United States Marine named Penn State Outstanding Adult Student

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.—U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Bryan Smith, a senior majoring in criminology, is the recipient of the 2016 Penn State Outstanding Adult Student Award.

Smith—a native of Crestview, Florida—was deployed for two years in Iraq before being accepted into the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Educational Program (MECEP). The program allows Smith to remain on active duty while being enrolled as a full-time student at University Park. Upon completion of his degree, he will be commissioned as a second lieutenant.

“I hope to continue serving in the Marine Corps until retirement while also pursuing a master’s degree and ultimately a doctorate,” Smith said. “I know this is going to be difficult, but I enjoy being challenged.”

Smith is a married father of two young children, serves as an adviser and trainer in the Navy ROTC program and is a volunteer in the State College community. He said balancing family, career and class work can be a challenge at times.

“First and foremost, I would not be able to balance anything without the support of my wife,” Smith said. “There are many times where I don’t necessarily get the sleep I need, but that‘s where I think being a Marine is useful.”

Leslie Laing, assistant director of Adult Learner Programs and Services in Student Affairs, sponsors and organizes the annual award recognition program.

“Bryan courageously serves his country, his campus and our community,” Laing said. “He has bravely faced personal, financial and professional obstacles while pursuing his educational goals and yet makes time to mentor other students.”

Smith was presented with a Penn State diploma case and a $500 grant from the Adult Learner Opportunity Fund. The fund was established by Laing to aid nontraditional-aged students and veterans who are juggling financial and family responsibilities while earning an undergraduate degree.

To contribute, visit the Adult Learner Opportunity Fund in Student Affairs online.

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Last Updated April 19, 2017