The OCC Effect: Dominic Tibbetts II ‘16

Dominic Tibbetts II on set at his new home in Montana

High School: West Genesee

The only thing Dominic Tibbetts ever wanted to be was a sports broadcaster. A visit to Onondaga Community College’s Electronic Media Communications (EMC) program piqued his interest. “The faculty I spoke with really knew the business. Many still work in the industry so when I added their experience to the latest technology provided in the program I was immediately sold.”

While at OCC, Tibbetts was able to partner with a friend on a local radio show through the College’s web platform, “Supermix” and took advantage of sports internship opportunities through WSYR TV, NewsChannel 9 and CNY Central. The internships were invaluable because their sports anchors and reporters, Steve Infanti, Niko Tamurian and Matt Hauswirth were all very gracious with their time and interest in his development. Tamurian and Hauswirth were also OCC graduates and Tamurian was an adjunct instructor in the EMC major as well. “All the professors in the program were great. Niko willingly took time to develop my talents and went out of his way to harness my interest in sports to become the professional I am today.”

Dominic Tibbetts II with his familiy (L-R) father Dominic, sister Madelynn and mom Rosalee

After OCC, Tibbetts attended Ithaca College where he continued his broadcast journalism studies and interned in Los Angeles for a semester. During his final semester he applied for jobs across the country. “I sent out 41 tapes to places I had never heard of and was fortunate enough to get a call from KXLF in Butte, Montana which ultimately led to be my current job.” Tibbetts has settled right in to his new home and has added his knowledge of other sports such as rodeos and skijoring to his resume, which have been fascinating opportunities for him.

While his goal is to work for a network, he appreciates where he is and is enjoying his journey in a field that he loves. “Working in the business is a dream come true and I cannot thank OCC and the faculty enough for molding me into the well-rounded person I am today – the choice to start there truly was a great decision for me and I will be forever grateful for what they did for me.”

OCC’s New College For High Achievers

Professor Chris Thuot (left) is Chair of OCC’s Lillian Slutzker Honors College. Griffin Sasso (right) is one of OCC’s 15 Honors College students.

When it was time to choose a college, Griffin Sasso had plenty of options. He was among the top students in West Genesee’s graduating class of 2018 and a talented three-sport athlete. In the end, the opportunity to be enrolled in OCC’s Lillian Slutzker Honors College was too good to pass up. “Getting into the Honors College meant a lot to me. The prestige that goes along with it is invaluable. Colleges and universities take that very seriously when considering transfer applications. I hope I can capitalize on it when I leave OCC.”

The Honors College is the subject of our monthly podcast, “Higher Ed News You Can Use from Onondaga Community College. You can listen to the podcast here.

Thanks to an endowment from the Lillian Slutzker Foundation, Sasso is attending OCC tuition-free. He’s also receiving a $300 stipend each semester for books and supplies. The Honors College also includes group activities outside the classroom with fellow scholars. Honors Scholars also have access to the Honors suite on the second floor of Coulter Hall. The space includes a common area with computers, a printer, a lounge area and a study space with smart technology.

The selection process for the Honors College was rigorous. Students submitted letters of recommendation, answered essay questions and committed to attend OCC for two years. Candidates who cleared those hurdles were interviewed. The 15 students who were chosen for the inaugural Honors Scholar class stood out for both their past academic achievement and their passion for learning.

Lillian Slutzker

OCC’s Honors Scholar cohort within the Honors College exists thanks to the generosity of the Lillian Slutzker Foundation. Slutzker was a native of Hungary who was working in Germany when she fled Nazi control, settled in England and came to Syracuse in 1947. She and her husband Emmanuel opened Manny’s Apparel Shop on Marshall Street in the Syracuse University area in 1949. They managed Manny’s until Emmanuel fell ill in 1976. For nine years Lillian worked 16-hour days at Manny’s while caring for Emmanuel at night until he passed away. Lillian sold the store in 1995 but today it remains an iconic part of the S.U. area. Lillian Slutzker passed away in 2016 at age 98.

Motivated by Slutzker’s passion for learning, her Foundation’s Board of Directors continuously looked for opportunities to make a difference in the community. “She was so dedicated to education, especially Honors programs. She never had the opportunity to go to college herself. It was always her goal to make sure people got a wonderful education and OCC’s Honors College was the perfect opportunity,” a board representative said.

OCC Honors Scholars will benefit from the generosity of the Slutzker Foundation throughout their time in higher education. Not only will 15 additional high-achieving students have the opportunity to attend OCC tuition-free each year, they will also be better prepared when they move on. “Nationwide, very few community colleges have an endowed Honors College. We are extremely fortunate. Academically we are unique among community college Honors programs in offering a core curriculum strongly grounded in the liberal arts tradition,” said Dr. Christopher Thuot, Faculty Chair of the Honors College.

“Students will develop their academic voices here,” added Jackie Barstow, Coordinator of the Honors College and OCC’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. “With the support our students receive from faculty and staff they will be much more likely to be accepted and receive scholarships to institutions than they would have been out of high school.”

OCC also has an outstanding Honors Affiliate cohort which is part of the Honors College. Students take special sections of classes designed by professors who have high-achieving students in mind. Coursework includes exploration of subject matter in greater depth in small class settings.

Chloe Hoffman

An Honors Affiliate education was exactly what Chloe Hoffman needed when she came to OCC from Fayetteville-Manlius High School. “Honors classes introduced me to a whole different structure of class that encouraged collaboration between the professor and student, as opposed to the traditional lecture style. Through the Honors curriculum I learned my voice is valuable and how I can use it.” Hoffman earned her degree from OCC in Humanities and Social Sciences with an Honors designation. Today she is a History major at SUNY Geneseo with minors in Anthropology and American Studies. She is passionate about public policy and protecting the rights of marginalized groups of people. Hoffman hopes to pursue a career in law.

The college’s commitment to providing high-achieving students with opportunities to excel is one more reason Sasso is proud of his choice to come to OCC. “I think everyone should go to community college first. The students I’ve met in the Honors College are pretty darn smart. I know they will go to good universities from here and they will do so without debt.”

The first class of Honors College students is pictured with OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill.

Top SUNY Honors

Celebrating SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence are (left to right): Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) and Honors Coordinator Jackie Barstow, Professor and PTK New York State Regional Coordinator Dr. Annie Tuttle, Fabrizio Tucci, Blake Carter, Ifrah Hassan, Matthew Honeywell, Hien Lam and President Dr. Casey Crabill.

Five of Onondaga Community College’s best and brightest students had their moment in the spotlight when they traveled to Albany to receive the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. The awards were handed out April 10 inside the Albany Capital Center.

The SUNY Chancellor’s Award ceremony was held inside the Albany Capital Center.

The Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence acknowledges students who have received recognition for distinguished achievements. It is the highest honor which can be bestowed upon a SUNY student. Honorees demonstrated the ability to combine academic excellence with other accomplishments which may include leadership, campus involvement, athletics, career achievement, community service or creative performing arts.

Before students received their awards they were congratulated by SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. “I am immensely proud of these students, who have demonstrated academic excellence and dedication to enriching their campuses and communities. From research publications in industry journals to volunteering in hospitals and local clinics to holding leadership roles at their institutions, I am inspired by each student we recognize today. Congratulations to all of the students receiving this year’s award.”

Recipients also heard from SUNY Empire State College Alumna Erin Hamlin. She’s a 4-time Olympian, a 2-time World Champion and a 2014 Olympic Bronze Medalist in the sport of Luge. Before her speech a video was played showing Hamlin’s career highlights. She was greeted with a standing ovation as she walked to the podium.

Each of OCC’s SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence winners were called to the stage individually to receive their medal and have their picture taken with Chancellor Johnson and College President Dr. Casey Crabill. OCC’s honorees are:

 

Blake Carter

  • High School: Jordan-Elbridge, class of 2004
  • Major at OCC: Business Administration with an Honors minor
  • Blake spent several years working at Lowe’s before coming to OCC. He became and outstanding student and served as president of the College’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. Blake earned his degree in December and currently works for Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter. In the fall he will transfer to Syracuse University and major in Economics.

 

Ifrah Hassan

  • High School: Utica Proctor, class of 2016
  • Major at OCC: Mathematics & Science with an Honors minor
  • Ifrah is a native of Kenya who moved to the United States in 2003. During her time on campus she was a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa and tutored students in math. She earned her degree in December and now attends SUNY Binghamton where she is majoring in Integrative Neuroscience with a minor in Africana Studies.

 

Matthew Honeywell

  • High School: West Genesee, class of 1989
  • Major at OCC: Human Services
  • Matthew grew up in the foster care system and is a veteran of the United States Navy. At OCC he was a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. He earned his degree in December and now attends SUNY Oswego. He plans to become a therapist for foster care children, adopted children and their families.

 

Hien Lam

  • Hometown: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Major at OCC: Mathematics & Science
  • Hien is an international student from Vietnam who is working to become a pharmacist. When he started taking classes at OCC he did not know how to speak English. Today he is a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. After he earns his degree, Hien plans to transfer to the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

 

Fabrizio Tucci

  • Hometown: Valencia, Carabobo in Venezuela
  • Major at OCC: Electronic Media Communications
  • Fabrizio is an international student from Venezuela. He’s an All-American tennis player, a Resident Assistant in the residence hall and a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. Fabrizio plans to continue his tennis career at a four-year college while pursuing a degree in Marketing.

 

Congratulations to our winners!

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2018 SUNY Chancellor’s Award Winners

 

Five Onondaga Community College students have been named winners of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. Honorees demonstrated the ability to combine academic excellence with other accomplishments which may include leadership, campus involvement, athletics, career achievement, community service or creative performing arts.

The awards will be presented by Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson April 10 at the Albany Capital Center. OCC’s five honorees include three graduates of local high schools and two international students.

 

Blake Carter

  • High School: Jordan-Elbridge, class of 2004
  • Major at OCC: Business Administration with an Honors minor
  • Blake spent several years working at Lowe’s home improvement and appliance store before coming to OCC. He became and outstanding student and served as president of the College’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. Blake earned his degree in December and currently works for Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter. In the fall he will transfer to Syracuse University and major in Economics.

 

Ifrah Hassan

  • High School: Utica Proctor, class of 2016
  • Major at OCC: Mathematics & Science with an Honors minor
  • Ifrah is a native of Kenya who moved to the United States in 2003. During her time on campus she was a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa and tutored students in math. She earned her degree in December and now attends SUNY Binghamton where she is majoring in Integrative Neuroscience with a minor in Africana Studies.

 

Matthew Honeywell

  • High School: West Genesee, class of 1989
  • Major at OCC: Human Services
  • Matthew grew up in the foster care system and is a veteran of the United States Navy. At OCC he was a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. He earned his degree in December and now attends SUNY Oswego. He plans to become a therapist for foster care children, adopted children and their families.

 

Hien Lam

  • Hometown: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Major at OCC: Mathematics & Science
  • Hien is an international student from Vietnam who is working to become a pharmacist. When he started taking classes at OCC he did not know how to speak English. Today he is a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. After he earns his degree Hien plans to transfer to the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

 

Fabrizio Tucci

  • Hometown: Valencia, Carabobo in Venezuela
  • Major at OCC: Electronic Media Communications
  • Fabrizio is an international student from Venezuela. He’s an All-American tennis player, a Resident Assistant in the residence hall and a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. Fabrizio plans to continue his tennis career at a four-year college while pursuing a degree in Marketing.

Congratulations to our 2018 SUNY Chancellor’s Award Winners for Student Excellence.

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Honoring New York State’s Best

Celebrating our All-State Students are (left to right) SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson, OCC honoree Matthew Honeywell, OCC Professor and PTK New York State Regional Coordinator Dr. Annie Tuttle and OCC PTK and Honors Coordinator Jackie Barstow.

SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson shared a powerful story with students during the annual USA Today Phi Theta Kappa All-New York State Academic Award ceremony. The Chancellor recalled her first exposure to a community college. Her mother was pursuing a college degree when she got married, started a family and put her own education on hold. Many years later when all seven children had been raised, her then 60-year-old mother decided to go to a community college and complete work toward her degree. “Many of you are like my mom. You’ve had to juggle jobs, careers and families and all of the other responsibilities that go along with being a productive and contributing citizen of our country. We’re here today to celebrate not only your academic strengths but the other qualities like leadership and service you’ve provided to your college community.”

Giavanna Sylvester

The Chancellor’s remarks set the tone for a wonderful ceremony in which Phi Theta Kappa honor society students from each of the State’s community colleges were named to the All-New York Academic team. OCC’s two honorees were Giavanna Sylvester and Matthew Honeywell. Sylvester is a 2013 graduate of Fabius-Pompey High School who earned a degree in Humanities and Social Sciences. She is now pursuing her Psychology degree at Sierra Nevada College in Lake Tahoe and was unable to attend the event. Honeywell is a 1989 graduate of West Genesee High School and a veteran of the United States Navy. He earned a degree in Human Services in December and is now enrolled at SUNY Oswego. Honeywell was a foster child. He is working to become a therapist for children in foster care, adopted children and their families.

OCC Professor Dr. Annie Tuttle is the Regional Coordinator for Phi Theta Kappa in New York. During the event she spoke about what a privilege it was to serve in her role and to meet and work with outstanding students across the state. She also took a moment to highlight some individual student stories, including that of one of OCC’s honorees. “Matthew Honeywell and his wife are activists against human trafficking,” Tuttle told those in attendance. “They helped create a human trafficking prevention program in Syracuse, training hotel staff in how to spot and stop human trafficking.”

OCC Music major Alexandra Lombardo also played a significant role in the celebration of academic excellence and community service. The Cicero-North Syracuse High School graduate sang the national anthem.

The ceremony was held March 6 at the New York Museum in Albany.

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Our 2018 All-State Students

Matthew Honeywell and Giavanna Sylvester have been chosen to represent OCC on the 2018 USA Today Phi Theta Kappa All-New York State Academic team. They will be honored at a recognition ceremony March 6 in Albany.

Honeywell

Honeywell grew up in the foster care system, survived abuse and was adopted at age 11. He graduated from West Genesee High School in 1989, served in the United States Navy and worked several jobs while trying to determine his career path. He enrolled in OCC in the spring of 2016, started as an Accounting major and switched to Human Services. He became an outstanding student and was inducted into honor society Phi Theta Kappa. Honeywell earned his degree in December 2017 at the age of 47.

He now attends SUNY Oswego with the goal of becoming a therapist for children in foster care, 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. Honeywell has 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 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.” Honeywell and his wife have a daughter and a son who is in his second semester at OCC.

Sylvester

Sylvester graduated from Fabius-Pompey High School in 2013, spent a year in New York City, then returned to Central New York to attend OCC. “It was the best decision for me because I wasn’t ready grade-wise to get into a four-year college. Class sizes were smaller and I got a lot of attention here.”

During her time on campus she was a member of honor society Phi Theta Kappa, Student Conversation Circles, the History Club and earned a degree in Humanities and Social Sciences. “All of the opportunities and experiences I had made my experience at OCC very fulfilling.”

Sylvester finished taking classes at OCC in the fall 2017 semester. She is now enrolled at Sierra Nevada College in Lake Tahoe where she is pursuing a degree in Psychology with the goal of becoming a counselor.

Congratulations to Matthew Honeywell and Giavanna Sylvester!

 

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.

Remembering the Victims of Split Rock

The “Syracuse Journal” from July 3, 1918 tells the story of the tragedy at Split Rock. The newspaper and other artifacts from the event are on display at the Town of Onondaga Historical Society Museum in Onondaga Town Hall at 5020 Ball Road. The Museum is open Monday through Friday from 1-3 p.m.

A nearly century-old tragedy is motivating OCC students to make a difference in their community. “We want to preserve and memorialize what happened,” said Tara Carr (West Genesee HS, 2017). “We want to make sure Split Rock will never be forgotten.”

Carr is one of eleven students enrolled in “The Split Rock Disaster,” an Honors level class examining the tragedy that occurred July 2, 1918. What was once a former limestone quarry had been turned into a munitions factory where TNT was being manufactured for use in World War I. When a fire started at the site workers fought the blaze until they ran out of water pressure. The raging fire resulted in an explosion which was felt for miles around. Fifty-five workers were killed and 50 were injured.

Early in the semester students traveled to the site which is located off Split Rock Road in the Town of Onondaga. “To see what it looks like now gave us a sad feeling,” said student Flo Downing (Cathage HS, 2015). All that remains is a stone crusher which was built in 1903. “It was covered in graffiti,” added student Beckii Sessions (Town of Webb HS, 2016). “There was trash everywhere. The whole place was wrecked. There was a lot of broken glass and shotgun shells.”

Before and after photos of Split Rock.

Seeing what the site had become motivated students to take action in connection with the upcoming 100-year anniversary of the tragedy. Under the leadership of Professors Laurel Saiz and Melissa Hicks, students made a presentation to the Onondaga Town Board and are working on a series of related activities:

  • April 30 to May 4, 2018 will be “Split Rock Week” on campus. There will be a display in Coulter Library, a panel discussion and a performance of “Ghost Talk” by the OCC Drama Club which will focus on the perspectives of victims and survivors of the explosion.
  • A cleanup of the site led by community volunteers.
  • A ceremony at the site on July 2, 2018, the 100th anniversary of the fatal explosion.
  • A wreath-laying ceremony August 7, 2018 at Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse on the 100th anniversary of the internment of the unidentified victims.

Even though the class is about to end the work will continue for these students. They’ll need permission from New York State to access the site. They are asking Oakwood Cemetery to include information about the Split Rock monument in the brochure they hand out to visitors. They’ve also asked the Honeywell Corporation to refurbish the monument in time for the August ceremony. “We will have a committee of people from this class who meet regularly next semester to make sure everything is still on track,” said student Abbie Moskov (Auburn HS, 2016). “We want to continue to bring awareness to the community even though we’ll be done with the class. We want to follow through.”

Students and professors in “The Split Rock Disaster” Honors class.

Caitlin Barry

  • Major at OCC: Music
  • High School: West Genesee, class of 2017

Caitlin loves to sing whether she’s at home, driving her car or in front of a packed house at the Carrier Dome. Every year since 7th grade she’s sung the National Anthem before a Syracuse University Basketball game. “My first year I sang before an exhibition game. Each year I keep getting cooler games.” In January of this year she sang in front of 27,000 fans before SU played Boston College.

Caitlin sings the National Anthem prior to an SU Basketball game.

The fact Caitlin is here at all is something of a miracle. She was born with her umbilical cord wrapped around her throat and unconscious. She began life on life support in the Walter R. G. Baker Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Crouse Hospital. When she came home she was surrounded by music. “My mom always sang around the house when I was little. I would watch Barney and shows like that and sing along.”

During her time at West Genesee High School Caitlin often sang the National Anthem before school sporting events. She was also an athlete herself, playing soccer for the Wildcats. During her first semester at OCC she was a member of the Lazers Women’s soccer team. “Soccer was great here. I loved my coaches and I loved my team. It was a lot of work along with music but I love it.”

Music is constantly on her mind. Caitlin performs live regularly in the Camillus area with Austin Barrigar. She can sing a wide range of music from country to pop to classic rock. She keeps her voice in shape at home. “When I have a song I want to sing I go down into the cellar and record onto an app that I have. I have a list of karaoke songs I sing.” Caitlin says they have a list of more than 50 songs they sing when they perform in public.

Besides singing Caitlin also plays piano. Her goal is to become a pop star. She is also interested in a career working in a recording studio.

Caitlin’s next opportunity to sing the National Anthem at an SU Basketball game will happen January 6, 2018 when the Orange host Notre Dame.

Cpl. Jeff Cleland, ’13, USMC, Retired

  • Major at OCC: General Studies
  • High School: West Genesee, class of 2005

The terror attacks of September 11, 2001 set Jeff on a path of service to his country. He joined the United States Marine Corps and served in Iraq before becoming wounded and medically retiring. Jeff came to OCC, earned his degree and today works at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas where he helps veterans find resources within their communities. OCC named Jeff a distinguished Alumni Faces honoree in 2016. “I hope to be an example to nontraditional students, especially veterans that it is never too late to learn. Don’t be afraid to ask or receive help in getting where you want to go.”

Please take a moment, visit our Alumni web site and tell us how OCC impacted your life.