John McCabe ’21 on building a spirited community

Ella Fitzgerald, the beloved jazz singer once said, “The only thing better than singing is more singing.”  While this is quote serves as a great memento to her 1992 Presidential Medal of Freedom, many of us must concede that we are not singing on a day to day basis. However, there is one individual who has found that singing helps him focus on the importance of community and how the Syracuse Oy Capella changed his college experience for the better.  John McCabe is a junior studying accounting at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management and is also pursuing a minor in political science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

He is also a member of the Syracuse University Oy Capella, a singing group specializing in a cappella music. He is also a campus tour guide with University 100, a brother of the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity and a member of the Beta Alpha Psi accounting and finance honor society.  McCabe is an active and engaged member of the Syracuse community and he believes that the key to be an involved individual is to “continuously learn and connect with others around you.”

As a tour guide for the university, McCabe believes that he has a chance to truly influence prospective students and share his passion for the community. “When I was looking at schools, I would go on tours with these amazing tour guides and that sparked an interest in me.”

McCabe also believes that his personality makes him the ‘ideal’ tour guide. “It’s my personality to be loud and chatty and generally passionate. And that fit with being a tour guide.” More than sharing information about the university, McCabe also credits the role for allowing him to learn more about the university itself. “Like for example, there is a greenhouse on top of the life sciences building, which at first I thought was open to everybody. But it was only after I joined University 100 that I realized that that space is only open for certain research projects.”

McCabe enjoys learning tidbits like this because they make him a deeper part of the Syracuse university community. “Usually, when I get to the dome, I get particularly excited, because I was at the Clemson game with my family, and it is truly surreal when we beat. To be there, at that moment with not just my friends, but also my family was a truly amazing moment.”

He finds being a tour guide incredibly rewarding. “I love it when someone comes up to me and says I was their tour guide and that they are at Syracuse because of me.  That feeling is awesome.” He notes that not everybody has to go to the games to be a part of community, rather just learning more about the university also contributes to a feeling of belonging.

McCabe particularly feels the same as a member of the Syracuse Oy Cappella group. “Being a part of Oy Cappella is something that has totally enriched my college experience and I wouldn’t have done college any other way.” McCabe first discovered the group when he was a prospective student who was interviewed by a Syracuse University. “The person that was interviewing me, went on and on about the musical and a cappella community and that piqued my interest.” McCabe interviewed the spring semester of his freshman year and never looked back.

“All of the intergroup support is strong. There are some hard-working and passionate people who are in the group and even if do not all perform at the same time, we all go to each other’s concerts.” McCabe points out that he spends a large majority of his time with his fellow singers and that speaks to the strong communal sense that exists.

McCabe is also a member of the Beta Alpha Psi (BAP) Accounting and Finance honor society. At BAP, McCabe notes how a community can foster opportunities for its members. He notes that being a part of BAP, allows him and develop professional relationships with public accounting firms like EY, KPMG etc. through various events that it hosts. Here, he shares that a personal relationship with recruiters and other professionals allowed him to form genuine relationships with mentors and peers. These relationships were instrumental in helping him prep for interviews and other networking events, often where it would be the same recruiters who he already knew from the networking events, who would conduct the interviews. Aside from helping him professionally, BAP also engages in the Whit Tax. “Whit Tax is a program where BAP students help with tax returns for people who otherwise don’t know how to do so or can’t.”

It is a rare enough thing, when the expression ‘school spirit’ is anything more than one game, or a week. For John McCabe, school spirit extends far beyond that. It is being able to share the Syracuse pride to others, celebrating a win in full ‘Cuse pride with fellow friends and family and helping out members of the community file their tax returns. For McCabe, the only thing better than singing is being an active part of the Syracuse University community and forming close relationships with fellow ‘Cusians, along with singing.  

Story by Blackstone LaunchPad Global Media Fellow Krishna Pamidi  Photo supplied