Women’s Tennis Team Earns First Regional Title In 26 Years

OCC’s Women’s Tennis team proudly displays its first Regional Championship trophy since 1992. The team is (left to right): Head Coach Matt Stevenson, Katie Lesselroth, Kaitlynn Ryan, Micah Mixon, Kennedy Myers, Talitha Freeman, Jennifer Lapp, Jordan Cole and Assistant Coach Kathleen Grimm.

Onondaga Community College’s Women’s Tennis team made history over the weekend. The Lazers won their first NJCAA Region III Championship since 1992 and second in program history.

The victory was a total team effort. Each of the seven members of the team earned either First Team or Second Team All-Region honors by making it to a championship match in either singles or doubles.  The Lazers competed in 8 of the 9 championship flights over the weekend and crowned 6 individuals in 4 separate flights.

On Saturday, the doubles pairing of Katie Lesselroth (Westhill HS) and Jennifer Lapp (Pulaski HS) capped an undefeated season with a championship at second doubles. Kaitlynn Ryan (Fulton HS) and Talitha Freeman (Westhill HS) were winners at third doubles, overcoming a team that had beaten them during the regular season.

After scoring an upset victory over the #2 seed in the semifinals, Micah Mixon (Marcellus HS) was eventually beaten by the #1 seed and 1st singles champion.  Katie Lesselroth (Westhill HS), Jennifer Lapp (Pulaski HS) and Kaitlynn Ryan (Fulton HS) also lost in the finals at 2nd, 3rd and 4th singles respectively.

Kennedy Myers (Mexico) HS, 5th singles, and Jordan Cole (Phoenix HS), 6th singles, won their championship matches on Sunday morning and those wins clinched the Regional Title for the Lazers.

Onondaga’s Matt Stevenson was named Region III Coach of the Year.

The Lazers will now prepare for the NJCAA National Championships which will be held in Peachtree City, GA November 2-4. Last year OCC finished 5th in the national tournament.

The members of the 2018 Women’s Tennis team and their high schools are:

  • Jordan Cole           Phoenix HS
  • Talitha Freeman     Westhill HS
  • Jenny Lapp            Pulaski HS
  • Katie Lesselroth     Westhill HS
  • Micah Mixon         Marcellus HS
  • Kennedy Myers     Mexico HS
  • Kaitlynn Ryan        Fulton HS

Good luck in the national tournament Lazers!

Raeann Ouderkirk

  • Major: Nuclear Technology
  • High School: Mexico, class of 2016

Raeann Ouderkirk is on the brink of beginning a career in the nuclear industry. It’s a career which was recommended to her by an annual visitor to her family’s home in Oswego County. “We have a friend who is a contractor for nuclear plants who is always moving around. Every summer he would come and stay at our house while he was working at the local plants. He suggested I go into nuclear. We checked it out and I decided to try it out.”

Ouderkirk came to OCC in the fall of 2016 and has excelled in the Nuclear Technology major. Last summer she was selected for an internship at Nine Mile Point nuclear facility. During her two months there she spent time in electrical maintenance, mechanical maintenance, instrument and control maintenance, and operations.

Ouderkirk will earn her degree in May. She hopes to get a job at Nine Mile working in electrical maintenance or instrument and control maintenance. “I’m very satisfied with where I’m heading. I would tell anyone interested in Nuclear Technology to be prepared to study every minute of the day and ask questions when you’re confused.

You can learn more about the College’s Nuclear Technology program here.

EOP Students of the Month

EOP’s October Students of the Month are (left to right): Jose Ballaguer, Mariamo Mkoma and Brittany Perez.

OCC’s Educational Opportunity Program, or “EOP” as it is more commonly referred to, is starting a tradition by naming Students of the Month. “This award is about rewarding students who are working hard,” said EOP Navigator Shannon Sangster. “They are personable, pleasant to be around and care about school.”

EOP’s October Students of the Month are:

  • Jose Ballaguer          High School: Mexico, class of 2016                    Major: Humanities
  • Mariamo Mkoma     High School: Nottingham, class of 2017           Major: Early Childhood Education
  • Brittany Perez           High School: Baldwinsville, class of 2017         Major: Adolescence Education

All are first-generation college students. “Winning this is great. It’s motivating me to do better,” said Mkoma who came to the United States from Kenya. “This shows people who don’t come from a lot can be something,” added Perez. “It’s good to be recognized and be a good example so other people see it’s possible,” said Ballaguer.

The EOP office provides access, academic support and financial aid to students who show promise for succeeding in college. If students need to use a computer, print documents, get help with their school work or financial advice the EOP office is where they go. The office is located on the second floor of the newly renovated Coulter Hall.

Congratulations to EOP’s three Students of the Month!

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!

Betheny Witherell

Betheny Witherell
Betheny Witherell
  • High School: Mexico, Class of 2007
  • Major: Mathematics & Science

An unfortunate event changed the direction of Betheny Witherell’s life and steered her towards a new career. Last May she was driving on Colvin Street in the Syracuse University area when her car was rear-ended. Witherell’s injuries required her to go through a series of medical imaging procedures. As she studied her X-rays she started wondering if she had stumbled upon something. “I thought it could be a career for me. I wanted to have a career that is interesting and helps people. It’s funny how things work out sometimes.”

Witherell graduated from Mexico High School in 2007 and became a Licensed Massage Therapist. In her spare time she took up rock climbing. “A lot of the people I climbed with were engineers. Climbing with them made me think about things from a scientific and mathematical perspective. I decided if I could rock climb and conquer that challenge I could go back to school.”

Witherell enrolled at OCC in time for the fall 2014 semester. Making the jump from full-time employee to full-time student was a big one. Scholarship opportunities at OCC made it possible. Witherell was named a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) Scholar and received the Community Scholars Scholarship through the OCC Foundation. “I couldn’t have afforded college and life outside college without the scholarships. It made being in college and being successful a lot easier for me.”

Before Witherell’s car accident she was pursuing a career in geology. In the spring 2016 semester she was one of nine OCC students selected to participate in NASA’s New York Space Grant program. She took a class on campus for Methods of Scientific Research. It led to a summer internship in Colgate University’s Geology department where she focused on computer modeling and enjoyed the experience. “Any student who gets a research opportunity should take advantage of it. Learning to think logically and problem solve is very important.”

Witherell’s outstanding academic performance has earned her membership in international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. She’s also been named one of the College’s five SUNY Chancellor’s Award winners for this academic year.

Witherell plans to transfer to SUNY Upstate Medical University and pursue a degree in Medical Imaging Science/Radiography. She credits OCC’s faculty with having a significant impact on her growth as a student. “I’ve really enjoyed it here. I’ve always been amazed by how much professors want you to succeed. They all tell us, ‘We’re here for you’ and it’s true. The professors are really focused on the students and willing to give you good advice for the future.”

See how Betheny’s story could be your own!

Funding a Pathway

One of Central New York’s most prominent families has come forward to help our community once again. Candace and John Marsellus have created an award for Onondaga Community College graduates who are continuing their pursuit of a bachelor’s degree at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF). Each year two OCC graduates will receive a generous stipend from the Marsellus Family OCC to ESF Fund to support their educational expenses. “We realize the value of a strong education which we were fortunate to experience. We have a desire to help others have similar opportunities,” said Candace and John Marsellus.

Asante Holder (left) and John Spencer (right) are 2014 Marsellus Family OCC to ESF Award recipients.
Asante Holder (left) and John Spencer (right) are 2014 Marsellus Family OCC to ESF Award recipients.

2014 graduates Asante Holder and John Spencer were thrilled to benefit from the Marsellus family’s generosity this past spring. Holder is a Syracuse native who came to OCC from Bishop Ludden High School. He earned a degree in Mathematics and Science. Holder is majoring in Environmental Engineering at SUNY-ESF. “I’m honored to be chosen for this stipend,” said Holder. “The money will be very useful as I pursue my degree. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Marsellus!”

Spencer is a graduate of Mexico High School. He also majored in Mathematics and Science at OCC, and is majoring in Bioprocess Engineering at SUNY-ESF. His goal is to acquire a doctorate and perform his own research in bio-fuels. “Thank you very much Mr. and Mrs. Marsellus for making this award possible,” said Spencer. “It will help me greatly as I pay for my education. I will continue to work hard so I can achieve my goals and begin my research as soon as possible.”

The Marsellus family has a long history of supporting the Central New York community. Since establishing their first named scholarship at Onondaga Community College in 2002, their passion for helping students at Onondaga has continued through the Marsellus Family Community Scholars Scholarship established in 2011, and most recently, the Marsellus Family OCC to ESF fund. “Five generations of our families have lived and worked in Onondaga County. We are committed to helping the hard-working students in our community achieve their goals. Scholarships for education can be life-changing. It can help financially disadvantaged students focus less on financial concerns and more on their higher education.”

The Marsellus family’s decision to assist OCC graduates pursuing bachelor’s degrees is in response to the ongoing success they have seen at the College, and they are proud to support OCC’s continued focus on partnerships with four-year institutions. “The growth in enrollment, faculty and facilities at OCC during the past 20 years is impressive. A new level of academic excellence has been achieved. The collective accomplishments of students, faculty, administration and Onondaga County leadership are worthy of our support,” said Candace and John Marsellus.