Jenn DeRosa

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In June of 2015 Jenn DeRosa was named Valedictorian at Skaneateles High School. Less than one year later she’ll earn a degree from OCC. When she leaves campus she’ll be on a different career path than she had planned.

“I came here set on being a pre-med student,” DeRosa said. “I wanted to major in biochemistry and do all of the prerequisites for medical school.” During her first semester DeRosa went to the College’s Career and Applied Learning Center and signed up to volunteer at a hospital. “I realized the atmosphere in a hospital wasn’t right for me. It made me rethink what I wanted to do.”

At the same time DeRosa was working on an Honors project with Chemistry Professor Doug Hagrman which focused on utilizing a High Performance Liquid Chromatography machine. Her fascination with chemistry blossomed into an internship with a research lab, Ichor Therapeutics on Route 11 in Lafayette. “The class and everything I was working on changed my future.”

DeRosa is now focused on a career in Chemical Engineering. She built the foundation for it at OCC where she’s a Mathematics and Science major with an Honors minor. Her outstanding classwork led to her induction into international honor society Phi Theta Kappa.

DeRosa is the second high-achieving member of her family to attend OCC. Her older sister Stephanie was Skaneateles High School’s Class of 2013 Salutatorian. Stephanie earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average in OCC’s Engineering Science major and is now at the University of California at Berkeley pursuing a degree in electrical engineering and computer science. Stephanie and Jenn’s father graduated from a community college and always told his daughters, “You get a great bang for your buck at a community college and you pay the least for it.”

As Jenn completes her second and final semester at OCC she’s grateful for the opportunities she found on campus. “All of the people here were so willing to lead you in the direction you wanted to go in. I came here with so many expectations and they were more than filled. I’m so excited I got to experience my life here first, otherwise I’m not sure where I would be.”

Scholarly Sisters

Stephanie DeRosa was the Salutatorian of Skaneateles High School’s Class of 2013. She had the grades to go to college wherever she wanted. As she began the process of choosing a school she kept going back to advice her father had given her. “Dad graduated from a community college. He always said ‘you get the best service at a community college and you pay the least for it.’” DeRosa took a long look at two and four-year colleges, examined the bottom line and made her decision. “When I compared the financial costs it made sense to go to OCC.”

Stephanie DeRosa (center) was named the top student in OCC's Engineering Science program by College President Dr. Casey Crabill (left) and Professor Brian McAninch (right).
Stephanie DeRosa (center) was named the top student in OCC’s Engineering Science major by College President Dr. Casey Crabill (left) and Professor Brian McAninch (right).

DeRosa enrolled in OCC’s Engineering Science program and also pursued an Honors Minor. She earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average and was invited to join international student honor society Phi Theta Kappa. DeRosa was named the top student in the Engineering Science major and earned her degree in May 2015. The foundation she built at OCC traveled thousands of miles with her to the prestigious University of California at Berkeley where she is now majoring in electrical engineering and computer science.

Two years after Stephanie made the decision to come to OCC it was her younger sister Jenn’s turn. She had done her sister one better in high school, being named Valedictorian of Skaneateles’ Class of 2015. “I always thought I wanted to go far away for college. When I started crunching numbers and speaking with professors at four-year schools, I realized I was going to get the same education at OCC and spend a lot less money. In the end it was an easy choice to be smart with your life and make conscious decisions rather than emotional decisions.”

Jenn is now a freshman at OCC, majoring in Mathematics and Science with an Honors Minor. She’s hoping to have the same experience at the College her sister had. “I loved my time there,” said Stephanie. “Every professor was willing to talk about the material outside of class, they were always available during office hours and they always responded to emails. That isn’t something you will find everywhere.”