2018 Alumni Faces: Jeremy Thompson ’09 and Jerome Thompson ’06-’09

Jerome (left) and Jeremy Thompson after one of their two National Championships while at OCC.

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 tonight at 5:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall which is located in the Academic II building. Two of the graduates we will honor tonight are Jeremy and Jerome Thompson.

For many lacrosse enthusiasts the name Thompson resonates much like the name Manning does in the National Football League. Despite the fame and name recognition that comes with being part of the first family of lacrosse, both Jeremy and Jerome take each day in stride. They grew up in longhouses and like most Native American children were provided a lacrosse stick while still in their crib due to the significance of the sport in their culture. This instrument of play would be something both would cherish and would provide them endless opportunities and responsibilities.

Up until the 5th grade the brothers went to school on the Onondaga Reservation before joining the Lafayette School District. Both remember the early days of transition very well. “For us, it was like living in two different worlds even though we were close in proximity, our culture, language and learning style could not be further apart,” Jeremy said. As a result of this divide, both brothers had to overcome a feeling of isolation, despite Lafayette’s best efforts. “The School was very welcoming, but since we did not speak English I could only talk with Jeremy and one other teacher who we ate lunch with everyday, so the ability not to communicate was tough,” Jerome added.

After some time, the brothers were able to make the necessary advancements to overcome the language barrier and started to forge friendships. By the time they started junior high and could play lacrosse for the team, their transition into the school became much smoother as the bond with their classmates became stronger. Once area colleges caught wind of the what was happening at Lafayette it did not take long for the letters and applications to start rolling in. “We always had our eye on Syracuse University as we grew up going to their lacrosse games, but the opportunity to attend college, let alone a Division-I school didn’t really become a reality until all of that mail started to come in,” Jeremy said.

Chuck Wilbur

They would go on to win two state championships at Lafayette, but due to their academic standing needed to hone their skills in the classroom a bit more before making the jump to Division-I. Enter, Coach Chuck Wilbur of the OCC Men’s Lacrosse Program. “Coach Wilbur was all about building relationships and stayed very close to us through our years in high school, so he was somebody we could trust and put us on a path where we could further our goals,” Jerome said. The slogan of the OCC Men’s Lacrosse program is “Family” and that is what they became to the Thompson Brother’s. “Coach Wilbur taught us the value of the classroom and if we work on that everything else would take care of itself. That along with being close to the Reservation and the small classes turned out to be exactly what we needed.”

The Thompson’s would go on to lead OCC to two straight National Junior College National Championships and both earned All-American honors in the process. Following their time at OCC, Jeremy would go on to star at Syracuse University while garnering two more All-American honors while playing for the Orange. Soon after the National Lacrosse League would come calling for both where they would each bring their customary wide-open style of play to the professional level. Both would go on to star for different teams and capture a total of five championships between them. In addition, both continued to play critical roles for the Iroquois National Lacrosse Team during the World Lacrosse Championships, with the team recently earning a Bronze Medal in Israel this past summer.

In light of their success, the Thompson Brothers would go on to become the faces of Nike Lacrosse and serve as ambassadors of the companies N7 Fund Program, where resources and lacrosse supplies are allocated to impoverished areas, mainly in populations where there is a large Native American population. Being part of this program, hosting free lacrosse clinics and giving talks to Native American youth is something that is very important and allows them to give back as an appreciation to everyone who took the time to help them on their journey. “We are grateful to the creator, God, everyone at Lafayette, OCC and all of the support we received in getting to where we are today. To receive this honor is a tribute to all of the work they put into our success and we are very excited to return the favor as often as we can.”

Faculty Fellows Bring Service-Learning Into The Classroom

OCC students work with students from The Big Picture School as part of the new Service-Learning Faculty Fellowship Program.

OCC deepened its institutional commitment to incorporating service learning into coursework during the 2016-17 academic year. A President’s Incentive Grant helped the college create the new Service-Learning Faculty Fellowship Program. The support provided fellows with resources, professional development training and a mentor. The inaugural class of Service-Learning Faculty Fellows included Richard Blankenship and Fairlie Firari of English/Reading/Communication along with Lisa Dodge of Human Services.

Students in Professor Blankenship’s Intermediate Composition (ENG 211) class partnered with The Big Picture School (Lafayette Central School District) in Lafayette. OCC students worked with 9th graders, reading each other’s papers and providing peer-to-peer face-to-face reviews. Students also participated in a common read and discussed their different perceptions. “Writing to a real audience rather than a teacher made a big difference,” said Blankenship. “OCC students communicated and connected with Big Picture students. They had conversations and learned more than the material in the course. Students went above the expectations and learned from each other.”

Faculty Fellows Richard Blankenship (left) and Fairlie Firari (right).

Professor Firari’s Intercultural Communications (COM 282) course provided students with the opportunity to do research in various locations throughout Syracuse. Students interacted with refugees and immigrants, in the process learning what they went through to get here. “Every student that participated said it was eye-opening,” said Firari. “When faced with people from other countries, cultures and languages they really did have some preconceived ideas. Shedding those was important as was interacting, getting involved and understanding who is in the community.” Each group was required to do a presentation on their research project.

Students in Professor Dodge’s Social Work and People with Disabilities (HUM 269) class also spent time in the community. One of her student’s, Caleb Beman found the work had a profound impact on him.

“I constantly am in discussion with my coworkers, professors, fellow students, and peers about the types of discrimination that people with disabilities still live with and as I grow older I’m going to do my part to become more involved in local, state, and potentially even national politics,” said Beman. He was awarded Service-Learning Civic Engagement Recognition for his outstanding work.

The Service-Learning Faculty Fellowship program will continue in the fall with four more programs.

  • Professor Ben Miller, Advocacy & Opposition (COM 204), students will identify a community issue and develop an advocacy campaign on campus.
  • Professor Mary Dooley, Geriatric and Palliative Care (NUR 298), will fully engage students on a personal level to get to know this population and their needs.
  • Professor Tim Haskell, Freshman Composition (ENG 103), will partner with Literacy CNY to have students work with adult literacy learners in Syracuse.
  • Professors Malkiel Choseed and Donna Stuccio, English and Criminal Justice classes, will partner with inmates at the Jamesville Penitentiary to provide Shakespeare/Play Writing classes. Students will serve as classmates and peer mentors.

OCC’s Service Learning committee is co-chaired by Electronic Media Communications Professor Linda Herbert and Maria Malagisi, Assistant Director of Service-Learning.