NCC Spotlight: Troy Lowery

Troy Lowery, Student Services Coordinator, New Century College
Troy Lowery, Student Services Coordinator, New Century College

Troy Lowery, BA Environmental and Sustainability Studies '15, joined the School of Integrative Studies (SIS) advising staff just a few months after graduation. However, his path to SIS was anything but traditional. With experience working on a sod farm in Georgia and later serving with the Marines in Iraq, Lowery brings a range of skills to SIS. Now, he shares his zest for life and learning with every student he meets as SIS’ Student Services Coordinator.

Born in Louisiana and raised by his grandmother in Georgia, Lowery spent much of his youth working with his uncle on a sod farm. Lowery enjoyed being outdoors, as well as the many challenges associated with farming, but knew that he wanted something more from life. When he was 18, Lowery decided to join the US Marine Corps.

For Lowery, joining the Marines was an easy decision to make. It gave him the training and experiences he craved. “It was an opportunity for me to be part of something much bigger than myself. I saw it as my chance to something meaningful with my life.”

After months of rigorous training, Lowery had his first assignment, but not to a combat zone, as he had expected. Lowery was sent with his battalion to Hancock, Mississippi and then to New Orleans, Louisiana where they provided assistance and humanitarian relief in St. Bernard’s Parish, one of the areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. For Lowery, this was an eye-opening experience.

He said, “The devastation was unlike anything I had ever witnessed before. We had seen the television footage, but when we hit the ground, we realized the gravity of the problems. The entire landscape had been ransacked by the storm.”

Following this, Lowery participated in training exercises with Kuwaiti, Jordanian and Djiboutian forces. During the 2006 Lebanon War, he travelled to Lebanon and assisted in providing security during the evacuation of Lebanese-US citizens.

Finally, in September 2007, Lowery and his battalion were sent to Ramadi, Iraq. He said, “We were deployed there to form a coalition with the local security forces. Our mission was to train them in our standard operating procedures, as well as to conduct missions along side them. We lived and worked next to our Iraqi counterparts, 24/7. I saw two completely different cultures come together, working toward a common goal. Ultimately, all of this was in preparation of the US withdrawing its troops out of Iraq.”

In the Marines, Lowery met and married his wife, a fellow Marine. Following his tour in Iraq, he completed his four years of service and began college in North Carolina. Shortly after, though, Lowery reconsidered his decision to leave the military, joined the Army and was slated to go to Afghanistan when he and his wife learned they were expecting a baby. He was able to exit the army and be present for the birth of their daughter.

Lowery’s experiences strongly influenced his decision to join the Environmental and Sustainability Studies (ESS) program at Mason. From his teenage years of working on the sod farm, to his firsthand view of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation to his time serving in a war zone in Iraq, Lowery has witnessed the profound impact that humans have on the environment and each other. The ESS program, with its emphasis on the strong connection between communities and their surrounding environment, helped Lowery bring his lived experiences in line with his academic interests.

He said, “I’ve been there on the front lines and I’ve seen the environmental degradation and fractured societies… I’ve also learned the importance of what a sustainable future means for societies across the world. The ESS degree helped me to incorporate my work experience with a skill set informed by a multidisciplinary approach in environmental stewardship and positive social action.”