Three SUNY Oswego CSTEP (Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program) students were among those helping with a recent Micron-sponsored Chip Camp hosted at Onondaga Community College (OCC) for more than 100 students from Onondaga and Oswego counties. 

The camp, July 11 to 13, 2023, hosted rising seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade students for STEM-related activities which included rockets, circuits, inventions, chromatography and the Straw Tower Challenge. Onondaga County participants came from the Syracuse City School District, East-Syracuse Minoa School District, the LaFayette School District and the Onondaga Nation School, while Oswego County participants are part of the P-Tech program through CiTi BOCES. 

Activities took place at the OCC campus, Cornell University and the Museum of Science and Technology in downtown Syracuse.

CSTEP cohorts at OCC and SUNY Oswego supplied 10 undergraduate students in total who led the middle school students in hands-on learning activities. OCC’s CSTEP program reached out to SUNY Oswego’s CSTEP program with the opportunity as part of developing a greater partnership between OCC and SUNY Oswego CSTEP programs.

“We asked students to apply, and we picked three students who were excited about the project,” said Christina Seado Vasquez, director of CSTEP at SUNY Oswego. “They’re here to help out and to learn about Micron, and we’re hoping this is the beginning of a partnership with, and future collaboration with, OCC’s CSTEP.”

“Working as a camp counselor for the summer is a really great experience for me, especially getting to know which age group I want to work with as a school counselor in the future,” said Cheyenne Sinchico, a SUNY Oswego human development major who previously graduated from OCC. 

“I enjoy working with kids, and this job allows me to gain that experience,” said Olivia Odigie, a SUNY Oswego wellness major. “It’s been really great.”

Nadrata Abdul-Salam, a SUNY Oswego technology management major, appreciated “this opportunity to mentor kids and make them feel comfortable and maybe, as time goes on, they can also get out of their comfort zone.” 

Getting out of their comfort zone was something that the CSTEP students enjoyed as well.

“I am very passionate about human biology, so when I applied to work for this camp, I knew I was going to be out of my comfort zone just a little bit,” Odigie said. “But I was  excited to take that risk and just see what happens.”

Abdul-Salam added that being in CSTEP has helped tremendously with leadership and communication skills.

“It really has opened my eyes to different opportunities working with children this age,” Sinchico said.

“It’s great for them to have this chance to talk and to work together,” Vasquez said, adding that having CSTEP students helping was ideal in terms of providing “aspirational and inspirational” role models to younger students.

“Any opportunity where you can have younger students working with older students is a great chance for them to role model good behaviors,” Vasquez said. “Having students that represent the students that are a part of this program in the younger group, I think is really important. It’s so great to see students that are successful, that are in college and are doing all these great things in STEM and related fields.”

SUNY Oswego’s CSTEP program includes approximately 100 underrepresented and/or economically disadvantaged students enrolled in STEM or professional licensure fields at SUNY Oswego. The program provides a range of support services including providing a supportive community, mentoring, research experiences, tutoring, connections with professional and graduate opportunities, and helping students prepare for graduate school entrance exams and more.