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How long do you pursue your goals? As long as it takes

Jason Deger idolized park rangers as a kid. He knew then it was the career he wanted for himself. And even though his pursuit of his dream was sidetracked for a number of years, he finally made it happen after earning his environmental sciences degree online from Oregon State University.

By Tyler Hansen

How old were you when you discovered your dream job? Many of us are still trying to figure it out.

Not Jason Deger. He knew at a young age — thanks to camping trips with his dad in national parks — that he would someday be a park ranger. It wasn’t a matter of debate. It was a matter of time.

And it took years.

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Jason needed a college degree to be a full-time park ranger, but he didn’t have the financial resources to attend college when most of his peers did.

“Out of high school, I went right into the U.S. Coast Guard. I served six years in the Coast Guard and received the Montgomery GI Bill to pay for college,” Jason said. “I wasn’t going to give up that dream.”

After transitioning to civilian life, he became focused on earning his degree, but the academic journey was messy. He relocated several times and took college classes at each stop, but the credits rarely traveled from one institution to the next.

Jason realized he needed a university that would go wherever he did. He enrolled online with Oregon State University Ecampus after determining that it checked all the necessary boxes.

“I wanted to get my degree from a reputable school, one that had a great sciences program that would be recognized by my future employer, and it would be nice if they worked well with veterans,” he says.

Oregon State met all the criteria. And then Jason’s long journey paid off twofold: He completed his bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences online with OSU Ecampus, and the National Park Service offered him a full-time position as a park ranger.

“I still can’t believe that graduating is actually now a reality,” he said. “This is by far the greatest achievement of my life.”

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