For Owen Smith ’18, graduating from HWS will mark the beginning of his career as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.
“I enrolled at HWS knowing I wanted to be a good person and I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives,” says Smith. “I decided to join the Marine Corps to defend and serve this nation. I hope that my commitment to the Marine Corps’ core values of honor, courage and commitment can help change the lives of many people and perpetuate my goal of living a life of consequence.”
Over the summer, Smith completed a 10-week session at the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Va. After graduating from Hobart in 2018, he will attend The Basic School, where newly commissioned USMC officers spend eight months learning the fundamentals of their new role. Following Smith’s time there, he will begin training for a Military Occupational Specialty.
“Things move fast in the military,” says Smith, “In Basic School, lieutenants have to learn the essentials of being an officer, including infantry training and leadership skills.”
Smith’s path toward a career with the Marines began during his first year at HWS, where he encountered a tradition of service men and women who have attended the Colleges and also many who work as faculty and staff. Their sacrifice, says Smith, is part of the daily life and freedom students have as they study.
“There are many men and women that walked these grounds before me who have served their country and served Hobart and William Smith,” says Smith, whose mentors include Dean of Admissions Bob Murphy, who served as an officer in the Marine Corps and Director of Athletics Mike Hanna, a former paratrooper and officer in the U.S. Army. “The freedom we have to explore and pursue our individual academic interests is a direct result of the sacrifices made by the men and women who came before us.”
While playing lacrosse and studying political science at HWS, Smith met with a recruiter who emphasized how important good grades, athletics and service are to the military. HWS, Smith says, provided him with the opportunity to fulfill these requirements.
“There’s a strong connection between sports teams and service at HWS,” Smith says. “With the lacrosse team, I was part of a pen-pal program with little kids, and then for a Service-Learning course, I helped out at the Boys & Girls Club after school. I have been able to really connect with the kids over sports, which motivates them to do their homework and do well in school.”
Smith also believes the discipline and time management skills required of student-athletes will serve him well as a Marine. “The Marines are characterized by a constant strive to learn. At HWS, I have had to manage a diverse set of priorities going to practice then changing gears and heading to class,” he says.
He also credits Professor of Public Policy Craig Rimmerman and his adviser Professor of Political Science Kevin Dunn with teaching him “how to learn.” A political science major with a concentration in political violence, conflict and war, he says a significant part of his academic experience has been “exploring the idea behind why things happen,” a principle he intends to keep exploring in the military.
Looking forward, Smith says he is eager to take on the responsibility of joining the Marines and serving as an officer. He will graduate having earned the Arnold Scholar-Athlete Award and as a member of the Political Science Honor Society Pi Sigma Alpha and the Druid Society.