Graduate Jeremy Musgrove: For Marine veteran, study abroad, nature and Veteran’s Success Center made NAU the right fit

When Jeremy Musgrove visited Northern Arizona University, he was drawn to the natural environment. The Marine was ready to start the next part of his journey, and he found it at NAU.

At no time did that all come together more than rafting through the Grand Canyon with other veterans. It was one of his first memories but now, years later as Musgrove is about to graduate with degrees in environmental science and Spanish modern languages, it stands out—for the scenery, the friends he made and the way it helped make NAU his home.

So did the Veteran’s Success Center (VSC).

“Coming to NAU from the Marines was a difficult transition,” said Musgrove, who came to Flagstaff from Ventura, California. “Culturally the two are very different, and I had become ingrained in military culture. The Veteran’s Success Center was a great outlet for me because I could connect with other veterans with similar backgrounds.”

Musgrove served as an Osprey crew chief as part of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the USS Essex in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. He was able to use the experiences and skills he gained in the military in his studies and work at NAU, particularly at the VSC, which offered a place to unwind after a long day of classes and build relationships with other veterans. It helped him stay connected to the military during his NAU career, he said. He also worked at the VSC as a resource navigator, helping other veterans work their way through the complicated world of veterans affairs and benefits.

Beyond the classroom, Musgrove spent a lot of his career at NAU outside—not atypical for an environmental science student in the middle of a region that includes the diversity of the Colorado Plateau, the largest ponderosa pine stand in the world, varying geological features and a smorgasbord of plants, animals and ecosystems.

He also found a love for snowboarding, which led him to “the coolest job I have ever had” at the Arizona Snowbowl.

“I initially intended to volunteer for a friend of mine who runs a nonprofit that gives ski and snowboard lessons to individuals with cognitive and developmental differences,” Musgrove said. “This quickly transitioned to me serving as an adaptive snowboard instructor, where I got to work with people with many unique differences. All of these experiences were unique and challenging, and getting to grow from these experiences is something I greatly value.”

Musgrove participated in Interdisciplinary Global Programs (IGP), which allows students to go abroad for a full academic year and complete a semester of classes and a semesterlong internship or research project. Musgrove chose San Miguel de Tucuman, Argentina, taking classes at the National University of Tucuman. Argentina is culturally rich and wasn’t the most popular study abroad destination in part because it had fewer modern conveniences and is the most unfamiliar. He wanted to immerse himself in the culture and language. It worked.

“Jeremy was quite certain that this was where he wanted to be, in a small city near the Andes,” said Michael Ort, a professor in the School of Earth and Sustainability and Musgrove’s IGP adviser. “He arrived in Tucuman and pretty much immediately was on a local baseball team as their North American ringer. He also made friends with many other students, folding right into the academic and social worlds of the university.”

For his internship in Argentina, Musgrove participated in an animal conservation study for a small endangered rodent species, known as the social tuco-tuco, which lives in the Nahuel Huapi National Park in northern Patagonia. The internship included fieldwork and lab work and, when the pandemic hit and he returned early, an adapted project that allowed him to finish his internship. Even in the pandemic, Ort said Musgrove pushed to stay in Argentina; his location was remote enough that he wasn’t at high risk of COVID-19.

“All of this shows how Jeremy takes what life throws at him and adapts to it, finding a way to keep doing what interests him,” Ort said. “In short, he has not only overcome transitional challenges from military to university life but has also thrived during his time at NAU, leaving a truly global impact.”

After graduating, Musgrove will complete a six-month internship with the Peregrine Fund assisting in conservation efforts for the California condor.

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Heidi Toth | NAU Communications
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NAU Communications