College of Professional Studies Graduate Learns Leadership Inside and Outside of the Classroom

Tamrie Oliver speaks at the College of Professional Studies 2023 convocation.

Tamrie Oliver ’23 retired her putty knife after spackling her living room walls for the final time. The sun crept through the windows, casting a spotlight for Oliver to examine her work. Each groove would soon be sanded down and splashed with a layer of “Glamour,” a paint mixed with tints of light pink and soft brown.

Although it took 350 hours of sweat equity, Oliver was finally seeing her vision come together. Not just in her home that she was building through Habitat for Humanity, but in life itself. From raising three children as a single mother to attending college part-time at Syracuse University’s College of Professional Studies, Oliver could envision the next phase of life approaching—the one she spent ten years preparing the blueprint for.  

“I once heard someone describe a student who studies online as a nontraditional student. Over the course of my life, the phrase ‘nontraditional’ has always followed me,” Oliver said.

Phase One: Preparing the Blueprint

It was three months before Oliver’s high school graduation when the term nontraditional began to cling. Oliver, a spunky 18-year-old ready to embark on adulthood, stared at a positive pregnancy test. A cluster of emotions bubbled in her chest as she realized her life was taking a nontraditional route.

Filled with anxiety about what motherhood would mean, Oliver enrolled in community college and held tightly onto the lingering moments of a normal teenage life. Like lightning, a nontraditional occurrence struck again when Oliver delivered her baby at only 26 weeks. With a 2-pound newborn in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), Oliver was forced to take a medical leave of absence.

College would have to wait.

Soon after, Oliver gave birth to her second child at 25 weeks. This time, she would have to juggle raising a baby at home, working overnight shifts, and commuting 45-minutes to visit her newborn in the NICU.

College continued to wait.

Three years went by, and Oliver was now a single mother of three children. As her family continued to evolve, Oliver knew she wanted more for them. It would require taking a step backward and moving into her parent’s home, but it was time for Oliver to finally attend college. Two years later, Oliver graduated with an associate’s degree in business management. Although delighted that she obtained a degree after an unexpected hiatus, Oliver couldn’t help but feel that this was merely the blueprint for the goals she wanted to achieve. If she wanted to build a better future for her family, she needed to lay the foundation.

Shortly after, Oliver enrolled in the College of Professional Studies at Syracuse University.

“I was shocked that Syracuse offered bachelor’s degrees online. I called immediately to make sure it was real,” Oliver said. “After talking with an advisor, I chose to study a bachelor of professional studies in creative leadership.”

Phase Two: Building the Foundation

From 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., Oliver would go to work, while the remainder of the day was spent taking classes online. Oftentimes, Oliver’s children could be seen peeking through the bedroom door while they watched their mother attend class through a video camera and computer screen. Oliver’s father corralled the children back to playtime so she could focus on her studies. It was a controlled chaos, and Oliver was thankful for it, but she knew it was time to move into a space just for her and her children.

With one degree completed, another in progress, the kids a bit older, and Oliver a bit wiser, she knew this was the perfect time to build a house through Habitat for Humanity, a home-buying program for low-income homebuyers.

The program required 350 hours of sweat equity, which Oliver tackled each weekend from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oliver spent her time installing drywall, painting the interior, and dodging splinters from the raw wood, while the other home building volunteers and professionals focused on the more advanced work.

When moving day arrived, Oliver’s vision finally came to life. She took in the freshly painted walls—the ones she spackled, primed, and coated with pigment herself. Oliver felt a sense of pride unlike any other.

“Habitat for Humanity had this whole ceremony when the house was completed,” Oliver said. “Building a house while going to school and raising my children was a big accomplishment. I felt really proud.”

With another goal completed, it was time for Oliver to finish her degree. Tucked away in her newly decorated office nook, Oliver continued to attend classes online. A tapestry hung behind her, replicating the set of Oliver’s favorite YouTube show, “Good Mythical Morning,” which depicted a mid-century modern aesthetic combined with a collection of random trinkets, instruments, and forest print wallpaper. Surrounding her computer were various awards, ones that reminded her of the goal she was working towards.

“I kind of tried to put in a little bit of everything. I like to show my personality through the camera,” Oliver said.

Phase Three: Movin’ on Up

Tamrie Oliver takes a picture with her professor at the College of Professional Studies 2023 convocation.

Although she was online, Oliver felt connected to her cohort. Classes conducted through video calls offered a different kind of enrichment that still allowed Oliver to interact with her peers and professors. She connected with other post-traditional students, learning that their life experiences and wealth of diverse perspectives were celebrated. Suddenly, Oliver’s nontraditional life felt empowering. The adjective now held a positive connotation, and she was proud to be a nontraditional student.

“When my academic journey first began, I felt like I didn’t really have confidence or a voice,” Oliver said. “But I’ve proven myself. I’m the first graduate of my family.” 

Oliver closed out her courses for the last time and soaked up the excitement of the unknown. The possibilities of the what-ifs circulated in her mind as she felt blissful knowing she had accomplished what she set out to do ten years ago. The obstacles Oliver endured, academically and personally, allowed her to grow into the best version of herself. Now, it was time to pass the wisdom on to her children.

By Hope Alvarez 

Syracuse University’s College of Professional Studies Honors Class of 2023

Syracuse University’s College of Professional Studies celebrated the Class of 2023 on Thursday, May 11, at its 75th annual Convocation Ceremony. Fifty-eight students, in total, were individually recognized for completing their program of study in 2023, representing eight schools and colleges and 20 majors within the University.

Dean Michael Frasciello began the night applauding the graduating class for their high achievements. Keynote speaker Mirza Tihic, College of Professional Studies faculty member, challenged the graduates to use their education to make a positive impact in the world. Tihic also remarked on the importance of “staying human” in this increasingly digital world by enacting a concerted effort to build and maintain relationships. “Please don’t forget the people that helped you get here, your friends and family members. Maintain and cherish those relationships,” Tihic said.

College of Professional Studies Convocation 2023

Tamrie Oliver, creative leadership bachelor of professional studies graduate, served as student speaker. Oliver recounted her life experiences that exemplify the term “nontraditional.” As a full-time single mother, full-time worker and part-time online student, Oliver cites her support system and unwavering determination to break out of the “stuck” feeling she found herself in for many years. Hoping to serve as encouragement to fellow students, Oliver urged “anyone that feels stuck or feels being nontraditional isn’t the way to go, I hope you find comfort and inspiration in my story.”

Celebrating Academic Achievements

Ten students were named as prestigious Alumni Scholars. Each of these bachelor’s degree candidates earned a minimum GPA of 3.9. The class of 2023 Alumni Scholars are Michael Crandall, Joseph Fernandez, Edward Furcinito, Scott Howard, Joshua Kompf, Tamrie Oliver, Andrew Ostrander, Timothy Sullivan, Dania Tompkins and Cherri Wells.

This year, the Nancy C. Gelling Award, which is given annually to part-time students who achieve the highest overall grade point average for a first bachelor’s degree was awarded to three students graduating with a perfect 4.0 grade point average; Michael Crandall, graduating with bachelor’s degree in Creative Leadership, Edward Furcinito, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Knowledge Management, and Scott Howard, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies. This is the first time in the history of the award that the College of Professional Studies recognized multiple students.

Additionally, the College of Professional Studies awarded the Faculty Excellence Award to Katherine Sosa, Ph.D., a Bachelor of Professional Studies instructor and the Staff Service Award was awarded to the Office of Government and Community Relations. The College of Visual and Performing Arts awarded George Lambert the Sylvia Wyckoff Award for outstanding academic achievement. The David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics awarded Aglaeth Vazquez the Hortence Cochrane Award for outstanding academic achievement.

Honoring a Collaborative Community

College of Professional Studies Convocation 2023

The College of Professional Studies was excited to honor three current staff members who joined the class of 2023 graduates; Margaret Thompson, database administrator, Cherri Wells, online student success advisor, and Rich Pitzeruse, educational technologist.

For the first time in the College’s history, student participants in the iConsult Collaborative and Nanhi Kali student groups were honored for their outstanding leadership skills. iConsult is a university-wide program to build experience for students through real-world client projects involving digital transformation. The 2023 iConsult student graduates recognized were Chakshushri, Manali Ghorpade, Ruchita Harsora, Srishti Sanghvi, Pranav Sheth, Nikita Sirwan and Ankita Vartak. Nanhi Kali is a project of the Mahindra Foundation of India, supporting education for underprivileged girls. The 2023 Nanhi Kali student graduates recognized were Chakshushri, Sagarika Barde, Sanjana Dubey, Ashitosh Gupta, Ruchita Harsora, Rahul Khairnar, Sahaj Kandelwal, Aishwary Patel and Nidhee Patil.

The ceremony was immediately followed by a reception on the quad.

Staff Spotlight: Nina Rivera-Núñez, Military Admissions Advising

Nina Rivera-Núñez, military admissions advisor at the Office of Student Success

Syracuse University has a long history of support for those who serve in our country’s armed forces. At the College of Professional Studies, our mission is to provide meaningful assistance to the military-connected population seeking a Syracuse University education. Nina Rivera-Núñez, military admissions advisor in the Office of Online Student Success stays true to this mission by assisting military students from the time of inquiry to graduation.  

In this Q & A, get to know Nina and her role in the Office of Online Student Success. 

  1. What is your position at the College of Professional Studies?

I am the military admissions advisor at the Office of Online Student Success (OSS).

  1. How long have you worked at the College of Professional Studies?

I have worked at the College of Professional Studies for over a year. Although I have several years of experience working with the military population in a higher education setting through my alma mater, American Military.

  1. In one sentence, how would you describe your role and/or department?

We provide support and guidance to individuals that would like to pursue a degree at Syracuse University online and part-time.

  1. What aspects of your profession bring you joy?

I have the honor of working out of the 174th Attack Wing, which is our local Air Force base. It brings me such joy to know that I am able to work with and serve those that are serving our country. I feel the most joy when I work with a member of the military and see them succeed in their educational program. 

I also have the pleasure of working with a great team where we are passionate about education and helping our students succeed.

  1. What is your proudest moment at the College of Professional Studies?

There are so many proud moments working with OSS. I get to witness our applicants’ become students and taking classes while on deployments. We have seen some of our military students going in front of a promotion board and excelling in their careers. Working with military connected students is the highlight of my day.

  1. How does your department support students during their time here?

OSS works with students from the moment they inquire about a program through graduation. We are the first point of contact for online students and continue to be the main point of contact during their duration at Syracuse University. We offer admissions and academic advising in person at the 174th, phone, online, and email. We connect students to different departments within the campus.

  1. Our goal as a college is to provide high-quality service to our students, how does your department go above and beyond to support Syracuse University students?

The College of Professional Studies offers their students the convenience of a one stop shop. We offer admissions, advising, registration, and financial aid offices in one space. Our military population has the option of meeting with us in person during office hours and during their training weekends.   

  1. If students would like to get connected with your department, how can they do so?

Phone: 315.443.9378


Address: 700 University Avenue Suite 326 Syracuse, NY 13244

Find Your Authentic Spiritual Self through Indigenous Healing Practices: New Weekend Workshop Announced

The three-day ‘Sacred Self Awakening, Indigenous Healing Weekend Workshop’ provides indigenous healing practices that will help participants dismantle their trauma patterns and hidden obstacles that have accumulated in response to difficult and painful life experiences. The trauma-informed process acknowledges ones past, while helping participants step into their personal power to reach goals with more self-awareness, ease, and clarity.

Throughout the Indigenous healing workshop, participants will:

  • Learn Indigenous healing practices.
  • Focus first on the self, and how to share and support others.
  • Explore the background of indigenous cultural practices.
  • Discover how to get started with personalized rituals and tools for your own growth and healing.
  • Learn an indigenously inspired view of the nature of being human in the 3-dimensional world.
  • Understand the facets and application of trauma-informed care.

The ‘Sacred Self Awakening, Indigenous Healing Weekend Workshop’ is facilitated by Diane Katsitsawaks Hill and Jordan Teshakotennyons Miller, members of the Bear clan of the Mohawk Nation situated at the Six Nations of the Grand River (Haudenosaunee) Territory in Ontario.

Diane works as an integrative programs consultant and administrates the R.E.A.L. School (Reality Education & Applied Life skills) Leadership Program. She is also Director, Owner & Operator of a private healing lodge & learning center entitled Ka’nikonhriyohtshera:  Fostering Emergence of the Good Mind. Jordan is the founder and visionary of the R.E.A.L. School Leadership program. Having worked as a Gen 7 – Role Model for the Motivate Canada Youth Program, Jordan advises Gen 7 staff on the promotion of healthy lifestyles through sport and recreation.

The workshop will be held August 25-28, 2023 at Minnowbrook Conference Center, located on Blue Mountain Lake in the picturesque Adirondack Mountains of New York State.

Interested participants can find details about the workshop and submit their interest here.

College of Professional Studies Staff and Faculty Honored at One University Awards

Photo of Andres, Margaret, Kim, Jackie, Ryan and dean Frasciello
Left to Right: Andrea Willis, Margaret Thompson, Kim Hagadorn, Jackie Monsour, Ryan Williams, Dean Michael Frasciello

Representing more than 125 years of collective excellence, care, and commitment to post-traditional and international students accessing Syracuse University, six College of Professional Studies staff and faculty were honored for their years of service at the 2023 One University Awards on April 21.

The One University Awards honor members of the Syracuse University community who are making a difference through academics, scholarship, creative work and dedicated service.

2023 Years of Service Milestones

  • Kimberly Hagadorn, director of bursar & registration – 20 years
  • Jacqueline Monsour, assistant director of the English Language Institute – 20 years
  • Ryan Williams, associate dean – 20 years
  • Andrea Willis, director of academic programs – 20 years
  • Rosemary Kelly, assistant dean – 35 years
  • Margaret Thompson, database administrator – 35 years