Marine comes home for family, stays home for degree

Austin Smith Jr., OSU-Cascades class of 2015

I’m from Warm Springs and will be completing my undergraduate degree this spring at OSU-Cascades as a natural resources/conservation technology major.

I’ve done a lot so far and I’m only 28. My first deployment for the Marines was Operation Iraqi Freedom—that was 2004 to 2006. The second was also Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2006 to 2007, when I was a Marine scout sniper. There were six openings for the sniper platoon. It was a week of hell. You get starved. Sleep deprived. CS gas. They drive you into the dirt until you break down. I started with 42 people applying and then we ended up with six.

I got out of the Marine Corps because my family was doing pretty poorly here. We had a lot of drugs and alcohol use on the reservation and my older brother got caught up into it. He committed suicide in 2009.

I just knew I had to come home and be here for my family. I stayed in Central Oregon because of my family and the natural resources program offered here.

“Without OSU-Cascades, I would have had to relocate, which would have been hard on my family.”

austin-smithWithout OSU-Cascades, I would have had to relocate, which would have been hard on my family. My wife and I have a family here and it’s hard to get away because we depend on them for so many things.

My cousin just transferred to OSU-Cascades, and it’s a great opportunity for many tribal members. It’s very small compared to a larger university, where you won’t get that one-on-one talk with the instructor or you won’t get some of your questions answered in the same day.

I think they should get the campus constructed as soon as possible. There are a lot of students out there and I think it would bring great opportunities.

I believe in OSU-Cascades because it’s a tight-knit community. Being a Beaver and an Oregon State graduate is a great opportunity here in Central Oregon—with this degree I’m able to accomplish my goals in the outside world.