Karri Bellamy

  • Major: Business with an Honors Minor
  • High School: Scotia-Glenville, class of 2016

OCC’s Career Services Center has played a significant role in Karri Bellamy’s growth and success.

Bellamy is a competitive horseback rider who graduated from high school in January of 2016. She planned to spend that spring training in Florida and was en route to the North American Junior Young Rider Championship in late July. Plans changed when her beloved horse “Noodle” was injured.

Bellamy intended to enroll in an equestrian college in New Jersey that fall but made a late decision to attend OCC in time for the fall semester. “I knew there was a great Career Services center here. I wanted to come here so I could get help eventually going someplace else.”

During her first semester while taking a Marketing class with Professor Kristen Costello, Bellamy was part of a group of students assigned to design a Marketing plan for Career Services. “We presented our Marketing Plan to Professor Costello and the employees at Career Services. From there, I was hired to work for them. Working there has been an incredible experience.”

Bellamy is utilizing OCC’s Small Business Development Center to start her own marketing business doing public relations for horseback riders. “I saw the importance of having a strong relationship between the sponsors and riders. There was a window of demand in the market and what started out as something small grew into something much larger.”

Besides starting her own business and working for Career Services, Bellamy is a member of honor society Phi Theta Kappa. She also works at the Marcellus Equestrian Center where her horse continues to recover.

Bellamy has also become a member of OCC’s Women’s Lacrosse team. Although she never played in high school, members of OCC’s team convinced her to try out because of her outstanding physical conditioning. She picked up the sport last fall and loved it. “I figured, ‘what do I have to lose? I’m here to do it all. I don’t want to just get a degree. I’ll never get this opportunity again.’”

After she earns her degree in May, Bellamy plans to study abroad and compete internationally in equestrianism. She wants to earn a bachelor’s degree in Business with a specialization in Marketing and a minor in Communications. “Coming here really opened my eyes to the business aspect of equestrian. I want to bring that into riding so I’m not just riding for an income.”

Bellamy is grateful for the opportunities she received here and the career path her OCC experience has put her on. “I never expected to be doing what I’m doing right now. It’s incredible how just through networking and talking to people that something can take off. Everything here is really what you make of it.”

Helping Businesses Start


Onondaga’s Small Business Development Center staff is (standing left to right): Karen Livingston, Business Advisor; Paul Brooks, Business Advisor; Frank Cetera, Business Advisor; Joan Powers, Director; Michael Cartini , Business Advisor; Keyona Kelly, Business Advisor. Sitting (left to right) are Regina Powell, Coordinator and Melissa Zomro Davis, Business Advisor.

Onondaga Community College’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is helping entrepreneurs across Central New York realize their dreams. The SBDC provides confidential, high-quality business consulting, at no cost, to both start-up and existing businesses. The organization is the subject of this month’s edition of our podcast, “Higher Ed News You Can Use from Onondaga Community College.”

The SBDC services approximately 1,000 clients per year. It offers professional training and workshops in areas such as:

  • QuickBooks Accounting Software
  • Cyber Security
  • Credit and Budgeting
  • 20-hour intensive training on how to start a small business (offered monthly)

OCC’s SBDC office serves businesses in six counties including Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, Oswego and Seneca counties.

You can learn more about the SBDC by visiting its website or calling (315) 498-6070.

OCC’s SBDC office is located on the fourth floor of Mulroy Hall, 4926 Onondaga Road (Route 173), Syracuse 13215.

Enjoy the podcast! You can listen to it here.

Who Will Be The Next Entrepreneur in Residence?

Onondaga Community College’s teaching restaurant is looking for its next Entrepreneur in Residence!

With Love’s current Entrepreneur in Residence is Venus Likulumbi. She started at the restaurant as a student by learning the fundamentals and best practices of being a line cook. Now she’s the headliner, serving patrons her beloved renditions of collards, black eyed peas and a fried chicken. Likulumbi is already catering large parties and keeping the dining room full and happy.

The next Entrepreneur in Residence will need to commit at least 25 hours per week from July 1 to December 20, bring a national or regional cuisine he or she knows exceedingly well, be comfortable working with a diverse team and clientele and have the ability to make compromises while holding true to their vision. In return the Entrepreneur in Residence will receive a stipend, wraparound business support from the Small Business Development Center and CenterState CEO along with an enthusiastic fan base. With Love is also always accepting new students on the ‘Line Cook” track.

If you are interested in any of these opportunities visit www.withloverestaurant.com for more information. With Love restaurant is located at 435 North Salina Street in Syracuse.

Shining Star of Child Care: Stella Barbuto Penizotto, ’90

Stella Barbuto Penizotto’s affiliation with Onondaga Community College started with her first class in the fall 1988 semester and has grown stronger in the 25 years since she graduated. “The things I learned at OCC laid such a strong foundation for me,” said Penizotto. “The constant help I’ve received from OCC’s Small Business Development Center has helped me build what we have today.”

John and Stella Penizotto own and operate Shining Stars Daycare's three locations in Onondaga County.
John and Stella Penizotto own and operate Shining Stars Daycare’s three locations in Onondaga County.

What Stella and her business partner and husband John have built is “Shining Stars Daycare,” a group of locally owned day care centers in Onondaga County that employ 70 people and serve 330 families.

Penizotto graduated from Syracuse’s Henninger High School in 1987 with plans to go into nursing. When she decided she preferred to become a teacher she enrolled in OCC’s Human Services major. “It was perfect for me. The teachers and everyone within the major were great, and I loved what I was learning.”

After graduating in 1990, Penizotto continued on to SUNY Oswego, where she would earn her bachelor’s in elementary education two years later. “I was ready to become a teacher but there were no teaching jobs.” She took a job as a nanny then worked at three different child care centers.

It was 1994 and Penizotto was combing the classifieds searching for a new job when she stumbled upon an ad which caught her attention. “It was for space at Medical Center East in East Syracuse. We looked at each other and realized it was the perfect opportunity to open our own day care center.”

cropped Shining Stars logoWith her husband’s marketing expertise and her day care experience, the Penizotto’s opened their first Shining Stars Daycare in July 1994. By the fall it was filled to capacity. Seven years later they opened their second center in Manlius. In 2009 they opened their third facility in Liverpool.

The Shining Stars in Liverpool is a brand new building built to the Penizotto’s specifications. The entire design is based on everything Stella learned from spending time in other day care centers and seeing what did and didn’t work. Each classroom in the 14,500 square foot facility is larger than state regulations call for. Outside are three playgrounds specifically designed to accommodate children in three different groups: toddler, pre-K and school-aged. The center also has a 3,000 square foot gym where children can burn off their seemingly endless amount of energy. “Having a gym in this climate is invaluable. There are only so many days out of the year children can play outside. With our gym we always have a place for children to play.”

Joan Powers is Director of OCC's Small Business Development Center.
Joan Powers is Director of OCC’s Small Business Development Center.

As Shining Stars has continued to grow, Penizotto has leaned on OCC’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC). “We call them all the time. In the beginning it was about business plans and projections. Every time we opened a new center we would work with them again on financing and any grants that might be available.”

Penizotto’s point person at the SBDC is Joan Powers, who is its director. “Joan just has so much knowledge. There are things you need to know to get through the process and Joan and the SBDC are great to work with. I always tell people they are so worth looking up. Their services are free.”

Penizotto in the Rose Garden at the White House with President Obama
Penizotto in the Rose Garden at the White House with President Obama

In 2010 Powers was so impressed with what Penizotto had accomplished she nominated her for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s “Small Business Person of the Year” award. The judges agreed and Penizotto won both the Syracuse district and New York State awards. She then solely represented New York State in the running for National Small Business Person of the Year awards in Washington, DC during National Small Business Week. Attendees were recognized at a ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House and Penizotto was photographed with President Barack Obama. “When we met the President it was very brief. I got to shake his hand because I happened to be right up front.”

In 2014 OCC named Penizotto an “Alumni Face” in recognition of her professional achievements and contributions to the College and the community. A plaque highlighting her accomplishments is on-display in the Academic II building. “It’s a tremendous feeling to be honored by OCC. I loved my time there and value the relationship I continue to have with the College.”

Penizotto will continue her relationship with OCC’s Small Business Development Center as she plans her next major project. “We’re going to rebuild our Manlius center. Any other expansion plans will be up to our daughter.” The Penizotto’s 15-year-old daughter Alyssa is a sophomore at Liverpool High School who plans to get her teaching degree before fully joining the family business. The Penizotto’s also have a son, 11-year-old Peter.

Penizotto has been in business long enough to see children return to her centers as employees. “We have several 18-year-olds working for us now who started with us as children. It’s rewarding to see how well they are doing. In many ways it’s a testament to the hard work we’ve put in and the success we’ve experienced. We’ve been fortunate to be in business for 21 years.”

Focus on Creating Jobs


Onondaga Community College has appointed Michael Metzgar to serve as Associate Vice President, Economic & Workforce Development. He was chosen from a field of candidates following a national search.

MikeMetzgarMetzgar has more than 15 years of experience in academics and workforce education. Since 2010 he has worked as the Executive Director of Workforce Development and Career Education at Raritan Valley Community College in New Jersey. Metzgar holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Lehigh University and a master’s degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


Metzgar’s expertise in workforce development will be utilized while overseeing the College’s implementation of a $2.5 million dollar Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The focus of the grant is an agribusiness and food-processing program which will encompass food science and safety, production and processing, distribution and logistics, supervisory training and hospitality. The College will partner with numerous local businesses. OCC was the only college in New York State selected to participate in the nationwide $2 billion fund for job training programs at colleges.


As the leader of the Economic & Workforce Development department Metzgar will also oversee non-credit programs, business workforce courses, corporate training, and the Small Business Development Center.