Paul Sheak ‘02
The Current Situation
Paul is an advanced training coordinator for A Duie Pyle, a transportation company based in Pennsylvania.
How He Got There
At Marvelwood, Paul was inspired to be an athletic trainer by faculty member Lisa Burke. He started at Central Connecticut State University but quickly realized that college just wasn’t for him, so after a series of jobs, Paul joined the Navy and became an aviation and structural mechanic, working on F18s in Virginia Beach for four years. When he got out of the Navy, it was 2008 and jobs in his field were scarce, so he decided to give school another try, but this time, a technical school–Universal Technical Institute–where he earned a certificate in diesel mechanics. In 2011, he was hired by A. Duie Pyle as an A-Class mechanic. While he learned as much as he could on the job, he realized that there was no formal training for hired mechanics, and started teaching and training his co-workers on the side. Eventually, Paul’s director saw the value in the training and created a position for him based on the training program he had developed.
Paul and his wife, Jeannette, have four children: Kaylee (12), Elizabeth (10), Jase (5), and Taylor (3). They have a 30’ sailboat, which they’re on as much as possible. “With four kids, three dogs and two adults, it’s been called a clown boat. The older two are accomplished sailors and can run the boat themselves; once they get a little stronger, the won’t need me at all. It’s our family time without technology or distractions. We absolutely love it.” Sailing around the Statue of Liberty a couple of summers ago was a highlight.
Paul is a big proponent of the trades and auto mechanics in particular. With the level of technology in vehicles becoming more and more complex, the old stigma that the field was those who “failed at everything else”, is being replaced with a viable and good-paying option for those, like Paul, who enjoy problem-solving and keeping their hands busy. Information Technology (IT) factors heavily into present-day mechanics. Jobs are plentiful because everyone is short-staffed, and with shorter time to complete vo-tech programs and comparable starting salaries to college graduates, student debt can be far more manageable. Within ten years, Paul was making more money than people with master’s degrees. He has a high degree of job satisfaction, especially in his position as an instructor: “When you’re training some guys, no matter what skill set they have–entry-level apprentice or master technician–there’s a look that everybody gets on their face when they pick up a piece of information that they didn’t previously have. You see that reaction on their faces. Being able to teach them something new that will make them a better mechanic and technician? That’s where I get my satisfaction from. On a scale of one to ten, I’m a straight-on 12 with the job that I do.”
“The best things that Marvelwood sets you up for is stepping outside your comfort zone. The blanket of Mom and Dad is removed and it’s the faculty and the other students who teach you how to grow up. You become more available socially to talk with people about your life experiences.” Having gone to Rectory School, a junior boarding school, before coming to Marvelwood, Paul points to the boarding experience that gives students “the freedom to grow up to be who you want to be; it helps a lot getting out into the real world.”
Paul is working on a video for middle school students: A Day in the Life of a Technician. Having presented at high school career fairs for a number of years now, he is hoping to present the video in person at middle schools, to introduce the trades, such as welding and mechanics, to students before their path is set: “It’s the cool stuff that you love doing as a kid that can be a great career path.”
With Angela Eastwick '02, Science Department Chair Laurie Doss, and Kelsey Crittendon '03 in 2016 when Angela was the Commencement speaker.