Wegmans School of Pharmacy Partnership

The Wegmans School of Pharmacy at St. John Fisher College.

Onondaga Community College and St. John Fisher College have teamed up to create a unique program which will provide students a direct pathway to a doctoral degree. The Pharmacy Early Assurance Program will offer two qualified OCC students each year guaranteed acceptance into Fisher’s Wegmans School of Pharmacy.

Fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, the School of Pharmacy offers a Doctor of Pharmacy program, and in partnership with Fisher’s School of Business also delivers a Pharm.D./MBA joint degree program.

Since its opening in 2006, the School has graduated more than 550 students, who consistently outperform national averages on statewide licensure exams. In June 2016, students taking the New York State Part III Exam enjoyed a 100 percent pass rate; the only school in the state to do so. Additionally, the 69 Fisher students who took the 2015 North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination for the first time earned a 97.10 percent pass rate, exceeding the national average of 92.64 percent.

In addition to classroom and laboratory learning, 30 percent of the School’s curriculum includes experiential education components. Students participate in clinical rotations in a variety of health care settings in the Rochester area, and also have the opportunity to engage in medical missions and service trips to Montana, El Salvador, and India, among other places.

Fisher currently offers the Pharmacy Early Assurance Program to a select group of incoming freshmen who enter Fisher directly from high school, guaranteeing admission to the program after a minimum of two years of pre-pharmacy course work, provided they meet program requirements. The new agreement with community colleges extends that offer to students interested in transferring to the College. About 12 to 15 percent of students enrolling in the School come from community colleges with no prior enrollments at four-year institutions.

Kirstin Amisano

Kirstin Amisano is making history at OCC as a member of the College’s first class of STEM Scholars. Amisano built her academic foundation at Baker High School before graduating in 2013. “The classes I was taking in high school were very challenging but there was a lot of help available just like there is at OCC.”

Amisano excelled academically at OCC and was selected to be part of the STEM Scholars program. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. The program is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation and is both merit-based and need-based. Students receive scholarships up to $5,000 per semester, and are also supported by peer mentors, faculty mentors, and are encouraged to engage in internship opportunities that will prepare them for their transfer and career choices.

“This program has helped me immensely. It’s taken a lot of financial stress out of my life so I can really concentrate on my school work,” said Amisano. “OCC has been very focused and challenging for me. I love the small class sizes. There are no huge lecture halls here. All of the teachers are very helpful.” Despite Amisano’s challenging course load this semester she is finding time to help others, working as a tutor in the College’s new Learning Center.

Amisano will graduate in May 2015 with a degree in Math and Science. She’s planning to transfer to St. John Fisher and continue pursuing a career in the sciences.

Onondaga offers nine different STEM degree programs:
*Computer Forensic Science
*Computer Information Systems
*Computer Science
*Electrical Engineering Technology
*Engineering Science
*Environmental Technology
*Math and Science Liberal Arts
*Mechanical Technology
*Nuclear Technology

STEM Scholars

Elizabeth Luke (left) and Kirstin Amisano (right) are two of Onondaga's initial STEM Scholars.
Elizabeth Luke (left) and Kirstin Amisano (right) are two of Onondaga’s initial STEM Scholars.

OCC’s highly successful STEM Scholars program is continuing into the future. A recent grant totaling nearly $600,000 from the National Science Foundation ensures students in specific programs will have both merit and need-based funding into the foreseeable future. Acceptance into the program is both merit-based and need-based. Selected STEM scholars receive scholarships up to $5,000 per semester, and are also supported by peer mentors, faculty mentors, and are encouraged to engage in internship opportunities that will prepare them for their transfer and career choices.

The STEM scholars program is an entry point for students interested in pursuing a career within a growing industry. New York State ranks 3rd in the nation for projected growth in STEM jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 477,000 STEM-related jobs will be available in New York by 2018.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. Onondaga offers nine different STEM degree programs:

  • Computer Forensic Science
  • Computer Information Systems
  • Computer Science
  • Electrical Engineering Technology
  • Engineering Science
  • Environmental Technology
  • Math and Science Liberal Arts
  • Mechanical Technology
  • Nuclear Technology

Students selected to be STEM Scholars at OCC receive a scholarship renewable each semester provided they maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average and continue full-time progress toward their associate degree.

Associate Professor of Biology Maryann Page oversees the STEM Scholars program. “We’re thrilled the program will be continuing and growing into the future,” said Page. “Our incoming students will be mentored by returning students in the program. We will meet with incoming scholars on a weekly basis to keep in touch with them and monitor their progress. This type of guidance will be invaluable.”

During the spring 2014 semester 16 students were part of OCC’s first class of STEM Scholars. One of them was Elizabeth Luke who came to the College from East Syracuse Minoa High School. Luke is pursuing a Mathematics and Science degree. After graduating in May 2015 she’s planning to take advantage of the College’s “2+2 partnership agreement” with SUNY Upstate Medical University and enroll in its medical biotechnology program.

Kirstin Amisano is also one of the College’s initial 16 STEM Scholars. She’s a 2013 graduate of Baldwinsville High School whose love for science began in 6th grade when she participated in a career research project. After graduating in May 2015 she also plans to take advantage of the College’s “2+2 partnership agreement” with St. John Fisher College. “My grandfather went to school there, and it’s always been where I wanted to go,” said Amisano.

It was a busy summer for Onondaga students with STEM majors. Luke worked on a bacteria research project at Syracuse University thanks to a research scholarship she earned. Her project will have her engaged in cutting-edge biotechnology research throughout the upcoming academic year as well. Three STEM Scholars in the Nuclear Technology degree program learned important on-the-job training through internships at Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station (Daniel Loveless and Eric Schreiber) and at National Grid (Jason Densmore).

“It’s so wonderful for our students to engage these opportunities during the summer,” said Page. “When our students graduate we want them to be armed with both knowledge learned in our classroom and valuable on-the-job training experience.”