When Bryan Morris graduated from tiny Red Creek High School in 2004, he had no idea what was next. "My wheels were spinning. I wasn't going anywhere and I didn't have a plan. I knew I should go to school for something but I didn't know what for."
Morris joined the United States Air Force and it turned out to be a life-changing decision. He would spend four-and-a-half years serving his country which included tours of duty in Iraq and Kuwait. When he wasn't deployed, he was stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base near Boise, Idaho. While in Boise, he would begin dating the woman whom he would eventually marry.
Morris was honorably discharged from the Air Force in 2012 and returned to Central New York. He knew he wanted to pursue an engineering-related degree but wasn't sure where to begin. A family friend gave him valuable advice. "He suggested I do 2 years at OCC, then 2 years at Syracuse University which he had done when he was younger. I was a little nervous about starting at S.U. because I hadn't been in school in 8 years."
Morris took his advice and enrolled at OCC in January of 2013. He was an outstanding student, earning membership in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. When he wasn't in class he could usually be found in the Student Veterans office where he was a work-study student, was good at finding a quiet space where he could do his coursework, and bonded with fellow Student Veterans. "I spent a lot of time in there doing homework and sharing stories. It was a great environment. I absolutely loved it."
In the summer of 2013 he got married. The next year he completed his associate degree at OCC. Morris would transfer to Syracuse University and earn his bachelor's degree in 2016.
Morris and his wife would eventually move back to Boise where he now works as an engineer at Micron Technology. He helps develop the production equipment that makes what is known in the industry as "wafers" which hold semi conductor chips. Just last month Congress passed a bill which incentivizes building chips in the United States. Shortly after that, Micron announced it would build a $15 billion dollar high volume manufacturing plant in Boise next to where Morris works.
Ten years after leaving the Air Force and deciding to come to OCC, Morris' life couldn't be much better. He and his wife have two sons, ages 6 and 4, and he has an in-demand job in an in-demand industry. "It's been a long process but I'm pretty happy where I am. I'm always looking toward the future but I feel pretty lucky."
He's also grateful that, thanks to his military service and the GI Bill, he's in good shape financially. "With everything going on in the world with home prices and inflation, one of the biggest factors in my success is I don't have student loans looming over my head. Going into the Air Force was the best decision for my future."