Austin Osmanski: School Spirited
May 02, 2011
A junior biology major from San Angelo, Osmanski finished a stint as ASU Student Government president in the spring of 2011. One of his main areas of concentration while president was increasing school spirit and bringing the campus community together.
“When I was a kid, ASU seemed to have a lot more traditions,” Osmanski said. “We still have a few, but I really tried to push for building more campus traditions here. It ties a lot of students together when they have pride for their school. I think it definitely helps retention of students as well.”
“We had a good start, but then we hit the 2011 budget crisis,” he added. “So, that became the major focus—what the student impact would be and the effects on various university programs. A lot of other things just had to be put on hold. We had to work with the administration day and night on the budget stuff.”
Working long hours alongside administrators was not exactly what Osmanski had in mind when he entered campus politics—first representing the Biology Department as a senator, and then winning a special election for president along with his vice president, Hector Romo.
“There was no one representing the Biology Department, so I figured ‘heck, we ought to run for that,’” Osmanski said. “We were only senators for a month or two, and then we had some resignations and the top positions opened up. Hector and I were like ‘might as well run. We got to be senators, I’m sure we could do that, too.’ It was neat, and I learned a whole lot about how stuff really works at ASU.”
Another thing that is “neat” to Osmanski is snakes. It was the prospect of doing undergraduate snake research that really sold him on following his family tradition of attending ASU. Despite the family legacy, and the fact that his dad is a clinical professor in the ASU Nursing Department, he was also considering other universities until a meeting with Dr. Kelly McCoy, head of the Biology Department.
“He talked about some of the student research projects they had going on,” Osmanski said. “He got me interested in snakes, and that is where I started off as a freshman, getting involved in research. But, it was really the entire biology program that sold me on ASU.”
To get started in research, Osmanski teamed up with resident cottonmouth expert Jason Strickland, now an award-winning researcher in the ASU biology master’s program. Strickland introduced him to the joys of snake hunting.
“I had always messed with snakes as a kid and had a box of snakes under my bed that made my mom mad,” Osmanski said. “But, it’s completely different when you hunt cottonmouths because you are in a river and they are swimming around in the water, it was kind of freaky. The first one I tried to catch by grabbing it with my hands, but then Jason gave me some tongs so I could do it right.”
“We’ve traveled all over Texas looking for snakes,” he added. “We’ve been to East Texas and to the coast. We went on week-long excursions in my truck and got stuck all over Texas. Instead of going to the beach for Spring Break, we went to the swamps to hunt cottonmouths. It was a grand adventure.”
Other grand adventures for Osmanski include a study abroad trip to New Zealand in 2010 and an upcoming study abroad trip to England, France and Germany this summer. He has also done biology and geology research in Big Bend National Park. Along the way, he has earned Carr Academic, Honors and Research Scholarships, a Special Academic Scholarship for Biology and an International Studies Scholarship. He was also voted 2010 Member of the Year for the Tri-Beta biology honor society.
Since ASU has been so good to him, Osmanski also prides himself on service to the school. He is a Rambassador and tour guide for the Admissions Office, a student leader for Discover ASU and SOAR events, and part of the Rambunctious Weekend move-in crew that helps incoming freshman get settled in their residence halls.
In his limited spare time, Osmanski takes to the water on one of San Angelo’s area lakes. To that end, he is also a leader and active member in the ASU Bass Anglers student organization.
“Every Sunday we go out bass fishing,” Osmanski said. “It’s a good way to start off the week or end the week, whichever way you want to look at it. Before you start classes on Monday and get your nose back to the grindstone, Sunday afternoon and evening you are out on the lake flipping some crawfish baits and enjoying the sunset. It’s a great way to relax.”
“You’ve got to have some balance,” he added, “because you’re always studying and doing schoolwork. For me, it’s good to get out on the lake.”
Slated to graduate in May of 2012, Osmanski plans to head to graduate school in preparation for a career in biological research and university teaching.