OCC’s Best Honored in Albany

Two of OCC’s best and brightest students were honored for their academic excellence and community service Monday, March 9 in Albany. Alena Cerro and Greg Frietag represented the College at the USA Today Phi Theta Kappa All-New York Academic Team Recognition Ceremony at the New York State Museum. SUNY Community College students from across the state were singled out for their achievements.

Students and family members in attendance were treated to inspirational remarks from SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher and Dr. Rod A. Risley, Executive Director of Phi Theta Kappa, the student honor society for two-year college students. During the ceremony each student was called up individually, presented an honorary medal and photographed with Zimpher and Risley.

Four of Central New York’s elected representatives came to the museum to congratulate Cerro and Freitag including: Assemblyman William Magnarelli (D, 129th District), Assemblyman Sam Roberts (D, 128th District), Assemblyman Al Stirpe (D, 129th District) and Senator Dave Valesky (D, 53rd District).

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Following the event Cerro and Frietag were escorted to the New York State Assembly chambers were they were singled out for their accomplishments. Assemblyman Al Stirpe, a Democrat representing the 127th District told his colleagues about Cerro and Freitag’s achievements:

  • “Alena Cerro is an Electronic Media Communications major at Onondaga Community College. She is vice president for public relations for the College’s Alpha Sigma Zeta chapter. Cerro also serves as an Honors Program Student Ambassador and Honors Program Committee Student Representative. Cerro has earned President’s List status each semester on campus, received numerous scholarships and awards and participated in service learning projects. She is an intern in OCC’s External Relations and Marketing & New Media departments. Cerro is a 2013 graduate of Liverpool High School.”
  •  “Greg Freitag is a Hospitality Management major at Onondaga Community College. He has maintained a 4.0 GPA while volunteering for campus events, working several jobs and raising seven children. Freitag works full time on the overnight shift as a Plant Utilities Engineer at SUNY Upstate Medical University. He also works in the hospitality industry at the Courtyard by Marriott in Armory Square where he has been named employee of the month. In 2014 Freitag medaled in the Empire State Games Track & Field competition. This summer he will be one of 12,000 participants in the National Senior Games in Minneapolis. Freitag is a 1977 graduate of Olympia High School in Greece, New York.”

William Magnarelli, a Democrat representing the 129th District also addressed fellow colleagues. “Alena is a young lady with her whole future in front of her. Greg’s accomplishments are remarkable as well. Both of them are to be commended and I wish them the best in their future endeavors.” When Magnarelli finished speaking members of the Assembly applauded Cerro and Freitag.

The day of recognition was greatly appreciated by Cerro and Freitag.

Alena Cerro
Alena Cerro
Greg Freitag
Greg Freitag

“I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. It’s an honor to be able to accept this award on behalf of my college and the mentors who have nominated me for it. It’s just such a special day. I’m so lucky to be here,” Cerro said.


“I am overwhelmed. I think of myself as such a regular guy, not someone who’s worthy of all the attention that’s been given me. It’s all been a great honor and an extreme pleasure,” Freitag said.