Sometimes one person can shape the direction of a student’s life. Such was the case for Tony DiStasio, professor of biotechnology, when he met a "great teacher" in high school who introduced him to the fascinating world of science. From that moment, he knew teaching science would be his ideal career.
"I’ve always had a passion for science and for interacting with people," he says. He began his career teaching grades 6-8 and high school students.
Eventually, he made a career switch, taking a job with Union Carbide. "I had a wife and family.At the time, it was difficult to support them on a teacher’s salary," he says. His employer wanted him to work in research and development. "I said I would prefer to interact with people, so they put me in a sales-training position instead."
He flourished in that department, winning Sales Person of the Year three years in a row and eventually rising to regional sales manager. After more than two decades, he left that position to enjoy new challenges with smaller companies working as director of purchasing, director of business development and finally as executive vice president of sales and marketing.
When his children were grown, he decided to return to his first love – teaching.
"I was always teaching, even when I worked in industry," he says.During his time at Union Carbide, he was an adjunct instructor at the City University of New York. "When I got the adjunct position at County College of Morris, I knew if I did a good job that I could eventually become a full professor. " He worked as an adjunct professor for seven years, and in 2008 was offered the full-time position he had always wanted. "It took me about 30 years to get there, but I finally did it!"
What he enjoys most about teaching is that "aha moment" that students experience. "I can tell when the lights go on and they finally get it," he says. "That’s a charge for me; that’s the fun of the job. Thankfully, it happens quite often, almost every semester. That’s when you feel like, hey, I’m actually doing something worthwhile."