Never Forget

Onondaga Community College President Dr. Casey Crabill speaks during the annual 9/11 Memorial Ceremony.

The campus community paused to remember those whose lives were lost in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. A brief ceremony was held on the 17th anniversary of the tragedy at the College’s 9/11 Memorial Site on the south side of the Whitney Applied Technology Center.

College President Dr. Casey Crabill recognized first responders for their heroic actions, including Dennis Burgos who worked in OCC’s Department of Public Safety. Seventeen years earlier Burgos was serving as a New York State Trooper when he was deployed to New York City in the hours after 9/11. Burgos contracted lung cancer as a result of his time spent near Ground Zero. After retiring as a State Trooper, Burgos worked at OCC for five years. He passed away last December.

Dr. Crabill also remembered Wendy Faulkner, a 1972 alumna and one of the College’s distinguished Alumni Faces honorees. Faulkner was a victim of the 9/11 attacks. Each year on the anniversary of 9/11, flowers are added to Faulker’s Alumni Faces etching in the Gordon Student Center.

September 11 was designated a National Day of Service and Remembrance. Dr. Crabill asked attendees to perform an act of kindness today. “Let us all do something special to help someone in honor of those whose lives were changed forever on that day,” said Dr. Crabill.

Rebecca Hoda-Kearse, OCC’s Associate Vice President for Student Engagement and Learning Support also spoke briefly. Hoda-Kearse was working in Manhattan on the morning of September 11. “As you can imagine, the aftermath was horrific but I wanted to share some of the beauty I witnessed. I saw people embracing each other like never before. The strength of the human spirit was evident. Millions of people bonded. We shall never forget that,” said Hoda-Kearse.

During the memorial ceremony Dr. David J, Rudari, D.M.A. sang the National Anthem and God Bless America. Music majors Jack Wiley (Watertown HS, 2012) and Andrew Kraeger (Notre Dame HS in Elmira, 2016) played “Going Home” at the beginning and end of the event.

Special thanks to OCC’s Sue Tormey for coordinating the annual event, OCC’s Facilities Department and grounds crew for maintaining the memorial site, the Onondaga Hill Fire Department and neighboring departments, and OCC’s Campus Safety for their service to our campus.

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Honoring Our Own

Dennis Burgos is a member of OCC’s Department of Campus Safety and Security. He’s undergoing treatment for cancer due to his service as a State Trooper in New York City after the 9/11 attacks.

The college paid tribute to one of its heroes during Monday’s 9/11 Remembrance ceremonies. Dennis Burgos, a member of OCC’s Campus Safety and Security team, was presented a 9/11 lapel pin from the White House which read “United in Memory September 11, 2001.” At the time of the terrorist attack, Burgos was a New York State Trooper who was sent to New York City on September 11. He is presently undergoing treatment for cancer due to the air quality at Ground Zero 16 years ago. “We will never forget the people we lost that day,” said Burgos. “I just want everyone to come together and be one. Thank you for everything. I appreciate your support.”

Burgos was honored during the annual remembrance ceremony on the south side of the Whitney Applied Technology Center. The event included singing by Music Professor David J. Rudari, D.M.A., musical performances by students Jack Wiley and Sydney Alley and remarks from Provost and Senior Vice President Dr. Daria Willis and Professor Dr. Crystal Etzel. First responders from Onondaga Hill Fire Department and TLC Ambulance joined the campus community for the event. There was also a moment of silence for alumna Wendy Faulkner who lost her life on that day. A single red rose was placed next to her Alumni Faces plaque in the Gordon Student Center.

Other related events included a panel discussion which gave participants and attendees the opportunity to reflect on 9/11 and the days that followed. Panelists included 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. Burgos was in attendance at the event and also shared his reflections on the day.

In the Gordon Student Center, a “Thank You” banner in appreciation of our first responders was available for members of the campus community to sign. Complimentary beverages for all Veterans, active duty military and first responders were served throughout the day.

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OCC Remembers


The College's 9/11 ceremony outside the Whitney Applied Technology Center.
The College’s 9/11 ceremony outside the Whitney Applied Technology Center.

The campus community paused to commemorate the 15 year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on our nation.

A ceremony was held on the south side of the Whitney Applied Technology Center. The event began with the placement of a wreath near the College’s 9/11 plaque. Dr. Julie White, the College’s Vice President of Student Engagement and Learning Support, delivered remarks. Professor of Music David J. Rudari, D.M.A., led attendees in the National Anthem and God Bless America. During the ceremony each of the names of the nearly 3,000 victims of the 9/11 attacks were read. Dave Wall, Director of Campus Safety and Security was the first to begin reading names.

The names of the victims were also read at the Clock Tower on the West Quad and in the Gordon Student Center at the Alumni Faces panel of Wendy Faulkner who died that day.

You can view a slideshow of OCC’s 9/11 tribute below.

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Michael Campbell

TOP OF STORY Michael Campbell 011Michael Campbell’s life story could be a movie one day. His parents divorced when he was eight years old. Two years later Campbell, his sister and his mother were homeless. “My negative attitude and actions led to a lot of bad things,” says Campbell. He dropped out of high school, was in and out of trouble with the law and was incarcerated three separate times for a total of three years.

During Campbell’s final time in jail he went through treatment called Aggressive Release Training which helped him conquer his anger issues. “We acted out situations and learned the right way and the wrong way to deal with things. I came to realize that being angry just wasn’t worth it any more. It made a huge difference.”

Campbell was released from jail in May 2013 and enrolled at OCC three months later. He began taking remedial classes which don’t count as credit toward a degree but prepare the student for college-level work.

Three years later Campbell is one of the top students on campus. He’s a Business Administration major, member of the Business Club and a recent inductee into international honor society Phi Theta Kappa for which he is its vice president for scholarship. He’s also the vice president for Phi Theta Kappa’s entire North Region. Campbell is an internationally certified firefighter and a hazardous materials operator with the Onondaga Hill Fire Department. In May he will become the first person on his mother’s side to earn a college degree.

Campbell’s journey from troubled youth to accomplished 25-year-old is remarkable. “I get emotional when I talk about my past. I came to a fork in the road and could have gone either way. I’ll never forget the obstacles I’ve overcome because they have made me the person I am today. I do my best to show those who have been through the same struggles as I have that anything is possible.”

Learning to Survive Smoke and Fire in Residence Halls

Resident students at OCC received lifesaving training this fall when they learned how to survive fire and smoke in a residence hall. The College’s Department of Campus Safety and Security, along with the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, taught students valuable lessons as part of Fire Safety Day September 23rd.

All students living on-campus were required to take part in the exercise. As part of the drill, a portion of Residence Hall B went dark due to a “power failure,” fire alarms were activated, the first floor was filled with fog from a theatrical fog machine to simulate smoke, fake flames were used, and some exits were blocked. Students learned how to evacuate the building safely.

Outside, a mock-up of a student dorm room was set on fire to show students how easily a fire can start and how quickly flames can spread. Students also were able to see how effective sprinkler systems are on a live fire.

Members of Rural Metro Ambulance and the Onondaga Hill Fire Department also participated in the training exercise. “This exercise is invaluable for students. It’s very eye-opening for them to see and understand how destructive a fire can be, and how important it is to do the correct things to prevent them from happening,” said Doug Kinney, Vice President of Campus Safety and Security.