Steve Schill ’78

Schill posing with Inficon logo at East Syracuse Facility
Schill, ’78 at Inficon in East Syracuse

Steve Schill ‘78 grew up on the West Side of Syracuse with his four brothers and his mom where he attended Sacred Heart before it closed at the end of his junior year in 1975. The following year, he and a group of fellow classmates finished their studies at Fowler High School and would become part of the very first graduating class from there. Following high school, Schill didn’t really know what he wanted to study in college, but the choice was simple. “My mom (Margaret ’88) worked at OCC (Onondaga Community College) for 25 years,” Schill said. “That on top of the savings and being able to identify what I wanted to do made the decision easy.”

STEVE_~1His freshmen year, computers were just arriving on the scene in a noticeable way and during that time he had taken a part-time job at Cook’s Department Store in the electrical and plumbing department so he decided to enter into the electrical engineering program. Reflecting on his time at OCC, Schill remembered the relationships between faculty and students more than anything else. “There were not many students in the program so it was easy to get know the faculty as more than an instructor, but as mentors because they had professional experience too, which they would infuse into their lessons,” he said. Entering his sophomore year, Schill was now working full-time at Cook’s, so he would go to class in the morning then go to work until closing, so there was little time for much else. “When I wasn’t at school, I was working and when I wasn’t at work I was studying,” Schill said, “it was a very busy time of my life, but I knew the work would pay off in the end because it would get me to where I wanted to be.”

Steve ‘78 and Kathleen Schill ‘81 and ’03 (seated left) are second generation OCC alumnus. Steve’s mother, Margaret “Peg” Schill ’88 (standing right), earned a degree in business administration and retired in 2000 after 33 years from OCC Bursar’s Office. Kathleen’s mother Elna Dwyer ’85 (seated lower right) received an accounting degree. Susie Schill ( standing left), also attended the College.
Steve ‘78 and Kathleen Schill ‘81 and ’03 (seated left) are
second generation OCC alumnus. Steve’s mother, Margaret “Peg” Schill ’88 (standing right), earned a degree
in business administration and retired in 2000 after 33 years from OCC Bursar’s Office.
Kathleen’s mother Elna Dwyer ’85 (seated lower right) received an accounting degree.
Susie Schill ( standing left), also attended the College.

Following his graduation from OCC in 1978, he enrolled at Buffalo State to further his engineering degree, but it was during this same time that he met a woman who kept him coming home every weekend during his junior year. This woman, Kathleen Dwyer ‘81, would later become his wife of 34 years and together they would have two children, Robert and Susan. The latter would also attend OCC as her parents had before. During the summer of his junior year Schill would make his stay in Syracuse permanent by applying for and obtaining a job with INFICON as a technician. While at INFICON, he started his studies back up at Syracuse University (SU) to obtain his bachelor’s degree, but decided to switch gears and enroll in the marketing management program, which would set him back a bit. “Because many of my credits were with electrical (engineering) not all of them transferred,” he said, “so instead of entering with junior status I was starting my sophomore year over again.”

Schill '78 (center) receiving John H. Mulroy Founders Award with Trustee Donna DeSiato '69 (left) and OCC President Casey Crabill (right)
Schill ’78 (center) receiving the John H. Mulroy Founders Award with Trustee Dr. Donna DeSiato ’69 (left) and OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill (right).

The challenge did not deter him from achieving his goal as he took one class a semester minus a two-year hiatus due to a relocation to Japan for business, he would finish his bachelor’s in 1993. “It was not your traditional way by any stretch,” he said while laughing, “but I got it and have never regretted making the change.” Schill will celebrate his 37th anniversary with INFICON in June and has had many promotions over time including Marketing Director, Business Line Manager and currenlty Senior Director of Global Strategic Projects in addition to receiving an Executive MBA from SU in 2003. During this time, he also served on the OCC Foundation Board from 2008 – 2014, which proved to be another learning experience for him. “Serving on the board allowed me to reconnect with OCC and see the College grow and to understand how important it is to the community,” he said, “seeing first-hand all what was offered to students and how the community’s investment had propelled them to where they are today gave me a real sense of pride.” When his term came to a close two years ago, the College recognized Schill for his time and commitment to the institution by awarding him the John H. Mulroy Founders Award, which was named after the first county executive of Onondaga County. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without OCC,” Schill said, “the education I received gave me a great foundation and I think it is a viable option for any student.”

Manufacturing A New Career

Danny Dziadula is working less than a mile from where he hoped he would retire from. Like many of his family members, Dziadula had a well-paying job at New Process Gear in East Syracuse. He started there in 1992 and stayed until the plant closed in August 2012. Thanks to a program at Onondaga Community College, Dziadula was able to begin his new career two-and-a-half years later at Inficon, a global company which provides world-class instruments for gas analysis. Its growing facility is just south of the shuttered New Process Gear factory off Fly Road in East Syracuse.

As New Process Gear was closing Dziadula learned about a retraining program at OCC thanks to the Trade Adjustment Act (TAA). The TAA provides support for workers who lost their jobs due to foreign trade and offers services in gaining the necessary knowledge and skills to obtain future employment. Dziadula met with Bob Tanchak, a professor in the Mechanical Technology department, and felt confident he could earn a degree. “He assured me that with my experience I would able to smoothly transition and be successful in the program.”

Dziadula began taking classes full time in January 2013. “The professors who are teaching you have been in the field working, and now they’re teaching us the skills they learned and really making our classes very hands on.” Dziadula graduated in December 2014 with his Mechanical Technology degree and soon after began applying for jobs. Through his OCC adviser, Steve White, he was connected with Inficon. He applied for a job and was hired one month later.

“The professors and advisers at OCC really want to help you even after you earn your degree. They want to place you into the workforce and show that their good students become good employees.” Dziadula’s previous work experience and new degree allowed him to find a new company to call home. “In this day and age you need a degree to succeed, and change is good.”