyone and they didn’t speak English. Nearly four years later to the day, June 25, 2017, Kyaw spoke to her graduating class at Fowler High School as the Valedictorian. How did she go from someone who didn’t know the language to tops in her class? “I studied a lot. I stayed after school every day. I did my homework. I never skipped school. I came to school every day, even if I was sick.”

Kyaw’s first year in Central New York was her most difficult. “I thought, ‘It’s so hard. I can’t make it. I don’t know English. I didn’t understand what people were saying.’” Learning the language was challenging. Words which may have seemed easy to others were not for her. “People would ask me where I went to high school and I would say, ‘flower.’ I confused ‘flower’ and ‘Fowler.’ I would confuse other words like ‘kitchen’ and ‘chicken’ all of the time.”

The learning environments were a huge upgrade compared to Thailand. “Where I am from, school was just one building. There were less teachers and some of them had just graduated from high school. There weren’t any computers either.”

Kyaw excelled at Fowler both as a student and as an athlete. During her senior year she was named Fowler’s top female student-athlete by Section III, the organization which oversees scholastic sports in Central New York.

Kyaw prepared for her freshman year at OCC by taking two college classes over the summer. Now she’s a full-time student majoring in Nursing. Her dream is to return home and help people. “In Thailand so many people are sick. We don’t have medicine and we don’t have enough hospitals there.”

As she works toward her first college degree, Kyaw wants other refugees to know they too can achieve success in the classroom.  “Now as I look back I realize what I’ve done. Anybody like me should know they can do it too if they work hard and keep going!”

Mother and Daughter in Blue

Carolyn Carbone (left) and Sarah Hassett
Syracuse Police Department Officer Carolyn Carbone ’93 (left) and her daughter Officer Sarah Hassett ’13

Carolyn Carbone and Sarah Hassett are the first mother and daughter duo in the history of the Syracuse Police Department (SPD). Before they became police officers, they earned Criminal Justice degrees from OCC.

Carbone graduated from Fowler High School. Her father’s military service inspired her to go into law enforcement and the strong reputation of OCC’s Criminal Justice program brought her to campus. “As I researched the faculty I realized they were retired police officers. Being able to learn from former cops was very important to me.”

During Carbone’s time as a student she gave birth to her daughter. Carbone utilized the on-campus day care, the Children’s Learning Center while she went to class. She earned her degree in 1993.

Eighteen years later Carbone’s daughter, Sarah Hassett, graduated from Solvay High School. Once again the current generation was motivated by the previous generation. “My mom was my inspiration,” Hassett said. “She was a single mother to me and my three brothers and would tell us stories about what she did each day. I knew I wanted to become a cop.”

As a Criminal Justice major Hassett found herself drawn to two of her professors, David Owens and former Syracuse Police Officer Donna Stuccio. “When my mom found out I had them as teachers she could not say enough about them. I am sure they were pretty amused by the dynamic as well. I tried to draw as much knowledge from them as possible.”

Carbone at her daughter's graduation in August
Carbone at her daughter’s graduation in August

Today Carbone and Hassett find both humor and pride in being SPD’s first mother and daughter duo, especially when they respond to a scene together. “I tell my mom to stop creepin’ on me,” Hassett said laughing. “But I know she is only looking out for me especially if an urgent call comes in.”

Carbone knows their situation is unique and works to respect her daughter’s judgement and space. “If I come up on a call where she is already on the scene I continue to let her take the lead and work with her. We both have our ‘officer hats’ on at that point.”

That “officer mentality” has led both women to become closer since Hassett joined the force. “I appreciate my mom more and more each day for working as hard as she did to get through school and provide for my brothers and me so we could have a better life.” Carbone shares a similar sentiment about her only daughter. “She makes me proud every day. I’m grateful we can share this experience. It’s a bond that will be with us forever.”

 

 

National “Outstanding Alumni Award” for Dr. Emad Rahim

Dr. Emad Rahim speaks with students in OCC's Summer Bridge Program in August 2016.
Dr. Emad Rahim speaks with students in OCC’s Summer Bridge Program in August 2016.

Former OCC student Dr. Emad Rahim will be recognized in April by a national education association, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). Rahim will receive the 2017 Outstanding Alumni Award at the AACC’s National Convention in New Orleans, LA.

“The AACC Outstanding Alumni recipients showcase the quality and diverse plethora of the nation’s community colleges programs and services,” said AACC President and CEO Walter Bumphus. “They are shining stars that exemplify the great value of a community college education and we are honored to recognize their accomplishments.” Rahim is one of only five honorees nationwide this year.

“Dr. Emad Rahim’s life story is truly an inspiration and we at Onondaga Community College are proud to have played a role in his journey. He is richly deserving of this award and we congratulate him on his accomplishments. We are also proud that for the third time in four years the AACC has chosen to recognize a distinguished member of our family,” said OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill. OCC alumna and bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson received the award in 2015. Alumnus and Human Rights Activist John Dau was honored in 2014.

Dr. Emad Rahim
Dr. Emad Rahim

Rahim is a survivor of genocide in the Killing Fields of Cambodia. While in a concentration camp his father was executed and his older brother died of starvation. After fleeing to the United States, Rahim’s family lived temporarily in Brooklyn and ultimately found a home on Syracuse’s west side. He attended Fowler High School, earned his diploma in 1997 and began attending OCC a short time later.

“Many of my peers saw community college as a stepping stone towards their career. As a first generation college student, my experience at Onondaga Community College not only provided me with the academic foundation I needed to find my footing in higher education, but also helped me develop the skills I needed for career advancement,” said Rahim.

Rahim went from OCC to Empire State College where he was diagnosed with dyslexia. The discovery opened up a world of possibilities for him. Rahim earned a Doctorate in Management from Colorado Tech University and continued his education at Tulane University, the University of Maryland and Harvard University.

Today, Rahim is an Endowed Chair and Director for the Project Center of Excellence at Bellevue University in Omaha, Nebraska. He works remotely from his home on the west side of Syracuse just a few blocks from where he grew up. Rahim also works closely with inner-city organizations and refugee programs. His life story is the subject of a documentary titled Against the Odds.

Congratulations Dr. Emad Rahim!

Presidential Campaign on Wheels

The C-SPAN bus parked next to the Whitney Applied Technology Center.
The C-SPAN bus parked next to the Whitney Applied Technology Center.

The C-SPAN Bus visited the OCC campus Wednesday, September 21. The million dollar bus is used for educational outreach. It’s on a marketing tour of New York State as it makes its way to Hofstra University on Long Island, scene of next Monday night’s Presidential debate.

C-SPAN stands for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network. It televises federal government proceedings as well as other public affairs programming. C-SPAN consists of three television channels, one radio station and website www.c-span.org.

Members of the campus community who boarded the bus were able to utilize interactive zones and touch screens, have access to C-SPAN’s video library and see an area in the back of the bus where Presidential candidates have done live interviews. “It was amazing to see the turnout here and see students come out and be interested in politics,” said C-SPAN’s Jenae Green.

One of those interested students was Jessica Rivera, a Hospitality Management major from Syracuse’s Fowler High School. “It was pretty neat in there. I really liked it. Following Presidential politics is a new experience for me.” Next to the bus members of OCC’s Politics Club were signing up students to vote. After touring the bus Rivera registered for the upcoming election. “I think it’s important for people to register to vote,” said Alicia Willenborg, a member of the Politics Club and a Humanities major from Marcellus High School. “I’m pretty excited about the race. It will be interesting to see what the turnout will be.”

The C-SPAN Bus will visit schools in Albany Thursday and New York City Friday before heading to Long Island. We thank C-SPAN for choosing to bring its bus to OCC!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

That’s Amore! – Jennifer Polak ’95

Jen_Cover

Jennifer Polak, ’95 has a passion for preparing food for others. She discovered it shortly after graduating from Syracuse’s Fowler High School when she began working in local restaurants. Her desire to make it her career brought her to OCC where she enrolled in the Hospitality Management program. “I learned so much from my professors during my time there. Terri O’Hare, Jillann Neely and Jim Drake were instrumental in my development and overall awareness of what was needed to succeed in this business.”

After earning her degree Polak moved to Denver and spent four years working at the Brown Palace Hotel and at Wolfgang Puck restaurant. “I was exposed to making everything from scratch. Once I started to work with the ingredients and learned how to create exciting dishes it’s all I wanted to do!”

A family illness brought Polak back to Syracuse where she worked at popular restaurants Riley’s and Lemon Grass. Each stop on her career path introduced her to new ways of doing things and ultimately the confidence she could start her own business. In 2005 she and her husband opened a restaurant named Choices. It stayed open until 2008. “I’m very proud of what we did there. I learned a lot about the business, lessons you don’t learn until you experience it.”

Customers can expect their dishes to feature fresh pasta, which is made daily.
Customers are treated to fresh pasta daily at Pastificio.

In May Polak opened another restaurant, Pastificio on Brooklea Drive in Fayetteville. Pastificio is Italian for pasta factory. Polak makes pasta daily there. The restaurant is part cafe, part bakery and part restaurant. Everything is made from scratch. Customers can take-out or dine-in. “This is a one-stop-shop. It has been a life-long dream of mine to open something like this.”

Pastificio is still in its infancy but Polak feels good about how the business is doing. She credits OCC with building a strong foundation for her career. “The hospitality program gets you ready by stressing the importance of professionalism and detail. It really sets you on a course for success!”

Steve Schill ’78

Schill posing with Inficon logo at East Syracuse Facility
Schill, ’78 at Inficon in East Syracuse

Steve Schill ‘78 grew up on the West Side of Syracuse with his four brothers and his mom where he attended Sacred Heart before it closed at the end of his junior year in 1975. The following year, he and a group of fellow classmates finished their studies at Fowler High School and would become part of the very first graduating class from there. Following high school, Schill didn’t really know what he wanted to study in college, but the choice was simple. “My mom (Margaret ’88) worked at OCC (Onondaga Community College) for 25 years,” Schill said. “That on top of the savings and being able to identify what I wanted to do made the decision easy.”

STEVE_~1His freshmen year, computers were just arriving on the scene in a noticeable way and during that time he had taken a part-time job at Cook’s Department Store in the electrical and plumbing department so he decided to enter into the electrical engineering program. Reflecting on his time at OCC, Schill remembered the relationships between faculty and students more than anything else. “There were not many students in the program so it was easy to get know the faculty as more than an instructor, but as mentors because they had professional experience too, which they would infuse into their lessons,” he said. Entering his sophomore year, Schill was now working full-time at Cook’s, so he would go to class in the morning then go to work until closing, so there was little time for much else. “When I wasn’t at school, I was working and when I wasn’t at work I was studying,” Schill said, “it was a very busy time of my life, but I knew the work would pay off in the end because it would get me to where I wanted to be.”

Steve ‘78 and Kathleen Schill ‘81 and ’03 (seated left) are second generation OCC alumnus. Steve’s mother, Margaret “Peg” Schill ’88 (standing right), earned a degree in business administration and retired in 2000 after 33 years from OCC Bursar’s Office. Kathleen’s mother Elna Dwyer ’85 (seated lower right) received an accounting degree. Susie Schill ( standing left), also attended the College.
Steve ‘78 and Kathleen Schill ‘81 and ’03 (seated left) are
second generation OCC alumnus. Steve’s mother, Margaret “Peg” Schill ’88 (standing right), earned a degree
in business administration and retired in 2000 after 33 years from OCC Bursar’s Office.
Kathleen’s mother Elna Dwyer ’85 (seated lower right) received an accounting degree.
Susie Schill ( standing left), also attended the College.

Following his graduation from OCC in 1978, he enrolled at Buffalo State to further his engineering degree, but it was during this same time that he met a woman who kept him coming home every weekend during his junior year. This woman, Kathleen Dwyer ‘81, would later become his wife of 34 years and together they would have two children, Robert and Susan. The latter would also attend OCC as her parents had before. During the summer of his junior year Schill would make his stay in Syracuse permanent by applying for and obtaining a job with INFICON as a technician. While at INFICON, he started his studies back up at Syracuse University (SU) to obtain his bachelor’s degree, but decided to switch gears and enroll in the marketing management program, which would set him back a bit. “Because many of my credits were with electrical (engineering) not all of them transferred,” he said, “so instead of entering with junior status I was starting my sophomore year over again.”

Schill '78 (center) receiving John H. Mulroy Founders Award with Trustee Donna DeSiato '69 (left) and OCC President Casey Crabill (right)
Schill ’78 (center) receiving the John H. Mulroy Founders Award with Trustee Dr. Donna DeSiato ’69 (left) and OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill (right).

The challenge did not deter him from achieving his goal as he took one class a semester minus a two-year hiatus due to a relocation to Japan for business, he would finish his bachelor’s in 1993. “It was not your traditional way by any stretch,” he said while laughing, “but I got it and have never regretted making the change.” Schill will celebrate his 37th anniversary with INFICON in June and has had many promotions over time including Marketing Director, Business Line Manager and currenlty Senior Director of Global Strategic Projects in addition to receiving an Executive MBA from SU in 2003. During this time, he also served on the OCC Foundation Board from 2008 – 2014, which proved to be another learning experience for him. “Serving on the board allowed me to reconnect with OCC and see the College grow and to understand how important it is to the community,” he said, “seeing first-hand all what was offered to students and how the community’s investment had propelled them to where they are today gave me a real sense of pride.” When his term came to a close two years ago, the College recognized Schill for his time and commitment to the institution by awarding him the John H. Mulroy Founders Award, which was named after the first county executive of Onondaga County. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without OCC,” Schill said, “the education I received gave me a great foundation and I think it is a viable option for any student.”