Alyssa Haines

Student Alyssa Haines is pictured in a lab in Ferrante Hall. She’s transferring to SUNY Cobleskill where she will major in Histology, the study of the microscopic structure of tissue.
  • Major: Liberal Arts & Sciences
  • HS: Camden 2014

Alyssa Haines fell in love with science during her senior year at Camden High School but didn’t pursue higher education in the sciences immediately. Instead she decided to attend the Paul Mitchell School in Schenectady where students learn how to become a cosmetologist, barber, or makeup artist. After two years she decided to make a change.

In 2017 she enrolled at Onondaga Community College. While in a Microbiology class she took an interest in the microscope and her love of science took off from there. In her Anatomy & Physiology class the teaching methods of Dr. Lynn Infanti had a profound impact on her. “She inspired me with the amount of effort and time she dedicated to her students. She would crawl around the classroom like an amoeba to help us understand how it moves, as well as go over the human body multiple times and let student’s video her going over them as well as ways to remember parts easier. She made me love science on a whole other level.”

Haines also decided to take American Sign Language (ASL) because she thought it might help her to have that skill set in the medical field. She enjoyed the experience so much she joined the ASL Club. “Professor Rebecca Dadey really inspired me with how helpful she was in class. She’s very strong and independent. She was always available whenever I needed help.”

Eunice Williams OCC’s Chief Diversity Officer also played a key role in Haines growth here as a work/study student. “She was always cheerful and uplifting. She always gave me new opportunities and reassured me whenever I was concerned about everything I had going on.”

Along with the ASL Club, Haines was also a member of the Diversity & Inclusion Council and a member of the committee which organized Unity Day. “I loved the experience here of being involved and getting to know so many people. I networked, built relationships and felt like I was more a part of the school because of it.”

After she receives her degree this Saturday, Haines plans to transfer to SUNY Cobleskill where she will major in Histology which is the study of the microscopic structure of tissue.

Lessons Learned from Trash

OCC Student Nick Phillips presents his research at the Syracuse University Earth Science Symposium.

Nick Phillips has always been fascinated by water and the environment. That’s why the Environmental Technology major decided to travel to San Salvador two years in a row to study the impact of trash drifting onto the windward side of the Bahamian Island. Phillips presented his research April 1 at the Syracuse University Earth Science Symposium. He was the only student from a community college participating in the event which was dominated by graduate-level students. “It was a great experience to show professors from other colleges what I had done and what I had learned from the research. I also enjoyed hearing what other students were working on.”

What Phillips learned during his research was both disturbing and remarkable. He traveled to San Salvador Island in the Bahamas in both 2016 and 2017 as part of his attendance in the Geology and Marine Ecology of the Bahamas class (GEO290) and as an internship (ENV201). Both times he went to the windward side of the island and both times it was covered with trash. “Between four of us, we picked up 200 to 300 items and sorted them by what they were made of. By the time we’d stopped picking things up we looked back and you couldn’t even tell we’d made a difference in the amount of trash there. It was really sad to see.”

Months before Phillips first visit in 2016 Hurricane Joaquin ravaged the region, in the process sinking a massive cargo ship named El Faro. “We found a lot of solid, large items washed up on the shore which we believe came from the ship. We found things like unopened bottles of mayonnaise, cans of whip cream and bottles of vitamins.”

The following year Phillips didn’t see any large items. Instead he found fragments of objects from seemingly everywhere. “I found part of a weather buoy from Canada along with things from Ireland, Morocco, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.” He shared lessons learned from both research trips during his presentation at S.U.

Phillips has always had an interest in water and the environment.  Before graduating from Central Square High School in 2015 he did research in local waterways. He would catch fish and bring them to Syracuse University where they would be examined for the amount of mercury they contained. He also participated in the Genius Olympiad at SUNY Oswego. “Both of those activities got me interested in these kind of things.”

Despite his strong performance in this area, Environmental Technology is actually his “plan B.” Phillips career goal is to become a State Trooper. “I’ve wanted to go into law enforcement since I was 5-years-old and they asked us in Kindergarten to draw what we wanted to be. My father is a State Trooper.” He will take the State Police exam in October but plans to remain active in Environmental Technology so he has something to do later in life.

Phillips was planning to transfer to SUNY Cobleskill in the fall but has postponed his acceptance for one year. Next January he will participate in the “Semester at Sea” program through Colorado State University. He’ll board a ship in San Diego, then head to Hawaii, Japan, China, Vietnam, Burma, India, South Africa, Ghana, Morocco and end up in Germany next April. The schedule will allow students the time to sightsee in between working and learning. “I’m going to get to travel the world while getting a semester full of classes on the ship. I’m looking forward to it!”

As Phillips received his degree in May he reflected on his experiences on campus. “I loved it here. It was great to be able to sit down and talk with your professors and have them understand your needs. It was nice having small classes. I have friends at other colleges who have classes with 130 students in them and they don’t know their professors name and the professor knows one or two people in the class. I really liked it here.”

Culinary Champions Again!

OCC’s Hospitality Management team is champions of the Beef Farm Tour and Culinary Competition for the second consecutive year! Students brought home a first-place check worth $2,000. Each of the three student team members received $500 and the College’s Hospitality Management major was awarded the remaining $500.

The Champoions! OCC's Hospitality Management team includes (left to right) Angelo Lafata, Chris Pecone, Jessica Tobias and Chef Eric Rose.
The Champions! OCC’s Hospitality Management team includes (left to right) Angelo Lafata, Chris Pecone, Jessica Tobias and Chef Eric Rose.

OCC defeated teams from Erie Community College, Finger Lakes Community College, Tompkins Cortland Community College, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Oneonta and SUNY Sullivan. The event was held April 16 & 17 in Canandaigua, New York.

Chef Eric Rose once again led the students in competition. Joining him were Hospitality Management majors Angelo Lafata (Cicero-North Syracuse High School), Chris Pecone (Cuba Rushford High School) and Jessica Tobias (Cincinnatus High School).

Preparation for the event began weeks in advance. Students were required to create a restaurant theme, devise a menu with prices and food cost analysis, have menu items for customers with special needs (such as gluten free or low calorie) and develop a marketing plan which included social media. OCC’s team named its restaurant “Prospects Pub.”

Machaca Ribeye Sampler
The Machaca (ribeye) Sampler was prepared by OCC’s Hospitality Management team.

Students prepared a Machaca (Ribeye) Sampler which consisted of slow braised rib cap steak served with samplings of authentic regional accompaniments including guacamole, pico de gallo, Cotija cheese and fresh crisps.

The entree was Steak Pommes Frite which included seared aged beef rib-eye filet capped with fresh horseradish crisp, handmade truffled steak fries with Boursin cheese sauce and grilled micro Romaine wedge salad with Mission Fig and dried cherries. The winning entree is pictured at the top of this story.

Students created one beauty plate and five tasting plates for the judges, along with 12 servings of each recipe to divide and share with fellow contestants. The event was sponsored by the New York Beef Council.