National Honors for Box of Books Program

News Briefs
Alexis Riccardo (left) and Isaac Mbambo (right)
OCC students Alexis Riccardo (left) and Isaac Mbambo (right) are pictured with Dr. Rose Martinez, Chair of the Bellwether College Consortium.

OCC's Box of Books program received national recognition when it was named one of ten finalists for a Bellwether Award in the category of Instructional Programs and Services. Students Isaac Mbambo and Alexis Riccardo led a team of College representatives through showcase and presentation events at the Bellwether Assembly in San Antonio, Texas.

The OCC team put together an outstanding presentation at the showcase which included videos, handouts, and custom-made Box of Books chocolates. They were designed and donated by chocolatier Michael Speach, '02, owner and operator of The Speach Family Candy Shoppe which is celebrating its 100th year in business.

College representatives also assembled a 50 minute presentation about Box of Books which was led by Mbambo and Riccardo. They told those in attendance about their experiences with the program and introduced other members of the OCC team including President Dr. Casey Crabill, Interim Provost Anastasia Urtz, Professor Dr. Chris Thuot, and Chris Sackett of Barnes & Noble College. OCC Faculty played a significant role in the presentation, voicing their support of the program through videotaped faculty testimonials.

"It was a huge honor to participate. My confidence in public speaking increased dramatically and I felt like my experiences and opinions mattered," said Riccardo. "The fact that our college was considered for an award this prestigious made me proud to be part of the institution," added Mbambo. "I loved the opportunity to travel to San Antonio. I had never flown on a plane before. The whole trip was a great experience."

OCC's Box of Books partnership with Barnes & Noble College is the first in the nation at a public college. It cuts student textbook costs in half and gives them the opportunity to purchase a Chromebook at a reduced price. In the program's first semester the number of students who started the academic year with all of their textbooks nearly doubled from the previous year.

Box of Books Chocolates
OCC Alumnus Michael Speach, '02, owner and operator of the Speach Family Candy Shoppe, designed and donated Box of Books chocolates.
Onondaga Community College
Barnes & Noble College