image for layout
image for layout
masthead bottom rule



Latest News from the Career and Technical Center

From drop-out to success story thanks to Capital Region BOCES


Adult HVAC/R student has already turned down job offers, expected to launch new career in weeks

 Zwack gets his academic award

From high school drop-out to member of the National Technical Honor Society academic achievement award winner.

That's the life path for Stephen Zwack who graduated in June from the Capital Region BOCES Career and Technical School Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVAC/R) adult program.

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 16 years and Zwack graduated the CTE adult program with the academic achievement award and plans in place to start work for New York State in the coming weeks. Just two weeks earlier, he was inducted into the National Technical Honor Society (NTHS), having earned a GPA greater than 92 during his time at CTE.

"I am really, really excited (about the state job). I will making double what I am now," said Zwack, who works a maintenance program at night and took the HVAC/R program during the day.

Zwack hugs teacher Frank Ando after being inducted into the NTHS in May.Zwack, who is in his mid-30s, was committed to getting his certifications and completing the two-year BOCES program.

"I turned down a couple of job offers to return to the program this year," he noted. "It was difficult, because the money was good, but I figured I wanted to complete what I started and then the opportunities would be greater."

Zwack learned of the HVAC/R 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.

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

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

Zwack poses"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.

Zwack said he enjoys the HVAC/R industry and all it has to offer.

"The industry is huge. The opportunities don't stop," he said.

In the top photo, Zwack gets his academic award. In the second photo, Zwack hugs teacher Frank Ando after being inducted into the NTHS in May. On the right, he poses in the classroom.





Leaders for Educational Excellence motto graphic
image for layout
image for layout