When Anthony Lisi decided on a career path, he came to Onondaga Community College's Office of Veterans and Military Services. "I walked in, talked to Steve, said 'these are the prerequisites I need, can you get me there?' He's been more than incredible." The "Steve" Lisi referred to is Steve White, Assistant Director of Veterans Affairs at OCC. "He's the best," said Lisi. "You know he's got your back. He really takes care of his own whether that's helping guide us in the right direction or defending us when things aren't working out right."
White's leadership coupled with institution-wide support has led to OCC being named "Best For Vets" by Military Times. The Office of Veterans and Military Services (OVMS) supports military service members, veterans, and dependents, while guiding them toward their education goals. OCC’s degree and certificate programs are approved for VA education benefits. The OVMS acts as a direct link between students and the VA regional office, which includes handling VA benefit certification and payment inquiries. The office is located on the 2nd floor of Coulter Hall in room C217.
Lisi graduated from Baldwinsville High School in 2010, tried college for a year, then joined the United States Marine Corps. His four years of service included two tours of duty in Afghanistan. When he was honorably discharged, he returned to Central New York and took a job in the construction industry. Eight years later, he was ready for a change. "I was working paycheck to paycheck. I wanted more and less of that stress. My body was hurting." Lisi researched career options and decided he wanted to become an x-ray technician and ultimately get into SUNY Upstate Medical University's Medical Imaging program. He decided OCC would be the perfect starting point.
In the fall of 2022, Lisi enrolled in the Mathematics & Science degree program. By his own admission he was a "terrible" student in high school. Now he wanted to be in school and he had a vision for his destination. He was also apprehensive about being a non-traditional student on a college campus. The OVMS gave him a place where he could feel at home. "It was so important. Having this and having Veterans around me and the overall community here, it really put my mind at ease. Ever since day one when I'm not in class, I'm here. It's a great environment."
Lisi is so committed to his education he took classes during both summer sessions. In between, he got married and went on his honeymoon. One year after arriving at OCC, he was inducted into the College's chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. "The difference for me now is the drive. I want to be here! Being inducted into the honor society instilled a new confidence in me that I haven't had in a long time."
Next fall he hopes to be a student at SUNY Upstate Medical University. His goal is to eventually work at the VA Medical Center. "I like the atmosphere here being around Veterans. I'd like to continue working with Veterans and be an asset to them or whatever hospital I'm at."