Meg O'Connell Center

Onondaga Community College received a gift of $1 million dollars from Eric Allyn in honor of his wife, Meg O'Connell — OCC's former Interim President and Chair of the Board of Trustees.  Read the whole story!

Why you should consider giving to the OCC Foundation

Our students take on tough challenges every day, and our goal is to help reduce some of those barriers. Did you know that 58% of our students are the first in their family to go to college? Or that 51% have lived in low-income housing? We do more than just provide scholarships; we help address their needs by supporting the important work of initiatives like OCC's Community Care Hub, providing emergency funding, contributing to college readiness programs like OCC Advantage and PTECH, and so much more.  

When you give, you help champion accessible, affordable higher education that enriches your community. Our graduates are dedicated members of the community who find jobs in CNY at high rates and build our local economy. It's a win-win for you and our students.

What your donation supports

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College Preparation

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Access to Support Services

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Scholarships for Deserving Students

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Skills to Join the Workforce

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Pathways to Bachelor's Degrees

How you can give

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Make your check out to the OCC Foundation and mail it to:

OCC Foundation
4585 West Seneca Turnpike
Syracuse, NY 13215

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OCC Employee Payroll Deduction

Are you planning a memorial gift or have any questions? Contact us at (315)-498-6060 or

OCC Appoints New College President

Dr. Warren Hilton

On July 1, Dr. Warren M. Hilton assumed the Presidency of Onondaga Community College. Succeeding Dr. Casey Crabill, who retired in June, he is OCC’s ninth president.

“I am humbled and honored to have been selected as Onondaga Commu- nity College’s next President. Everyone with whom I have met has demon- strated that OCC is a student-centered institution and poised to have an even greater impact upon current and future students and economic growth in the region,” said Dr. Hilton, the College’s first Black President.

Dr. Hilton served as Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. He has also held administrative roles at the Commu- nity College of Philadelphia, Drexel University in Philadelphia, Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore, Stevenson University in Stevenson, MD, and the University of Maryland-College Park. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and a doctorate at Drexel University.

“Our Board of Trustees was proud to unanimously approve Dr. Hilton as OCC’s President,” said OCC Board of Trustees Chair John P. Sindoni, Esq. “We look forward to working with him to serve students as the area’s partner in education for success.”


Historical Moment: President Biden Visits OCC

President Biden Presenting at OCC
Micron logo
President Biden received an OCC cap and lacrosse jersey commemorating his visit to campus.


On Oct. 27 in a packed Allyn Hall Gymnasium, Onondaga Community College welcomed the President of
the United States, Joe Biden. It was a historic moment as it was the first time in the college’s 60-year history that a U.S. president visited the campus.

President Biden was at Onondaga to address the decision by Micron Tech- nology, Inc., an American producer of computer memory and computer data

storage, including dynamic random-access memory, flash memory, and USB flash drives, to invest $100 billion dollars in the region by building a microchip- making plant in Onondaga County.
He called it, “One of the most signifi- cant investments in American history. And it’s going to ensure that the future is made in America.”

The President was joined on stage by Micron President and CEO Sanjay Mehrotra, United States Senators Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gilli- brand, and New York State Governor Kathy Hochul. The President was introduced by Shawni Davis, a Master Electrician and the owner of Luminary Electrical. Earlier this year she received a Small Business of the Year award from OCC’s Small Business Development Center.

OCC President Dr. Warren Hilton was the first speaker during a lengthy afternoon program. He energized the crowd with his passion and enthusiasm and put the moment into context. “Sixty years ago, in the fall of 1962, OCC welcomed its first students to our first home in an old typewriter factory in downtown Syracuse. Today we welcome the President of the United States and the CEO of Micron to our campus for the beginning of a project that will transform our region for the next 60 years and beyond.

OCC is partnering directly with Micron to create specific academic programs and workforce certifi- cates. During the day’s festivities, Micron’s Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer, April Arnzen, announced a Community Investment Fund that includes $5 million dollars to support students and develop programs that will lead to careers in the microchip fabrication industry.

OCC’s cleanroom will be housed in the Whitney Applied Technology Center on campus. This will be a vital tool for OCC to prepare students for jobs at Micron’s Clay campus, which will be home to the nation’s largest cleanroom at approximately 2.4 million square feet.

Before leaving the college, President Biden was presented with an OCC cap and an Onondaga Lazers lacrosse jersey sporting “46,” in honor of his being the 46th President of the United States. The President is no stranger to Syracuse, where he lived while attending S.U. College of Law. He’s also quite familiar with the role of community colleges; his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, has spent her career teaching students just like those who attend OCC.

Alumni Faces 2022 

Alumni Faces 2022
Dr. Hilton congratulated alumni (left to right) Hassina Adams, Dr. Danielle Berry, Jesse Wilson, Steve Schill, and Richard Calagiovanni.

Onondaga Community College welcomed five graduates from three different decades into the Alumni Faces class of 2022. They were recognized for their professional achievements and contributions to the college and community during an evening ceremony held Oct. 6. Each honoree visited with students enrolled in degree programs related to their chosen professions.

The Alumni Faces ceremony, coordi- nated by Director of Alumni Relations Russ Corbin, was livestreamed on OCC’s YouTube Channel by OCC’s Livestream Production Team, led by Broadcast Media Communications Department Chair and Professor Tony Vadala.

2022 Honorees

After immigrating to the United States from South Africa, Hassina graduated with a Humanities and Social Sciences degree. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University and plans to

enter law school. A Paralegal in the City of Syracuse’s Office of the Corporation Counsel, Hassina aspires to become an immigration attorney.

Dr. Berry, a Syracuse native, enrolled at OCC at age 16 through the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program and graduated with a degree in Mathematics and Science. She earned her bachelor’s at SUNY-ESF and her Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Texas at Dallas. She is a Chemist and Senior Research Specialist at Dow.

While attending West Genesee High School, Jesse started taking classes at OCC and graduated with a degree in Business Technology. He owns “Ish Guitars” on Teall Avenue and sells more than 2,500 guitars annually to customers worldwide. He also owns a Ferrari with “OCC GRAD” license plates.

A Fowler High School grad, Steve earned an Electrical Engineering degree at OCC. He’s spent his entire career at Inficon, where he is the Senior Director of Global Sales Projects. Steve served OCC as a member of the Foundation Board, the Perkins Grant Advisory Council, and a mentor to students in the P-TECH program.

A Jamesville-Dewitt High School grad, Dick earned a General Studies degree from OCC, where, as a member of Student Government, he lobbied County Legislators to build a new OCC campus. He spent 29 years in leadership roles at WCNY TV, and in retirement continues to produce videos for local non-profit organizations.

Community Superstars

Dennis Hebert ’67 and wife, Judi

Dennis Hebert ’67 and wife, Judi, have dedicated their lives to helping others. They were recognized for their service on Nov. 15, when they received the 2022 Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Dennis credits Onondaga Community College with much of the good in his life. He and Judy, a retired nurse, have spent many of their 52-year marriage volunteering for many organizations and causes in our community, including Dennis’s ser- vice on the OCC Foundation Board. We thank and congratulate them!


Donor Spotlight: Dave Cutler

OCC Graduate Gives Back to OCC Through Criminal Justice Award

One OCC grad is giving back to his alma mater in a meaningful and impactful way: by helping to support Criminal Justice students as they complete their studies at Onondaga. Dave Cutler graduated from Westhill High School and then earned his General Studies degree from OCC in 1972. He went on to SUNY Oswego, graduating with a degree in Social Sciences in 1974.

With his education behind him, Dave took off on a cross-country trip, camp- ing along the way with four buddies. At the end of the trek, two decided to stay in California and Dave and the fourth wanted to return to Colorado, where he settled in Littleton and has resided ever since.

Building a Career in Corrections

There, he worked for a federal corrections facility and subsequently founded a Community Corrections program that contracted with the state to transition those released from prison to halfway houses for smoother re-entries into society. Dave led the business for 35 years, sold it several years ago, and is now enjoying a well-earned retirement.

Dave also founded the ACTC Foundation, a private nonprofit entity whose mission is to help organizations, charities, and educational institutions that have the intent to help people. “We want to help organizations by providing donations to help their missions and achieve their goals,” says Dave,

adding that ACTC awards millions annually to simply help others.

From Typewriter Factory
to Onondaga Hill

The former Westvale resident enjoys Central New York and returns several times a year to see family and friends. During his visits to campus, he says he’s impressed with the development of the college since he was a student. “I took most of my classes in the old typewriter factory known as Midtown Plaza,” he said. “It was brutal — the facility, the parking. I took one class up on the new campus my final semester.

“I love OCC. Everything that happened during my time there changed my life.” – Dave Cutler

Yet what I recall most was the fun I had with fellow students and the high caliber of the faculty.”

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Dave’s OCC graduation. With a $100,000 gift to the OCC Foundation, he’s established The Cutler Award for Student Success in Criminal Justice. Students applying for the annual award must be New York State residents and be matriculated part or full-time in the Criminal Justice A.S. degree within the School of Public Safety & Community Service. The award is intended to be used for non-tuition related expenses.

Dave Cutler

Rewarding, Challenging
Career Paths

Why criminal justice? Dave laughs, citing his experience as a member of the “Safety Patrol” when he was a fifth grader at Cherry Road Elementary. “Since that time, I’ve always wanted to be a juvenile parole officer,” he says. “I had a gratifying career in corrections, and now want to give back by helping students who choose these rewarding, yet challenging career paths.”

OCC Foundation staff member Steffani Williams applauds alums like Dave Cutler and Dave Cook (see page 8) who have given back to their alma mater for the direct benefit of students. “I’m continually inspired by those who share their success and generosity, and by what motivates them to fund their par- ticular areas of interest,” says Steffani.

To learn more about making donations to the Foundation, contact Steffani at (315) 498-6062 or email

Students Meet with New President

Students Meet with New President

 Members of Onondaga Community College’s Student Government gathered for their first “getting to know
you” meeting of the new academic year with College President Dr. Warren Hilton. “I really liked him. He feels
so down to earth and approachable,” said Student Government President Chris Cedano Alcala. The student leaders who met with Dr. Hilton are (front row, left to right) Darian Barber, Siobhan Young, Chris Cedano Alcala, OCC President Dr. Warren Hilton, and Thuw J-Elmi. Back row (left to right): Eddie Flynn, Hannah Durand, Sabirin Hassan, Yasmin Hassan, and Zaineb Aden.


Honor Society Creates Smiles

Students in Syracuse’s Dr. Weeks Elementary School had huge smiles on their faces one day in November thanks to OCC’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa (PTK). A circus per- former from CirqOvation delighted students with his entertaining act, and then kept the fun going throughout the day. Each year OCC’s PTK chapter focuses on an Honors In Action project to benefit the community in some way. This year’s focus was “play.”

Cruise & Views Logo

On a beautiful Saturday in September, the OCC campus was filled with souped-up classics and hot rods for Central New York’s exclusive and unique car show fund and friend raiser, the 2nd annual OCC Cruise & Views.

Once again, this event showcased not only beautiful vehicles, but displayed how a community can come together to have fun and support students. As our guests walked through and admired the fine crafts- manship of these spectacular vehicles, songs from the area’s own premiere Elvis impersonator, Tom Gilbo and his band “Live Wire,” echoed throughout campus. We were transported back to “the good old days” with fun, dancing and top notch entertainment, all while raising money for students.



Yellow vehicle

Once again, a sincere thank you to our sponsors for helping to make this event such a huge success!

Maguire Family of Dealerships
Presenting Sponsor

ACMG Federal Credit Union
Big 4 Tire
Bottar Law
Driver’s Village
Mark Spadafore
Mary & David Snyder

Rogue Metal Works
Scotty’s Automotive
Summit Racing Equipment Ted Carley
United Radio

Kyle McAuliffe Remembered

Kyle McAuliffe

Just two months before he was to begin studies in OCC’s Associate in Applied Science program in Nursing, Kyle McAuliffe of Syracuse sadly passed away unexpectedly from a long illness on June 16.

Born February 4, 1996, in Baltimore, Kyle had attended Skaneateles High School, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the Finger Lakes School of Massage. He was excited to begin nursing studies at OCC, where he had planned to “be the change needed to work toward healing the broken aspects of our healthcare system,” according to his obituary.

Kyle was described as “a lover of life who sought truth and justice, especially on behalf of the disenfranchised and those without a voice. He loved nature and animals, music, art, antique watches, history and literature. He was a poet and a philosopher who enjoyed engaging in discourse about all manner of things; a gentle soul who connected with others easily; a natural and gifted healer.”

A celebration of his life was held July 29, at the Creek Hollow Pavilion at Marcellus Park to honor his abbreviated but full and beautiful life.

He is survived by his parents, Chris- topher and Carolyn of Skaneateles; brother Garrett of Springfield, TN; and the love of his life, Maria Winkworth of Syracuse. Other relatives include grandparents Jerry and Maryjane McAuliffe of Marietta, and many aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Kyle’s family has established The Kyle P. McAuliffe Award for Nursing, through the OCC Foundation. The award is intended to help future students achieve their dreams and reach their educational goals in nursing, just as Kyle had dreamed of doing.

Memorial gifts in Kyle’s memory may be made at or by mail, with checks payable to The OCC Foundation, Inc., 4585 West Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse, NY, 13215.

Crabill Commons Honors Past President

Retiring OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill (left) is pictured with Mark Tryniski '81 (right) of OCC's Board of Trustees. Whitney Commons was renamed "Crabill Commons" thanks to a $100,000 gift from Community Bank.

Last summer, Onondaga Community College’s Board of Trustees voted to rename the primary classroom in the Whitney Applied Technology Building associated with Business degree programs as “Crabill Commons” in honor of retiring President Dr. Casey Crabill.

The name change was accompanied by a $100,000 gift from Community Bank to the OCC Foundation to provide funding for student scholarships, programs, and projects.

“As a graduate of Onondaga Community College, I know first-hand the value of an OCC degree and how it impacted my career,” said OCC Board of Trustees member Mark Tryniski ‘81. This naming gift is a fitting tribute to Dr. Crabill and

all she accomplished at the College.”

Students Meet President Biden

Students Meet President Biden

A native of the Congo, Juhudi Boazi had moved to the United States seven years ago and became an American citizen in October during a Naturalization Ceremony on the OCC campus. After scoring a photo with President Biden following the Micron announcement, Juhudi said, “I think becoming an American is not just having the paper and the passport. Being able to actually meet the President within the first two weeks of being an American is just
an amazing thing.” He will graduate from OCC by the end of the year with a degree in mechanical technology. Juhudi hopes to become one of Micron’s future engineers. “It’s a pretty nice opportunity for me and I really hope that some day in the future I will work for them,” he said.

Current students who attended the event said the experience was one they would never forget. Student Government President Christopher Cedano Alcala from Liverpool High School said, “I’m happy to know that future students will have the choice of being able to stay in our community and find high-paying jobs right here. Today inspired me to continue working hard."








It’s Never Too Late: Dave Cook to Receive OCC Degree

Dave Cook is about to finish something he nearly completed 50 years ago. When he left Onondaga Community College in 1972 and transferred to SUNY Potsdam, he was one class shy of earning his associate’s. Now, a half century later, Dave’s receiving his degree from OCC.

“I went on and earned my four-year degree, and I couldn’t have done that without com- ing to OCC first,” says Dave. After graduating from Potsdam, he went on to manage Social Security Administration offices across New York State for 30 years until he retired.

Several years ago, Dave was taking a nostalgia drive through Syracuse when
he decided to reconnect with the College. He met with staff in the OCC Foundation, and came to donate $25,000 to a unique college-readiness and scholarship program.

“I decided it was time to give back,” Dave says. “I felt it was important to help stu- dents like I was.”

Dave continues to give back. He donated to the Automotive Technology program a 1967 Oldsmobile 442 convertible, which students will eventually restore and raffle.

He also created “The Dave Cook Award for Student Success” to help students in the Hospitality Management program. “I like
to eat, my last name is Cook, and I learned how to cook from watching TV,” he said with a smile. “Julia Child is my hero. I wanted to eat on her show in the worst way. The idea of paying it forward to help someone get a degree and get into a good job with- out four years of college was worth it.”

About a year ago, Steffani Williams from the OCC Foundation helped Dave start the process to complete his OCC degree.

Dave Cook

This fall he returned to campus to have his photo taken for his Lazer Student Card. In December, Dave will walk across the Storer Auditorium stage to receive his degree. “I’m looking forward to it.

I’ve told just about everyone I know I’m graduating in reverse,” he says.

Dave Cook’s motto is always finish what you start and it’s never too late! 


Eric Allyn (left) presented OCC $1 million dollars in honor of his wife, Meg O'Connell (right). The money will be used for the creation of the "Meg O'Connell Center for Social Justice and Community Impact."


Love Story Leads to Path of Student-centered Giving

The qualities that drew Eric Allyn
to Meg O’Connell (above) while they were students at Dartmouth are the same as those that prompted him to establish a milestone gift in Meg’s honor at Onondaga Community College this spring: her dedication to building community, love of education, and helping others realize their potential.

Married for 35 years, Meg and Eric share a love story that is rooted in shared values and mutual support.

As the idea for a gift to honor his wife was percolating, Eric turned to OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill for advice about impactful giving. “Knowing Meg as well as Casey and I do led us down a singular path: a student-focused project that would help the Central New York community and individual educa- tional and professional development,” says Eric.

With a meaningful purpose, the Meg O’Connell Center for Social Justice and Community Impact was born. Eric’s gift of $1 million to the OCC Foundation to honor his wife will fund support for students to pursue volunteer and service-learning opportunities they may not otherwise have the financial support to explore.

Gaining Work and Leadership Skills

About 80% of OCC’s students work 30 hours
a week or more. Each year, the program will support a cohort of 20 students who will earn a stipend that fills the gap from lost wages. “I’m so pleased students will be able to support local efforts, gain work and leadership experience, and use their expertise to improve our com- munity,” says Meg.

The ideals and practice of learning, service, and social justice can be traced to her family culture. “My father was a former Jesuit priest,” shares Meg, who was raised in the Rockville, Maryland area. “He inspired within us a sense of social responsibility and giving back. We volunteered at non-profits from a young age.”

Improving the World

Meg and Eric became soulmates in college, dedicated — individually and as a couple — to improving the world, first as schoolteachers abroad and then as business and community leaders when they settled in the Syracuse area.

Eric is the great-grandson of William Noah Allyn, who co-founded Welch

Allyn Inc., a Skaneateles-based medical device maker, in 1915; the Allyn family sold the company in 2015 to Chicago-based Hillrom. The Allyn Foundation supports efforts to address poverty and related issues in Central New York.

Meg served as Chair of the OCC Board of Trustees from 2010-2012 and 2013-2015, as well as Interim President of the college from 2012-2013. She is Executive Director of the Allyn Family Foundation and leader of the Syracuse Urban Partnership, which constructed and operates Salt City Market in downtown Syracuse. She’s involved in many civic organizations and community projects, including Blueprint 15, a plan to transform more than 1,000 units of public housing in Syracuse into livable structures and neighborhoods.

Onondaga Community College is vitally important to Meg and Eric’s view of what our community needs. “Many students who may not have had the opportunity to attend college get their educational start at OCC,” says Eric. “Here they receive the attention and support to blossom and go on to richly deserved educational and career paths.”

Meg adds, “I love OCC and what it represents and provides. We couldn’t be more honored to support this great cause: our students.”

Enrich the Lives of OCC Students


Students studying outside

Our students take on tough challenges every day, and our goal is to help reduce barriers they may face. Did you know that 58% of our students are the first in their family to go to college? Or that 51% have lived in low-income housing?

The Onondaga Community College Foundation does more than just provide scholarships: We help address student needs by supporting initiatives such as OCC’s Community Care Hub, providing emergency funding, contributing to college readiness programs, and so much more.

When you give, you help champion accessible, affordable higher education that enriches the Central New York community.

Learn more and donate at

OCC Advantage Advances First Class of High School Students

What’s better than graduating from high school knowing your first two years of college will be tuition free? Twenty Central New York high school students are about to find out as mem- bers of the first group to complete the OCC Advantage Program.

Launched in 2016 with seed money from major donors and countless generous individuals, OCC Advantage is a college and career readiness program for high school students at partner schools. Students build study skills and join college and career prep workshops.

Participants who maintain eligibility throughout high school and successfully complete the program earn funding toward their first semester’s tuition at OCC, with the opportunity to earn additional funding for a maximum of two years.

Whether attending Onondaga to earn
a terminal two-year degree or transfer- ring to a four-year school to complete a bachelor’s, the students and their families save considerably on tuition bills.

Participating high schools in the OCC Advantage program are East Syracuse Minoa Central High School; Jordan- Elbridge High School; LaFayette Junior- Senior High School; Onondaga Senior High School; and Solvay High School.

To learn more about the OCC Advantage Program or to make a gift, contact the Foundation at 315-498-2213 or email

OCC Advantage


EOP Assists Promising Students

Onondaga Community College’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) provides access, academic support, and financial assistance to first-time, full-time students who show promise for succeeding in college but who may need additional support.

In March, 35 EOP students (including those pictured here) were honored during a ceremony in Storer Auditorium for maintaining a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better. Each student was recognized individually by EOP Director Denise Valdes.

The program is designed to strengthen personal development and assist in building academic skills as students transition to the college’s social and cultural environment.

To learn more, visit

EOP Assists Promising Students


Accessibility Resources Ensure Equal Opportunity

Damon Gilstrap

Meet Damon Gilstrap. He went from having a fifth-grade education level in 2015 to earning his GED to then attending Onondaga and graduating in May 2022 with two prestigious honors from the State University of New York: the Norman R. McConney Jr. Award for Student Excellence, given annually to students in the Educational Opportunity

Program who exceed academically while overcoming personal obstacles, and the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence — Special Award for Overcoming the Odds, presented to just one student in New York State.

If anyone has triumphed over challenges, it’s Damon: At age nine, he found his mother dead from an overdose; was shuffled among various foster homes; was accidently shot once; dealt drugs, for which he served time in prison; and rehabilitated himself after suffering a stroke in 2006 caused by three undetected brain tumors.

Damon’s own determination was guided by Daneen Brooks, a counselor, instructor, and accessibility coordinator for the Office of Accessibility Resources (OAR) at OCC, who worked with Damon while he pursued his degree in social services.

OAR serves 1,000 students each year, at no additional cost. The office works to ensure that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity in all aspects of the educational environment.

Learn more at


What matters most to Dave Cook (right) is not where he ended his career, but where he started. And that, many years ago, was at Onondaga Community College.

The Syracuse native attended Corcoran High School and began studies at OCC in the fall of 1970. In 1972, he transferred to SUNY Potsdam, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in political science. “OCC was not a fallback college for me,” says Dave. “It was the most frugal way for me to earn a four-year degree.”

After a successful 30-year career with the Social Security Administration, Dave decided to “pay back” the insti- tution where he began his college education. He made a gift of $25,000 in 2018 to help fund the OCC Advantage Program (see page 4).

Dave Cook

He’s now funding an annual award for students in the Hospitality Management program and has donated his 1967 Oldsmobile 442 convertible to the Automotive Technology program. In retirement, Dave is also finding time at long last to complete his associate degree at — where else — OCC.

Cruising Into a Classic OCC Experience

For many, a certain car may come to be known as their “baby.” Such was the case with Dave and his 1967 Oldsmobile 442 convertible. When he learned about the first donation ofa classic vehicle to the Automotive Technology program for renovation and restoration, his wheels started to spin.

“I’d had the car for seven or eight years and was impressed by how Ryan Beckley ’98 steered the students who wanted to learn a trade,” says Dave. According to Ryan, a critical shortage of auto techs around the country has enhanced job prospects for graduates of the program. Once Dave’s Olds 442 is ready to hit the road again, it will be raffled off to raise funds for the Foundation.

Cooking Up Success for Hospitality Students

The recipe for success in life, according to Dave, isn’t necessarily based on grades, but on ingredients including heart, soul, inspiration, and determination.

This philosophy is the basis for the Dave Cook Award for Student
Success in Hospitality. “I call it the ‘Dave Cook solid C, barely B
scholarship.’ It’s intended for those students who don’t qualify for the awards the ‘A’ students get, but who are making the effort and have potential,” he explains. His $25,000 donation will provide an annual award of $1,000 for a full-time student or $500 for a qualifying part-time student.

Legacy Society: Supporting OCC Into the Future

The Legacy Society at Onondaga Community College comprises those who have included OCC in their estate plans or with a life income agreement, helping to ensure support for OCC’s mission for years to come.

A planned gift can provide substantial tax advantages, especially on gifts of stocks and real estate. Learn more by calling (315) 498-6060 or visiting

Becoming Nurses: Like Mother, Like Daughter

OCC mother and daughter Nursing degree program alumnae Niokey Williams '21 (left) and Candace Cathcart '15 (right).

Candace Cathcart ‘15 (right) and Niokey Williams ‘21 are living proof that Onondaga Community College does help make dreams come true. 

At just 16, Candace gave birth to daughter Niokey. Through the years, the mother-daughter duo encouraged each other in pursuing their shared career aspiration of becoming nurses.

“I was a young mom, but Niokey and I knew hard work and mutual support would lead to our success,” says Candace.

Their dreams were realized in December 2021, during the OCC Winter Graduation, when Niokey, 32, received her nursing degree. Although Niokey began her studies before her mom, Candace completed the program in 2015. In fact, after the 5 p.m. ceremony at SRC Arena on campus, Candace took the short drive to SUNY Upstate Community Hospital for the start of her nursing shift just two hours later.

Little did she realize that her work uniform that evening would be tinged with tears of joy.

For nursing graduates, a pinning presentation signifies a major milestone toward becoming a practicing nurse.

The small pin symbolizes the hard work and dedication that led to the completion of coursework and clinicals.

For mother and daughter, the pinning was infused with heightened emotion as they at long last attained their goal. “My daugh- ter surprised me right before graduation started, asking me to leave the stands and come on stage to pin her,” says Candace. “It meant the world to me that I was able to share the moment with my daughter.”

Niokey says she’ll move forward with the cherished memory of sharing the spotlight with her mother: “I’ve always wanted to be a nurse and to make my mom proud.”

Student-planned Unity Day Brings Campus Together

Students give back to the OCC community in many ways, including planning and staffing a full day of activities on what’s known as Unity Day. This year’s event on Feb. 23 paid tribute to retiring OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill and Jamaican singer, songwriter, and musician Bob Marley, considered one of the pioneers of reggae.

The day’s theme, “One Love, One Heart,” was a nod to Marley’s anthem of the same name, written during the 1970s. According to event co-chair and OCC student Angel Gonzalez, Unity Day allows everyone on campus to experience other cultures and celebrate the differences that can unite us, rather than divide us. “Unity Day should be held at all institutions; it can change views,” he says.

A wide variety of activities were held across campus from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., including the serving of Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Soul Food cuisines; musical performances, henna tattoos, Cross Faith Necklace Making; LGBTQ information tables; Pride and Yoga for Unity; and an evening performance presented by Pride Alliance.

The event was organized by the student-led Unity Day Committee, which included Angel, Elyssia Baez, Kenneth Bivens, Grace Earle, Dreeasia Garner, Damon Gilstrap, Thuw J-Elmi, Heather Patrick, Tyler Reynolds-Woods, Allyssa Sievers, and Nya Williams.

All activities were sponsored by Onondaga Community College’s Council on Diversity & Inclusion, Diversity Services, Extraordinary Men of Distinction, ASL Club, Psychology Club, South Asian Students Club, Spanish Club, Student Government Association, Barnes & Noble, CNY Arts, OCC Foundation, and the eight Schools of OCC.

For a complete roster of the day’s features, visit

Students Help Students in Our Community

Onondaga Community College’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) spent the fall 2021 semester working on a major project that focused on mental health and disability. For their efforts, the OCC chapter received an award for “Distinguished Honors in Action Project” during PTK’s international conference in early April.

The project entailed collecting and donating books to the Children’s Learning Center in Ferrante Hall and hosting a “Living Library” on campus. The project culminated with the creation of 200 mental health care bags for students at Syracuse’s Dr. Weeks Elementary School.

OCC Cares

PTK students labeled each bag with touch- ing messages, such as “You Are Loved” and “OCC Cares.” Inside were stress balls, bubble makers, fidget spinners, and pencil sharpeners.

Due to COVID-19, PTK members could not bring the bags to Dr. Weeks and spend time with students. Instead, they delivered them, but did not have the opportunity to meet the students in person. The Dr. Weeks’ students were so excited by the gesture that they posed for photos and posted messages on social media.

Honored to Serve

“We’re so honored we were able to help such an amazing group of students,” said OCC PTK Chapter Co-President Caitlin Wiltsey. “Even though we could not go into the school as originally planned, this project was a great success.”

Congratulations to the OCC PTK members for their caring and creative spirits, and for the special recognition of their community enhancement project.

Chapter Ranked Third in the World; New PTK Members Inducted

Onondaga Community College’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) is ranked third in the world, announced during PTK’s international conference held in Denver in early April. This is the fourth consecutive year that OCC’s chapter, Alpha Sigma Zeta, has been ranked in the top ten out of nearly 1,300 international chapters.

In March, Angel Gonzalez (below) was one of nearly 200 students inducted into our PTK chapter by OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill. The event featured a recap of outstanding achievements during the academic year, recognition of milestones earned by current student members, news about chapter-wide honors, and the induction of new members.

Honoring Dr. Crabill

A highlight of the ceremony was recognition for Dr. Crabill, who is retiring at the end of the academic year. PTK Co-Presidents Caitlin Wiltsey and Katie Sullivan presented a Phi Theta Kappa blue stole to Dr. Crabill in recognition of the national PTK Michael Bennett Lifetime Achievement Award she received, extended for her many years of unwavering dedication to student success.

New York State’s Most Distinguished Chapter

During the ceremony, PTK Advisor Dr. Annie Tuttle provided a review that highlighted student projects during the past year. She also shared that OCC’s PTK chapter had just been named the Most Distinguished Chapter in New York State for the fifth consecutive year.

During the international conference, the OCC chapter also received the Beta Alpha Continued Excellence Award, presented to a school that’s held a Distinguished Chapter designation for three years or more, and OCC’s PTK leadership was named a Distinguished Chapter Officer Team.

Dr. Tuttle was elected Secretary of the Association of Chapter Advisors.

We applaud the academic achievements of our newest inductees and the commitment of the OCC PTK chapter toward excellence and service.

New PTK Members Inducted

Upcoming Events

TBT – The Basketball Tournament – July 22-25

We’re excited to announce the return to the Onondaga Community College campus of TBT – The Basketball Tournament. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation in 2020 and 2021 of this nationwide summer basketball event. Once again, Boeheim’s Army, comprised of Syracuse Orangemen alums, will take to the court in the SRC Arena for a chance to win $1 million in tournament prize money for our regional team. Thirty-two teams have signed on to compete in eight regions of the U.S.

Watch for more details as “July Madness” takes over at OCC!

Cruise & Views – Presented by Maguire Dealerships – Sept. 24

Mark your calendar now for a fun event to benefit OCC students: the 2nd annual Cruise & Views car show at OCC, presented by the Maguire Dealerships. Classic
car and street rod enthusiasts will display their vehicles during this entertaining festival featuring food, beverages, and tours of the Automotive Technology Center. Come meet OCC students and view

the progress to date on the 1957 Chevy truck that will be raffled off during 2023. To register your ride, visit Watch for details to come!

Cruise & Views Logo

Winter 2021

Image of 2021 Alumni Faces honorees with OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill

This year’s Alumni Faces honorees are (left to right) Lisa GreenMills ’08, Glenn LaPoint ’16, Lanessa Owens-Chaplin ’03, Karinda Shanes ’98, and Michael Speach Jr. ’02. They are pictured with OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill (far right). Not pictured are the Honorable Michelle Morley ’84 and Carolyn Hastings ’94 who were also inducted with the class of 2021.

Our New Alumni Faces

OCC welcomed 7 graduates into its class of Alumni Faces during an induction ceremony held in October in the Frederick Marvin and Ernst Schuh Recital Hall. College President Dr. Casey Crabill emceed the event and put the honorees accomplishments in perspective. “We have more than 50,000 alumni, but only 72 Alumni Faces. Congratulations on everything you have done and the difference each of you have made and will continue to make in our community.” Earlier in the day honorees visited classrooms on campus and had conversations with students. They discussed their academic path, career journey, and answered questions. OCC Foundation Board Chair Mary Snyder reminded the inductees of their impact on our students. “To our honorees tonight, these students will read your story and your example will inspire them to also accomplish great things.” The class of 2021 is:

Lisa GreenMills ’08
• OCC Degree: Mathematics & Science
• Public Health Professional

Carolyn Hastings ’94
• OCC Degree: Health Information Technology
• Health Information Management and Coding Administrator

Glenn LaPoint ’16
• OCC Degree: Electronic Media Communications
• Radio Broadcaster

Michelle Morley ’84
• OCC Degree: Business Management
• Circuit Court Judge

Lanessa Owens-Chaplin, Esq. ’03
• OCC Degree: Humanities
• Attorney and Civic Leader

Karinda Shanes ’98
• OCC degree: Criminal Justice
• Youth Development and Leadership Administrator

Michael Speach Jr. ’02
• OCC Degree: Electronic Media Communications
• President and Head Chocolatier, The Speach Family Candy Shoppe



Image of Steve Schill '78, Senior Director of Global Sales Projects at INFICON

Steve Schill

STEVE SCHILL ’78 feels even more strongly today about the benefits of an OCC education than he did when he was a student. Schill was hired at INFICON a year after receiving his associate degree and 42 years later he’s still there, working as the Senior Director of Global Sales Projects for the company. Throughout his career Schill has maintained close ties to his alma mater. He’s served on the OCC Foundation Board, and today is a valued voice in OCC’s Perkins Grant process which helps connect employers needs with what OCC technology students are taught. He also serves as a mentor to students in the Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools (P-TECH) program at the Syracuse Institute for Technology (ITC). “We talk all of the time about getting kids better prepared for college. This P-TECH program is part of getting these kids ready for college, adjusted to what a workforce environment is like, and what kind of careers are out there. The opportunity to give back to OCC, INFICON, and ITC all fits together for me.”


Living The American Dream At OCC

ELLION MAGSINO dreamed of emigrating from the Philippines to the United States so he could pursue a better life. That’s exactly what he’s doing at OCC. “I love it here. There are so many opportunities for success compared to back home.” Magsino is enrolled in OCC’s Lillian

Slutzker Honors College which gives high-achieving students the ability to attend tuition-free and receive assistance with the cost of textbooks and school supplies. While working toward his Mathematics & Science degree he’s earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average and is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. He is also one of two student representatives who serves on the OCC Foundation Board and Finance Committee. “Being part of the OCC Foundation is very interesting and rewarding for me. It makes me feel very happy and very secure to know there are people who care for the students.”

Image of Ellion Magsino


A Gift of Writing

DIANA ROBERTSON ’77 fondly remembers her experience at OCC. Like many others, she recalls that OCC gave her a place to start when she didn’t even think college was for her. During her time at the college, though, there was one teacher who changed her life. Candace (Oglesby) Rhea taught her how to put her thoughts on paper. She helped remove a barrier for Diana that allowed her to conquer her fear of writing and opened doors in her career. Diana’s dream is to help and inspire others, just as Candace had done for her.

Diana, and her husband Andrew (Drew), made a transformational $100,000 gift to the OCC Foundation to establish The Endowment for Student Success in Writing. The endowment is dedicated to developing and preparing students with strong foundational writing and communications skills to use for life across mediums. Their philosophy, “if they can think it, they can write it,” is something the Robertsons hold in high regard. As professionals themselves, Diana and Drew know first-hand that communicating proficiently is a necessary skill that spans all disciplines and exists in every career.

The first offering of their initiative occurred in October with an event titled “Writing Beyond the Classroom: The Importance
of Writing Throughout Your Career.” The event featured OCC students across disciplines who engaged in conversation with Nick Cerro, Senior Marketing and Business Development Principal with C&S Companies.

Nick Cerro, at “Writing Beyond the Classroom: The Importance of Writing Throughout your Career” event held on October 27, 2021.

Nick Cerro, at “Writing Beyond the Classroom: The Importance of Writing Throughout your Career” event held on October 27, 2021.


Car Show On Campus

Image of Classic Cars attending classic car show on the OCC campus

When Professor Ryan Beckley dreamed up a plan to host a classic car show on the OCC campus, his goal was to increase awareness about the College’s Automotive Technology degree program. His dream came true on the first Saturday of fall. Hundreds of classic cars and spectators came to campus on a spectacular, sunny day for OCC’s inaugural Cruise & Views Classic Car Show presented by Bank of America and raised over $14,000 for OCC students.

Spectators who came into the Automotive Technology lab saw a 1957 Chevy pickup truck students are restoring for raffle next year. The car is being restored thanks in part to a grant from the RPM Foundation. The ’57 Chevy and the opportunity to purchase a chance at winning it will be the centerpiece of the second edition of the Cruise & Views Classic Car Show in 2022. Mark your calendars! Next year’s date is Saturday, September 24. For more information on getting involved with the event call (315) 498-6060.

Special thanks to all of our sponsors for supporting this year’s event: Bank of America, Terry’s Transmission, The Maguire Family of Dealerships, Ted Carley, Bottar Law, Driver’s Village, Big 4 Tire, Geddes Federal Savings & Loan, ISCONY, East Syracuse Chevrolet, United Radio, Mary & David Snyder, Sun Chevrolet, Scotty’s Automotive, Rudy Schmid Total Car Care, Davidson Auto Group, Terry’s Transmission, Snap-On Tools, Heid’s of Liverpool, Summit Racing, Meguiar’s Inc. and Valvoline.



High Honors For Class Of ’69 Alumnae

Classmates DR. DONNA DESIATO ’69 and KARIN FRANKLIN-KING ’69, who were good friends while they were students at OCC, were recently recognized with statewide awards. DeSiato, who leads the East Syracuse Minoa School District, was named New York State Superintendent of the Year. Franklin-King was named the New York Community College Trustees’ winner of the Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement. DeSiato is a member of OCC’s Board of Trustees and both are distinguished Alumni Faces honorees. “We’re so proud of both of them and fortunate they are still active members of the OCC community. Their accomplishments and continuing contributions to the College and all of Central New York inspire all of us,” said OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill.

Image of Karin Franklin-King ’69

Image of Dr. Donna DeSiato ’69



He Shoots, He Scores!

Image of David Bosak proposing to his girlfriend, Marta Tatarin

In the middle of a deep sleep on a hot summer night, David Bosak had a vision. “I had a dream in June that I would ask her to marry me on the soccer field. I knew I wanted to do something special and I wanted it to be in front of everyone else.”

Bosak chose to pop the question
to his girlfriend, Marta Tatarin, on “Sophomore Night” when a pre-game ceremony is held to pay tribute to student-athletes playing in their final regular season home game. When she said “yes” the answer was exactly what he expected.

Bosak and Tatarin plan to be married in the summer of 2022, then they’ll return to pursuing their degrees as they start their new lives together.


Image of Students from the Class of 2021

A Community Responds to Student Need

Our students certainly faced unprecedented challenges this past year, but the one thing we know is they didn’t face them alone. Community investment in the Lazer Response Fund, established in Spring 2020 to support emerging student needs in the pandemic, doubled our initial goal and stands at $210,000! Nearly 400 donors contributed nearly 500 gifts and SUNY provided a $50,000 matching gift. Campus constituents joined community groups and hundreds of individual donors to directly support student needs – examples included a female student in her 20’s whose family lost their home during the pandemic. Her application to the Lazer Response Fund alerted the College to her situation and allowed faculty to intervene and help her finish her coursework in the summer semester when her situation stabilized. Other examples included students whose issues with food insecurity were addressed by the fund with favorable academic outcomes due to the support. None of this would have been possible without the collective efforts of the campus and greater community. Thank you for your support!


Dr. Daryll Dykes,’83

Dr. Daryll Dykes, Ph.D., M.D., J.D. knows success. The seven letters after his name say a lot. The practice says even more. He is a proud graduate of Onondaga Community College. He is a pediatric and adult spine reconstruction surgeon at Upstate Orthopedics certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery. He is the Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer at SUNY Upstate Medical University. He is a member of numerous professional organizations, a former President and CEO of Medical and Surgery Spine Consultants

of Minnesota, and has published and presented extensively in his field. And that’s just a summary. This whole publication could be filled with his accomplishments.

But, where success is often hailed as evidence of great personal achievement and “grit,” Dr. Dykes has a simple message for OCC’s students and community: No one gets here alone.

It’s a message that rings true at any time, but amidst a pandemic that led to record unemployment, challenges with education and technology access, and the trauma associated with COVID, it is even more essential.

Reflecting on his success as the commencement speaker at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, Dr. Dykes said he realized, “I was just one beneficiary of the transformative power of an OCC education and the promise of self-discovery that the College commits to every student, every day.”



Image of Dr. Daryll Dykes, pediatric and adult spine reconstruction surgeon at Upstate Orthopedics

Dr. Dykes has been a key supporter of the Lazer Response Fund and hopes to inspire more donors to contribute directly to student need at the College.

“There has never been a greater need for us
to realize that we each have our position in life because of the events of history and because of individuals in the background making it possible for us to stand there. There has never been a greater need for alumni to band together to support OCC. Onondaga is OUR Community College!”

Whiskey & Wisdom Fundraiser Surpasses Goal (and has a lot of fun doing it)

"Whiskey & Wisdom Fundraiser" glass and bottle

A little bit of one can lead to a lot of the other – and this past February’s virtual “Whiskey & Wisdom” fundraiser sponsored by the OCC Foundation and presented by Dining Inside Out and Kitty Hoynes, featured local spirits from FLX Distillers, Lock 1 Distilling, and Old Home Distillers, and favorites from Redbreast and Bushmills which also led to a lot of donations that go to direct support of OCC students. 

The OCC Foundation raised just over $13,000 in one night. The event was hosted by TK-99’s Gomez Adams, OCC Class of 2016, and also featured charcuterie from Kitty Hoynes, as well as dessert pairings from The Sweet Praxis and Speach Family Candy Shoppe. The specific whiskeys were FLX Distillers McKenzie Rye, Lock 1 Distilling Co Inferno 101 Cinnamon Whiskey, Old Home Distillers Bourbon, Redbreast 12 Year, and Bushmills Single Malt 16 Year. 

Special appearances and performances included songs from Ben Mauro, guitarist for Lionel Richie and Cher, and a piano performance by Dr. Kevin Moore. Special thanks to all guests and event sponsors Alliance Bernstein and Wegmans.

Phil Klein

In 22 years with OCC, Emeritus Music Professor and accomplished composer Phil Klein wrote the College’s Alma Mater, taught some of the area’s most influential musicians, and maintained an active live music schedule of his own. Sadly, he passed in December of 2020 at the age of 92. But perhaps his greatest accomplishment was a humble one: “He maintained friendships with so many of his former students, and honestly, they just loved him. He respected them, and to him, they were equals,” said his daughter Amy Klein, who is a Professor of Health and Physical Education at OCC.

Klein taught at Lake George and Skaneateles public schools for a combined 11 years before coming to OCC to help build up the College’s music program.

Even with his teaching responsibilities, Klein never lost his love for playing publicly. “Oh, he’d be out gigging during the week, driving to Rome to play at the Savoy a couple nights.”

Some of his former students include Syracuse musicians Mark Doyle, Joe Whiting, and George Rossi. Amy says she received so many meaningful messages on her father’s passing. “Each of those famous musicians here in Syracuse put up a tribute to him on Facebook. It just made my heart want to explode. You wouldn’t believe the wonderful notes and messages I received.”

Image of Phil Klein, OCC Emeritus Music Professor and accomplished composer

Klein was also a well-know peace activist in the area, attending events through the Peace Council. “He was more than a teacher. He treated everyone equal, at work or outside. Equality and justice were important to him” said Amy.

Upon his passing, Amy asked that donations and support be sent to the OCC Foundation, which maintains a scholarship for music students, as well as general scholarships.

“He loved the College. We would be out for a bike ride, and he’d say, ‘Let’s go into the college,’ and he’d come up with some reason to go,” she said. “He’d always find a reason.”


Jake Humes

Image of Jake Humes, earned the OCC Community Scholars Award Spring 2021

There’s an old Honus Wagner quote that graced the Baseball Hall of Fame’s “Grandstand Theatre” movie for decades before an upgrade two years ago: “There ain’t much to being a ballplayer. If you’re a ballplayer.”

Old Honus retired in 1917, right before the flu epidemic of 1918, so he never knew how hard it could be when you can’t play.

Batavia, New York native Jake Humes came to OCC to play baseball for the Lazers. With the 2021 season canceled, he didn’t get to. So the former Monroe County Division IV Player of the year and first-team All-Monroe County League player applied himself to other things. He is a member of Slutzker Honors College majoring in Liberal Arts and Sciences: Humanities and Social Sciences, works as a Student Ambassador giving tours and performing other functions, and also earned the OCC Community Scholars Award this spring. His plans are to transfer, eventually, to a four-year institution to study exercise science. Oh, and of course, to play baseball.


OCC’s 58th commencement ceremony looked a little different from the 57 that came before it. The College adapted though, and students were still able to celebrate with their families. Over 400 students took the momentous walk across stage to receive their diploma. Congrats to the one-of-a-kind Class of 2021!