Onondaga Community College’s “Believe In Better” fundraising campaign received a generous boost recently from King+King Architects. New York State’s oldest architectural firm presented the OCC Foundation with a $10,000 check. The donation will be used to provide a quality, affordable education to students.
“Having been a part of the OCC Foundation Board for many years, I am humbled by the work the college is doing,” said Peter King, Partner, King+King Architects and Honorary Co-Chair of the Believe in Better fundraising campaign. “Students, many of whom come from challenged backgrounds, are getting a chance at a better future through education. We believe that this investment will help improve the Central New York economy.”
“King+King Architects, as a business leader, is proud to make this investment in OCC and our community,” said Kirk Narbaugh, CEO and Managing Partner, King+King Architects. “This is an investment we truly believe will foster the growth and development of a talented workforce for all of Central New York and beyond.”
“We’re honored to have King+King Architects as one of our partners in education. Their support of our students is invaluable both in their generosity to our Believe In Better campaign and the amazing work they’ve done with buildings on our campus. Onondaga Community College is a better place because of King+King Architects,” said Lisa Moore, Vice President, Development and Executive Director, Onondaga Community College Foundation.
Rebecca Chapman remembers the moment when she and other members of OCC’s Business Club paused and thought about where they were, high atop One World Trade Center enjoying the view of New York City below. “One of us said, ‘I can see myself doing this. I can see myself living here. I can see myself working here.’ A lot of us had the realization we could see ourselves doing this one day. It was the most amazing experience. We all learned so much from it.”
What Chapman and five fellow members of OCC’s Business Club experienced was a three night stay in New York City and the opportunity to get an up-close look at a career in finance. “We had the chance to be a professional in New York City for three days,” said fellow student JW Simmons who is also Student Director on the OCC Foundation’s Finance Board. “It was a raw education about the markets and whatever kind of interests you had in the business world, a real-life experience to live in the city, be dressed in business attire and have lunch with people from Goldman Sachs.”
The primary reason students went to New York City was to observe the Quinnipiac G.A.M.E. (Global Asset Management Education) Forum, a student-run financial conference featuring industry experts. OCC students listened in on panel discussions about various topics within the financial industry including current trends and career opportunities. “We learned a lot about the finance industry, how to put yourself out there and a lot of life lessons. It was really amazing,” said Chapman.
Students were also invited into the penthouse apartment of OCC alumnus and attorney Bradley Silverbush, ’75. He fed the students, entertained them on his baby grand piano and talked careers with them. “He was like the Dos Equis guy, the world’s most interesting man. He was extremely intelligent, very creative in his thought, extremely well-spoken and gave great advice,” said Simmons. “I always say it’s not where you start, it’s where you end. Knowing he came from here is proof you can literally do whatever you want,” added Chapman.
The six Business Club students who attended only had to pay for their train tickets to and from New York City. All other expenses were covered by a generous donor through OCC’s Foundation. The donor was Alexander P. Henn, Managing Partner at Cypress Financial Consultants, LLC which is part of AXA in downtown Syracuse. “It’s always good to give students some exposure to industries and the post education world so that they can see what a career in a certain industry may look like,” said Henn. “We feel the student experience needs to go beyond the classroom and when an opportunity for students to attend an event like this in NYC comes about it is a special opportunity for them.”
The students wish to thank Henn, OCC Foundation Director Lisa Moore and Professor Kristen Costello who is Faculty Adviser for the Business Club. The experience was one student’s say they will remember and be inspired by for a long time.
Alea Baldwin and Sanai Everson had a plan. When they walked into Onondaga Community College’s Book Fair in the library of the McKinley-Brighton Elementary school, the third graders knew exactly what their objective was. “We wanted to choose the same books so we could read them together,” said Everson. “We’re so excited we got the same ones!” Their choices were “Black Panther,” “The Magnificent Mya Tibbs” and “Nikki & Deja Wedding Drama.”
Baldwin and Everson were two of approximately 650 students whose faces lit up while they were selecting books. After each student selected three books they received a tote bag in the color of their choosing (either light blue, dark blue or red). Each student was also given a coloring book created by an OCC student.
The book fair was funded by the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International Educational Foundation and The OCC Foundation. You can see more photos from the book fair below.
Three years ago Dave Cook began a picture taking expedition. The 1970 Corcoran High School graduate decided he wanted to photograph every place he had ever lived for more than six months. He was taking pictures on the south side of Syracuse when he drove up the hill and walked in unannounced to the office of the OCC Foundation which raises money for students scholarships, programs and projects. “I decided it was time to give back. I made it through as an average or better than average student. I felt it was important to help students like I was.”
Cook’s visit timed perfectly with the creation of OCC Advantage, a unique college-readiness and scholarship program which gives high school students in specific districts the opportunity to attend OCC tuition free should they meet attendance and grade point average requirements and also complete community service. “I call it the ‘Dave Cook solid C, barely B scholarship.’ It’s for those students who don’t qualify for the scholarships the ‘A’ students get but are making the effort and have potential.”
Cook saw himself in those types of students and decided to donate $25,000 to the OCC Advantage program. It was his way of paying it forward and thanking the College for what it had done for him. “OCC was not a fallback college for me. It was the most frugal way for me to get a four-year degree.”
Cook attended OCC from 1970 to 1972 when it was still located in Midtown Plaza. He transferred to SUNY Potsdam where he earned a degree in Political Science. Cook would go on to manage Social Security Administration offices in Syracuse, Rochester, Corning, Plattsburgh, Ithaca, Schenectady and Geneva for 30 years until he retired.
Throughout his professional career volunteering was a big part of who Cook was. “One of my first bosses told me ‘you’re going to join the Rotary.’ That’s when it all started.’” Cook was on so many boards he received the national award for Volunteer of the Year. Today he’s still a member of the Rotary where he will play Santa Claus on the Santa Train. He’s also a member of the Sons and Daughters of Italy and refers to himself as ‘the only bagpiping Scotsman member.’
Cook is happy to keep helping whether the benefactors are civic minded organizations or students at his alma mater. “Everyone can afford to be the nice guy, give back and help the next generation. What kids are paying for an education today is absolutely insane. OCC was my plan to get an education without taking out loans. I graduated from college without any debt.”
The dream of a better life for her children brought Suaad Obaid to the United States from Iraq. “There was no safety in the country, especially for kids. In Iraq when you go outside you don’t know if you will come back alive. I want the kids to have a good education and a good life. This is the life I want for them.”
Four years ago, Obaid and her husband made the difficult decision to leave their families behind and move to the U.S. with their three children. In the spring of 2016 she began taking classes at OCC. “When I started here my English was very difficult to understand. I worked hard. I read a lot and wrote a lot. I learned a lot of English from American tv shows and movies too.”
When Obaid struggled, she went to The Learning Center and received assistance. She worked with tutors in writing, math, accounting and business. Today she’s a Business Administration major and is six months away from earning her degree.
As a member of the Diversity Council, Obaid was one of the primary organizers of the College’s first-ever Unity Day earlier this year. The day-long, campus-wide event was a celebration of the diversity student’s enjoy here. Unity Day included cultural food offerings, activities such as the building of a unity mosaic, interactive written displays, cultural writing exercises and a diversity/inclusion photo booth. “I was very proud. We did something amazing. It was a huge success. Everybody was happy.”
It’s that diversity which has helped OCC feel like home to Obaid since she began taking classes here. There are a large number of students who immigrated to the U.S. from the other side of the world. “When I came here and saw so many Iraqi or Arabic students it made me feel like I have my space here, like I have a big family here. Arabic students make me feel like I am with my family.”
Financial support from OCC’s Foundation has helped make college affordable for Obaid. She received both the Community Scholars Scholarship and the Helen and John Etherington Scholarship. “The scholarships helped cover my expenses with classes, books, everything. It’s been very helpful.” You can learn more about supporting OCC’s students through the Believe in Better fundraising campaign.
College leaders have also played a significant role in Obaid’s transition to a new country. “So many people here made the difficult easier. The president (Dr. Casey Crabill) is a very nice person. You think, ‘she’s a president. I can’t talk to her.’ But she is so nice to talk to. Professor (Eunice) Williams helps me when I need anything. I love the professors here. I love the Learning Center. Everyone is so helpful.”
Onondaga Community College’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) welcomed 118 new members during its fall induction ceremony in Storer Auditorium. Students must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 to earn membership.
The event was an opportunity to celebrate the newest high-achievers and reflect on the chapters numerous accomplishments in the past year. PTK Faculty Advisor Dr. Annie Tuttle provided an overview of the projects students are working on. She also shared with attendees the news that OCC’s chapter was recognized as one of the top five in New York State and one of the top 35 in the nation. Furthermore, all five of the College’s prestigious SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence winners were PTK members.
The OCC Foundation was recognized for its continuing support of PTK students. Support from donors covers most of the PTK membership fees for students. Dr. Tuttle made special mention of Tim and Rosemarie Nelson, ’79 who were in the audience. Thanks to their generosity, students would be receiving their PTK stoles which are worn at commencement free of charge. If they reserved their caps and gowns at OCC’s bookstore, those would also be free to the students thanks to the Nelson’s support. “We are very appreciative of Tim and Rosemarie Nelson, and we’re fortunate that their generous donation to the OCC Foundation will allow our high achieving students to fully participate in commencement and proudly wear the stole they earned through their high academic achievement,” said Dr. Tuttle. You can learn more about supporting our students through our Believe In Better fundraising campaign here.
Several PTK members were honored for completing the Competitive Edge Program. The professional development program enhances students’ marketable skills to make them more competitive for scholarships, transferring and careers. Competitive Edge helps students strengthen the skills that are highly sought after by employers and colleges, such as oral and written communication, professional etiquette, emotional intelligence, and critical thinking.
The College’s PTK chapter also presented an honorary membership to Sarah Gaffney who is OCC’s Vice President of Finance and Interim Provost. She was singled out for her support of the chapter’s regional and national efforts and for the role she played in helping PTK find a home in the newly renovated Coulter Hall. The PTK suite includes a conference room, lounge, and three faculty and staff offices.
Phi Theta Kappa is the largest honor society in American higher education with more than 1.5 million members and 1,200 chapters located in all 50 of the United States, U.S. territories, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Germany, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Palau.
Below is a complete list of the fall 2018 PTK honorees.
Dennis J. Hebert will serve the OCC Foundation’s Board of Directors as Chair during the 2018-2019 academic year. Hebert is a 1967 alumnus of Onondaga Community College. He is a financial planner with Blue Ocean Strategic Capital, LLC in Liverpool NY.
Joining Hebert on the leadership team for the 2018-2019 year are:
Alicia S. Calagiovanni, Esq., Vice Chair – Ms. Calagiovanni is a partner in the law firm Costello, Cooney & Fearon, PLLC.
Alexander P. Henn, Treasurer – Mr. Henn is the Vice President for the Northeast Region with AXA Advisors, LLC.
Nancy A. Bottar, Secretary – Ms. Bottar is a Registered Nurse and a community leader.
The OCC Foundation is proud to welcome seven new members to its Board of Directors:
Rickey T. Brown – Mr. Brown is Executive Director for the Upstate Minority Economic Alliance.
Terry Hopkins – Ms. Hopkins is the Community Relations Manager at C&S Companies.
Jeff Knauss – Mr. Knauss is the Co-Founder of the Digital Hyve, a digital marketing agency.
Jonathan Parry – Mr. Parry is the Director of Genius NY, the world’s largest business accelerator for unmanned systems.
Ronald Belle, AAMS – Mr. Belle is the Chief Experience Officer at AmeriCU Federal Credit Union.
Alan Marzullo – Mr. Marzullo is the Business Manager of IBEW Local 43.
Two OCC Board Members have been granted Emeritus Director status:
James F. Holland, Executive Vice President for Administration at SRC, Inc. – Holland is an immediate past president of the OCC Foundation.
Orrin B. “Mac” MacMurray, P.E., former Chairman and CEO of C&S Engineers – MacMurray served on the Foundation board for several years.
Since its founding in 1980, the OCC Foundation has helped thousands of students realize their potential through higher education. The Foundation administers more than 150 scholarships and provides more than $800,000 in aid each year. In addition to scholarship support, the Foundation raises funds for programs and projects that enrich the Onondaga experience and open new opportunities for the campus community.
“I do not like them in a box. I do not like them with a fox.” OCC Provost Dr. Daria Willis read those words to Pre-K students as she shared the Dr. Seuss classic “Green Eggs & Ham” with them. Dr. Willis was at McKinley-Brighton Elementary school along with dozens of other College employees as part of Read Across America Day, a nationwide celebration that takes place annually on March 2. Harsh winter weather postponed the celebration at McKinley-Brighton until April 9.
The festivities were part of a double dose of reading pleasure. The College also hosted a book fair at McKinley-Brighton. More than 1,300 new books were brought in and spread out on tables in the library. Students came to the library one class at a time and were given the opportunity to review the reading choices. Each student was allowed to select two books to keep. Student’s also received a backpack highlighting OCC’s partnership with McKinley-Brighton. 5th grade students who do reports on their new books will be treated to a pizza party in June.
The Book Fair was made possible thanks to a grant from the Delta Kappa Gamma Educational Foundation with additional assistance from the OCC Foundation.
The reading events were part of a partnership between OCC and three Syracuse schools aimed at helping students think about career opportunities and higher education at a younger age. The partner schools include McKinley-Brighton, Meachem Elementary and J.T. Roberts Pre-K 8 School.
The OCC Foundation will pay tribute to two outstanding organizations and three school districts, honoring each with the first-ever Impact Partner awards. They will be handed out at the Foundation’s “Celebration of Success.”
The Celebration of Success will be held Tuesday, April 17 at 5:30 p.m. in the SRC Arena. Anyone interested in attending can do so by registering here. More information is available by contacting the OCC Foundation at (315) 498-6060 or email@example.com.
OCC presented its first of two books fairs at McKinley-Brighton Elementary School on November 6. Students were given the opportunity to select a brand new book to take home as part of the “Bobcats Read” community reading project. Another book fair will be held in the spring. Between the two fairs McKinley-Brighton Elementary students will receive approximately 1,300 new books! Both book fairs are made possible thanks to the generosity of the Delta Kappa Gamma Educational Foundation, the OCC Foundation and the OCC’s Barnes & Noble Bookstore.
This is the second year of a partnership between OCC and students at McKinley-Brighton which brings College Administrators, Faculty and Students to the school regularly to share academic and life lessons. The goal of the program is to help students start thinking about career opportunities and higher education at a younger age. During this academic year OCC added Meachem Elementary and J.T. Roberts PreK-8 School to the partnership.
When you support Onondaga Community College, you are making a statement that you believe in the importance of quality affordable education for everyone. You are creating new opportunities and new beginnings for students and our greater community.