Jesse Narog does not back down from a challenge. It just makes him more determined.
As proof, he earned an associate’s degree before graduating from high school. He’s been deployed overseas as a Marine Corps reservist, heading out again in 2009. And he’s had to go back and forth between OSU and a community college in Washington while pursuing a degree in forest engineering. He has three years completed, a year and half to go, and plans to resume classes next fall.
“I like a challenge; that’s why I’m in the Marine Corps,” Narog says. “If it looks hard, then I have to do it.”
His adviser in the College of Forestry, Jim Kiser, is equally persistent — and defiant — in the face of long odds.
“If you throw me a challenge and say it can’t be done, I’ll be out to prove you wrong,” he says. “If a student’s going to put the effort forward, I’m going to put that effort forward too.”
And he has. Kiser keeps going back to advising over the phone whenever Narog has to leave Corvallis. He’s also researched classes online and in Washington to help Narog continue making progress until he returns to OSU.
“He’s been very tenacious in wanting this, Kiser says. “A lot of people would have given up a long time ago.”
Narog didn’t give up, in part because Kiser never gave up on him, opening doors that might have otherwise been closed.
“Having Jim’s help has made the difference in going for this degree,” Narog says. “Some of my family and friends have suggested doing something else, but I’ve gotten the help I’ve needed. I couldn’t have done it without him.”
Kiser has made that kind of difference with many forestry students, judging from the line outside his office — something Narog noticed immediately.
“He’s always available. He needs one of those ‘Now Serving’ numbers by his door,” Narog says. “He’s willing to help. He won’t shoot you down. He’ll try to figure out a solution to the problem.”
Kiser says he’s motivated as an adviser because he went through many of the same situations as his students during his own college career.
“I know what it would be like without the help,” he says. “I’m always slipping back to ‘I wish somebody had done this for me,’ so that’s why I do it for them.”
Kiser says he gets “pretty fired up” over helping students successfully complete their degrees, something he believes is less of a priority at some universities.
“Every student that walks through our doors deserves our respect and the chance to make it. It’s our job — our duty — to do what we can to help them.”
That philosophy — and the effort that goes with it — helps fuel Narog’s determination.
“If nobody had wanted to help, OSU wouldn’t be what it is,” he says.
~by Gary Dulude