By Sam Boykin
Growing up in rural Washington State, Connor Crowell initially felt bored and restless. After dabbling in community college and working various jobs, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 2013 at the urging of his father, a decision that transformed his life.
Naturally strategic and gifted with computers, Crowell started his military career in San Antonio as a target development network analyst, gathering information on individuals who posed a threat to U.S. security and soldiers overseas. He soon advanced and began analyzing larger foreign enemy networks, looking for ways to exploit weaknesses and gain intelligence to help defend U.S. troops and their allies.
His time in the Air Force had a profound impact, making him both open-minded and skeptical about everything from religion to politics.
“I have gone through a lot of worldview changes,” he noted. “One of the biggest things the military did was open me up and teach me to adapt.“
When Crowell left the military in 2019, he struggled with transitioning back to civilian life and finding work. He submitted hundreds of job applications only to be told he was overqualified. His journey eventually led him back to school.
Crowell transferred to A&M-San Antonio in the spring of 2023 to major in cybersecurity, joining his wife, Kelsee, who had recently started working at the University’s Office of Student Engagement. It was the right move.
“The smaller class sizes were the first thing that really drew me here,” he noted. “And I like that the University is young and still growing. I knew it was the place for me.”
Crowell is flourishing as a transfer student at the University. He is active with the Office of Transfer Student Engagement and works in the Office of Student Engagement. He also joined the University’s local chapter of Student Veterans of America (SVA), which helps student veterans succeed in post-secondary programs and contribute to civilian society.
Through the SVA chapter, he made friends and connections that gave him the confidence to apply for the role of SVA chapter president. He was named president in April of 2023 and was recently selected to be a member of the 2023 cohort of SVA’s Leadership Institute Fellows. In this capacity, he recently traveled to Washington, DC, for the SVA Leadership Institute, an immersive, four-day event designed to develop core values and hone leadership skills. He continued his leadership training at the 15th Annual Texas A&M University System Military-Affiliated Student Symposium on campus, Oct. 23-24.
Military Affairs Director Tila Jernigan sees the Symposium being on campus as having a positive impact on A&M-San Antonio, student veterans and the SVA. “It’s great for Connor’s professional development, and also for the institution and our local SVA chapter.”
As SVA president, Crowell is looking to increase membership and expand program offerings. “Post Covid, we’ve seen a drop,” he said. “But the benefits of getting involved are great. I’m hoping the [SVA] Leadership Institute can give me the tools I need to network and get student veterans excited about the association again. It’s the first time in a while I feel like I’m part of a community where I belong.”