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OCC offers new programs to help meet community need

Onondaga Community College

New Onondaga Community College President Warren Hilton has a message for any high school student who’s interested in learning more about the school: schedule a visit.

"When they see the campus, they will understand,” said Hilton. “Our campus looks very much like a four year institution. We have very well maintained residence halls right here on campus. We have sixteen athletics teams."

Hilton said a major priority for him is increasing enrollment at OCC at a time when community colleges nationwide are seeing a dramatic decrease in enrollment in the wake of the pandemic.

Part of that strategy involves strengthening relationships with local high schools and students, spreading the word about everything from OCC’s new e-sports teams to their Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, which is ranked third in the world.

But the college is also focusing on non-traditional students, particularly those who are hoping to train for a new career. OCC is offering six new degree and certificate programs specifically designed to meet demand in central New York.

Hilton said some can be done quickly, like the three and a half week Home Health Aide Workforce Certificate and the five week Certified Nursing Assistant Workforce Certificate.

"If you're an individual and you want to be gainfully employed in one of these fields, you don't always have a month, two months, three months, two years to get the education you need to get into those fields," said Hilton.

Other new programs include a Healthcare Administration Degree, a Laboratory Science degree, an Automotive Technology Certificate, and a Direct Support Professional Certificate.

Hilton said amid the national student loan crisis, the college is also looking at ways to make its programs as affordable as possible for potential students, including offering scholarships or discounted textbooks through its “Box of Books” program.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.