Student Spotlight
Elizabeth Kraynak

There is little, if any, down time in Elizabeth Kraynak's life. And she's fine with that. Her lengthy list of activities includes:

  • Lifeguard at the YMCA where she works 35 hours a week.
  • Tutor through her local library in the subjects of physics, calculus, and chemistry.
  • Serves as a Certified EMT.

And then there's everything she does at OCC which includes:

  • Full-time student in the Engineering Science degree program.
  • Officer in Student Government.
  • Member of the Lazers Cross Country & Track team.

How does she do all of this? "People ask me 'how are you not tired?' They forget that everything I do is something I like to do. I'm excited about everything I do. Your mindset really helps when you are into it."

Kraynak is a 2021 graduate of Baldwinsville High School who planned to work part-time jobs through her last couple years of high school and save enough money to pay for college. But when Covid shut down most employment opportunities for youths, she wasn't sure what she would do. Kraynak met with her high school guidance counselor who told her about scholarship opportunities at Onondaga Community College. That led to her becoming a member of OCC's Lillian Slutzker Honors College and attending tuition-free.

in December of 2022, Kraynak earned her Mathematics & Science degree. She planned to transfer to Clarkson University for Electrical Engineering, but realized it would be financially smarter to stay at OCC and take more core classes. She took advantage of her additional time on campus by participating in activities outside class. "I had such a better experience because I was involved. I want all of my peers to have the same experience. It's one thing to have good grades in school. Holding a Student Government position shows you can be a leader, you're good at communicating, you work well with others, and you care about your peers."

Kraynak's care for others is what led her to become a lifeguard and EMT. "When we were little my brother fell into the pool and almost drowned. The lifeguard saved him. I decided when I was old enough, I wanted to be a lifeguard too." She became a lifeguard while she was in high school, and took EMT courses at night while she was a student at OCC. Now she volunteers as an EMT on weekends, and does homework in between calls.

When classes aren't in session, Kraynak doesn't slow down. She admits she's the 'type of person who loves school.' That's why in early January she participated in a week-long, paid research opportunity at SUNY-ESF where she studied air pollution, chemistry, and computer modeling with Professor Ted Dibble. "It was really interesting. I was able to learn an entirely new computer operating system. It showed me how much I'm capable of. It reinforced my confidence in myself."

In May, Kraynak will complete her Engineering Science degree at OCC, then transfer into Clarkson's Electrical Engineering program. She loves math and is looking forward to new challenges in the world of numbers. "I can sit and do a math problem for 5 or 10 hours. If I have a problem in front of me, I can't stop or focus on anything else until I figure it out. When I do figure it out, I feel so great that I say 'let's do it again!'"

Onondaga Community College
Baldwinsville High School