Sara Jayne Steen Operating Staff Service Award

August, 2016


Chris Chiocca
Locksmith, Physical Plant

It’s 1:30 a.m. and a frantic student can’t get into his residence hall room. The lock on his door is broken and he’s panic stricken about what to do. Twenty miles away, PSU locksmith Chris Chiocca is awakened by a phone call. Like he has dozens of times before, he dutifully gets dressed and drives to campus, diagnosing the problem and repairing it, keeping the student and the building secure. It takes a special person to embrace that kind of responsibility and the inevitable off-hours interruptions, but Chris Chiocca takes it in stride, with a smile. His unwavering commitment, gregarious nature and technical expertise are the reasons why his co-workers chose him as the recipient of the Sara Jayne Steen Operating Staff Service Award.

“I feel very honored and privileged to know people here to considered me for this award,” Chiocca says. “It’s humbling to be recognized, but at the same time, it makes you realize some of the headaches you go through are worthwhile.”

There are more than 10,000 doors and locks on the Plymouth State campus; Chiocca is accountable for each of them.

“It’s a huge responsibility to be in charge of the security and safety of everybody on campus, but that’s the life of a university locksmith,” Chiocca notes. “Locksmithing is my trade and my passion.”

Chiocca, a Bridgewater, Massachusetts native, loves living in the Pemigewasset River Valley; seeking a more rural lifestyle, he and his family moved to Thornton in 2010 where he worked at a local inn and restaurant before a job opening for a locksmith at PSU in 2012 caught his eye. He’s never looked back at his decision to join the institution, where he has found many kindred spirits.

“There is a great sense of community at PSU, people here have a great love for life, the mountains, and the land,” he says. “I really love working here because it’s a community I consider a family.”

Outside of his day-to-day duties, Chiocca is active as a volunteer at PSU, too. He is the Operating Staff speaker-elect, co-chair of the Safety Committee, and he helped organize the 9/11 Stair Climb Challenge as a tribute to fallen firefighters. An avid outdoorsman, Chiocca can often be found hunting, fishing, and hiking with his wife Donna. –Bruce Lyndes

Photos by Kaleb Hart ’11

2016 Excellence Award Winners

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