Getting Opinions From The Pros

OCC Interior Design major Tara Carr (right) receives feedback about her portfolio from Ann Marie Benedict (left), a Project Manager at King+King Architects.

Several students enrolled in the Architectural Technology and Interior Design majors took advantage of an invaluable opportunity when industry professionals came to campus to judge their portfolios. “It was a very good experience to be exposed to an individual who could help me with my portfolio and tell me how I could make it look the best and most professional,” said Tara Carr, an Interior Design major who came to OCC from West Genesee High School.

Carr’s evaluator was Ann Marie Benedict, a Project Manager at King+King Architects and Onondaga Community College alumna. She earned degrees in both Interior Design and Architectural Technology from OCC before transferring to Syracuse University. Benedict turned an internship at King + King into a job and has worked there for 20 years. She enjoyed the opportunity to give back and share advice with tomorrow’s professionals. “It’s important to do things like this so students understand what it is to work in the profession. It’s important to get them acclimated to what it’s going to be like in the real world and what we’re looking for in students and designers.”

The Portfolio Review Session was coordinated by OCC’s Career Services Office, the Office of Alumni Relations, and faculty in the Architectural Technology and Interior Design majors. Organizers wish to express their thanks to the following industry professionals who volunteered their time to evaluate student’s work:

  • Ann Marie Benedict, King + King Architects
  • Sara Berg, Ashley McGraw Architects
  • Diana Elliott, Ashley McGraw Architects
  • Douglas Johnston, SUNY ESF

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Do What You Love: Nikki Carlson ’13

Nikki Carlson at the Hueber Breuer company location in Syracuse
Nikki Carlson at the Hueber-Breuer Construction Co., Inc in Syracuse where she is a Program Coordinator for its Fire Services Division.

“Do what you love!” Nikki Carlson heard those words from her parents repeatedly when she was growing up. They’ve become her motto while leading her into jobs and activities often dominated by men including firefighting, hunting, strongman competitions and construction. “I go into these activities knowing others may be better or stronger, but as long as I am working my hardest and learning that is all that matters.”

Carlson prepares for the hunting season.
Carlson prepares for the hunting season.

Carlson is a native of Liverpool who earned her GED in 2004 and ventured out into the working world. Several years later a conversation sparked her interest in higher education. She wanted to become a forest ranger. Carlson could earn the degree she wanted from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) after earning an associate degree at Onondaga Community College thanks to a 2+2 partnership agreement between the institutions. “Going to OCC first was a no brainer. I could save money, complete my core courses and get reacquainted with everything attached to going back to school.”

In 2010 Carlson enrolled in the College’s Fire Protection Technology major. She was pleased to learn she would receive college credits for training seminars she attended while serving as a volunteer firefighter. As Carlson worked her way through her first semester she challenged herself to conquer her biggest obstacles. “I was terrified of math. I knew I would have to take calculus and statistics in order to complete my degree so I lived in the Math Lab getting help.” Carlson was able to pass all of her required courses and transfer to SUNY-ESF where she would pursue a degree in Sustainable Construction Management.

Carlson was getting ready to start classes at SUNY ESF in the spring of 2013 when she saw something interesting at a firefighter trade show. “I came across a booth for Hueber-Breuer and was wondering, ‘What was a construction company doing at a firefighter convention?’” Carlson asked the question and learned Hueber-Breuer had an area that specialized in the development of fire stations. She was intrigued. The next day Carlson followed up the conversation with an email to Hueber-Breuer, then forgot about the encounter. Two years later as she was entering her final semester at SUNY-ESF Carlson received a reply. She was being asked to come in for a job interview. “I was floored! I couldn’t believe they had saved that email from two years ago.”

Carlson taking part in the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb in her fire gear.
Carlson taking part in the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb in her fire gear.

Carlson was hired as Project Coordinator in Hueber-Breuer’s Division of Fire Protection Services. She would start her new job while continuing to pursue her degree. “I worked three days a week and went to school two days a week until I graduated. I felt extremely fortunate. I had a job I was passionate about before I even finished school.”

Carlson has been at Hueber-Breuer for a little more than a year. She still loves to hunt and take part in strongman competitions. She is also a volunteer firefighter with the Liverpool Fire Department where she works out of Fire Station 3. She’s living the “do what you love” mantra her parents taught her. It was all made possible when she decided to go back to school. “OCC felt like home right from the start. I still talk to my professors, especially in the Math Department. I tell everyone I come in contact with if they are thinking about school to go to OCC because it’s there for everyone.”


Emory Haynes

TOP OF STORY Alyssa Haynes

Emory Haynes experienced one of those transformational moments during her senior year at Solvay High School. As secretary of the school’s Key Club she was invited to a regional conference in Albany. “The main speaker was a representative from the Thirst Project which is a non-profit, college-based organization that goes to places in Africa that don’t have access to clean, reliable sources of water and builds fresh water wells. His presentation was very powerful.”

That day helped her decide she’d like to pursue a career in environmental activism. During the fall 2015 semester Haynes was named president of the Whole Earth Club. Her outstanding academic performance led to her induction into international honor society Phi Theta Kappa (PTK). She’s majoring in Mathematics and Science with an Honors minor and is PTK’s vice president of leadership.

Haynes has benefited from her involvement with OCC’s Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program, known as C-STEP. “It’s fantastic. It gave me access to resources that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise been able to have. With C-STEP you have an advisor who knows you, knows what’s best for you, what classes you should be in, what you’re capable of taking and genuinely cares about the outcome of your success.”

Haynes will earn her OCC degree in December 2016, just three semesters after enrolling. She plans to transfer to SUNY-ESF.

Plants on a Wall!

You might do a double take the first time you see it. Plants are growing on a wall inside Ferrante Hall! You can see it for yourself at the landing between the second and third floors. The wall features live plants that will be part of a larger educational display. Signage will be installed, highlighting ways plants contribute to environmental health. The display is being supported by a SUNY 2020 grant in conjunction with the new Institute of Environmental Health and Environmental Medicine, a collaboration of Upstate Medical University, SUNY ESF, SUNY Oswego, and OCC.


CROPPED Living Plant Wall
The living plant wall is located in Ferrante Hall at the landing between the second and third floors.

Supporting Workforce Development

Onondaga Community College received a $220,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase. A ceremonial check was presented during a press conference June 10 in the Whitney Applied Technology Center. The funding will support the College’s Workforce Development efforts, specifically in the training of students for employment in the agribusiness and food processing industry. The College is partnering with employers, nonprofit organizations and New York State to develop the program.

This generous grant from JPMorgan Chase is part of its $1 million commitment to supporting advanced manufacturing training programs in the upstate regions of Syracuse, Albany, Buffalo and Rochester, and part of a much broader $250 million commitment to address the skills gap in communities around the world. Goals of JPMorgan Chase’s plan include:

  • Building a demand-driven system through cross-sector gatherings to encourage collaboration, share findings and formulate strategies.
  • Investing in the best training and making targeted investments to strengthen and scale the most effective workforce training programs.
  • Relying on data and sponsoring a data-driven analysis of skills demand to supply gaps in local markets.

The focus of this project on the agribusiness and food processing industry is in response to a workforce demand in a growing sector of the economy. The five-county region of Central New York (CNY) includes 3,585 farm businesses generating products with a market value of $673 million. Agricultural commodity sales in New York State (NYS) increased by 20% from 2007-2012 to over $5.4 billion annually and by 21% in CNY during the same period. NYS is a leader in agricultural production of apples (2nd in the U.S.); feed corn (2nd); sweet corn (4th); fruits, tree nuts, and berries, (6th); and vegetables for market (8th). NYS is the nation’s third largest producer of fluid milk and commodity crops and was the nation’s top yogurt producer in 2012, 2013 and 2014. In addition, there are more than 200 food processing companies in CNY, including a growing list of farm breweries and distilleries producing beer, hard cider, wine, and spirits.

In October 2014, OCC was awarded a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program in support of this effort.

“We are thrilled to be selected by JPMorgan Chase to receive this important grant funding. Through our Workforce Development program we are committed to responding to the needs of both local employers and workers and aligning the needs of both as we work to advance the economic vitality and growth of the Central New York region. Having this support in place will make a significant impact upon our mission,” said OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill.

“All of us on the Board of Trustees are keenly aware of OCC’s critical role in the community and the opportunity we have to make Central New York a better place for all of us. We applaud JPMorgan Chase for being our partners in this effort through their very generous grant. We are very fortunate to have their support and thank them for it,” said Margaret M. “Meg” O’Connell, Chair, OCC Board of Trustees.

“At JPMorgan Chase, we believe we have a fundamental responsibility to use our resources and expertise to help the communities where we live and work. We are proud to be partnering with Onondaga Community College to provide training to folks in Syracuse that will fill important jobs within the advanced manufacturing sector,” said Mark Allen, Upstate New York Region Executive, Commercial Banking at JPMorgan Chase.

“I am grateful to community partners JPMorgan Chase and Onondaga Community College for their ongoing support of transformative solutions to impact both employers and un-and-underemployed residents in our community,” said Robert Simpson, president of CenterState CEO. “This new investment will dovetail with CenterState CEO’s Work Train initiative, which will align with and support the college’s training programs, helping to develop a manufacturing workforce pipeline in the region.”

OCC is working to ensure the programs it develops are well-aligned with employer needs by using the DACUM (Developing A CurriculUM) process. After a half-century of use, DACUM is widely accepted as the best methodology for creating competency-based and employer-driven training to build workforce capacity. Many state agencies, including the IRS, Texas Occupational Standards Committee, and national, international, and multi-billion dollar corporations, including AT&T, Boeing, Disney, Energizer and General Motors use DACUM to establish effective training programs with superior results.

Several leading employers in the Agribusiness and Food Industry sector have committed to the project including: AGRANA Fruit US, Inc., American Food & Vending, Byrne Dairy, Giovanni Foods, G&C Foods, HP Hood, Food Bank of Central New York and Tops Friendly Markets. Employer partners are committed to identifying and validating competencies, validating curriculum, promoting the program, providing content experts and instructors, identifying career pathways, hiring qualified candidates upon completion and participating in program assessment.

Non-profit partners include CenterState CEO, a 2000-member, business leadership organization; Work Train, a collaborative led by CenterState to link low-income individuals with job-training; the Workforce Development Institute; the Southwest Community Center; Catholic Charities; Syracuse Educational Opportunity Center; the Manufacturer’s Association of Central New York and the Onondaga Farm Bureau. The public workforce investment system is represented by CNY Works and JOBSplus!

Partners in the agribusiness program include SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry, SUNY Morrisville and Cornell University.FEATURE JPMorgan Chase check presentation

Ten Tons of Love

OCC’s students showed their generosity through their participation in the “Ten Tons of Love” program. Students moving out of residence halls donated unopened food, unwanted clothing and other reusable items in good condition.

Ten Tons of Love 004
Non-perishable foods go to OCC’s food pantry for distribution to students.

Unopened food stayed on campus for distribution at OCC’s food pantry, which is located in room 112 of the Gordon Student Center. The rest of the items were trucked to the First English Lutheran Church at 501 James Street in Syracuse. Volunteers at the church worked to sort the items and distribute them to community members in need.

Ten Tons of Love is a collaborative effort between OCC, SUNY ESF, Syracuse University and the First English Lutheran Church.

Student Champions from Coast to Coast

Pictured (left to right) are Sam Rashkin, Building Technologies Office Chief; team members Brent Crump, SUNY ESF; Peter LiCongo, SUNY ESF; Andrew Kenneally, Onondaga; Michelle Tinner, SUNY ESF; David Wallace, Onondaga; Gamika Korale, SUNY ESF; Jacek Bartczak, Onondaga; and Thomas Kenney, Housing Innovation Research Laboratory Vice President of Engineering and Research. Onondaga team member Krystal Tyrrell is missing from the photo.
Pictured (left to right) are Sam Rashkin, Building Technologies Office Chief; team members Brent Crump, SUNY ESF; Peter LiCongo, SUNY ESF; Andrew Kenneally, Onondaga; Michelle Tinner, SUNY ESF; David Wallace, Onondaga; Gamika Korale, SUNY ESF; Jacek Bartczak, Onondaga; and Thomas Kenney, Housing Innovation Research Laboratory Vice President of Engineering and Research. Onondaga team member Krystal Tyrrell is missing from the photo.

OCC students experienced an unprecedented level of success while competing against fellow college students in regional and national events during the spring semester.

This design earned first place in the category of Detached Single Family Homes.
This design earned first place in the category of Detached Single Family Homes.

A group of students from OCC, SUNY ESF, and Syracuse University earned first place honors in the the U.S. Department of Energy’s Challenge Home Student Design Competition April 26 and 27 in Denver, Colorado. Student teams were required to create and present designs for a cost-effective, zero energy ready home for mainstream builders. Onondaga students Jacek Bartczak (Klucze, Poland), Andrew Kenneally (West Genesee), Krystal Tyrrell (Faith Heritage) and David Wallace (Fulton) were members of the winning team. They won first place in the category of Detached Single Family Homes. SUNY ESF student Brent Crump (Sandy Creek), who graduated from Onondaga in 2009, was also a member of the winning team.

Dewayne Garner, Jr.
Dewayne Garner stands outside the White House while in Washington, DC for the Emerging Researchers National Conference.

Dewayne Garner Jr. (Cicero-North Syracuse) took first place honors in the Emerging Researchers National Conference in February in Washington, D.C. Garner was honored for his presentation on the Immunomodulation of Cystic Fibrosis in the category of Microbiology, Immunology, and Virology. Both of Garner’s parents, Dewayne Sr. and Kionna, are Onondaga alumni.

 Onondaga Aerospace Scholars (left to right) Shaquille Young, Elijah Tillman, and Bryan Morris discuss the orbiting process.
Onondaga Aerospace Scholars (left to right) Shaquille Young, Elijah Tillman, and Bryan Morris discuss the orbiting process.

Onondaga was well represented at NASA’s National Community College Aerospace Scholars program in Huntsville, Alabama in February. Only six students in all of New York State were invited to participate, and four of them came from Onondaga: Joshua Manrow (Jordan-Elbridge), Bryan Morris (Fair Haven), Elijah Tillman (Syracuse), and Shaquille Young (Brooklyn). To be selected, students needed to put together a presentation which would send a lunar rover to Mars. Their plan needed to include objectives and goals, a strategically selected landing site, a carefully planned budget, and a design of their rover. While in Huntsville students took part in meetings and briefings conducted by NASA engineers and scientists, and they were part of an exploration team project directed by NASA engineers.

(left to right) Jullen Merrill, Anthony Pernisi, Chef Eric Rose, and Tom Hooker talk strategy prior to the Culinary Beef Tour and Competition.
(left to right) Jullen Merrill, Anthony Pernisi, Chef Eric Rose, and Tom Hooker talk strategy prior to the Culinary Beef Tour and Competition.

Onondaga’s Hospitality Management team won the first ever Culinary Beef Tour and Competition April 10 and 11 in Canandaigua, New York. Students Anthony Pernisi (West Genesee), Tom Hooker (East Syracuse Minoa), and Jullen Merrill (East Syracuse Minoa), along with Chef Eric Rose, defeated teams from Paul Smith’s College, SUNY Cobleskill, Finger Lakes Community College, and two teams from Niagara Culinary Institute. Each Onondaga student earned a $500 scholarship for their efforts. The competition required each team to turn a beef ribeye into an appetizer and an entree within a two hour period. Students were asked to create one beauty plate and five tasting plates for the judges, along with 12 servings of each recipe to divide and shared with fellow contestants. Each team also had to learn the marketing side of hospitality management, name their recipes, print them out for customers, and utilize Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to post their “special of the week.” The competition was sponsored by the New York Beef Council.

Zachary Field is congratulated by the Honorable Jenny Rivera as he receives the grand prize in the 2014 David A. Garfinkel Essay Contest.
Zachary Field is congratulated by the Honorable Jenny Rivera as he receives the grand prize in the 2014 David A. Garfinkel Essay Contest.

Zachary Field (Onondaga Central) was the recipient of the New York State Community College Grand Prize in the 2014 David A. Garfinkel Essay Contest, sponsored by the Historical Society of the Courts of the State of New York. His essay was titled, “Balancing National Security and Freedom of the Press.” Zachary was presented his award at the Law Day 2014 Ceremony April 30 at the New York State Court of Appeals in Albany, New York.




Funding a Pathway

One of Central New York’s most prominent families has come forward to help our community once again. Candace and John Marsellus have created an award for Onondaga Community College graduates who are continuing their pursuit of a bachelor’s degree at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF). Each year two OCC graduates will receive a generous stipend from the Marsellus Family OCC to ESF Fund to support their educational expenses. “We realize the value of a strong education which we were fortunate to experience. We have a desire to help others have similar opportunities,” said Candace and John Marsellus.

Asante Holder (left) and John Spencer (right) are 2014 Marsellus Family OCC to ESF Award recipients.
Asante Holder (left) and John Spencer (right) are 2014 Marsellus Family OCC to ESF Award recipients.

2014 graduates Asante Holder and John Spencer were thrilled to benefit from the Marsellus family’s generosity this past spring. Holder is a Syracuse native who came to OCC from Bishop Ludden High School. He earned a degree in Mathematics and Science. Holder is majoring in Environmental Engineering at SUNY-ESF. “I’m honored to be chosen for this stipend,” said Holder. “The money will be very useful as I pursue my degree. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Marsellus!”

Spencer is a graduate of Mexico High School. He also majored in Mathematics and Science at OCC, and is majoring in Bioprocess Engineering at SUNY-ESF. His goal is to acquire a doctorate and perform his own research in bio-fuels. “Thank you very much Mr. and Mrs. Marsellus for making this award possible,” said Spencer. “It will help me greatly as I pay for my education. I will continue to work hard so I can achieve my goals and begin my research as soon as possible.”

The Marsellus family has a long history of supporting the Central New York community. Since establishing their first named scholarship at Onondaga Community College in 2002, their passion for helping students at Onondaga has continued through the Marsellus Family Community Scholars Scholarship established in 2011, and most recently, the Marsellus Family OCC to ESF fund. “Five generations of our families have lived and worked in Onondaga County. We are committed to helping the hard-working students in our community achieve their goals. Scholarships for education can be life-changing. It can help financially disadvantaged students focus less on financial concerns and more on their higher education.”

The Marsellus family’s decision to assist OCC graduates pursuing bachelor’s degrees is in response to the ongoing success they have seen at the College, and they are proud to support OCC’s continued focus on partnerships with four-year institutions. “The growth in enrollment, faculty and facilities at OCC during the past 20 years is impressive. A new level of academic excellence has been achieved. The collective accomplishments of students, faculty, administration and Onondaga County leadership are worthy of our support,” said Candace and John Marsellus.