Empowered Women

Empowered Women

March is Women’s History Month

In celebration of national Women’s History Month, OCC employees and students reflect on the women of OCC who empower and inspire others. Together, we celebrate these – and the many women of OCC – whose contributions positively impact our culture and community each day. They are “excellence EMPOWERED!”

Alicia Paramo-Dionne
Job Title: Faculty: Counselor
Department: Counseling

Alicia is kind and selfless. She finds joy in seeing others accomplish goals, and helping others in any way she can. She is a shining example of what OCC is capable of when we look out for one another. Alicia treats her colleagues as if they were family, and is always out in the community doing for others. She is a bright light in this difficult world, and she inspires me daily to be a better person!
Amy Baker
Job Title: Accounting Specialist
Department: Purchasing & Auxiliary Services
Is a part of the hard working Financial Services team who is always working together to uphold the high standard of quality work that allows empowerment to flow throughout the department.
Amy Fairless
Job Title: Student Services Specialist
Department: Public Services/CREST
As a specialist in the Fire Fighter program, Amy goes above and beyond for her cadets and instructors. Amy is a familiar face in the department and can be counted on to provide excellent service to anyone associated with the program. Amy has also volunteered her time by serving at Commencement and the Garden Party. Amy is a great example of a woman who impacts, uplifts, and inspires so many at OCC.   
Angelika Maly
Job Title: Nursing Faculty
Department: Nursing
Professor Maly is so kind and you can truly tell she cares about her students and wants everyone to succeed!   
Anna Negovani
Job Title: Accounting Specialist
Department: Purchasing & Auxiliary Services
Is a part of the hard working Financial Services team who is always working together to uphold the high standard of quality work that allows empowerment to flow throughout the department.  
Balsam Kilano
Job Title: Clinical Nursing Adjunct 
Department: Nursing
Ms. Kilano was an amazing clinical instructor. She dedicated so much time to her students and made sure we had an awesome learning experience. She was thorough, informative, and I will never forget what I have learned from her.    
Brenda Lowery 
Job Title: Student Engagement Coordinator
Department: Student Services
As a single mom, Brenda was always determined to be a great example for her daughter and demonstrated that resilience is key. She showed her that you must be self- driven and disciplined to keep all of the wheels going. She succeeded! She is an OCC Woman who Empowers.  
Brittanni Sgriccia  
Student
Is a mother of two young children, a wife and a health care worker. She went back to school to make a difference in her community.  In her spare time, she volunteers as a board member for her children's PTA. She believes if you are passionate about something go for it because it is never to late!   
Carol Ann Laverne
Job Title: Nursing Faculty
Department: Nursing
She’s an amazing instructor that wants students to succeed, she’s always there for us listening carefully and comprehending our situations, always willing to help and teach everything she knows. Besides being an amazing teacher, I’m sure she’s an amazing nurse that loves her job (because she shows that every time she shares stories with us).  
Carol Benson
Job Title: Librarian Faculty
Department: Learning Resources
She is an admirable person that expresses love and appreciation openly, has a deep empathy for others. She is also a good listener and caring person that has tremendously impacted my life. 
Cheryl Blake
Job Title: Human Resources Coordinator
Department: Human Resources
Is a woman who supports her coworkers, her community, and her sorority sisters in so many ways. She embodies the aspect of the OCC values and mission, and encourages others to do the same at the College and in their communities.    
Cheryl Decker
Job Title: Psychology Faculty
Department: Social Sciences

Dr. Decker is my inspiration and my model. She embodies the compassion and dedication to students from which we should all strive to follow. Dr. Decker supports her students during this difficult time by tracking individual progress and personally calling each student that may need a boost. She is an expert in her field but still strives to hone her skill. I especially enjoyed learning about Relational Cultural Theory with her!  

She is a strong, caring and empathetic person. Her class is amazing and I can't wait to attend class.   

Cheryl Neely
Job Title: Sociology Professor Faculty Department: Sociology Social Sciences

Dr. Cheryl Neely embodies empowerment in so many ways. Her students speak fondly of her passionate lectures and often mention that "she's the best professor I've ever had." Dr. Neely's leadership in the sociology discipline is incredibly valuable, and inspires her colleagues to give their best. Dr. Neely never fails to speak up about inequity and help people examine the societal structures that perpetuate it. Her book, “You’re Dead, so what? Media, Police, and the Invisibility of Black Women as Victims of Homicide” is one powerful example of her care for community and her efforts to make strides toward justice. Dr. Neely does important work for our OCC community.  

Cindy Carbone
Job Title: Academic Dean: Communication, Arts, & Humanities
Department: Academic Affairs
Cindy Carbone is a champion for equity and innovation. As an inspirational leader, she works hard to ensure others, including students, faculty and staff, have opportunities to shine. She demonstrates and fosters excellence, helping the disciplines in her division remain viable and competitive in today’s marketplace. Cindy embodies empowerment at OCC. 
Danielle Ryerson
Job Title: Student Services Specialist
Department: Student Services
Danielle is the model of strength, compassion and dedication. She treats every student that comes through enrollment services as a priority and values each experience she has with them. She goes above and beyond for her coworkers and is always willing to train and help a new staff person. She empowers others and always keeps a positive attitude.   
Darlene Johnson Bignotti
Job Title: Librarian Faculty
Department: Learning Resources

She's been a mentor and advisor PTK. Words can't describe her kindness, love, and passion towards helping students and seeing them succeed.   

AWESOME PTK advisor and incredible woman of knowledge/librarian!!!   

Dawn Baker
Job Title: Nursing Faculty
Department: Nursing
She is a very kind a compassionate person who cares deeply for her students and patients. She is a wonderful educator and teaches future nurses how to be great leaders.  
Doris Breece
Job Title: Shipping & Receiving Clerk
Department: Shipping & Receiving
Doris has a very cheerful disposition and she creates an environment around that. Her office is always decorated and inviting and she always has a kind word or smile for everyone. She is very dedicated and it shows through her work.  
Elena Wong
Job Title: Learning Resources Technician Department: Learning Resources
Elena aimed to create a safe and welcoming environment for students through her involvement on campus. She served as president of the Auburn Hills Phi Theta Kappa chapter then President of the Michigan Region and eventually represented OCC and Michigan as the International Vice President for Division III. Elena was a valuable resource for anyone who needed help. I personally have learned so much from her leadership and I’m grateful for her mentorship that helped me set out to accomplish my goals.   
Gia Huff
Job Title: Administrative Specialist
Department: Academic Affairs
Gia is awesome! She is so helpful and diligent when she is working with our schedules and last minute changes and other curveballs that come up. I appreciate her attention to detail to ensure the schedule and everything that goes with it is correct for our students and our faculty.  
Gina Mandas
Job Title: Spanish Faculty
Department: Fine Arts & Humanities
Gina is doing a great job as the OCCFA president! I appreciate her open communication and dialogue with faculty and administration. She always considers how different changes impact our faculty group. I always appreciate her perspective and view when different topics arise.  
Heather McMinn
Student 
She is always so encouraging and remains calm. Her presence is so reassuring and she always thinks of those around her. She is uplifting and optimistic!   
Heidi Fink
Job Title: Payroll Specialist
Department: Financial Services
Is a part of the hard working Financial Services team who is always working together to uphold the high standard of quality work that allows empowerment to flow throughout the department.  
Janaida Turner
Job Title: Accounting Specialist
Deprtment: Purchasing & Auxiliary Services
Is a part of the hard working Financial Services team who is always working together to uphold the high standard of quality work that allows empowerment to flow throughout the department.  
Janet Peart
Job Title: Mathematics Faculty
Department: Mathematics
 Janet is incredibly patient and understanding. Her calm demeanor helps to reduce the stress and anxiety of everyone around her. She is a great mentor to me as a department chair.  
JoDee Baker
Job Title: Physics Department: Sciences
Because she inspires me to continue working for a career in STEM, she is always willing to help, and she is a great teacher, good listener, and inspiring mentor.
Julie Seiler
Job Title: Economics Faculty
Department: Business & Information Technologies
Dr. Seiler is always encouraging students to do their best for whatever path they are on, both inside and outside of class. She is always there when you need her and more than happy to help.  
Kelley Garris
Job Title: Academic Support Center Faculty Department: Academic Support Center
Her determination to make the ASC a successful entity is inspiring. She always has a positive attitude, and truly cares about the students. She wants the students at OCC to benefit from all the resources the ASC has to offer and is working diligently to make that come to fruition. Kelley's dedication to education is clearly evident by her motivation to improve the quality of instruction received from the ASC tutors and the supplemental instructors. She is a great asset to the OCC faculty and I am proud to have the opportunity to work with her and to gain knowledge under her tutelage. Kelly brings happiness and fun into every experience. She is committed to student success and it shows in every initiative and interaction she has with students. She is always ready to volunteer and share her knowledge with others.   
Kellie Riddell
Job Title: Tutor
Department: ACCESS
Kellie is a fantastic teacher. She motivates and uplifts ALL students, but especially women.   
Kelly Hyduk
Job Title: Manager of Online Learning Technologies
Department: Academic Affairs
Kelly is so knowledgeable about the ins and outs of OCC's technology. She is always working behind the scenes to improve the experience for faculty and students. I am glad that I have the opportunity to work with Kelly and learn from her.  
Kimberly Robbins
Job Title: Paraprofessional Department: Health Professions & Technologies
Kim consciously works toward uplifting and helping others to live to their potential every day. She is always willing share her vast knowledge. She wants to see others grow in confidence and independence. She inspires and encourages people to do the ‘right’ thing, which is not always the ’easy’ thing. She has mentored countless people and is a true leader. She empowers her children, family, coworkers, students, and friends. Kim is an incredible woman!  
Kristin Carey Li
Job Title: Project Manager Department: Institutional Effectiveness
Kristin is helpful, caring, resourceful, and happy to offer service no matter the task. She often performs above and beyond and offered her expertise and planning skills for different projects. She is a fantastic teammate…always cheerful and exceptional in everything she does. Her quick wit, attention to detail, and loyalty to the college have endeared her to her colleagues. She is a true champion with a tireless commitment to serving our college.  
Kristine Borrayo
Job Title: Administrative Specialist
Department: Purchasing & Auxiliary Services
Is a part of the hard working Financial Services team who is always working together to uphold the high standard of quality work that allows empowerment to flow throughout the department.  
Liz Schnell  
Job Title: Vice Chancellor for Marketing & Communications Department: Marketing & Communications
Liz is such a positive, warm and supportive OCC team member. She is the first to share good news and congratulate me when I've done well and also empathize when I am struggling. I think sometimes we get busy with work and forget to show humility, humanity and kindness to each other. Liz is a reminder to always put kindness first.   
Madeline Graziadei
Job Title: Faculty Secretary Department: Communication & English
Maddie as everyone calls her, is dedicated to her work and her compassion and commitment to student success is always apparent. She walks the halls and talks with students about their needs and even volunteered to bring in sandwiches when the cafe was closed down! She is truly a great advocate for students.  
Maria McCarthy
Job Title: Auxiliary Services Manager
Department: Bookstore
I worked directly with Maria for 27 years. In that time, she has faced and won many battles, yet she persists. She is clever, strong, and resilient. Maria is just plain awesome!  
Marina McKenzie
Job Title: Payroll Specialist Department: Financial Services
Is a part of the hard working Financial Services team who is always working together to uphold the high standard of quality work that allows empowerment to flow throughout the department.  
Mary Ann McGee
Job Title: Psychology Faculty
Department: Social Sciences
Prof MaryAnn is an excellent instructor. She is also involved with many committee's and boards and is always helpful to staff and students.   
Meena Kondapi
Job Title: Business Faculty
Department: Business & Information Technologies
She has been an incredible PTK Advisor for our chapter and has worked tirelessly for us! A force of nature!  
Michelle Fether-Samtouni
Job Title: Sociology Faculty
Department: Social Sciences
Michelle is a fantastic professor and has taught me a lot about Sociology and how that relates to our everyday world. She is an inspiration. Michelle is also a well loved and admired faculty member who is not only a brilliant sociologist, but she has a giant heart. Her dedication to DEIJ and her own continued learning and growing is so inspiring. She talks the talk and teaches, mentors and encourages others to do the same with an open mind. She is one of the good ones!  
Michelle Jerome
Job Title: Accounting Specialist
Department: Purchasing & Auxiliary Services
Is a part of the hard working Financial Services team who is always working together to uphold the high standard of quality work that allows empowerment to flow throughout the department.  
Nicole Willis
Job Title: Associate Dean of Student Services
Department: Student Services
Nicole is full of bright energy. She is super passionate about her work as an Associate Dean. She is strong, fair, and extraodinary.  
Pamela Micallef
Job Title: Counselor Faculty
Department: Counseling
Compassion is Pam's middle name and every student can feel that when she is around. She is helpful, resourceful, always positive and she encourages others. Pam works very hard to see students succeed. She keeps students first and she always pushes them to be their very best selves. Not only is she a supportive counselor for OCC students, but she also cares so much about her colleagues as well. She encourages, motivates and always takes time out of her busy day to remember you, ask about your family and support and mentor you in your dreams. Pam goes above and beyond in everything she does. She’s one of the most thoughtful, non-judgmental and supportive women I’ve met. Pam is a rockstar.   
Phelicia Jones
Job Title: Financial Aid Manager
Department: Student Financial Resources & Scholarship
Phelicia, also know affectionately by her coworkers and friends as "Lisa" is the epitome of empowering. When I was a new financial aid administrator, she took me under her wing to share her vast financial aid knowledge and experience. She showed me the often cumbersome and challenging ropes of working within federal systems and rules with such patience and kindness. Not only did she train me on the "job", but she also uplifted me daily with her positive attitude and loving spirit when at times I felt defeated. Learning financial aid is complicated and requires a fine attention to detail but its one of the most important roles in the college because we have the students financial futures in our hands. She taught me to see this perspective and so much more.    
Randa Hermez
Job Title: Tutor
Department: ACCESS
As a student I haven’t found another teacher that empowers people like Randa does, she is constantly a light of life within these times where that can be hard to find.  
Rashonda Pierson
Job Title: Accounting Specialist
Department: Purchasing & Auxiliary Services
Is a part of the hard working Financial Services team who is always working together to uphold the high standard of quality work that allows empowerment to flow throughout the department.  
Robyn Tennison
Job Title: Communication Faculty
Department: Communication & English
Robyn is one of the best professors I’ve had. She’s supportive and has pushed me to step out of my comfort zone, which allowed me to do things at OCC and in life that I never thought I could. She really cares about her students and people in general. I’ve never had someone believe in me like she does. She inspires me to keep going even when I want to give up.   
Rosalind Reaves
Job Title: Academic Support Center Faculty
Department: Academic Support Center
Dr. Reaves inspires me with her kindness, warmth, and humbleness. She encourages her students to be a better versions of ourselves. I have a goal of teaching my children the same skills Dr. Reaves taught to me. Dr. Reaves is a phenomenal instructor and colleague. Her students often describe her as a faculty that they know truly cares. I believe that students don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. Dr. Reaves creates a classroom environment in which students feel supported and empowered. Outside of the classroom, Dr. Reaves is a wonderful colleague. She is inspiring, motivating and truly a light to those around her. Roz is who I wish I could be when I "grow up." She has always encouraged me to reach higher than I ever thought I could and brings out the best in the people around her. Dr. Reaves is the definition of a woman who empowers.   
Roxanna Trifan
Job Title: Accounting Specialist
Department: Purchasing & Auxiliary Services
Is a part of the hard working Financial Services team who is always working together to uphold the high standard of quality work that allows empowerment to flow throughout the department.  
Sandra Harrold-Foster
Job Title: Purchasing & Auxiliary Services Assistant Department: Purchasing & Auxiliary Services
Is a part of the hard working Financial Services team who is always working together to uphold the high standard of quality work that allows empowerment to flow throughout the department.  
Sarah Lemelin
Job Title: English as a Second Language Faculty
Department: Communication & English
Sarah Lemelin has been a dedicated advocate for international students for as long as I have known her. She continuously advocates to advance the discussion of global education and goes the extra mile to support our ESL students who are here often without any family at all. She was a former PTK advisor and has been advisor for the very successful International Student Club at AH for many many years. Sarah is a champion at empowering students.  
Sarah Rowley
Job Title: Director of Purchasing & Auxiliary Services
Department: Purchasing & Auxiliary Services

Sarah is a  natural leader who is passionate about her work. She can be firm when necessary, but also truly cares for the people she works with and treats others with respect and compassion. She, like many women, has a lot on her plate but pushes through and gets it all done. She's amazing!  

She is open to new ideas and suggestions and willing to take a chance and offers support. Simply put I have the best boss at OCC.    

Shawn DiCicco
Job Title: ACCESS Coordinator
Department: ACCESS
Shawn is very passionate about helping the students at ACCESS. She’s a very kind person and she genuinely cares about her students. She’s gets excited for me whenever I succeed, and always cheers me on. She also has put a lot of work into helping the Highland Lakes chapter of Phi Theta Kappa collect plastic to recycle for our Honors in Action project and we’re super grateful for that!  
Shawn Griffin
Job Title: Financial Aid Manager
Department: Student Financial Resources & Scholarship
Shawn was one of the first to raise her hand to provide me training as a new member to the department, and through her astute guidance I have learned so much. As a servant leader she pays close attention to coach others toward the right answer to reinforce their learning, rather than simply pointing out errors, which is often an overlooked soft skill in this busy profession. She also always encourages and supports me as a colleague as I make my way through the challenging realm of financial aid. Her mentoring and teaching has given me the confidence to explore my public administration background further. Last year she took me under her wing by adding me to her Reconnect and F4F team. I am grateful for this opportunity to work on such important state programs. Shawn is an amazing professional and person.   
Stacey Crews
Job Title: Dean of Student Engagement
Department: Student Services
She is a pillar of support for PTK and all students! An absolute asset and an incredible human being! Stacey goes above and beyond for each student and staff she comes in contact with. She has a wealth of information and she uses that knowledge to develop strong supports for her campus community. She has started initiatives here at the college that supports our mission of empowerment and excellence. Stacey is a go-getter. She is extremely driven, and posses natural leadership skills.  
Yer Edwards  
Student
She works hard to involve herself with other students. She puts the needs of others before herself.   
Zheng Wang
Job Title: Director of Analytical Studies Department: Institutional Effectiveness
Zheng takes it upon herself to provide exceptional support and service to administrators, faculty and staff. She discerns quickly their individual needs and moves efficiently to provide key information, recommendations, or direction. She often performs above and beyond and offered her expertise and planning skills for different projects. She is a fantastic teammate…always cheerful and exceptional in everything she does. Her quick wit, attention to detail, and loyalty to the college have endeared her to her colleagues. She has a tireless commitment to serving our college.