“Start Now” Provides a New Opportunity for Success

The Start Now program brought Sarah Motayne to OCC from Brooklyn. She is pictured at the entrance to campus off State Route 175.

Sarah Motayne remembers that feeling of disappointment. She hadn’t been a great student at Benjamin Banneker Academy for Community Development in Brooklyn but dreamed of attending SUNY Oswego and majoring in Business. “When I didn’t get into Oswego, I was pretty upset. I was bummed.” Her ‘plan B’ was a school in New Jersey but she didn’t get the financial aid she needed. Then she received an email about the new “Start Now” program at Onondaga Community College. “I read it and thought ‘maybe this is a sign I should do this!’ I decided to come here and I’m glad I did.”

The Start Now program is a new joint venture between OCC and SUNY Oswego. New York City students who apply to SUNY Oswego but are unable to gain immediate admittance are provided a pathway there through OCC. Motayne was one of 25 “Start Now” students who attended OCC during the fall semester. They were supported by a student navigator and participated in joint programming at SUNY Oswego designed to help facilitate their transition. Start Now is funded by a SUNY Performance Improvement Fund.

Motayne entered OCC as a Business Administration major but switched to Communication Studies after her first semester. “I want to go to Cosmetology school eventually. I thought I would major in Business to learn how to run a business, but it wasn’t what I thought it would be. I decided to major in Communication because whatever you do you are going to need to know how to communicate properly.”

In the classroom Motayne has done so well she’s been invited to join OCC’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. Her time on campus has become about much more than just improving her grades. She serves as a Student Ambassador giving campus tours to prospective students, works as an usher at the SRC Arena and is a member of the college’s Black Student Union. “My mom is so proud of how well I am doing here and that gives me so much joy. I’m grateful to be here and have this opportunity. I know I made the right choice. I’m glad I chose this path.”

2018 Alumni Face Honoree: Jim Campagna ‘79

Onondaga Community College annually recognizes distinguished graduates by naming them “Alumni Faces” for their accomplishments and contributions to the community. The 2018 class will be honored during a ceremony October 3, at 5:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall which is located in the Academic II building. One of the graduates we will honor that night is Jim Campagna ‘79

For as long as he could remember, all Jim Campagna wanted to do was to work in radio or television, particularly in sports. He grew up in Lyncourt and graduated from North Syracuse High School before coming to OCC to major in Radio/Television (RTV). “I remember the department was on the second floor of the Coulter Library. It wasn’t long after starting that we were doing play-by-play for baseball and basketball games. The faculty empowered us to explore.” That same year, Campagna was named Sports Director at WOCC, the campus radio station. It would be his first of several leadership positions.

Campagna worked hard and took advantage of every opportunity that came his way. When he finally had the chance to be on-air, he was paired up with legendary OCC Professor Vinny Spadafora doing halftime reports of area high-school basketball games. “I took every opportunity I could and got to know all of my professors beyond the confines of the classroom to tap into their knowledge. I’m grateful to this day for the time they dedicated to all of us.” His persistence would continue on at SUNY Oswego where he would complete his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1981.

The Campagna Family: daughter Alyssa ’08, James, his wife Lucille and son Jamie

Throughout the 1980s Campagna established himself as an up and coming professional in local media. He worked multiple positions at WHEN Radio from reporter to weekday news anchor before succeeding Donna Speziale as News Director. After several years at the helm there, Campagna made the switch to television in 1991 and began working as a reporter and producer for WIXT TV, now known as WSYR NewsChannel 9. The move to television coincided with him returning to OCC as an adjunct faculty member. “I got a call from EMC (Electronic Media Communications) department chair Tony Vadala. He asked me if I wanted to teach a sportscasting class. I told him ‘sure’ and asked him when the class started. By 2 p.m. that afternoon I was teaching my first class at OCC!”

Over the next 15 years, Campagna would teach while working at Channel 9, and enjoyed every moment. “It was great, to see the growth of the campus and within the EMC major. The new location and media technology in the Whitney Building set the program apart from any other community colleges. Working with students kept me young and energetic with their questions, ideas and aspirations.”

In 2015 Campagna was named News Director at Channel 9. His new responsibilities forced him to give up his teaching duties but he continues to cherish the time he spent on campus as both a student and faculty member. “The whole RTV department from Secretary Nancy Licata, Professors Catherine Hawkins, Rob Gaunier and Vinny, they all remain very special to me. The fact I am being honored with an Alumni Face award is a testament to their teaching and love for students, which is something I’ve tried to emulate since graduating. I credit much of my success in the broadcasting field to my two years at OCC!”

Weekend College Image

Earn Your Two-Year Degree On The Weekend!


Weekend College Image

Onondaga Community College is starting Weekend College! The accelerated program will give students the opportunity to earn a two-year associate degree on weekends. Weekend College classes will be held Friday nights (5:30-9:30 p.m.) and Saturday’s (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) on the OCC campus. Financial aid and scholarships are available for those who qualify. Classes begin Friday, August 24.

The four degree programs being offered are: Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education and Alcohol & Substance Abuse Counseling. Business Administration is a 12-month program. The other three majors will take 14-and-a-half months to complete. For students majoring in Business Administration or Criminal Justice, OCC’s partnership with SUNY Oswego will ensure students a seamless transfer into a bachelor’s degree program which is offered through a combination of online and in-person classes at SUNY Oswego’s downtown Syracuse campus at Clinton Square. With this partnership, students can complete their associate and bachelor’s degrees at a SUNY price right here in Syracuse.

OCC’s Weekend College is the focus of this month’s podcast. You can learn more about it during our conversation with Dr. Daria Willis, OCC’s Provost and Senior Vice President. Listen to it here! This podcast was recorded in early June. At that time, OCC had only received approval to offer one of the majors. In late June we received approval from SUNY and the New York State Education Department to expand out offerings to four majors.

Mentoring Tomorrow’s Professionals

OCC Alumnus and CNY Central Photojournalist Matt Landers (right) works with Electronic Media Communication majors as they prepare for a shoot in Whitney Commons.

It’s not unusual to walk past a class in OCC’s Electronic Media Communications (EMC) major and see a member of the Central New York broadcast industry speaking with students. Current broadcast professionals regularly visit campus and share their experiences with students. “We’ve had many special guests ranging from photographers to news directors,” said Zach Sheridan, an EMC major and 2016 graduate of Fabius-Pompey High School. “They offer real-life examples of problems or issues they deal with every day and help give us a greater understanding.”

Each instructor within EMC has either worked in or is presently employed in the broadcasting industry. Most are behind the scenes staffers who play critical roles in the success of a broadcast. Others are people you see on-camera such as Niko Tamurian, a 2005 grad of the EMC program and Sports Director of CNY Central TV.

EMC Adjunct Professors Laura Bailey (left) and Tammy Palmer (right) pictured at Newschannel 9.

Earlier this semester students enrolled in Television News Production were given a challenging assignment by their professors who are both Syracuse broadcast professionals. Tammy Palmer is an anchor and reporter at WSYR TV, Newschannel 9. Laura Bailey is a Director at the same station and is also a 2017 winner of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching. Professors Palmer and Bailey divided their students up into news gathering crews and gave them two-and-a-half hours to shoot, write and edit a story. It’s a tall task for those who do the job every day and even more challenging for students.

Each student crew was paired with a highly talented broadcast professional volunteering his or her time to work with students. They included Emmy-award winning CNY Central photojournalist and OCC Alumnus Quindell Williams, CNY Central photojournalist and OCC alumnus Matt Landers, Newschannel 9 photojournalist and OCC alumnus Evan Bailey, OCC alumnus and SUNY Oswego videographer Jim Kearns and Newschannel 9 multimedia journalist Olivia Ugino. Throughout the process they continuously offered advice on shooting, editing and writing techniques.

Some of the student crews beat the two-and-a-half-hour deadline, some did not. The lessons learned from those in the industry were invaluable. “It was great to get this hands-on experience while working with people currently employed in broadcasting,” said Jacob Manrow, an EMC major and 2016 graduate of Jordan-Elbridge High School. “Getting in-depth, real-world experience this early in my career gives me a competitive edge when taking my next steps.”

The EMC professors overseeing the exercise were pleased with the results. “Walking into class the students were very nervous about not only the assignment, but the whole semester,” said Bailey. “Two-and-a-half-hours later they had new confidence about what they could accomplish.”

“Mentoring is crucial in so many fields,” added Palmer. “Newsrooms lose experienced journalists every day. We need to make sure the next generation has the opportunity to learn from the men and women who do important work daily. Now more than ever the media is facing a skeptical audience. The cycle of passing down valuable lessons can’t fade away. Knowledge is power.”

You can learn more about OCC’s Electronic Media Communications major here.

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Journey to a Degree

Matthew Honeywell shares his story with fellow Class of 2017 honorees.

Matthew Honeywell wants to help those who are living the life he once lived. “The main reason I came back to school was to help foster care children and adopted children get therapy they need for the rest of their lives. My passion is to help give children a voice when they don’t have one, especially in times of trauma.” He completed the first leg of his journey on the night of December 5 when he received his associate degree for Human Services.

Honeywell was the student speaker at the December Recognition Ceremony and shared his story with those in attendance. He grew up in the foster care system, survived abuse and was adopted at age 11. He graduated from West Genesee High School in 1989, attended SUNY Delhi, earned a spot in the Olympic qualifiers for the 3000-meter steeplechase, then suffered a foot injury which ended his running career. By his own admission the injury led him to, “Find a social life and work my way out of college.”

Honeywell spent the next several years trying to figure out what he wanted to do. He traveled the world in the U.S. Navy, worked installing and maintaining dry cleaners in laundromats, went to LPN school, went to asbestos handling school, worked as a chef and in manufacturing. While employed in the manufacturing sector his father passed away. He was struggling both with his emotions and his purpose in life. “In the middle of a work day I called my wife and said, ‘I have to go back to school. I want to chase me.’”

In the spring of 2016 Honeywell started taking classes at OCC as an Accounting major, then switched to Human Services. “The drive behind my passion didn’t come until I started taking Human Services classes. I found a professor, Tina May who had this innate and uncanny ability to hand me the reins of that passion after giving me a shove. She was incredible.”

Honeywell became an outstanding student and was inducted into the College’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa (PTK). “PTK really accelerated my learning curve. It gave me the platform to utilize things I’ve learned like how to set up an event, how to volunteer and how to get my name out there and network. It really enhanced my ability to establish a relationship with the campus itself.”

He also gained valuable knowledge and experience through his membership in the Liverpool Jaycees, an organization devoted to leadership through community action. “The Jaycees gave me the ability to come out of my shell and tell my story. For years I kept myself out of certain discussions because it was depressing. Now I know telling my story spreads awareness.”

Honeywell plans to transfer to SUNY Oswego and become a therapist for foster care children, adopted children and their families. He also wants to work on policy issues related to adoption and change confidentiality laws which prevent children from searching for answers to questions as they try to find out about themselves.

He’s already accomplished his biggest goal in life. It’s something he gets to experience and enjoy every night when he goes home. “The one thing I always wanted in life more than anything else was my own family because I never had one. Even after I was adopted I never felt close to my adopted mom and dad. It wasn’t until four or five years into my marriage that I realized what love was.” Honeywell and his wife Tammy have a 22-year-old daughter, Courtney and a son, Dylan who is completing his first semester at OCC.

Matthew Honeywell with his family (left to right): son Dylan, wife Tammy and daughter Courtney.

Paul Ososkalo

Paul Ososkalo
  • High School: Liverpool, Class of 2015
  • Major: Business Administration

Paul Ososkalo seemed to have a handle on what he wanted to do with his life. During his junior and senior years at Liverpool High School he attended BOCES with the intention of going into a skilled trade. Ososkalo’s parents had immigrated to the United States from the former Soviet Union in 1990. The thought of a career in a skilled trade seemed like more than he could ever dream of. Ososkalo passed the exam to become an electrician but the wait for a union position was going to be a long one with no guarantees. That’s when OCC happened. “My life could have been completely different if I didn’t come to OCC. I was a B-, C+ student in high school. When I came to OCC there was this capacity unlocked inside me that I didn’t know I had. That’s when everything happened. I’m so thankful.”

Ososkalo arrived on campus in the fall of 2015 and discovered his new career goal quickly. “My first Accounting professor, Joseph Adamo helped me find the passion inside me for accounting. Ever since then I knew I wanted to do accounting.” His success in Accounting gave him the confidence to do well in other classes. Ososkalo went from an average student to a high achieving one and was inducted into international honor society Phi Theta Kappa.

During his sophomore year Ososkalo researched job opportunities, sent out resumes but struggled to even get a reply from potential employers. Then he decided to visit the Career Services office in Coulter Library. “They helped me tremendously. I sat down with (Career Services Coordinator) Michele Carey. She was great. She tore through my whole resume, compiled everything in a way that made everything stand out. I had no idea my resume was that lacking!”

Michele Carey, Career Services Coordinator

During his visit at the Career Center Ososkalo also learned about Purple Briefcase, OCC’s online career portal and job board. It’s where students go to learn more about jobs, internships and volunteer opportunities. He visited the site and saw a posting for a paid internship as a loan processor with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). “I used the resume she had helped me with and applied right away. The following week I got a call back. More than 200 people had applied for this position. I was one of 25 chosen for an interview. I was one of two hired.”

Ososkalo started a paid internship 20 hours a week as a Loan Processor with the USDA’s Single Family Housing program. He helped people with low to moderate incomes who couldn’t qualify for loans through banks acquire homes in rural areas. “I like this internship because I’m helping people and I’m immersed in the finance industry. I’m so thankful I found this job.”

Ososkalo’s final semester as an OCC student was a busy one. Besides his paid internship he also took six classes and led worship at his church, Community Tabernacle on West Genesee Street in Syracuse. In the fall he’ll transfer to SUNY Oswego where he will pursue a bachelor’s in Accounting, then enter their Master of Business Administration program. “I’m tremendously fortunate. One of the greatest motivations in my life is that God has a plan and a destiny for me. I had a good plan but God had a perfect plan. I’m so thankful, I’m blessed.”

Students interested in improving their resumes and learning more about employment and volunteer opportunities can do so by contacting Career Services at (315) 498-2585 or careerservices@sunyocc.edu.

Jill Wilson

Jill Wilson
  • High School: Fayetteville-Manlius, Class of 2012

Jill Wilson’s dream is to earn a master’s degree in Nutrition Science from Syracuse University. OCC’s Hospitality Management program is helping her make that dream come true.

Before coming to OCC, Wilson attended SUNY Oswego. She majored in Wellness Management and minored in Health Science and Nutrition. “I had an internship with a dietitian on the Oswego campus. I spoke with her about my goals. She helped me figure out I needed to take prerequisite courses before I could apply to SU.”

The need for prerequisite courses brought her to OCC. She arrived in the fall 2016 semester as upgrades to the facilities within the Hospitality Management major were being completed. “All of the professors and chefs here have been wonderful and the facilities are incredible. I’ve felt very welcome and have enjoyed my time here.

Wilson will begin pursuing her master’s at S.U. in the fall semester.

Alumni Faces Honoree Joins Board of Trustees

Mark Tryniski (right) is sworn-in to the OCC Board of Trustees by Board Chair Allen Naples (left).
Mark Tryniski (right) is sworn-in to the OCC Board of Trustees by Board Chair Allen Naples (left).

Distinguished OCC alumnus Mark Tryniski is the newest member of the College’s Board of Trustees. He was sworn-in Tuesday during the Board’s monthly meeting. Tryniski is President and Chief Executive Officer of Community Bank System, Inc. Prior to joining Community in 2003 he was a partner in the Syracuse office of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

Tryniski earned a Business degree from OCC in 1981 and an Accounting degree from SUNY Oswego. In 2007 OCC named Tryniski an “Alumni Face” for his contributions to the college and the community. Previously Tryniski served OCC as a member of the Foundation Board and on the Board of Trustees Finance Committee.

Tryniski was appointed to OCC’s Board of Trustees by Governor Andrew Cuomo. He replaces Margaret M. “Meg” O’Connell.

Congrats Grads!

TOP OF STORY 2016 Commencement - RM pics 009Onondaga Community College held its 53rd commencement ceremony Saturday, May 14 in the SRC Arena and Events Center. Nearly 1,600 students were eligible to receive their degrees.

College President Dr. Casey Crabill congratulated students on their accomplishments and lessons learned about themselves during their time at OCC. “Earning a certificate or degree is not the end of your learning. I can assure you of that. The most valuable thing you’ve achieved is that you have learned how to learn, something you’ll need to continue to do for the rest of your life to be successful. You’ve learned how to set a goal for yourself. You can manage your time and your effort and you can bring resources together to get the job done.”

Marissa DeLand
Marissa DeLand

Graduating student Marissa DeLand was the keynote speaker. She is a 2013 graduate of Marcellus High School who earned degrees from OCC in both Business Administration and Mathematics & Science. She will transfer to SUNY Oswego and major in business administration. She also plans to pursue a master’s degree in project management.

The College awarded two honorary degrees to Sean Kirst and Edward Kochian. Kirst is a columnist, writer and storyteller who has worked for four newspapers during his career, including 27 years with The Post-Standard. Kochian is a dedicated community member and literacy advocate who worked for Onondaga County for 41 years, 28 of those as Deputy County Executive.

Retiring faculty members Deborah G. Irwin and Engracia A. Schuster were co-Grand Marshals. Irwin is a professor in the English/Reading/Communication major who started at OCC in 1983. Schuster is a professor in the Spanish major who began teaching at the College in 1995.

OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill addresses the packed house at the SRC Arena and Events Center.
OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill addresses the packed house at the SRC Arena and Events Center.

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.