Sharon Cromie, secretary in the School of Education's health promotion and wellness department, is a "jack of all trades" who has gutted and renovated her own house and worked on cars, and who loves to help students find answers to questions of all kinds.

When did you start working at SUNY Oswego?

In March 2010. I started at Penfield Library working as a Keyboard Specialist I on the second floor in customer service and helping with reserves. Eighteen months later, I upgraded to a Clerk II line, where I was hired to catalogue library books and take care of the bound journals. In 2014, I was hired at OBCR (the Office of Business and Community Relations), and was only there a month when I was interviewed and hired by the Syracuse campus as a Secretary I. I stayed about a year.

How long have you been with health promotion and wellness?

It was three years ago in January. I love this job and I love working with the students. I like helping them the most. I answer their questions and I help them with their paperwork. Most of them get frustrated and very stressed out, because they think something has to be done immediately -- they think they're late. They're not. I just reassure them and say, "That’s what we’re here for, to help you get the answers you need." They look at me and say, "How do you know that (answer)?" "I don’t, I just look for it on myOswego." I try to educate them to be just a little more diligent in looking for answers. If I can’t help them find an answer, I’ll get someone who can help.

What are your other duties?

My duties are typing, data entry, purchasing, answering the phone and helping with scheduling -- the fall schedule we just finished up -- keeping the digital and paper files on the students, helping instructors with copying or whatever they need, finding something for them at the library, putting something on reserve, which I know about because I worked at the library. Basically, just a jack of all trades!

What else do you do on campus?

I’m part of the Health and Safety Committee. They’re a good group. It’s made up of professional UUP staff and CSEA staff.  I’m the committee secretary. We try to help both management and the trades work together to help improve SOPs (standard operating procedures). We’re working on confined spaces now and elevator signage, making sure they’re labeled correctly. We’re making sure there are signs for basic health and safety. We want to make sure everyone’s safe on campus.

What do you think about SUNY Oswego students?

Basically, they are all very good kids. Some of them just need a little more help than others. As far as I’m concerned, we’re a customer base. Most people don't understand that. We’re here because of the students. I was a business owner years ago; if it wasn’t for your clients, you wouldn’t have a business. So it’s up to us to answer questions and lead them in the right direction.

What do you think about the professors in health promotion and wellness? 

Really good crew. I'm really impressed with the professional staff here. They each bring a different piece to the table. The nice thing is, this department builds on what their strengths are. They teach the courses they‘re really strong at. It’s impressive to see what the students take away from that -- it’s really amazing. I think we have a good team here. Most of my family is military, so I like to see people who work as a team unit. You don’t see that everywhere.

Did you ever consider joining the military?

I didn’t, but my twin sister did. She chose the Air Force. I put my kids through Civil Air Patrol, which is part of the Air Force. The Civil Air Patrol wanted me to join, but I would have outranked my kids and they didn’t want to have to salute their mother. (Laughs.)

Let's back up a bit. Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Syracuse, grew up in Pennellville, which is in Oswego County. Got married, moved to Phoenix (New York). I’m in Pennellville now. I went to Phoenix High School, but I actually graduated from Baldwinsville High School. My senior year, Phoenix didn’t have a lot of the classes I wanted. I kind of knew computers were going to be bigger, and I wanted an education on how to use them, so I transferred to Baldwinsville to take those classes.

What can you tell us about your formative years? 

My dad wanted boys, but he got girls. He taught us what most girls back in the '60s and '70s wouldn’t have been taught -- mechanics, home repair. I have gutted my own house and rebuilt it. I tell people, "I have a hammer and I know how to use it!" (Laughs) You want to take a window out, let’s take the window out and put a new one in -- I know how to do it. I have no qualms about assembling and disassembling. I try to teach that to the girls we have here, too -- let’s teach you some basic mechanics: how to check your car fluids, that kind of stuff. Most dads don’t teach their girls that; I think they should know it.

What jobs did you have before SUNY Oswego?

I owned a cleaning company. I started it at 19 and ran that for 15 years. Then I realized I didn’t want to pick up socks and Legos anymore, so I went back and got my hairdressing license. I did that for a couple of years. It wasn’t paying the bills, so I went back to doing what I knew how to do and that was what I call “pushing paper” -- purchasing, secretarial, filing and just basically getting things done.

What else can you tell us about your family? 

I have two children, 29 and 30, and four grandchildren. Love my little ones! I’m very proud of both my kids. My son is in the trades; he’s a mechanic. His kids are 8 and 10. My daughter is extremely hardworking. Three jobs, put herself through college, has an associate's degree, was on the dean’s list the whole time she was there. Since she was 3.8 (GPA) and above, she got half of her education paid for. She works as a medical biller now. I try to impress that on the students here: "You can do it! Here is a single mother of two working three jobs and still going to school."

What are your off-the-job interests?

I like to hang out with my grandkids. I see them two to three times a week. I’m big on family. I play the flute, crochet, garden and sew. We’re looking at a house for my daughter. We’ll be repairing a few things -- in my world, that’s typical. If I don’t know how to do it, I’ll hire out.