Student Spotlight
Jamie Biviano
Jamie Biviano is retired from the United States AirForce. She's enrolled in the Mathematics & Science degree program and was recently inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

Jamie Biviano feels incredibly fortunate to be at Onondaga Community College where she is surrounded by support. "I don't know how I fell into the hands of so many people who care about me."

Biviano is a 2006 graduate of Chittenango High School who tried college twice, spent a year teaching Tae Kwon Do, then decided to join the United States Air Force in 2008. Four years later during a deployment to Afghanistan, she suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury. She also developed a physical injury which would require extensive medical care. She retired from the Air Force in 2014.

As she convalesced and struggled with mental health challenges, her sister connected her with a dairy farm in Pompey where she thought Biviano might benefit from working with animals. "I was working with cows, feeding them, and petting them."

The experience encouraged her to become a veterinarian. She met with Steve White, Assistant Director of OCC's nationally honored Office of Veterans and Military Services, and last fall she enrolled in the Mathematics & Science degree program. "Steve set me up for success. He told me 'Uncle Sam put money aside for you' and got me everything I needed from the VA (Veterans Administration) to come here. Steve became one of my biggest mentors."

Her first semester back in college was a great success, and last month she was inducted into OCC's chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. "Before, I was going to college because my parents wanted me too. I had basically flunked out twice. Now I'm older and I understand I don't have another choice. I have to do well here."

Biviano also credits her professors with playing a significant role in her success. "I couldn't ask for a more supportive group of instructors. I have a team of women who are like gladiator women in their fields. I am shocked by how good they are. No better professor exists than (Biology) Professor (MaryAnn) Page." 

And when she's having doubts about the long journey through higher education she is just beginning, White provides the focus. "He keeps telling me 'you have to keep working. It's going to pay off.' At one point I came in to his office and said 'I don't know if I can do this. I don't want to wait years to finally do something with animals.' He said 'you're going to take the next 6 to 7 years to do this, worst case scenario you'll be 45, and then you'll do something you like for the rest of your life!' He's the push I need. I don't know what I would do without him."

Onondaga Community College
United States Air Force
Phi Theta Kappa