Schedule Stacked for Tarleton Commencement Speaker


STEPHENVILLE — Austin Davidson is a busy guy these days.

He’s about to get busier.

For starters, he’s preparing his remarks as the keynote speaker for Tarleton State University’s 4 p.m. graduation ceremony Friday.

Next, he starts work at a new job.

All of this as he and his wife Madison acclimate to having a baby in the house, son Owen Theodore Davidson, born April 27.

Austin is a graduate of Waxahachie High School and a U.S. Navy veteran, having served four years as a way to fund his degree in mechanical engineering. He enlisted while attending Navarro Junior College.

“I didn’t want to take out a lot of loans and get into debt to go to college,” he said, “so I talked to a recruiter and enlisted. It helped me out more with school than I could have imagined. I was a machinist’s mate in the Navy, so I actually worked with a lot of equipment that benefited my degree plan.”

He was stationed in Japan and Bahrain and had the opportunity to visit Australia, Guam, South Korea, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Dubai. He and Madison even took a trip to Europe.

After his tour was up he called on his brother, who studied mechanical engineering technology at Tarleton

“I was going to McLennan County College and looking at transferring. My wife is a nurse and was working at the hospital in Waco, and I didn’t want to move her too far away. I asked my brother about Tarleton.

Buoyed by a glowing review on the university, Austin and Madison relocated to Valley Mills, between Waco and Stephenville, and he enrolled.

“It was one of the best decisions I made,” he said. “The classes are maybe 20 people. I enjoyed personal relationships with the professors. They are very willing to help. You could go to their offices and they’re happy to help you.”

While working toward his bachelor’s, Austin started two student organizations — the Tarleton student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Tarleton Aeronautical and Rocketry Team, both to help gain project experience.

It all paid off, as he begins a new career in June with L3 Harris Technologies in Waco.

His commencement speech draws on a lesson he learned from his grandfather.

“My grandpa passed away in November, and he always told me to find my passion: ‘Be proud of your work, do what you love, and do it well.’”

Austin hasn’t ruled out an advanced degree, but for now he has other plans.

“I wouldn’t mind getting my master’s, but we have a brand new baby and I have accepted a full-time position. I’m going to work and get this child down the road a couple of years, first.”

No doubt it’ll be a busy couple of years.

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