When Shayne Turo needed to hit the "reset" button on his life and start over, he turned to Onondaga Community College. "I was an LPN (licensed practical nurse) by trade when I had to have brain surgery and was coming out of a divorce. I came back to school to get back on my feet."
Turo had graduated from Corcoran High School in 2002. Although the high school is just two miles from the OCC campus, he didn't realize everything that was here until he enrolled. "I always knew OCC as the school up on the hill. Once I got here I really felt that community atmosphere. Within two or three people, everybody knows everybody. Everybody is connected. You feel a welcoming environment."
He began taking classes here in 2021. One of his professors, Dr. Eunice Williams, encouraged him to become an active member of the campus community and it transformed his college experience. "I was an older student and I came in with the goal of getting my degree and getting out of here. I didn't really talk to anybody. When she opened the door for me it created opportunity after opportunity for me."
Those opportunities included Co-Chair of the Unity Day Committee, a seat on the Diversity Equity Inclusion & Belonging Council, and the Extraordinary Men of Distinction Advisory Board. He was also a member of the first group of Meg O'Connell Social Justice Scholars, and earned membership in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
A week from Saturday, at age 38, Turo will receive his General Studies degree, joining his daughter Chayne as college graduates in the family. She earned her degree from OCC in 2022 and is now at SUNY Fredonia, working toward becoming a teacher one day.
The elder Turo plans to transfer to Syracuse University where he will major in African American Studies with a minor in Sociology. "I'm excited to be graduating. Before coming here I never had that college experience. I enjoyed that sense of belonging and realizing there was something here that was bigger than yourself."
Turo joined us recently for an edition of OCC's podcast, "Chatting About College." You can listen to our conversation by clicking on this link. You can also find "Chatting About College" at places like iTunes, Spotify, or whenever you download podcasts.
Also, Turo's wonderful story was highlighted May 10 by WSYR TV, Newschannel 9.