Countdown to Commencement: Christopher Osborne

May 8, 2014

As the campus community prepares for commencement May 10-11, the Office of Marketing & Communication Services is featuring a series of articles about the Class of 2014 as they prepare to become Heidelberg graduates and alumni. We hope you enjoy the “Countdown to Commencement.”

The road of Christopher Osborne’s life has been anything but smooth. Abandoned and alone at age 15, he had attended eight different schools from sixth grade through ninth grade, disciplinary issues forcing his expulsion from two of them. A stint in a juvenile detention facility helped Christopher turn his life around.

In high school, he joined the wrestling team and by his senior year, he qualified for the state tournament. His grades improved. He was accepted to three colleges, ultimately choosing Heidelberg.

“Heidelberg has a great wrestling program and a great environmental science program, and my goal is to get my Ph.D. in aquatic ecology,” Christopher said.

Finally on the right path, Christopher saw an opportunity during his sophomore year to “pay it forward” and help another youth who was heading down the same rough path he had experienced. He requested and was granted custody of 17-year-old Jordan, a high school wrestling teammate and friend.

His responsibilities expanded exponentially. A full-time student and captain of the Student Prince wrestling team, Christopher also was home-schooling Jordan and maintaining an on-campus job at the National Center for Water Quality Research.

“It was quite tough to juggle at times,” he conceded. “But I’m graduating with a 3.5 (GPA).” In the fall, he’s heading to Buffalo State College to begin a master’s degree program in biology. His best friend and ‘Berg classmate, Jake Cochran, will be a research assistant in the same program.

A modest person, Christopher is quick to express gratitude for those who helped him along the way. He credits his own adoptive family, high school teachers and ‘Berg wrestling coach Ned Shuck.

“Wrestling helped me discover the changes I needed in my life. Coach Shuck was a huge support for me. He’s an incredible man, not just an incredible coach. He is more concerned with us as people,” said Christopher, who gave up wrestling his senior year to manage his multitude of responsibilities.

Additionally, he credits Campus Minister Paul Stark with helping nurture his spiritual side, and professors Dr. Ken Baker (biology) and Dr. Amy Berger (geology) “who were always looking out for me.”

Thinking about graduation is emotional and overwhelming for Christopher. He knows if he hadn’t taken a leap of faith and accepted Christianity, his life would be much different today. “I’ve broken down several times, thinking about it,” he said. “I know where I could be in life, and where Jordan’s life would be. … It just makes me that much more grateful.”

His appreciation comes from the heart and produced his view on humanity and his future. “I have a passion for bettering life,” he said. “I just care about the impact I make.”