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Alumni Profile: Paul Snyder (’77)

Paul Snyder is a proud graduate of Cathedral Prep’s class of 1977. He is the epitome of a loving husband, supportive father, and a truly honorable man. Snyder has made an insurmountable impact on countless lives as he continues to inspire and motivate so many. He is a highly regarded faith mentor within the community and a longstanding CCD teacher. Snyder has stayed very close to Prep as he also helps build sets for Prep-Villa shows, as well as being a key organizer of various mission trips/events. He continues to apply the spiritual values fostered from his time at Prep into the lives of others. His efforts have not gone unnoticed, as he is constantly willing to lend a helping hand to those in need and go far and beyond what anyone could imagine.

Snyder attended Sacred Heart for grade school and upon graduation, he was off to Prep. He enjoyed his four years as a Rambler and met many lifelong friends along the way. “It’s not even a network to me,” he said. “I don’t just use them for personal benefits thanks to their connections and things like that. I think of them as my best friends.”

When asked if he had any regrets, Snyder actually wished he would’ve been more bold and confident, reaching out to more people. “High school is a difficult time for everyone. You are trying to find your way and pave your own path.”

Not only is Snyder a man of action, but he is also a great model of faith. “I was moved during freshman year theology class. We read the whole Bible cover to cover, and I couldn’t believe how staunchly the teacher defended his faith. It inspired me.”

One distinct memory that he recalls from his time in school was being a monitor for the feared disciplinary headmaster, Father Swoger. “It was a revelation for me to realize that he was actually a good guy when I got to know him.”

Prep taught Snyder many skills, but perhaps none as important as the realization that he could accomplish goals he didn’t otherwise think he could. “You didn’t have a choice. You had to find ways to get things done.”

After graduating, Snyder was unsure of what his next move would be. “I was just tired of school.” It wasn’t until a friend brought to his attention a four-year apprenticeship opportunity at General Electric in Erie that he had a plan. Having a mechanically gifted mind, Snyder jumped all over it. “Learn while you earn” was the motto.

He started in August of 1977 and was earning $4.85 an hour. He reminisced over the glory days saying, “I was still just a kid, so to be reeling in that kind of money right out of school was amazing!”

1982 was the first of many layoffs for Snyder. With the ever-changing job security of GE at the time, it was bound to happen. “I was destroyed,” he said. Shortly after, he and another buddy decided to apply to Gannon University’s mechanical engineering program. Snyder was accepted and was doing great in his classes. GE was even helping pay for his engineering track. “In the spring of 1987, I took fifteen credits and just loaded it on. I knew I needed to in order to really give myself a chance back in the workforce.” Boy, did that pay off…just not right away.

Snyder was back with GE in 1987 on the graveyard shift piecing together turret pieces and similar parts. “I thought I died and went to hell. It was terrible.” Although $4 per hour was guaranteed, the second half was dependent on the individual’s piecing rate. If one produces at a 100 percent rate, they receive an additional $4, and likewise, if another produces at a 50 percent rate, they would only receive an additional $2. “I became a machine at it. I was consistently at the 100 percent rate and was finally getting noticed.”

After yet another layoff, Snyder found a new home at LORD corporation. He was doing the same exact work as he had been doing at GE. “The guy next to me had been working there for seventeen and a half years and was producing at a 65 percent rate. People couldn’t believe what I was doing.”

Snyder ended up obtaining his degree in mechanical engineering from Gannon University in December of 1989. After being recognized for his outstanding work, Snyder quickly was inserted into higher level positions. He worked in the analytics department, and he did different types of modeling. Following that, he was in product design for four years, a supervisor in the silicon department for two, and tech sales for five more after eventually retiring from aerospace technical support which he was a part of for seventeen years.

There was no doubt that getting laid off for the first time was heartbreaking, but Snyder reflected on it saying, “If I wouldn’t have gotten laid off, I wouldn’t have went back to school. I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish and experience all I did.”

He went on to say, “Success teaches you nothing. It’s in the failures where you learn and get better.” Snyder’s career roller coaster offers a sense of hope to those who have lost theirs. The hope that you can be successful despite struggles and uncertainties. The hope that you can persevere, and the hope that anything is possible if you have faith.

Paul Snyder is living a life of no regrets. He is the ultimate role model for his five children and has been happily married to his wife for 33 years. “I wouldn’t go back and change a single thing that would change where I am today.” Everything truly happens for a reason, and he is a firm believer in that. “I’m still growing in all aspects of my life. I may be retired, but I’m never going to stop growing.”

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