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Sean O'Brien.

Sean O’Brien – From Jazz Musician to Purple Heart Recipient to IT Pro

Every person who has been in the surrounding of Oral Roberts University, and even the ones in ORU has experienced a spirit-empowering culture. Some say, “It’s the magic of ORU!” while some say, “That’s what ORU does to its people.”

People from different backgrounds have different experiences. Although it all goes back to how wonderfully spiritually-empowering ORU is to start with.

Another example of ORU’s Marvel unravels goes through the journey of a jazz musician, initially, who later became a member of the military. And not just the military, for that matter but the United States Army Band.

Undoubtedly, it raises the question, Sean O’Brien, an accomplished jazz guitarist, got a Purple Heart.

How is a jazz musician associated with the US Army and is a Purple Heart Recipient and eventually turns an IT expert? Well, it is definitely!

Without further ado, let’s follow the journey and know more!

Talking about music and listening to music is one the most popular forms of leisure among teenagers and also everyone who loves to indulge in music for exploring various genres of music.

Music ain’t something that would automatically pop into our minds when we think about the military. However, most people back then, most people didn’t think about the United States Army Band, which provides an interesting form of leisure for musical support for U.S. leadership and serves the nation through music.

Being an already accomplished jazz guitarist, Sean started his military career as a member of the Army Band, where he toured the country and performed for dignitaries.

But then 9/11 happened, and Sean’s career as a musician took a backseat to his calling as a soldier. 

Explaining his career trajectory, he says, “I was kind of disenchanted” he adds, “As there was a perception that musicians weren’t soldiers. I didn’t agree with this. For me, it was time to go!” he exclaims.

On the way to entering the military, he states, “So, I entered officer candidate school, trained at Fort Benning in Georgia, and was selected to be an artillery officer.”

Sacrifice in the Line of Duty

Eventually, Sean found himself in Southern Afghanistan, serving as a Fire Direction Officer and Platoon Leader. Sean’s service there had him dealing with border problems, doing reconnaissance, and supporting humanitarian efforts, all of it in a very dangerous place.

And this danger became a terrifying reality when Sean’s Humvee drove over and detonated an improvised explosive device.

Sean mentions, “All of a sudden, everything went black, not figuratively, but literally, there was no sunlight. The explosion vaporized our engine, so it doesn’t make any sense that we all survived.”

Thanking God through his survival, he states, “Looking back, God’s hand moved in a lot of these terrible situations, more times than I can count.”

For his bravery and his injuries, Sean received the Purple Heart, presented to service members who have been wounded or killed as a result of enemy action.

Sean continued serving in the military. However, he eventually returned to the U.S. and began selling cars in Tulsa. Nevertheless, a chance visit to the ORU campus changed his career course on a huge level.

Mentioning his wife, Sean said, “My wife was attending another university, but she didn’t like it. Around that time, we stopped by ORU’s College Weekend just to say hello to a friend. While we were there, we met a lot of great people, and they were all extremely welcoming.”  

Finding a Passion for IT

Talking about returning to college, Sean mentions his wife joining ORU. He states, “Shortly after, my wife enrolled at ORU.” And a semester later, Sean joined her as an ORU CIT student.

Being a student, Sean loved ORU’s Computing and Mathematics Department. Soon he noticed that ORU had a lot more he says, “It was more than that and he loved ORU’s Spirit-Empowered Culture.”

Exceedingly more to the ORU’s appraisal, “The attention to love and excellence.” It is an impeccably wonderful part of ORU anyone would experience. Sean mentions the experience saying, “You’ll find it everywhere on campus. ORU students legitimately identify with God. It isn’t something they’re being told to do. Seeing the gifts of the Spirit at work, feeling the mantle of Christ upon this place, it’s all part of the culture at ORU.”

In 2015, ORU made a long-term commitment to technological growth with its construction of the award-winning Global Learning Center. Since then, ORU has expanded further into the areas of virtual reality, global education, and medical training.

Talking about the enormous expansion of ORU, Sean states, “This expansion is the result of a forward-thinking department that constantly explores next-generation technologies.”

In the year 2022, Sean and his wife graduated with ORU’s Class of 2022, and afterward, Sean began working in ORU’s IT Department. As an IT professional, Sean now contributes to the University’s growing technology footprint.

With great pride, working in ORU and its expansion, he says, “We’re currently examining the Metaverse to connect distant people in digital spaces. And with the support of a recent partnership with the Foundation for Advancing Pediatric Orthopaedics.”

Sean adds, “ORU is now supporting virtual reality education in the pediatric orthopedic field.” Furthermore, he says, “We’re always looking around the corner to see what new technologies are rolling out.”  

Throughout the course of Sean’s journey, he depicts a transition from a musician, then a soldier and now a technologist.

Sean sees his journey from Afghanistan to ORU as the answer to a very important question – “What do you want me to do, God?”

In the quest to find an answer to that, Sean says, “The way I see things, God’s got me!” He adds, “Some soldiers, when they leave the military, have their identity stripped away. However, when you have an identity in Christ, and now with the knowledge of the fundamental basis for everything.”

While concluding, he states, “All of a sudden, stuff falls into line. Ultimately, God’s going to put you in the place where He needs you most.”