SUNY Search Engine Comes To Campus

Coulter Library Chair Fantasia Thorne-Ortiz (left) and Media Specialist Dennis Thoryk (right) test a new cloud-based, SUNY system-wide search engine available to students.

The process of finding exactly what you’re looking for at Coulter Library has gotten easier for students. In July Onondaga Community College went online with a SUNY system-wide, cloud-based search engine. It provides simple, one-stop searching for books and e-books, videos, articles, digital media, and more. “This provides consistency among SUNY schools,” said Dennis Thoryk, Media Specialist at Coulter Library. “Students who walk into SUNY Oswego or SUNY Albany will be using the same system.” Thoryk oversaw the internal transition process which took about a year to complete and replaced a system which was approximately 20 years old.

Another benefit to the new system is its ability to reach beyond SUNY libraries. Thanks to an inter-library loan feature, if a student is looking for something which Coulter library doesn’t have the new search engine will also check area libraries which are not part of the SUNY system. Students using the new search system will always be receiving the latest information about what is available. “This is up to date because it’s cloud based. It’s completely different from what we used to have. It’s more secure and more up-to-date,” said Thoryk.

You can access the new search engine here.


The OCC Effect: Darren Pikul ‘16

Darren Pikul, ’16 is pictured at Florida Atlantic University where he is a 4.0 student and is pursuing his master’s degree in Higher Education Leadership.

When Darren Pikul graduated from high school in the Poughkeepsie area, he chose Onondaga Community College because he was recruited to play on the Men’s Tennis team. Little did he know the school would open up doors he never thought possible. “Other than tennis, I really didn’t have a plan in place other than practice and going to class. The offerings at OCC allowed me to get involved as much as I wanted so what I walked away with went well beyond anything I dreamed of.”

Pikul with OCC Men’s Tennis Coach, John LaRose after receiving a SUNY Chancellor’s Award

Pikul became a leader on campus. He was an officer in student government and an RA in the residence halls. These responsibilities and experiences allowed him to develop relationships with a wide variety of students, administrators and faculty. It gave him a greater understanding of higher education outside the classroom. “OCC President Dr. Crabill played an incredible part in my success. She genuinely cares for students and on numerous occasions would provide time for me to talk about what I wanted to do next and where would be the best fit. I now know how unique and special it is for a college president to do something like that.”

After earning his associate degree Pikul transferred to SUNY Oneonta where he repeated his same successful formula. He became involved in student government, was named to the search committee for Oneonta’s next president, and continued his collegiate tennis career. Pikul now attends Florida Atlantic University (FAU) where he owns a 4.0 grade point average and is working toward a Master’s in Higher Education Leadership. He serves as the Director of the Graduate & Professional Student Association at FAU while also interning at the Center for Higher Education Innovation in the Office of the President at the University of Central Florida. 

Pikul credits his time at Onondaga with building the foundation he needed for his success. “OCC made me who I am today. Dr. Crabill, Coach LaRose and many others provided me with a great opportunity to succeed. Through those opportunities I found my passion in higher education.”

After graduating from FAU Pikul will begin his professional career in higher education while pursuing a doctorate. His focus will be policy and government. Pikul plans to bring fresh ideas and provide students with the same type of experience he had while giving them the freedom to learn, get exposed to new opportunities and identify their passions.

Common Read Inspires Art

This photograph, which was taken by OCC students during the fall 2017 semester, is now part of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s personal art collection in Washington, DC.

There’s a photograph hanging in the Washington, DC office of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo which is the centerpiece of his personal art collection. The picture is of an OCC student who was photographed by fellow students. “The feeling of knowing that photograph is there is unreal,” said Ben Coupe. “While shooting this project we had no idea how far it would go.”

John Dau, ’05

The inspiration for the photography project was “God Grew Tired of Us,” a memoir written by John Dau, ’05 which was OCC’s common read during the 2017-18 academic year. The book chronicled Dau’s journey from the brutal war horrors of life in the Sudan to life in the United States. “We wanted to celebrate diversity. We wanted to capture and highlight our community here.”

Coupe and classmates Jennifer Bazdaric and Dah Lehr imagined a canvas of multiculturalism, rich in texture, promoting an aware culture of respect, thoughtfulness and dignity. “We spent more time planning our shoots than actually shooting. Once we got going it took us less than a week to find our subjects and shoot the photos,” said Coupe. “We needed a couple of days for edits and a day or two to select the print, paper and frame.

The series of 20 images proudly displayed the cultural heritage found within the OCC campus during the fall 2017 campus. It was entered into a SUNY campus where it was spotted by Governor Cuomo. The central image of the series now hangs in Washington, DC.

The students worked under the leadership of Assistant Professor Robert Kent who has dozens of years of professional commercial photography experience. The exhibition quality prints were created by the students under the careful and expert eye of Technical Specialist Rick Boyson of OCC’s Photography Department.

The OCC Effect: Mark Wolicki ‘01

Mark Wolicki ’01 on the set of The Ellen Show.

During his senior year at Marcellus High School, Mark Wolicki took advantage of an exploratory program the school offered with Onondaga Community College that set him on a path to success. “My meeting with the high school guidance counselor took all of five minutes,” Wolicki said. “I told her I was going to go to OCC and then work in television at NewsChannel 9 (WSYR TV).” Upon his arrival, Wolicki began taking classes in Coulter Library where the old studio resided for the former Radio and Television program. The following year, Wolicki and his fellow students were the first class to try out a new studio and equipment as part of the new program to replace Radio and Television, called Electronic Media Communications.

The combination of state-of-the-art equipment and expert faculty guidance placed Wolicki on a course to receive the advanced training and experience he needed for the professional world. “From day one, (professor) Tony Vadala became my mentor and helped me not only learn the new equipment, but opened the door to opportunities that allowed me to get jobs outside of school.” He recalls his first paid job was working a camera his freshmen year at the OCC Commencement Ceremony.

True to his word, he started at Channel 9 shortly after graduation and worked part-time in production. He would find his true passion by taking advantage of the flexible time between evening newscasts to learn about another television component, graphic design. “I had no professional training in graphics, but would visit the station’s graphic artist who would show me how to work the software,” he said. “After she would leave, I would  teach myself the elements to the point that when she went out on maternity leave a few months later, I was placed in her position until she came back.”

From there, Wolicki’s career began to fast track as he grew more comfortable with television graphics. His work soon caught the attention of the Athletic Department at Syracuse University where they contracted with him to create and produce all of the content for the Carrier Dome video boards for all home football, basketball and lacrosse games which still continues today.

In 2012 Wolicki decided to take a leap of faith and packed up and moved out to Los Angeles where he was able to settle and land his first job at Studio City, the production home for many daytime network talk shows. “For me, Studio City was an L.A. boot camp because I was able to come in, learn a lot, make some mistakes, but ultimately prove my worth.” At Studio City, Wolicki went to work on The Dr. Oz and The Ellen DeGeneres Shows, which garnered him and his promotional team two Prime Time Emmy Award Nominations for their work on the latter.  From there, he began work on a new show, The FABLife starring Tyra Banks. The show was cancelled after one season in 2016. For the rest of the year, he had his work with SU to fall back on and tried to apply to at least five job openings a week. He scheduled a lot of coffee and lunch dates to network his way into another job.

Shortly thereafter he received an email out of the blue from a former employer, Studio City, asking if he had ever thought about writing. The next week he interviewed for his current position, Creative Director of Marketing for The Ellen DeGeneres Show. After some negotiation for the next season, Wolicki signed on in a permanent capacity with the show. During his tenure at Ellen, Wolicki and his team have been nominated for a total of four Daytime Emmy Awards including three in 2018 and one for this season. When they were shutout of last year’s awards Wolicki and his team went from the awards ceremony to a nearby TGI Friday’s while dressed in their tuxedos. They ate onion rings and drank beer which is exactly what they plan on doing after this year’s awards show on Sunday May 5. “The competition is very tough in our category, but just being nominated really is an honor and does open a few more doors. Win or lose, we’ll still end up at TGI Friday’s for beer and onion rings, but we hope to bring some hardware with us this year!”

Designing A Career: Tara Carr and Kelly Kinahan ’00

Kelly Kinahan ’00 (left) with current OCC Interior Design student Tara Carr.


Last year, West Genesee grad Tara Carr took part in a mentorship program offered through OCC’s Career Services Office as a way to find out more about her profession of choice, Interior Design. “I was encouraged to take part in the program by one of my professors who thought she had someone in mind that would serve as a good match,” said Carr. That someone was Kelly Kinahan ‘00, of Kinahan Associates LLC, who had done something like this before, but not with an OCC student, and wanted to share her knowledge and passion for the industry.  


“I wanted to share my story to tell Tara that life is not always traditional, but if you surround yourself with people who look out for you that all will turn out okay,” said Kinahan. The mentor program turned out better than either expected as both of them forged a friendship that went beyond the end of the program in May. The two would have lunch from time to time and stay in touch over the summer and when Carr started her sophomore year she wanted to line up an internship during her fourth semester.  


She looked no further than her mentor in order to get the industry experience she was looking for. “It seemed like a perfect fit, and when I asked Kelly about the opportunity of an internship with her company, she was more than happy to complete the paperwork and work on a schedule that would be compatible with my classes.” Thus far, Carr has found the experience beneficial on several fronts most notably, in that she is interested in starting her own business at some point and is also adapting what she learns in the classroom to the business world.  


The opportunity has also been equally beneficial for Kinahan as well. “Seeing Tara grow and be able to trust her with direct client contact has been a great help in freeing me up for business development.” Carr has taken this experience and expanded her portfolio and confidence and is excited for what is next. She will attend Cazenovia College in the fall and with some potential new business for Kinahan may be able to evolve her internship into paid work while obtaining her bachelor’s degree. “It’s been a great experience and I cannot thank Kelly enough for all of her advice, time and confidence in my skills to allow me to take the next step towards my dream.” 


For more information on the OCC mentor program or providing internships, contact Career Services at

Grab Your Phone And Vote For Me!

Hi everyone!

This is Blaze, your lovable OCC mascot and I need your help. Every year SUNY holds an online competition where you can vote for your favorite mascot. We’re just a little old community college competing against big, shiny four-year universities. We’ve come close to pulling off an upset in past years but have never quite been able to do so.

I know this year will be different! I’m asking you to vote for me in this year’s Mascot Madness Challenge! A win for me is a win for all of us proud Lazers. We can do this! We can make history! Go to this link, find Onondaga Community College and click on us.

Our first round opponent is SUNY-ESF. Their nickname is “acorns.” Let’s crack the nuts!

2019 SUNY Chancellor’s Award For Student Excellence Winners

Four Onondaga Community College students have been named 2019 recipients of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. The awards are handed out annually to students who have best demonstrated the integration of academic excellence with other aspects of their lives which may include leadership, campus involvement, athletics, career achievement, community service or creative and performing arts. This is the highest honor which can be bestowed upon a SUNY student. OCC’s students will be recognized during a ceremony at the Albany Capital Center Wednesday, April 24. The honorees are:

Seth Bae

Seth Bae
  • High School: Fairfax in Los Angeles, class of 2013
  • Major at OCC: General Studies – Liberal Arts & Sciences
  • Bae was born in Korea, moved to the United States at age 16 and served in the United States Army at Fort Drum before coming to OCC. He was a member of the college’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa, an officer in the Student Association, a VA Work-Study in OCC’s Veterans office, a Peer Connector in the Advising Center and a First Year Experience Mentor. He was also a Social Media Reporter and blog contributor for the college’s media channels. Bae completed his studies in December and now attends Harvard University.




Nathan Burroughs

Nathan Burroughs
  • High School: Homer, class of 2016
  • Major at OCC: Engineering Science
  • Burroughs is a member of the college’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa, is one of only three OCC students to be named a NASA Scholar, has served the campus community as a member of Student Patrol and as an RA. He will earn his degree in May. Burroughs plans to pursue a master’s degree in either Mechanical Engineering or Engineering and Management.




Michaela Grainger

Michaela Grainger
  • Home schooled, from Fayetteville
  • Major at OCC: Humanities & Social Sciences with an Honors minor
  • Grainger is a member of the college’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa, has done community outreach teaching people of all ages about technology and social media, and has served as president of Brothers and Sisters for Christ. She will earn her degree in May. Grainger plans to pursue a Ph.D. in history and become a professor.




Petey Maxwell

Petey Maxwell
  • High School: Windsor in Colorado, class of 2016
  • Major at OCC: Exercise Science
  • Maxwell is a member of the college’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa, an officer in the Student Association and a member of the national champion Men’s Lacrosse team. He will earn his degree in May and plans to transfer to a four-year school and continue his lacrosse career while pursuing a bachelor’s degree.


Congratulations to our 2019 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence honorees!

Student Speaking with Enrollment Associate at Student Central

Deadline to Register for Spring 2019 Semester Approaching

Deadline to Register Photo (1000px)

The deadline to register for Spring 2019 classes at OCC is quickly approaching. Remember, your education is worth it.

Register for classes at OCC today!

If you’re struggling to complete your education, we have services that can help you in the classroom, outside of the classroom and with your next steps like the ones listed below and more!

The Learning Center

Our tutoring support is customized to your needs. Get tutoring support for a specific course, one-on-one writing support, or study skills tutoring in friendly and convenient location.

Community Care Hub

Life can sometimes get in the way of earning your degree. The Community Care Hub (CCH) can help overcome those obstacles preventing you from earning your education. CCH can connect you with resources to help you find affordable housing, obtain food, connect you with scholarships and other financial resources, help with tax preparation, provide bus bases and more!


OCC awards scholarships year-round to help students finance their education. Fill out the online interest form to get started on financing your education.

Counseling Services

Personal struggles shouldn’t get in the way of your education. If you need someone to talk to, come to the counseling center. We’ll help you with what you’re going through and remind you that you’re not alone.

Career Services

Career Services will be there for you at any time during your time at OCC and beyond. They can help you build your resume, polish interview skills, connect you with internship and job opportunities and more.

Register for Spring 2019 classes!

Celebrating Our Constitution

Associate Professor of Political Science Chris Thuot (middle) with students spreading the word about Constitution Day in Mawhinney Hall.

Onondaga Community College joined the entire SUNY system in a statewide celebration of Constitution Day Monday, September 17. During College Hour there were tables set up in Mawhinney Hall and the Gordon Student Center where students received pocket-sized copies of the Constitution, answered Constitution-related questions for prizes and registered to vote.

Constitution Day is an American federal observance that recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution. OCC’s efforts were organized by Susan Tormey, Associate Vice President of Government Relations, Chris Thuot, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science, and Jackie Barstow, Coordinator of OCC’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa.

The OCC Effect: Helena Jaramillo

Helena Jaramillo was born in Ecuador, immigrated to the United States and grew up in Syracuse. After spending her freshman year at Nottingham High School, she moved out west and graduated from a high school in Boulder, Colorado. Her desire to attend Onondaga Community College brought her back to Central New York. “It was an excellent choice for me. I saved money and explored different subjects so I could find what I was most passionate about.”

Her exploratory journey led her from journalism to web development. “I remember the CIS (Computer Information Systems) classes, because they helped me build a strong foundation in coding, in order to later grasp new material better.” After her time at OCC, Jaramillo transferred to SUNY Purchase to study New Media.

Shortly after earning her degree Jaramillo moved to Zurich, Switzerland to become an Interaction Designer at Google until 2016. Since then, she has been working at TransferWise, a London based company, as a Product Designer. “In short, I design digital services like apps and websites so that they are both delightful and easy to use.”

Despite working almost 3,500 miles away and for some of the biggest companies in the world, Jaramillo still reaches back to her OCC roots almost on a daily basis. “I worked while going to school full-time, as did many of my classmates. That work ethic along with the fundamentals from my CIS classes are always with me and keep me motivated and inspired.”