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Alumni Spotlight

The Farmingdale Four: Luke Schiada '98, A Destiny Written in the Skies 

Luke Schiada at Press conferenceLooking back, Luke Schiada ‘98 can pinpoint the exact moment he started chasing his dreams. As a young boy, fascinated with airplanes and aviation, Luke wanted to be an astronaut. Instead, he used that passion to pursue a bachelor’s degree in aviation administration and an associate’s degree in aerospace technology at Farmingdale State College. It was there, as a student in Professor Louis Scala’s Government in Aviation class, after hearing a leader at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) speak, he knew what his future held. Understanding the significance of the moment, he seized it, walking their guest back to his car and taking the first step to secure a life changing internship.

Now, Luke, who serves as a supervisory aviation investigator for the NTSB, recognizes how pivotal that experience, and his Farmingdale education, was. “Those relationships that you form with people, the way you interact—you can’t minimize those interactions and the importance they have leading to opportunities,” he says. We recently caught up with Luke to ask him “The Farmingdale Four.”

Tell me your FSC story. Why was FSC the right school for you? 

I knew that FSC had an aviation program and I wanted to pursue the piloting operations side and continue to learn about aviation. But also, the campus was beautiful, and I loved the prospect of living there. Until then, I had lived at home with my parents in Brooklyn, so the thought of being part of the FSC community—being on campus and continuing to learn about aviation—that was a real draw. Farmingdale was only 50 miles from my home, but it was really a world away. It couldn’t have been more different than the environment I had spent my whole life in.

What memory – of a class, a teacher, a project – stays with you to this day?

Without a doubt, hearing NTSB Regional Director, Dennis Jones speak in Professor Scala’s class on that spring day in 1997 was certainly the most consequential moment of my time at FSC. Before that, I was familiar with the NTSB, but I became fascinated by their work and how they methodically figured out why accidents occurred with the goal of preventing them in the future. You could argue that presentation lead to my career in aviation, more specifically, with the NTSB itself!

The FSC motto is: "to become all that we are capable of being." How has FSC shaped who you are today?

First, it directly provided me with an opportunity to get my foot in the door at the NTSB, which has resulted in an incredibly rewarding career. Beyond that, FSC helped shape my independence and personal development. My parents were old school, so the idea of being independent and growing without the shadow of my parents, that happened at Farmingdale. So much of my growth, personally and professionally—I owe that to FSC.

What would you tell a student just starting at FSC?

I would encourage them to take the time to develop their interpersonal skills. In this day and age, we often forget about those. The way that you behave and communicate with others is critical. You can have all the technical knowledge and experience in the world, but if you can’t effectively communicate with people, you might not get the chance to show it. Even in my work, very few times the immediate decisions made at accident sites are technical. It’s the interactions with people that are in real time, where you need to be able to effectively, adequately, and compassionately work with people—those are skills that are developed and learned throughout your life.


Development & Alumni Engagement

The Office for Development and Alumni Engagement works closely with the Farmingdale College Foundation – raising and managing critical philanthropic dollars for the College, cultivating meaningful relationships with donors, corporate partners and community friends – and the Farmingdale Alumni Association, keeping our 100,000 alumni informed, engaged, proud, and supportive of the College, strengthening their lifelong connection to FSC students and each other.

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