Highlighting the Learning Center on Our Podcast


Joe Cesta (left) tutors student Jeanne Bergett (right) in OCC’s Learning Center.

When students on the OCC campus need help with their coursework they go to the Learning Center.  That’s where they find over 100 tutors who are available there to help achieve success in the classroom.

Kathy D’Aprix

The Learning Center’s embedded tutoring program was recognized recently by the League for Innovation in the Community Colleges. Kathy D’Aprix, the Learning Center’s Associate Vice President of Academic Support Services, attended the League for Innovations national conference in March and shared OCC’s success story with attendees.

The embedded tutoring program puts tutors in classrooms so they understand how teachers are presenting the coursework. Those tutors are in a better position to help when students come to them seeking assistance. Embedded tutors are strategically placed in some of the College’s most demanding classes.

The Learning Center and the services it provides are available to anyone taking an OCC class whether it is on the main campus, through OCC at Liverpool, online or in high school The Learning Center is located in the Gordon Student Center in room G202 and is open seven days a week. You can contact the Learning Center by phone at (315) 498-2103 or by email at learningcenter@sunyocc.edu.

The Learning Center and the services provided there are the subject of our monthly podcast, “Higher Ed News You Can Use From Onondaga Community College. You can listen to it here!

4 Tips on Making the Most of Starting College Mid-Year

Students Starting Strong (1000px)

Starting college mid-year at college can be challenging for many students. At OCC, you’re among hundreds of students starting in the Spring Semester. Here are our tips for making the most out of starting at college mid-year.

Get Involved On-campus

The easiest way to make your experience starting college mid-year great is to get involved on your campus. Clubs, organizations, and work-study jobs are all great ways to become part of the campus community quickly. At OCC, we’ll be showcasing all the ways you can get involved this Thursday, January 18th at 11:15 a.m. in the Gordon Hallway. Stop by or fill out the online form to get more information on how you can get involved.

Make Learning a Habit Again

Chances are that you may have gotten out of good studying and learning habits if you’ve been out of school for a bit. If you need help getting back in the habit of learning, visit the Learning Center. They have study skills workshops and tutoring assistance for both exams and writing assignments. Make the visit to the Learning Center early to get back in good learning habits.

Join the Class of 2019 Facebook Group to Meet Your Peers

While you may not graduate exactly with people who started in Fall 2017, you can still join the Class of 2019 Facebook Group. You’ll be able to connect with your fellow Lazers that started in the Fall.

Come to a Start Strong Session  

OCC wants to make sure you start off the semester on the right foot. That’s why we created Start Strong Sessions that will run before and during the first week of classes. You’ll be able to explore all the resources at OCC that can help you along the way and see how you can save some money on your textbooks.

We want you to be able to start off the semester on the right foot! If you are in need of assistance or have questions please reach out to us at 315-498-2000 or occinfo@sunyocc.edu.

Top Tutors Honored

Helene Brophy tutors math at the Learning Center.
Helene Brophy tutors math at the Learning Center.

The Learning Center is a popular place in the days and weeks leading up to final exams. It’s where students go for help with their coursework. During that busy period students voted Helene Brophy and Greg Maslyn “Tutors of the Month.”

Brophy has been tutoring students in math since the 2009-2010 academic year when she was also a student here. “I was taking classes on electricity. Many students could do the electricity part of the lab but had a hard time with math. I ended up helping them and said to myself, ‘I can be a tutor!’”

Brophy earned an associate degree in Computer Science in 2010 and recently completed work on a bachelor’s in Math from a college in her native France. As she was taking classes she continued to help other students. “I love math and I love helping people. I want to encourage anyone who is afraid of math to come here and get tutoring. Anyone who thinks they are not good in math should give it a try. Don’t let math prevent you from getting your degree.”

Greg Maslyn
Greg Maslyn tutors students in Ecology, French and Statistics.

Greg Maslyn is currently a student at OCC. The 2010 graduate of Central Square High School is majoring in Humanities & Social Sciences and is a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. Maslyn tutors students in three diverse subjects: Ecology, French and Statistics. “I’ve grown to love teaching Ecology the most because it’s the one I do the most. I have a solid understanding of the course material and it makes the sessions fun. I think everyone I had this semester was a non-science major and the students did a really good job. It was fun to watch them progress.”

Maslyn is also a talented musician who gives private lessons in guitar, drums, piano and vocals. After he earns his degree in 2017 he plans to take pursue his first love. “I’ve always back-seated a career in music but if I’m going to try something in it I need to do it now. I’ll probably relocate to a larger city and give my music a shot. If all else fails I love the prospect of teaching whether it’s music or something different. The things I love most are helping, learning and playing music.”

Congratulations to Helene Brophy and Greg Maslyn, the Learning Center’s latest Tutors of the Month! If you’re interested in becoming a tutor or being tutored at the Learning Center call (315) 498-2103 and speak with a staff member.

October’s Tutor of the Month

Joe Cesta (right) is October's Tutor of the Month at the Learning Center.
Joe Cesta (right) is October’s Tutor of the Month at the Learning Center.

The students he helps often tell him he should become a teacher. Someday he just might. For now Joe Cesta is happy where he is. “I’m quite content to be tutoring,” said Cesta who has been named the Learning Center’s “Tutor of the Month” for October.

Cesta is an OCC alum having earned his Engineering Science degree in 2012. He tutors approximately 15 students a week in Physics, Calculus and Engineering. He’s recently become an imbedded tutor, sitting in on a 100 level Physics class. “It’s helpful to see what problems the teacher assigns. It allows me to build what I do directly off the teacher.”

This is a rewarding time of the semester for Cesta. His students have been working hard for nearly three months and making significant progress. “Sometimes they don’t see how far they’ve come. They’ll come to me at the beginning of the year having trouble breaking a vector into XY components. Now they’re able to get most of a complicated problem on their own. At this point most people have gotten good enough that the extent of my assistance is, ‘You should have used cosign there, you lost a negative there,’ those kinds of quick fixes.”

Congratulations to Joe Cesta, October’s Tutor of the Month! If you’re interested in becoming a tutor or being tutored at the Learning Center call (315) 498-2103 and speak with a staff member.

With final exams coming up the Learning Center is offering two sessions to assist students with stress management and test-taking strategies. The first session is Monday, November 21 at 5 p.m. The second is Friday, December 2 at 11:30 a.m.

Tutor of the Month

Annette Oliva (right) tutors student Sophia Rodriguez (left). Oliva is the Learning Center's Tutor of the Month for September.
Annette Oliva (right) tutors student Sophia Rodriguez (left). Oliva is the Learning Center’s “Tutor of the Month” for September.

Annette Oliva enjoys helping people whether she’s volunteering in the community or working with students in OCC’s Learning Center. “I love meeting new students and developing semester-long relationships with my regulars,” she said. In recognition of her outstanding service Oliva has been named the Learning Center’s “Tutor of the Month” for September. She tutors most of the general biology courses including Microbiology, Genetics and Anatomy & Physiology.

Oliva brings a lengthy record of success in service professions to campus.  She earned a degree in health education from Ithaca College, then served as a caseworker with Child Protective Services. Oliva also owned and operated a child care center in Cicero for 20 years.  When she decided to attend graduate school Oliva realized she needed to refresh her science and statistics classes. She did so both at Le Moyne College and here at OCC.

Today she is a volunteer at St. Joseph’s Hospital and the Rescue Mission. At St. Joe’s she has given more than 1,000 hours, helping families whose loved ones are undergoing resuscitation. At the Rescue Mission Oliva helped paint and refresh the food pantry. She goes there often to keep it organized and stocked. She also interacts with clients and helps them make healthy food choices for themselves and their families.

“I really enjoy service professions. In particular, I love teaching and tutoring and I love working at the Learning Center,” she said. Congratulations to Annette Oliva, September’s “Tutor of the Month!”

Helping High School Students at the Learning Center

Joe Cesta (left) tutors Westhill junior Jeanne Bergett (right) in OCC's Learning Center.
Joe Cesta (left) tutors Westhill junior Jeanne Bergett (right) at OCC’s Learning Center.

“What direction is the electric field from this source,” physics tutor Joe Cesta asked? Student Jeanne Bergett paused a moment before answering correctly. Another tutoring session was underway in OCC’s Learning Center, the beautiful two-level facility located in the Gordon Student Center. What was different about this session was that Bergett wasn’t a college student. She’s a junior at nearby Westhill High School.

Bergett was taking advantage of a new program which gives high school students the ability to get tutored free of charge in the Learning Center. She began sessions here when she was struggling in Physics 103. “It helped a lot. It made a huge difference in how well I did,” she said. Bergett has moved on to Physics 104 and is continuing to enjoy the help she gets.

Cesta is one of the many highly-qualified tutors helping both high school and college students at the Learning Center. He graduated from the OCC in 2012 with a degree in Engineering Science and tutors students in physics and calculus. The success he’s experiencing as a tutor has him rethinking his career choice. “I’m considering earning a master’s in physics and becoming a teacher. Tutoring keeps the content really fresh. I love tutoring. It’s feels great to help people. I would recommend anyone tutor. You learn the information on such a different level once you work with another student. I’m super happy to be here helping people out every day and getting the knowledge down on my end.”

Bergett has enjoyed Cesta’s efforts and is sharing her experiences with others at Westhill. “I’ve talked to at least three girls and they are interested in coming here too for help.”

If you’re interested in becoming a tutor or being tutored at the Learning Center call (315) 498-2103 and speak with a staff member or drop by during regular business hours. During the spring semester the Learning Center is open as follows:

  • Monday through Thursday – 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Friday – 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday – 12-4 p.m.
  • OCC’s spring break is the week of March 14. During that week the Learning Center will be open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.