Ryan Merrow bet on himself and his bet is paying off. He's a first generation college student from tiny Weston, Vermont (population 566) who decided to come to Onondaga Community College sight unseen. He's blossomed into both an outstanding student and a leader amongst his peers. "I found this place, took a chance, and it's given me an opportunity to figure out all of the things I wanted to figure out. I had no one in my life who had even gone to college. I knew I needed a place to start the journey. I needed a place with resources and support. Since I got here I've had everything I've needed."
After graduating from Burr and Burton Academy in nearby Manchester, Merrow went to work and pondered his future. He had realized the importance of getting a good education during his last two years of high school and done well. "I knew I wanted to go to college but I didn't have any direction. I needed to figure out who I was and what I wanted. I needed a place to start but knew I couldn't jump straight into a university."
Merrow researched community college options within the SUNY system and chose OCC. In the fall of 2019 he moved into the residence halls without knowing a single person on campus. With his newfound sense of purpose he excelled in his new home. He enrolled in the Humanities & Social Sciences degree program, earned a 4.0 grade point average in his first semester, and has maintained his perfect GPA throughout his time on campus.
He's also been active outside class. Merrow is an RA in the residence halls, President of the History Club, Co-Vice President for Leadership in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and is a new member of Student Government where he serves as the student representative on the Onondaga Community College Association board. "In Student Government we have a direct line into the administration of the school. We meet with the President of the College. We represent students when we meet with the administration."
Merrow also found his academic passion during the fall 2020 semester when he took a Psychology class. "I had read a stack of psychology-related books but hadn't thought about it much academically. When I took a class about it I realized I wanted to study the mind. I've been fascinated by how the mind works for a number of years. It feels great to know what I really want to dive into."
After he receives his degree in May, Merrow will continue his education with the ultimate goal of earning a Ph.D. in Psychology. Wherever he goes he will always remember the place where he started to dream big. "I love college and this place has given me so many opportunities. It's been the greatest time of my life."