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Latest News from the Career and Technical Center

Adult learner earns diploma, job skills and heats up his future through BOCES


Adult HVAC/R student is turning down job offers to complete the program!


Zeack works on a furnace in the CTE classroom.Stephen Zwack was supposed to graduate from Berne-Knox-Westerlo (BKW) high school in 2001, but life intervened.

"I ended up quitting to take care of my family, who couldn't take care of themselves," he said recently.

Fast-forward 15 years and Zwack is back in the hallways of a school — Capital Region BOCES Career and Technical School where he recently turned down two jobs offering him in excess of $30,000 a year so that he could complete his certifications as a heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC/R) technician in the adult program.

Zwack learned of the program after earning a High School Equivalency (HSE) diploma through Capital Region BOCES and exploring the various adult education offerings.

"I was thinking about the welding program and I came upon the HVAC/R program in the course guide and it just kind of clicked with me," said Zwack, who now lives in Albany.

Zwack takes the course during the day and works in maintenance at night.

"I love the program. The work is interesting and the teacher is just great! You couldn't find a better teacher," he said of longtime HVAC/R educator Frank Ando.

Zwack posesThe 34-year-old's life took him full circle back to school after he initially found financial success as a high school dropout.

"I started making good money working in a rock quarry, but I realized that in life you can't do back-breaking work forever," he said.

Thanks to the CTE adult education program, Zwack is just a few months away from another good-paying career with plenty of options ahead.

"My goal is getting into a job with the state doing this," he said while taking a break from working on a heater. "I also have a job offer from Roland J. Down that I am going to pursue," he said.

Zwack plans to work both jobs because "I like fixing things."

"The industry is huge. The opportunities don't stop. I turned down two job offers to return to classes this year. They offered good money. It was a hard decision, but I know the opportunities are going to be even greater when I finish the program."

"This a great program and it's a great industry, he said.

 In the above photo, Zwack works on a furnace in the CTE classroom.


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