The OCC Effect: Dominic Tibbetts II ‘16

Dominic Tibbetts II on set at his new home in Montana

High School: West Genesee

The only thing Dominic Tibbetts ever wanted to be was a sports broadcaster. A visit to Onondaga Community College’s Electronic Media Communications (EMC) program piqued his interest. “The faculty I spoke with really knew the business. Many still work in the industry so when I added their experience to the latest technology provided in the program I was immediately sold.”

While at OCC, Tibbetts was able to partner with a friend on a local radio show through the College’s web platform, “Supermix” and took advantage of sports internship opportunities through WSYR TV, NewsChannel 9 and CNY Central. The internships were invaluable because their sports anchors and reporters, Steve Infanti, Niko Tamurian and Matt Hauswirth were all very gracious with their time and interest in his development. Tamurian and Hauswirth were also OCC graduates and Tamurian was an adjunct instructor in the EMC major as well. “All the professors in the program were great. Niko willingly took time to develop my talents and went out of his way to harness my interest in sports to become the professional I am today.”

Dominic Tibbetts II with his familiy (L-R) father Dominic, sister Madelynn and mom Rosalee

After OCC, Tibbetts attended Ithaca College where he continued his broadcast journalism studies and interned in Los Angeles for a semester. During his final semester he applied for jobs across the country. “I sent out 41 tapes to places I had never heard of and was fortunate enough to get a call from KXLF in Butte, Montana which ultimately led to be my current job.” Tibbetts has settled right in to his new home and has added his knowledge of other sports such as rodeos and skijoring to his resume, which have been fascinating opportunities for him.

While his goal is to work for a network, he appreciates where he is and is enjoying his journey in a field that he loves. “Working in the business is a dream come true and I cannot thank OCC and the faculty enough for molding me into the well-rounded person I am today – the choice to start there truly was a great decision for me and I will be forever grateful for what they did for me.”

Seeing What’s Important

Dawn Penson (right) is a blind Human Services major with a 4.0 grade point average. She is pictured with Nancy Carr (left), Director of OCC’s Office of Accessibility Resources. Penson and Carr are in Coulter Hall where Penson receives assistance with many of her on-campus needs.

Onondaga Community College students have selected Dawn Penson to represent them on the Board of Trustees during the 2019-2020 academic year. Penson is energetic, eternally optimistic, and an outstanding student. She is also blind. Her inspirational story is below.

Dawn Penson isn’t interested in bling… whether its your new Michael Kors handbag, your designer jeans or your latest and greatest cell phone. She views the world much differently than most of us. “The best thing about me being blind is that I can’t see what anyone looks like. I can’t see if they’re young, if they’re old or what they’re wearing. I see character.”

Penson is a 41-year-old mother of three who started going blind earlier this decade when she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa. Despite the fact it is a hereditary eye disease, she is the first in her family tree to be impacted by it. “I keep a positive attitude 99.9% of the time. I’m a glass half-full person. I have faith and I believe everything happens for a reason.”

Penson uses Centro’s Call-A-Bus program to get to and from campus every day.

Her seemingly endless optimism was put to the test recently. Penson was born and raised in Central New York and eventually moved to Texas at age 18 where she would spend nearly two decades. During her time there she thought she had earned the equivalent of a high school diploma. But when she returned to Central New York and attempted to access her credential, she learned she had paid to attend a Texas school which was a scam and had nothing to show for it.

She now had to start over academically and that meant pursuing a GED here. In an apparent cost-cutting measure New York State had allowed the test to become privatized. The company in charge of it, Pearson VUE, had never made a version of the test for someone who was blind. Making the test would take a year-and-a-half because of the various levels of approval required along the way. At one point Penson was offered the opportunity to receive a passing grade on the math portion because of the difficulties in creating the test. “I said ‘absolutely not. If you waive it for me you have to waive it for someone who can see.’ There’s no reason in this day and age why you can’t make something accessible.”

While the test was being created, Penson spent the summer of 2018 taking classes at OCC and learning her way around campus. She arrived daily thanks to transportation provided by Centro’s call-a-bus. She walked from one end of campus to the other while using her white cane and being guided by a Mobility Instructor. With each step she became more comfortable in her learning environment.

Penson works with Professor Laurel Saiz in Ferrante Hall as part of Independent Study for ENG 104, Composition and Literature.

In December Penson finally took the new GED test which is known as the TASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion). She had a reader and a scribe during the test so questions could be read to her and answers could be written down. It took her four days to complete the test. In January she received a phone call and was informed she had passed the test. “I was so excited and so relieved!” Penson had become the first blind student in all of New York State to pass the TASC and the first blind student to earn her high school equivalency in Onondaga County in eight years.

Penson’s success meant she could matriculate into the Human Services major where she owns a perfect 4.0 grade point average and is on track to receive her associate degree in May of 2020. Her goal is to one day advocate for the disabled with a focus on policy and legislation. That’s why earlier this week she was in Albany, lobbying state lawmakers for a blind person’s right to parent. Under New York State law a blind parent can have a child taken away because he or she is blind.

Leadership is nothing new for Penson. She has been on the board for the National Federation of the Blind and is currently on the board for Arise which assists people with developmental disabilities and their families. She is also a member of OCC’s Student Association and serves as a Senator-At-Large. She may have an even more significant role on campus next fall. Penson is being nominated for the Student Trustee position by Nancy Carr who is the Director of the college’s Office of Accessibility Resources. Carr’s office, along with the Testing Center which are both located in Coulter Hall, assist Penson with all of her on-campus needs. “We are all so amazed by her optimism and sense of humor. She finds ways to go around obstacles in ways that help others so they can benefit from her experience,” said Carr. “I hope I can open doors for the next person and make a small difference,” added Penson. “I want everyone in the disability community to be successful.”

Penson story was highlighted recently by WSYR TV, Newschannel 9’s team of reporter Jeff Kulikowsky and videographer Marty Sicilia. You can view the story here.

Apprenticeship Program Sparks Careers

Students in the Apprenticeship Accelerator Career Training Program were paid to learn at Feldmeier Equipment, Inc. of Syracuse.

Jessica White was employed as a cashier when she heard about Onondaga Community College’s Apprenticeship Accelerator Career Training Program. “I was working in the retail industry. This was an opportunity to do something different and gain knowledge and skills.” In October White and eleven other students began coming to Feldmeier Equipment Inc. of Syracuse five days a week. They were paid while training for positions including welder and metal refinisher. Fledmeier employees taught students work skills while OCC instructor Bill Cullen focused on the soft skills they would need to be successful both in the work place and in life. “We wanted people to have good character, integrity, learnability and teachability. That’s what employers are looking for,” said Cullen.

Bill Cullen (left) speaks with students at Feldmeier Equipment, Inc.

On Friday, January 11 the students celebrated the end of their training and the start of a 4-year apprenticeship with Feldemeier which makes stainless steel processing equipment for a wide range of businesses including those specializing in pharmaceuticals, biotech and cosmetics along with brewers, food, dairy and beverage processing facilities. “The biggest obstacle for us growing our business is having an adequate number of employees. This gives us a great start toward our goals. We couldn’t be more excited. We can’t compliment OCC enough on their efforts and what a great job they did,” said Dave Pollock, Feldmeier’s Vice President of Sales.

This is the third time OCC has utilized the Apprenticeship Accelerator Career Training Program and the third time it’s been a success. “The fact people can start earning money the day they are in school, then get an apprentice level paycheck within 12 weeks time is definitely a big factor. Having the employer be part of the training ensures the students coming out have the skills they need. It guarantees success,” said Mike Metzgar, OCC’s Associate Vice President of Economic & Workforce Development.

Jessica White

Of the 12 students beginning their apprenticeships 10 are welders and two are focused on metal finishing. White is a welder and she’s thrilled with how the entire process went. “It feels great! This has exceeded my expectations. What we learned here didn’t just help us just get a job. It also gave us skills we are going to need for our entire life. I’m really glad. I love the environment here. It’s like a big family.”

The success White and her classmates experienced was the subject of a story by WSYR TV Newschannel 9 and reporter Jeff Kulikowsky and photographer Mark Folsom. You can view the story here.

The Apprenticeship Accelerator Career Training program is the product of a unique collaboration coordinated by OCC’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. Training is provided by OCC with additional apprenticeship, project and employer support provided by the American Apprenticeship Initiative, the Manufacturers Association of Central New York, the New York State Department of Labor and the Onondaga County Office of Economic Development.

Honoring Our 2018 Alumni Faces

The 2018 Alumni Faces honorees on stage in the Recital Hall are (left to right) Jim Campagna, ’79, Nancy Pasquale, ’90, Mark Re, ’85, OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill, Jeremy Thompson, ’09 and Jerome Thompson, 2006-2009. Honoree David Bamonte, ’81 was unable to attend the event.

The 2018 Alumni Faces ceremony was filled with emotion. One by one the honorees walked on stage, received their awards and expressed heartfelt gratitude for those who helped them achieve success. They thanked their spouses, their families and faculty members at OCC who played critical roles in their development. You can watch the entire event here.

This year’s celebration was held in the Recital Hall on the night of October 3. It included six distinguished former students who were recognized for their professional achievements and contributions to the college and the community. The honorees included:

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. Unfortunately Bamonte was unable to attend the ceremony.

 

The 2018 Alumni Faces etchings are on display in the main hallway of the Academic II building.

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 icons and role models for their work.

 

Earlier in the day several of the Alumni Faces honorees spent time on campus, speaking with students about their time at OCC and answering their questions. You can view a slideshow of them on campus below.

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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.

Mentoring Tomorrow’s Professionals

OCC Alumnus and CNY Central Photojournalist Matt Landers (right) works with Electronic Media Communication majors as they prepare for a shoot in Whitney Commons.

It’s not unusual to walk past a class in OCC’s Electronic Media Communications (EMC) major and see a member of the Central New York broadcast industry speaking with students. Current broadcast professionals regularly visit campus and share their experiences with students. “We’ve had many special guests ranging from photographers to news directors,” said Zach Sheridan, an EMC major and 2016 graduate of Fabius-Pompey High School. “They offer real-life examples of problems or issues they deal with every day and help give us a greater understanding.”

Each instructor within EMC has either worked in or is presently employed in the broadcasting industry. Most are behind the scenes staffers who play critical roles in the success of a broadcast. Others are people you see on-camera such as Niko Tamurian, a 2005 grad of the EMC program and Sports Director of CNY Central TV.

EMC Adjunct Professors Laura Bailey (left) and Tammy Palmer (right) pictured at Newschannel 9.

Earlier this semester students enrolled in Television News Production were given a challenging assignment by their professors who are both Syracuse broadcast professionals. Tammy Palmer is an anchor and reporter at WSYR TV, Newschannel 9. Laura Bailey is a Director at the same station and is also a 2017 winner of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching. Professors Palmer and Bailey divided their students up into news gathering crews and gave them two-and-a-half hours to shoot, write and edit a story. It’s a tall task for those who do the job every day and even more challenging for students.

Each student crew was paired with a highly talented broadcast professional volunteering his or her time to work with students. They included Emmy-award winning CNY Central photojournalist and OCC Alumnus Quindell Williams, CNY Central photojournalist and OCC alumnus Matt Landers, Newschannel 9 photojournalist and OCC alumnus Evan Bailey, OCC alumnus and SUNY Oswego videographer Jim Kearns and Newschannel 9 multimedia journalist Olivia Ugino. Throughout the process they continuously offered advice on shooting, editing and writing techniques.

Some of the student crews beat the two-and-a-half-hour deadline, some did not. The lessons learned from those in the industry were invaluable. “It was great to get this hands-on experience while working with people currently employed in broadcasting,” said Jacob Manrow, an EMC major and 2016 graduate of Jordan-Elbridge High School. “Getting in-depth, real-world experience this early in my career gives me a competitive edge when taking my next steps.”

The EMC professors overseeing the exercise were pleased with the results. “Walking into class the students were very nervous about not only the assignment, but the whole semester,” said Bailey. “Two-and-a-half-hours later they had new confidence about what they could accomplish.”

“Mentoring is crucial in so many fields,” added Palmer. “Newsrooms lose experienced journalists every day. We need to make sure the next generation has the opportunity to learn from the men and women who do important work daily. Now more than ever the media is facing a skeptical audience. The cycle of passing down valuable lessons can’t fade away. Knowledge is power.”

You can learn more about OCC’s Electronic Media Communications major here.

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The Pros Train Here

WSYR TV, Newschannel 9 staff members train on the latest newsroom information management system at OCC.

Members of WSYR TV, Newschannel 9s staff are learning the latest in newsroom information systems at OCC. News and Production team members were on campus September 15 for training in how to use the newest version of the Associated Press’s Electronic News Production System which is referred to as ENPS within the broadcast industry. ENPS assists in the production of more on-air content than all competing products combined. It helps broadcast professionals manage program rundowns, assignments, contacts, messaging, news wires, archives and interconnected devices. Students enrolled in OCC’s Electronic Media Communications (EMC) program are learning on the same system Newschannel 9 is upgrading to.

“The EMC department is fortunate to have a strong partnership with NewsChannel 9.  It was a great opportunity to have their staff and EMC faculty utilizing our facilities to continue their professional development.  We are also proud that many of the Channel 9 people who attended the training earned their degrees here,” said EMC Department Chair Mike Kaminski.

“WSYR TV has had a great relationship with OCC and this professional workshop is one more example. Many of our employees in News, Production, Sales and Engineering are proud alums of OCC,” said News Director Jim Campagna. He is a 1978 alumnus of OCC and what was then called the Radio & TV program. WSYR TV’s General manager, Bill Evans, is a 1989 alumnus of OCC’s Business Administration program.

You can learn more about our EMC program here.

9/11 Remembrance Events

Onondaga Community College is preparing to pay tribute to those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. A series of 9/11 Remembrance events are planned on campus, marking the 16th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Events on Monday, September 11 include:

  • Remembrance Ceremony, 8:30 a.m. at the 9/11 memorial on the south side of the Whitney Applied Technology Center near the traffic circle.
  • Dan Cummings

    Panel Discussion, 11:15 a.m. in Mawhinney Hall room 345. Participants will provide a real-life retrospective from the vantage point of first responder, citizen and member of the media. Panelists include Peter Alberti, former Onondaga County Emergency Management Director; Rebecca Hoda-Kearse, OCC’s Associate Vice President of Student Engagement and New York City resident at the time of the 9/11 attacks; and Dan Cummings, Managing Editor and Anchor/Reporter for WSYR TV, Newschannel 9.

  • All Day: Members of the campus community are asked to stop by the lobby of the Gordon Student Center to sign a “Thank You” banner in appreciation of our first responders. The banner will be presented to the Onondaga Hill fire department.
  • All Day: Complimentary beverages for all Veterans, active duty military and first responders will be available September 11 in both the Gordon Cafeteria and Mawhinney Cafeteria.

2017 Commencement Student Speaker

Henry Humiston

Henry Humiston will be the student speaker at commencement. He is a 46-year-old dual major who will receive degrees in Nuclear Technology and Electrical Engineering Technology.

Humiston grew up in Liverpool and was diagnosed with ADHD at age 12. He earned his GED and became a professional drywall finisher. A back injury led him to rethink his career options. At his mother’s urging, he enrolled in OCC. During the summer of 2012 he began taking classes at OCC @ Liverpool before eventually coming to the main campus.

During the 2016-17 academic year Humiston served the campus community as an officer in the Student Association. In April, he was named the top student in the College’s Nuclear Technology major. He has accepted a job offer from Exelon and will begin working at Nine Mile Point in June. “Excited and blown away don’t even begin to describe how I feel about being selected,” said Humiston. “OCC has been the best second chance a person could ask for.”

OCC’s Commencement will be held Saturday, May 13 at 10 a.m. in the SRC Arena.

In the week leading up to commencement, WSYR-TV Newschannel 9 profiled Humiston on the evening news. You can view the story here.

NASA Team on TV

Newschannel 9 videographer Mark Folsom captures OCC NASA team members Nathan Johnson (left) and Neil Minet (right) creating a substance which resembles the surface of a comet.

OCC’s NASA Team has received some well-deserved recognition in the Central New York media. WSYR-TV Newschannel 9 reporter Jeff Kulikowsky and photographer Mark Folsom came to campus April 26. They shot video and conducted interviews with the students. The story aired in that night’s 6 p.m. newscast. You can view it here.

Next month the six students who make up OCC’s NASA Team will travel to NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. They’ll bring with them a device they’ve created which astronauts will use in an underwater experiment.

Planning began last semester when OCC was selected to be one of more than two dozen teams which would submit designs for tools or devices which astronauts would use during explorations. Most of the schools selected were prestigious four-year college and universities with large budgets. Only three community colleges were selected.

OCC’s team named itself the “Lazernauts.” They began working on an anchoring device that would hold packages on the surface of a comet, asteroid or small moon. The Lazernauts used a 3-D printer to create an auger made out of Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene, or ABS plastic. It’s the type of material used to make Lego’s. Each design was thoroughly tested and analyzed. Throughout the process the team stayed in touch with a NASA Astronaut who served as their team mentor. The astronaut gave advice and made sure they were staying on schedule.

The Lazernauts also created a hard substance for the auger to drill into which would simulate the surface of a comet or small planet. The process included the mixing of dry ice with hot water, creating the type of fog show you might see at a concert.

When they travel to Houston the Lazernauts will watch an astronaut dive into a 40-foot-deep pool and attempt to use their auger in wet sand. The astronaut will wear a GoPro camera. The OCC students will be in a control room, communicating with the astronaut.

OCC’s Lazernauts are:

  • Natalia Montilla, team co-leader               Nottingham High School
  • Brian Richardson, team co-leader             Liverpool High School
  • Nathan Johnson                                            Homeschooled
  • Allan O’Mara                                                  Homeschooled
  • Neil Minet                                                       Marcellus High School
  • Doug Weaver                                                  Chittenango High School