Getting to Know Some of our Student Veterans

The American Flag with some flowers

In honor of Veteran’s Day, we want to introduce you to some of our student veterans here at WOU. Thank you to the students who talked with us, and thank you to all veterans for your service. 

Jake Sutherby

Jake Sutherby with family and dogsJake Sutherby has been part of the WOU SVA club since 2016, and is its current president. He has been working as a work-study in the VRC since 2019. He is from Elma, Wash

Which branch did you serve in? Where did you serve, and for how long?

I was in the Marine Corps for four years. I was in California most of the time I served but I deployed to Okinawa Japan, Mainland Japan, and South Korea. 

What was your position there, and what did that position entail? What was the experience like?

I was in the communications department of a field artillery battery. We did a lot of training in the Mojave Desert. I was responsible for setting up radio and digital communications between the four artillery batteries and the forward observers. We set up 40-foot antennas and we established digital communications through a cloud-based network. We were also responsible for over 30 handheld communications devices that were used for internal communications. During my time in the Marine Corps, I called for fire for hundreds of artillery live-fire exercises as well as being the records NCO [non-commissioned officer] that kept track and checked out several pieces of serialized communications devices. 

Why did you choose WOU? What do you like about it here?

I attended ITT Technical Institute in Portland Oregon for one year. I was going there to get my bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. After one year the campus closed and I was looking for smaller universities and a friend of mine I met at ITT told me about WOU. We applied for school at WOU and got accepted and started fall of 2016. I took six months off after graduating in 2019 with my bachelor’s. I am currently a grad student in my final year. I love WOU because of all the trees and the squirrels. I also have had great on-campus work opportunities as well as had the opportunity to live in campus family housing. 

What are you studying, and what do you plan to do in the future?

I am currently getting my master’s degree in Special Education. I plan on continuing to work at the school I’m a student teaching at and traveling with my family in the future. 

What’s the biggest takeaway from your time in the service? How has it impacted you as a student here at WOU, and as a person in general? 

From my time in the service, I developed anxiety which has made tests in college difficult at times. Overall I believe that the military taught me the work ethic and the ability to adapt quickly. I think as a college student these attributes have helped me get through the difficult times college often has to offer. 

 

Tanner Watson

Tanner Watson is a sophomore here at WOU from Keizer, Ore. 

Which branch did you serve in? Where did you serve, and for how long?

I served for four years in the United States Marine Corps from June of 2013 to June of 2017. I was stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC for approximately three-and-a-half years.

What was your position there, and what did that position entail? What was the experience like?

I served as a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear (CBRN) specialist and later became a martial arts instructor. We had a dual role with the unit I was with. I taught Marines and Sailors about CBRN agents and their CBRN gear, and then qualified them through the CBRN Confidence Exercise Chamber, more commonly known as a Gas Chamber. The other role was a more in-depth undertaking, in which we trained other Marines and Sailors to carry out roles to assist us in case of a CBRN event. Overall, I really enjoyed my time doing these and had the privilege to travel around the country to train with some of the best people in the field. I recall our unit received some specialized equipment that could detect and identify very minute quantities of chemical agents to which I got further training on. As a martial arts instructor, I reviewed and taught Marines the techniques and concepts in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.

Why did you choose WOU? What do you like about it here?

I heard about WOU through my adviser at Clackamas Community College, who had graduated from here, and she highly recommended I transfer here if I wanted to carry on my education. With my move back to Salem and then recently figuring out a career path, I transferred here honestly based on the recommendation of her and other professors. I haven’t regretted it, but I do admit that the first year during the COVID-19 pandemic was rough. But I still managed to learn and make connections.

What are you studying, and what do you plan to do in the future?

I am studying Business with a concentration in Accounting and a minor in Communication Studies. I enjoyed my forensic accounting class with Professor Mahony, and I want to continue that as a criminal investigator for the Secret Service or the FBI

What’s the biggest takeaway from your time in the service? How has it impacted you as a student here at WOU, and as a person in general?

I think my biggest take away is volunteerism. I don’t think I’ve volunteered at WOU quite yet, but I do offer what assistance I can to the Veterans Resource Center and the Business and Economics Club. In my personal time, I volunteer with Team Rubicon. They’re an international non-government organization founded by veterans that focus on disaster relief operations.

 

Taylor Litke

Taylor Litke is a sophomore here at WOU from Gaithersburg, Maryland. 

Which branch did you serve in? Where did you serve, and for how long?

I served in the United States Marine Corps from 2011-15. I was stationed in Twentynine Palms, CA. I also spent 14 months collectively in Okinawa, Korea, Bahrain and Jordan.

What was your position there, and what did that position entail? What was the experience like?

My position was field artillery fire direction control man. For the time I spent in Bahrain and Jordan I was a member of an improvised rifle company. My experience was challenging and fun.

Why did you choose WOU? What do you like about it here?

I chose WOU because it was well-reviewed by a close friend who attended here, and has an involved veteran community. The school has a dedicated Veterans Resource Center, and even waived my application fee upon proof of my form DD-214.

What are you studying, and what do you plan to do in the future?

I am studying Information Systems, with a minor in Computer Science, and a concentration in Cyber Security. In the future, I hope to maintain a career in a relevant field to my education.

What’s the biggest takeaway from your time in the service? How has it impacted you as a student here at WOU, and as a person in general? 

My biggest takeaway from my service has been the inspiration of meeting people that I admired and respected. It has influenced me to develop and improve as a person, as well as apply myself in my education.

3 comments on “Getting to Know Some of our Student Veterans”

  1. As a proud WOU alum (1999 & 2005), I’m so pleased to see Marines from 29 Palms attending WOU. I served as MCAGCC’s Education Services Officer from 2007 to 2013. I’ve since moved up into administration (still in 29 Palms), but my heart and passion remain in the field of post-secondary education. Keep doing great things, Marines! Semper Fidelis.

  2. It is so interesting to become familiar with such versatile people and their stories, even if it Is through the screen. For me, it is really inspirational to read about the experiences of personalities who are engaged in such wonderful activities and who develop their skills, becoming professionals in their field. I can say that all these stories stand out with their individuality and each person stands out with his unique life path which led them to WOU. Also, I admire the priorities and progress of each student because it is so important when you have a goal and when you find something which forms you as a personality to some extent. Volunteerism is such a valuable thing and it is so respectful that it’s the biggest take away for Tanner Watson. I think that it helps reveal the best qualities in a person and contributes to improving the world in a huge measure.

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