SOU computer science graduate Austin Shadel

Recent SOU computer science grad protecting clients against drone attacks

It all sounds very cloak-and-dagger, but Austin Shadel sees it more as an extension of his longstanding interest in drones and robotics, and his academic focus on computer science over the past five years at Southern Oregon University. Shadel graduated in June and went to work as a software engineer at Citadel Defense Company – an industry leader in counter unmanned aerial systems (cUAS) that serves clients in the defense, government and business communities.

“The fact that the company was involved in the drone space attracted me,” Shadel said. “The company is only about 30 of us, so it’s a very small, close team – you end up working with everyone in some way.”

Recent SOU computer science grad protecting clients against drone attacks

A drone that Austin Shadel designed in high school

Citadel helps customers in 13 countries manage the potential and real threats posed by unmanned aerial systems – drones. Its standalone and integrated counter-drone products address safety, security and privacy concerns, using artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to autonomously detect, track and “neutralize” drone threats.

A news story distributed nationwide when Citadel was acquired earlier this month by leading national security contractor BlueHalo described the cUAS company’s products as “technologies critical to the warfighter.”

“When defending against drone swarms and difficult-to-detect threats, Citadel’s AI/ML-powered systems allow operators to identify and terminate enemy UAS threats with unmatched speed, accuracy and reliability,” said the story, distributed by the news service Business Wire.

“Citadel’s industry-leading solutions create a distinct operational advantage for servicemen and servicewomen on the front lines.”

Shadel sees his position as primarily technical, but the protection of clients’ property – and lives – is the company’s top concern. He said the new relationship with BlueHalo will expand Citadel’s capabilities and resources, and will benefit military and intelligence customers.

“The company will continue to provide automated and AI-powered counter-drone solutions to keep servicemen and servicewomen protected from the rapidly growing threat of weaponized drones and swarms,” he said. “Our software development team will continue to build paradigm-shifting solutions and integrate new capabilities that provide protection beyond the cUAS mission.”

Shadel, 24, graduated from SOU in June with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. He grew up in the San Diego area – where he recently returned to work at Citadel – and then chose to attend college at SOU because he wanted to experience a different environment while pursuing his passion for robotics, drones and coding.

“Ashland is a very pretty area and I was excited to go to school somewhere where I could experience seasons, as in San Diego it always feels like it’s summer,” he said. “Computer science had always been an academic focus of mine since high school. I pursued computer science-related activities in high school, such as being on the robotics team and taking all the engineering courses I could.

“I’ve been interested in robotics and coding in general since early high school. I used to build drones from parts I’d buy at hobby stores and go out flying them with a friend. At one point I was 3D printing drone frames for fun. I enjoyed the process of designing, building and watching something I built work.”

Shadel said his capstone courses were his favorites, and his best memories from five years at SOU were of the friends he made and the study sessions they held together for their computer science courses. The problem-solving skills and flexibility he learned at SOU have prepared him for the ever-changing demands of his new position.

“A lot of my duties and responsibilities are centered around assuring the reliability of the (counter-drone) system, so this involves extensive testing and bug-hunting on any new or existing feature,” he said. “Mixed in with this, also, is the designing of new features to meet what customers are asking for directly.

“Often times in a start-up-type environment you have to wear a lot of different hats to get the job done. So being comfortable being out of your comfort zone and being willing to learn quickly is a must-have in my opinion, for these types of situations.”

Distinguished Alumni Award winner Fred Mossler and three others to be honored

SOU Distinguished Alumni Award recipients to be recognized

An entrepreneur and former Zappos executive, a chemist working toward a cure for Duchene muscular dystrophy, a conservation and youth program leader, and the architect of an award-winning band program will be honored Thursday during a Homecoming Weekend luncheon to recognize Southern Oregon University’s annual Distinguished Alumni Award winners.

Fred Mossler, who earned his bachelor’s degree from SOU in 1990 and helped lead upstart online retailer Zappos to prominence, will receive this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award and Susan Ramos-Hunter, Ph.D., who earned her SOU bachelor’s degree in 2010, will receive the Distinguished Young Alumni Award.

This year’s Stan Smith Alumni Service Award will go to Greg Wolley, who received his master’s degree in environmental education at SOU in 1981 before embarking on a career in conservation management with a focus on opportunities for youth and people of color. The Excellence in Education award will be presented to Scott Kneff, who earned his bachelor’s degree in music performance at SOU in 1999; he has nearly tripled band participation in the Southern California community of Santa Paula since 2008 and built the program into a consistent award-winner.

The four award recipients will be honored Thursday at an 11:30 a.m. luncheon at the Ashland Springs Hotel that launches this year’s Homecoming Weekend. The award luncheon is by invitation-only, due to COVID-19 protocols.

Mossler worked his way through SOU at a local shoe store and as a resident advisor in the dorms. He went to work for Nordstrom after graduation, first in Seattle and then San Francisco – which is where he was recruited in 1999 by Nick Swinmurn to lead customer service and day-to-day operations at a newly-launched online shoe retailer – which became The company had more than $1 billion in sales when it was acquired 10 years later by Amazon. Mossler left the company in 2016 to focus on other entrepreneurial and philanthropic ventures – from revitalizing downtown Las Vegas to launching après ski-inspired shoe brand Ross & Snow and Vegas-based restaurant chain Nacho Daddy, which donates a portion of every purchase to children in need.

Ramos-Hunter, originally from northern California, transferred to SOU from Rogue Community College to study psychology and was mentored by faculty member Mark Krause – who recommended the Ronald E. McNair Achievement Program for potential graduate students. She graduated as a McNair Scholar, majoring in psychology with a chemistry minor, then earned her master’s degree and doctorate in chemistry from Vanderbilt University. She is now a senior scientist at Entrada Therapeutics in Boston, and part of a team synthesizing cutting edge bio-therapeutics and working toward a cure for Duchene Muscular Dystrophy.

Wolley came to SOU to earn his master’s degree in environmental education after receiving his undergraduate degree from University of California, Berkeley. The local beauty combined with energetic, thoughtful teaching helped him lay the personal and academic foundation for a career that would include management roles with the Nature Conservancy, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Mt. Hood National Forest, the city of Portland and TriMet. His volunteer service includes co-founding the African American Outdoor Association and membership on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Kneff visited SOU as a senior in high school and fell in love with the university and the Ashland community. He attended community college in California for two years, then found his way back to SOU to complete his bachelor’s degree in the music program, participating in the university’s jazz band, symphonic band, saxophone quartet and the Raider Band. He then returned to Southern California to earn a bachelor’s degree in history, his teaching credentials and an eventual master’s degree. His teaching career began with stints in Los Angeles and Bakersfield, California, before he returned to Ventura County, where he grew up. Isbell School in Santa Paula had just 57 band students spread through three classes when he began in 2007; within 12 years the program had 175 students reached consistent “superior” ratings in regional band and orchestra competitions.

Three generations of the Lattin-Crocker family chose SOU

Lattin-Crocker: Three generations of Raiders

The Lattin-Crocker clan has a strong connection with Southern Oregon University and a long legacy of school engagement. The tradition began in the 1960s with Frances (1964 graduate) and Bruce Lattin (1967), and Dawn (1969) and Paul Lattin (1970). Their time at the university was marked with great joy, camaraderie and personal growth.

Paul Lattin followed his brother Bruce to SOU.

“I knew my older brother Bruce liked it, and most of my friends went there. I hadn’t really considered any other place,” he said. “I really enjoyed the small classes, the instructors paid attention to you and, best of all, I met my wife Dawn there.”

Lattin credits Southern Oregon College with sparking his drive to succeed.

“I was a pretty average student my first two years, but in my junior year, I worked in food service as a student manager,” he said. “The work, and the confidence they had in me, gave me the drive I needed. From that moment on, I had the incentive to do better in school. My grades went up, and I have held onto that confidence and courage my entire life.”

SOU was the perfect fit for Dawn.

“It was a really good experience,” she said. “To this day, when we visit Ashland all those wonderful memories come back. I got a great education, and Paul and I have been married 50 years.”

Frances Lattin had originally gone to the University of Oregon, but it didn’t quite click with her so she decided to transfer after a lot of positive feedback from friends.

“SOC was just a whole different world. I had such wonderful professors,” she said.

As an English major with a theater minor, she said one of her favorite instructors was Angus Bowmer, founder of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

“He became a dear friend; I still have letters from him,” she said. “The instructors at SOU really got to know their students and connect with them.”

Lattin went on to teach high school after graduating.

“I had a wonderful career as a teacher,” she said. “Southern shaped so much of my life, my career, my relationships,” she said. “I tear up a little bit thinking of all the opportunities that SOC and my education have given me.”

Lattin happily shared her experiences with her daughters, Cathy and Suzy, and was delighted when the two decided to attend the university as well.

“It’s fabulous that my daughters also chose to go there,” she said. “They even met some of the same people I knew. I loved hearing about their time there.”

Cathy Crocker (1990) and Suzy Tannenbaum (1992) credit their mother, in part, with their eagerness to go to SOU and their engagement in college life.

“All of us had really rich experiences, and I’m so glad we were involved in student life,” Crocker said.

Tannenbaum said her education wasn’t the only thing she has carried with her throughout her career.

“Southern had such a community feel,” she said. “That’s what I carried into my law-enforcement career, working with the public, bringing people together, and building community and relationships.” she said.

Tannenbaum, the chief of public safety at Oregon State University, leads a team of officers who ensure the safety and security of the campus community. The family connection with SOU gives Tannenbaum great joy.

“Our kids and our grandkids will know that SOU is a special place,” she said. “We have such a history with it, our parents were even married at the little church near campus. I’m so proud of being a Southern grad, and I celebrate being a Raider and all the wonderful friendships and connections I’ve made through it.”

Crocker feels the same fondness for SOU as her sister. The relationships she made and the sense of engagement that her time at SOU helped foster has shaped her life in numerous ways.

“I grew a lot in college, and working as a resident assistant helped me learn to really dig deep with people and connect,” she said. “Those experiences helped make me into the person I am today.”

Crocker, who was a communication major with a minor in psychology, has devoted much of her time to community service, working with children and volunteering.

Both Crocker and her husband, Dan (1990), say they have fond memories of their time as residential staff at the dorms.

“Dan and I were high school sweethearts,” she said. “I was in Diamond Hall, and he was in Emerald. We could actually see each other from the windows of our apartments.

“We learned so much about the power of engagement and building community with our fellow students. It was amazing, and now our child Aubrey is an RA at SOU, so the tradition continues.”

Dan Crocker, who is the CEO of the Ashland YMCA, said his campus involvement was key to learning the skills that he uses every day.

“I was originally going to a different university and didn’t get involved in anything, and I was basically flunking out,” he said. “At SOU, I got involved. First, I was elected as hall president, and that led to being elected as the on-campus student government president, then I decided to be a hall director to help incoming freshmen not make the same mistakes I initially made.

“I had no idea that decision would lead to so many opportunities in the future.”

Over the summers he further honed his skills working as a Y camp director.

“By the time I graduated SOU, even counting my horrible credits from my first college, I graduated with strong leadership skills and a 3.7 GPA,” he said. “My time at SOU was amazing. It didn’t even seem like work.”

Aubrey, majoring in Emerging Media and Digital Arts, said that SOU checked all the boxes.

“For me, SOU was the most comfortable place I visited,” she said. “After a visit, I just felt like it was where I belong.”

Parents Dan and Cathy’s involvement in student life is what inspired Aubrey to become an RA as well.

“I like that I’m part of a long family tradition, both of going to SOU and involvement in campus life,” she said. “I hadn’t really thought of it as a legacy, but it’s a great one to have.”

Shared and updated from the spring 2020 issue of The Raider, SOU’s alumni magazine

SOU commencement speaker Erim Gomez

SOU alumnus and former McNair Scholar to headline 2021 Commencement

(Ashland, Ore.) — Erim Gómez was a McNair Scholar and first-generation college graduate at SOU, a co-director of what is now the SOU Environmental Resource Center and an active member of the SOU Alumni Association Board of Directors. On June 12, the newly minted Ph.D. and assistant professor at the University of Montana will also serve as SOU’s commencement speaker.

Graduates and others participating in SOU’s live-streamed commencement ceremony will hear about Gómez’s compelling personal story, his heartfelt mission to encourage under-represented and other students to pursue and achieve their higher education dreams, and his passion for environmentalism and the sciences.

Erim GomezGómez is proud of his family’s farm-working and immigrant roots, and that both he and his brother Edrik – who died in a 2008 helicopter crash while serving as a wildland firefighter – were part of the prestigious McNair Scholarship program at SOU. Gómez received his doctorate in environmental and natural resources science from Washington State University last fall. He was hired at the University of Montana in August 2020 as an assistant professor in the school’s highly regarded Wildlife Biology Department.

“I challenge you to not fear failure and to take risks,” Gómez is expected to tell SOU’s new graduates on Saturday. “I learn a lot more from my failures than my successes. If you don’t occasionally fail, you need to set larger and higher goals. 

“Your SOU degree will and has already opened doors for you,” he will suggest. “Make sure that you keep the doors open for those who come after you.”

Gómez will anchor the list of speakers at this year’s SOU commencement, a hybrid day of activities that will include an in-person, live-streamed opportunity to walk across the stage at Raider Stadium, a wide-ranging online ceremony and a variety of events in which individual programs will recognize the accomplishments of their graduates.

The in-person photo opportunity at Raider Stadium – at which no guests will be allowed – will begin at 9 a.m. The virtual ceremony – live-streamed on the SOU Commencement webpage and the university’s social media platforms – will start at 2 p.m.

This will be SOU’s second consecutive year of virtual commencement ceremonies, a result of the global pandemic. The online events will include a life-streamed ceremony with Gomez and other speakers, Zoom parties and private, dedicated social media engagement. A number of the university’s academic programs and divisions also have created virtual or hybrid events that celebrate their graduates’ accomplishments.

About 1,100 degrees are expected to be conferred.

Gómez received his bachelor’s degree in biology from SOU in 2007, then went on to earn his master’s degree and doctorate in natural resources sciences from Washington State. He won national recognition in 2011, when he was awarded the Bullitt Foundation’s Environmental Fellowship – which offers $100,000 over two years of graduate study for students focusing on environmental issues in Washington, Oregon or British Columbia. Gomez used the fellowship to study Palouse Prairie amphibians in eastern Washington.


Danny Santos' career of service

Danny Santos: In the name of service

Danny Santos, who earned his bachelor’s degree in criminology at SOU in 1975, always had a passion for service. But he credits SOU – Southern Oregon College at that time – with providing him the tools and opportunities to chart and navigate a career path that focused on helping others.

“Southern Oregon College was a wonderful place to grow up and mature,” Santos said. “It gave me so many academic and employment opportunities.”

Santos is currently serving his second four-year term on the SOU Board of Trustees.

He was raised in California’s Imperial Valley, where his father was his hometown’s first Latino police officer, and his parents instilled in him the value of hard work and education.

“We would spend our summer vacations working in the fields. We would work the Imperial Valley and move north to the San Joaquin as it got hotter, but we would always get back home in time for school,” he said. “Education was the priority.”

Santos said he chose SOC because he had a friend who was attending, and the school was so welcoming. While surprised by the lack of diversity at the college, he was also heartened by the support he received from instructors and administrators.

“Going to SOC was one of the best decisions of my life,” he said. “The instructors were supportive and encouraged me to try so many new things. It is really nice to have someone say, ‘You can do more.’”

Encouraging others and championing the underserved is something Santos has modeled throughout his career. After graduating, he became interested in education and working with migrant students. He returned to SOU to pursue a teaching certificate and eventually helped launch a migrant education program in southern Oregon. Later, while working in Salem as director of the Oregon Migrant Education Service Center, Santos served as a citizen lobbyist, meeting lawyers and government employees. That work inspired him to study law.

Always advocating for diversity and inclusion, he focused his legal career on social justice and public interest issues. He was eventually appointed associate dean for student affairs at his law school alma mater, Willamette University College of Law, and retired from that position in 2019.

Santos has compiled a long and accomplished resume with a very consistent theme: service to the state of Oregon and to the people with the most need. He was a senior policy advisor for Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, and also worked in the administrations of Governors John Kitzhaber, Barbara Roberts and Neil Goldschmidt, clocking more than 24 years of distinguished public service along the way.

The recipient of numerous awards for his work and generosity, Santos is a founding member of Scholarships for Oregon Latinos. He has supervised the Oregon Migrant Education Service Center and directed the Jackson County Migrant Education Program. He also currently serves on the SOU Board of Trustees and on the boards of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Mid-Valley Literacy Council.

Santos urges prospective college students to get involved in activities both in and out of school, and to find opportunities to be of service. “Young people have so much potential to bring a new vision to things,” he said. “I tell students, don’t just do well, do good.”

While at SOC, Santos took his instructors’ advice to get involved in a variety of activities and he dove into all that southern Oregon had to offer, joining community organizations, taking classes outside his major and working as a residence assistant (RA) and head resident (HR) in housing. “Being an RA and HR taught me a lot,” he said. “I learned how to deal with difficulties, and I learned how to listen.”

Santos said he still marvels at how every step in his career can be traced to the support and connections he had at SOU.

“So much education is outside of the classroom, the people you meet and the community you live in,” he said. “I still think of that. You never know where an experience will take you.”

Shared and updated from the spring 2019 issue of The Raider, SOU’s alumni magazine

NPR reporter and SOU alum Jeff Brady

SOU alum Jeff Brady: ready for NPR

Jeff Brady, a 1995 SOU graduate in communication, was an insecure kid from the southern Oregon coastal community of Gold Beach before he became a national desk reporter for NPR – National Public Radio. He didn’t make the cut to work as a reporter for his high school newspaper and didn’t think he was college material.

“I didn’t really feel I was destined for college,” he said. “I grew up in Gold Beach, and after graduating high school I went with my mom to Central Point where we ran a small grocery store. At the store, I worked a lot of hours and listened to NPR, and I got hooked.”

Brady jumped at the chance when he heard a call for volunteers to answer phones during a Jefferson Public Radio pledge drive. “I worked my way to the newsroom as a volunteer.”

Brady wanted more, but he needed a degree to work as a broadcaster. That’s when he took a leap and enrolled at SOU.

“No one in my family had graduated from college, and I had not even traveled outside southern Oregon,” Brady said. “The idea of college was intimidating, so SOU was a perfect launchpad. I felt safe to explore the world.”

Brady continued working at JPR while attending SOU. He even occasionally hosted a news program called the Jefferson Daily.

“That is what I am most proud of; I just did it,” he said. “I learned how to do live radio, to develop my voice and use it to tell stories.”

His first reporting job after college was at KBND in Bend, where he learned to work fast and efficiently – skills that would become critical as he moved through his career. He returned from there to southern Oregon and began a three-year stint at KTVL News Channel 10, producing morning newscasts, reporting on stories throughout the region and ultimately co-anchoring the weekend newscasts.

The year 1999 became a tipping point for Brady’s career, having moved to Portland to work at Oregon Public Broadcasting.

“I landed at OPB at an interesting time – Enron owned the local utility, the telephone industry was undergoing deregulation and the internet bubble was just about to burst,” he said. “This is where I first started learning about the energy business and its environmental effects.”

He has now traveled the nation, covering issues ranging from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to the protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline to Three Mile Island. “None of the broadcasting jobs I have had would have been possible without my training at SOU and JPR,” Brady said. “It is where I was allowed to experiment and become a real live broadcaster.

“SOU taught me that I have a capacity for intelligence. I didn’t get that message in high school, but at SOU I remember taking classes where we would analyze a piece of literature or discuss political situations. That process gave me the confidence to move forward and express myself.”

His life experiences also helped to shape the news he pursues, giving people who are often left out of conversations the opportunity to share their stories and be heard. Brady’s journey has come full circle. This once-insecure high school student looking for his voice is now helping others find theirs.

Brady, who was recognized in 2018 with SOU’s Distinguished Alumni Award, is credited with helping demystify the energy industry for listeners and establishing NPR’s Environment and Energy Collaborative for reporters at NPR member stations around the country.

Shared and updated from the Fall 2019 issue of The Raider, SOU’s alumni magazine

Former SOU student-athlete has been teaching basketball in China

SOU alum Terriel Thomas builds his own team in China

Terriel Thomas, a 2013 SOU graduate, never imagined he would earn a living playing basketball in China. “Sometimes, I still can’t believe this is my life,” he said a year and a half ago, after three years in China. “I always dreamed of being a basketball coach and working with kids. And now, I’m doing it in this amazing place.”

The former student-athlete was working for the United States Basketball Academy’s (USBA) training academy. The USBA is an Oregon-based organization that offers young students in China the training necessary to pursue their hoop dreams, and possibly play basketball in the United States.

“I travel around the country and help set up basketball academies, teach other coaches, and even teach a bit of English related to the game,” Thomas said. “These kids are terrific. The people I’ve met in China are wonderful.”

Life in China has been an adventure. Thomas has a job he adores and a blossoming family life that includes a baby girl. “I am very happy, and I truly believe that without SOU, I would not be here,” he said. “I like to say, ‘Chicago made me, Boise raised me, and SOU made me the man I am today.’”

No stranger to making bold moves, Thomas left Boise to play basketball at SOU.

“I come from a really close family,” he said. “Some of us are in Idaho and Illinois, but I didn’t know anyone in Oregon, and it was hard at first.”

He credits a number of people with helping turn SOU into a home and eventually giving him the sense of family he longed for.

Thomas said that while he initially thrived at SOU, there were challenges. Making new friends was harder than he had hoped, and he sometimes missed being among other people of color. The period when Thomas was feeling the most homesick and out of place turned into one of the most pivotal moments of his life.

“I was really struggling, and I started acting out,” he said. “My grades were dropping and I wasn’t getting along with my coach. I was asked to leave the team. I was devastated. Nothing like this had happened to me before.”

But Athletic Director Matt Sayre and education instructor Joel Perkins stepped in.

“Matt made me see that I needed to work things out with my coach, and I needed to figure out what I wanted for the future,” Thomas said. “Joel Perkins was my advisor, and he talked to me straight, too. Just having those two talks changed me. I didn’t have a plan, and I had to make one. I’m glad that I listened to them, and I’m proud that I overcame a really difficult period.”

Thomas eventually connected with the Black Student Union and worked for SOU’s EPIC events planning organization, which offers a variety of socially engaging events for the campus community.

“I just had to get out there,” he said. “I made a point of saying hello to at least one stranger a day. I attended events outside of basketball and tried to move outside my comfort zone. That helped a lot.”

The fact that his teammates, coaches and teachers stuck with him even when things were hard was the real mark of a family for Thomas. “My time at SOU ended up being some of the best years of my life,” he said.

In his work, Thomas draws every day on what he learned at SOU, not just the academics and basketball skills, but also the loyalty and support needed to make a team truly thrive.

“I want to show the kids and adults I work with how strong a team can be when they trust and love each other,” he said, adding that he’s proud of the young players he coaches. “The classes are intense but these kids are strong players. These kids are amazing.”

Thomas posted recently on his website that 2020 was off to a good start for him “until COVID-19 decided to call a timeout on us all.” He has taken a much more active role in his home life – from doing dishes to changing diapers – and said the pause has helped bring him balance.

“Just like back at SOU (Go Raiders!!!), during timeouts I just watched the board, drank water, looked for my snickers and well, never really actually listened to what Coach was saying … this virus, being slowed down and now having to listen (no distractions) I’m able to play my part better,” he said.

“And being a better husband and father helps me to become a better coach. And better coaches know how to effectively use timeouts and make the necessary in-game adjustments that will lead to success on the court.”

Shared and updated from the Fall 2019 issue of The Raider, SOU’s alumni magazine

Searle family with SOU Athletic Director Matt Sayre

Going long: Searle family’s connection with SOU began with football

SOU has provided lasting memories of football and friendships for four members of the tight-knit Searle family. Sport phenoms and Raider Hall of Fame brothers Sammy (class of 1989), David (1992) and Ted “Baba” Searle (1989) each agree that their time at SOU helped shape them as the men they are today and led to lifelong friendships and an ongoing connection to the university.

“From my first day, it was incredible,” Sam said. “The people there, the staff, teachers and students were so kind and supportive, and I formed relationships that continue to this day.”

Sam said he was thrilled when his son Taylor (2015) decided to attend SOU and play football.

“I was so happy, knowing that he would find the same kind of support and friendship that my brothers and I had,” Sam said.

Even though he heard all the stories about SOU from his family, Taylor said he was still surprised at the easy camaraderie he felt from classmates and teammates from the beginning.

“Initially, I wanted to do my own thing and go somewhere different, but when I visited SOU, I just fell in love with the place,” Taylor said. “With the football team, it was an instant connection, like you already have good friends before you even take your first class.”

Sam was the first of the family to attend SOU after a friend suggested he check it out.

“Coming from Hawaii, I wasn’t expecting to be so moved by the natural beauty of the campus and the town, but it is really a beautiful place and I loved everything about it,” he said.

His brother, Ted, soon followed.

“Sam and I were really close, and when he went I knew I wanted to go there as well,” he said. “It was wonderful. We had a great group of guys on the team and a supportive community.”

Ted now lives near Portland, where he is vice president of operations at International Wood Products.

“The work ethic and the relationships our team and classmates built with one another stayed with us,” he said. “We took care of each other, from football games, to homework, to firing up the grill on weekends.”

Sam and Ted were considered to be among the Raiders’ best defensive players during their time at SOU. Sam garnered attention for his 18 career interceptions – ranking third in team history – which helped win many games.

Ted was named Columbia Football Association Player of the Year and earned NAIA All-America honors after totaling 130 tackles before he left school to raise a family. He finished his college career with the second-most tackles in program history, at the time.

Their younger brother David joined SOU and the Raiders in 1989.

“I had played at the University of Hawaii my freshman year, but I wanted the opportunity to play ball with my brothers,” he said. “It was by far some of the best times. I have some really fond memories.”

David made the team’s top five in nearly every passing and total offense category over his three years as a Raider. He earned consecutive all-conference honors and became the first SOU quarterback to throw for more than 500 yards in a game. He was the season record-holder in passing yards, touchdowns and total offense when he graduated with a degree in communication.

“It’s fun to look back on our experiences at SOU and to share our stories with our children,” David said. “It’s great that Taylor got to go there, and it’s fantastic to think we have a family history with SOU.”

SOU alum and former Hawai'i mayor Harry Kim

Family: SOU’s connection with former Hawai’i mayor

Southern Oregon University played a big part in the family of former Hawai’i County Mayor Harry Kim, who received his bachelor’s degree in 1966 and master’s degree in 1967. He met his wife, Roberta, while he was an undergraduate, and one of his sons also graduated from the university and met his future partner there.

“SOU is a family thing,” Kim said. “It’s been with us and connected us with people we love.”

Kim grew up in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawai’i, and served as an Army medic. His first trip to the mainland didn’t occur until after he was honorably discharged from the Army in the 1960s. When he landed in Medford to attend what was then Southern Oregon College, Kim was a bit stunned.

“I remember, it was January 11, 1964,” he said. “Medford was dark and foggy, and I was wearing the wrong clothes for the weather. I thought to myself, ‘what the hell am I doing here?’”

It did not take long, however, for his impression of Oregon to change. After meeting the staff and some faculty members, Kim knew he was in the right place.

“There was so much kindness and support,” he said. “I didn’t doubt that I belonged there.”

Kim was the youngest of eight children from Korean-American immigrants in Hawai´i.

“Like many immigrants who came to the island in the early 1900s, my father worked for a sugar plantation, and life was hard,” he said.

From a young age, Kim got used to waking early and working long days – habits he has kept throughout his life. The family lived in a one-bedroom house with no electricity or running water.

“People in our community knew the value of working together and supporting one another,” Kim said. “Families helped each other in order to make things better. SOC was like that, too. People were there for you.”

Kim said the relationships he formed in college were a constant reminder of what is truly important in life.

“I always tell young people not to place the value of yourself on material things,” he said. “Measure your life by the people you love and the people who love you.

“I learned that as a child, and I saw people model it at SOC all the time. There was a totality of niceness, both on campus and around town.”

Kim knew he wanted a career in which he could help people, and his time at SOC helped him find the path.

“SOC opened my eyes to a lot about the world,” Kim said. “I learned so much outside of textbooks. I remember learning about the hardships people faced in other countries and how America helped them or allowed them to make it their home.”

He decided in college that he wanted to improve people’s lives through his work.

Kim graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education and sociology in 1966. He continued his studies and earned a master’s degree in economics the following year. He returned to Hawai´i and became a high school teacher, counselor and football coach.

He later worked as a civil defense administrator for the county government. Kim didn’t expect to still be serving the people of Hawai´i some 20 years later, when he was first elected mayor in 2000. He served from 2000 to 2008, then served a third four-year term from 2016 to 2020. He lost his race for a fourth term last summer.

As mayor, he advocated for education and economic development and worked to mitigate the county’s homeless issues. Among the biggest challenges, however, came after the devastating Kilauea Volcano eruptions in 2018. Then 78 years old, Kim was determined to help citizens recover from the disaster, and he kept a heavy work schedule despite being hospitalized twice for heart problems and pneumonia. Kim was awarded a prestigious Homeland Heroes award for his efforts to keep the people of Hawai´i County safe.

Kim was awarded the SOU’s Stan Smith Alumni Service Award in 2019. He said that when reflecting on the university and its impact on his life, he often remembers a teacher who reminded him of the importance of listening.

“He’d say, ‘Good grades don’t make you a good student – opening up your mind makes you a good student,’” Kim said. “Learning isn’t just memorizing facts, it’s being able to listen to others and being open to new information. So, I try to always be open. And to listen.”

Shared from the Fall 2019 issue of The Raider, SOU’s alumni magazine

Ryan Wines, from volunteer radio gig to music industry

Sound Design: SOU alum’s journey from college radio to global music agency

Ryan Wines remembers the first time he stepped into the student-run KSOC radio station in 1999. He was a junior studying marketing and political science, and KSOC was just a year old. “It was a two-room closet, tucked out of sight in the basement of the student union,” he recalls.

Wines never would have imagined how a volunteer gig, playing hip hop and garage rock on a campus radio station, could be a catalyst for a career.

Wines in 2010 co-founded Marmoset Music – a Portland-based global music agency that provides music for brands, ads, television and film projects. What began as just an idea kicked around by two friends at a Portland coffee shop has turned into a rocketing creative industry powerhouse. Marmoset is one of the fastest-rising companies of its kind – meticulously curating rare, vintage and emerging artists, bands and record labels for music licensing opportunities, while also forging an award-winning original music studio that crafts original scores and sound design for virtually any creative need imaginable.

Marmoset, for Wines, is the culmination of his early work as a college radio DJ, a band manager and a self-described “marketing nerd.” He held down a variety of marketing and creative agency roles after graduating from SOU in 2001, steadily building his “side hustle” of working with record labels and bands such as The Dandy Warhols, Dolorean, The Dimes and indie filmmaker Margaret Brown.

Marmoset collaborates with clients ranging from filmmakers to creative execs at Apple, Wieden and Kennedy, Nike and Vice TV, helping them find that perfect song to help shape the stories they’re trying to tell. Scouring through Marmoset’s roster of rare, vintage and emerging artists can be both fulfilling and time-consuming. Its catalog holds thousands of songs – including music by The Jackson 5, Duran Duran, Shuggie Otis, Typhoon and Y La Bamba – and finding just the right song can take hours or even days. But the final result is always worth the wait, as projects have been featured in the Academy Awards, Super Bowl commercials, the Cannes Film Festival and award-winning films.

Marmoset had just four employees in 2012, and by 2014 the “Marmogang” had quickly reached 15 people. “Today, we’re a crew of more than 60 full-time family members and collaborators, many of whom make art, release records and tour with their bands,” said Wines, whose title is Fearless Leader in addition to CEO and co-founder.

The company has picked up numerous awards, including a Webby and an SXSW Interactive award, and it is regularly recognized as one of the state’s fastest growing and best places to work.

Wines is a vinyl record junkie who says his experience at SOU helped him find his true self and gave him the confidence to start his own company.

“SOU’s business program definitely planted the seeds for my entrepreneurial aspirations,” Wines said. “But it’s also where I learned to be active in my community, to stand up for what’s right and pursue things I believe in. All of that has helped shape and form the way I think about and lead my business today.”

Wines is especially thrilled about the opportunity to become a Certified B Corporation, which recognizes companies that balance both profit and purpose. B Corps consider their impact on customers, employees, communities and the environment.

“We’re super excited about the B-Corp certification,” he said. “We’ll be the first company in our industry with that honor and distinction. And it aligns so naturally with our approach to business, always working to be fully transparent, sustainable and focused on the greater good.”

The B-Corp label seems appropriate for a company that has defined its core purpose as “community.” The Marmoset website boldly declares community as its highest calling. “It’s the thing that everything we do and everything we are is informed by and filtered through … what really drives us is supporting, educating, advocating for and serving our community: the people, artists, musicians and creatives we work with on a daily basis.”

Wines is justifiably proud of what he has accomplished and the clarity of Marmoset’s values. He credits much of his vision and success to his time at KSOC radio – which closed in 2013 – and his experiences at SOU.

Shared from the Fall 2018 issue of The Raider, SOU’s alumni magazine