November 10, 2009 - When Garrion Orr was discharged from active duty after five years of service in the Army, including a one-year deployment to Iraq, he was ready to get a job. He had good skills and experiences, but quickly realized that wasn't going to be enough.
"In the job market you need both skills and an education," Garrion said. "My wife talked me into going to college and it really expanded my career options."
Anita Orr, who met her husband on Independence Day at Fort Lewis in Washington state, is also an Army veteran. She served three years in Korea. Together, the Orrs researched possible universities and selected California State University, Bakersfield.
"We had never visited the area before, and actually didn't even know that Bakersfield existed," Anita said. "We have family in Lancaster and we wanted to be close to them, but didn't want to live in Los Angeles. We took a leap of faith, and we don't regret a single moment."
Now, after two years, the Orrs are ready for their next big step as they cross the stage and turn their tassels during commencement ceremonies on Monday, Nov. 30 at 1 p.m. in the CSUB Icardo Center. Garrion will walk away with his bachelor's degree in criminal justice and Anita has earned her bachelor's in sociology.
The Orrs both credit along list of professors who have contributed to their education.
"Classes were very hard, but fun," said Garrion, who ultimately wants to be a parole officer. "All my instructors were great. And, I really appreciate that the university brought in instructors like Bakersfield Police Chief Rector and Judge Oberholzer who had law enforcement experiences that made classes very real."
The demands of full class schedules weren't enough for this dynamic pair. Garrion works part-time,volunteers for Careers Services Center and plays community softball. Anita works part-time and volunteers at least weekly for the homeless shelter. Together, they have founded the university's first Student Veterans Organization and encourage other veterans to take advantage of a higher education. And, between it all, balance a happy marriage.
"Some days it is really rough," admits Anita, who plans to enter the CSUB master's of social work program in the fall and one day open her own counseling practice. "At one point I didn't think I'd make it, and my parents reminded me of what I learned in basic training. It's up to me to succeed and keep trying until every task is complete. There's no doubt my military background has helped me stay on track. God. Determination. Motivation. Drive. And, I'm lucky to have a husband who is supportive. We help each other."
Staying focused on the long-term, the Orrs hope to remain in Bakersfield and eventually start a family. But, they know the economy and job availability will be a factor in making that possible.
"It was an adjustment, but Bakersfield is a good fit for us," said Anita. "It's a caring community and I was always taught to care for others, to give with your heart. Garrion and I both believe that if you give, good things will come back to you. It's a ripple effect over time and truly the way we live our lives."
For more information:www.csub.edu/commencement
Media ContactColleen Dillaway, Director of Public Affairs & Communications