SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Onondaga Community College student and soon-to-be graduate, Shayne Turo will deliver the commencement address to the class of 2023 on May 20. Turo’s unique path is what landed him here today.
“I came here with a goal. It was just to get my degree and get out of here,” said Turo.
That goal would change quickly for Turo.
“I’ve been touched by so many people here, that I am leaving here with a whole other mission and it’s to give back to the community,” said Turo.
Words you don’t typically hear from a student. But Turo isn’t your typical student and his journey is much different than his classmates. He’s 38 and graduated from Corcoran High School in 2002.
“Before I came here I was an LPN and I was diagnosed with a brain disorder. I went out and had brain surgery and it took a couple years to get my confidence back, my physical abilities back,” said Turo.
Turo says it was time for a change. His daughter, Chayne, a 2022 graduate of OCC inspired him to enroll at her alma mater. She is now at SUNY Fredonia and plans on becoming a teacher one day.
Turo says originally he planned on studying Human Resource Management. But later changed his mind and switched to General Studies. Turo will be transferring to Syracuse University next fall, where he will study African American Studies with a minor in Sociology. He says it’s all about his involvement at OCC and the connections he made.
“A lot of the focus here on campus is diversity and equity and inclusion, and I really became a part of campus and so that’s what changed my goals,” said Turo.
Meeting people along the way like, Aisha Shanes.
Shanes, a communications professor at OCC and TRIO advisor, met Turo about a year ago at OCC, helping him with the transfer process to SU.
“A lot of minorities in the Syracuse area face a lot of adversity, and that adversity can allow you to be distracted from your education, and cause you to want to focus on other things. But in the face of that adversity, Shayne was not only committed to his education but willing to come back and be an advocate to other students as well,” said Shanes.
During Turo’s time at OCC, Highlights include Co-Chair of the Unity Day Committee, a seat on the Diversity Equity Inclusion & Belonging Council, and the Extraordinary Men of Distinction Advisory Board. Turo also belonged to the first group of Meg O’Connell Social Justice Scholars and earned membership in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
After Turo graduates from Syracuse University, he plans on going back to OCC, working in the diversity and inclusion services programs the school has to offer.
He also has a message for those who might be in the same position as he once was:
“Just put your head down and go forward.”
Click here to learn more about Shayne Turo.