2020 has been a year to forget for many, but it's been quite the opposite for Caleb White. In May he completed work toward his Communication Studies degree while being named the top student in the program. Later this year he will become a father for the first time. "I had attended a community college and tried an online university before but never finished. I wanted to complete a program with the hope it would open up more opportunities for me. As a soon-to-be father, I also wanted to set an example of someone who perseveres and completes what he starts."
White attended high school in Ithaca, graduating from the Alternative Community School in Ithaca in 2004. Fifteen years later he began taking class at OCC. He was loving the on-campus experience until mid-March when COVID-19 changed everything. "Dealing with COVID during my final semester wasn't an issue for me because I was so used to taking online classes when I first began my studies. However, I truly missed my classmates and professors and it was disappointing to not be able to say goodbye face-to-face."
Ben Miller, a Professor in the Communication Studies major, said fellow students learned a lot from their interactions with White. "He was a true leader and other students respected him immensely. In courses with a wide range of perspectives and values, Caleb was always accepting of everyone. He encouraged and accepted each person and was a steady presence of calm and strength."
The future is very much up in the air for White, but he's built a solid foundation for himself at OCC. "Before all of the craziness of 2020, I was hoping to transfer to a four-year school to continue my education. With the uncertainty of the virus and a newborn on the way, I will continue working and doing more research on other options for a four-year degree."