Kayla McKeon '22 appeared on ABC Television's "Good Morning America" program to help Mattel reveal a Barbie Doll with Down Syndrome which she helped design.
Kayla McKeon '22 appeared on ABC Television's "Good Morning America" program for Mattel's reveal of the Barbie Doll with Down Syndrome which she helped design. (courtesy ABC)

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) will present Onondaga Community College Alumna Kayla McKeon '22 with the National Outstanding Alumni Award. She will be honored April 9 at the AACC's annual conference in Louisville, KY.

McKeon is a graduate of Cicero-North Syracuse High School who earned her General Studies degree at OCC over a 12-year period, graduating in 2022. During that period she became the first lobbyist in U.S. history with Down Syndrome, led an effort to pass legislation in Congress which aids people with disabilities; and was named the National Down Syndrome's Self-Advocate of the Year. She also helped Mattel design a Barbie Doll with Down Syndrome, and in 2023 participated in its big reveal on national television.

OCC has a proud history of high-achieving graduates being recognized by the AACC. Past OCC National Outstanding Alumni Award winners include:

There are more than 1,000 community colleges in the United States serving nearly 9 million students. The AACC recognizes remarkable community college graduates each year with the Outstanding Alumni Award. McKeon is OCC’s 6th such honoree in 11 years.

"My time at Onondaga Community College was remarkable and is something I will always be thankful for. I was fortunate to receive any assistance I needed from the Office of Accessibility Resources, advisors, tutors, and professors. Everything I learned guided me in my career to enhance and advocate for the Differently-abled community. I am incredibly blessed to be the recipient of the Outstanding Alumni Award for 2024, and am thankful to Dr. Warren Hilton for nominating me," said McKeon.

"We are so proud of Kayla and everything she has accomplished as both a student here at Onondaga Community College, and her amazing work across the country advocating on behalf of those with Down Syndrome. Kayla is an inspiration to all of us and is most deserving of the Outstanding Alumni Award,” said OCC President Dr. Warren Hilton.

McKeon is being recognized during National Community College Month. The designation provides an opportunity for awareness of the critical role community colleges play in the higher education system. Here are some facts about OCC students and alumni:

  • 89% of our students from Onondaga County and the four surrounding counties.
  • 34% of our students are first-generation college students.
  • 72% of our students are age 21 or younger, 28% are non-traditional.
  • 68% of our students complete their degrees debt-free.
  • 85% of our graduates live and work within 25 miles of our campus.
Onondaga Community College
Cicero-North Syracuse High School
American Association of Community Colleges
Good Morning America