Senior Spotlight May 2020 – Austin Perroux

Senior Spotlight May 2020 – Austin Perroux

This year we are continuing our tradition of Senior Spotlights! With graduation postponed, it is more important than ever to highlight this spring’s graduating class.

The class of May 2020 is experiencing their last few weeks of college unlike any of those who came before them. It has been a tough time, but the seniors are adapting to new ways of learning and are continuing to celebrate their accomplishments thus far.

Meet Austin Perroux, he transferred to us three years ago and worked tirelessly to complete the program in three years.

He tells us, “Getting a meteorology degree from the University of Oklahoma has been my dream for my entire life. The past three years have easily been the best years of my life and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Learning about a field that I am passionate about from the brightest minds in the world has been nothing short of wonderful and I’m sad it has to end like this. That won’t change the amount of pride and joy I will feel come August at commencement, however (hope to see y’all there!).”

The best way to learn about Austin’s journey to graduation is by letting him tell it from the beginning.

I’ve been interested in meteorology for as long as I can remember honestly. Growing up in Austin, Texas, there is no shortage of weather phenomena. I may have seen as many 100-year floods in my life as Baker Mayfield touchdowns. I can point to one severe weather event in particular that truly sparked my interest. It was a late December (relatively mild compared to what I’ve seen in future years) severe weather event that dropped multiple tornadoes across North Texas. Seeing as it was winter break, it was the first severe weather event I actually monitored for an entire day, and shortly after that, I realized I wanted to study meteorology. Ironically, I feared tornadoes growing up and I think that fear sparked me to studying and understanding tornadoes more. As I studied tornadoes, I found myself more and more becoming interested in all kinds of meteorology and natural hazards. It was shortly after that I started wanting to devote my life to the field. It’s probably worth noting I grew up a Texas fan and it felt inevitable growing up I would be attending the University of Texas (ironic). Luckily, my 7th grade English teacher came along, found out my interests, and advised me to look at the University of Oklahoma, setting me straight. One thing led to another and my heart was set on attending the University of Oklahoma.

This might come as a surprise to many who are close to me at OU, but I was not the best student in high school. Not that I was bad at math or anything, I just lacked real direction. I lacked really any motivation to do much of anything. After high school, while working a minimum wage job, I enrolled at Austin Community College. I still lacked any real drive but was taking courses here and there. 2016 came along and I eventually realized I had to make a jump somewhere. I started just applying everywhere I could for meteorology and seeing what would happen (I didn’t really think I’d get in). Lo and behold, two months later I was admitted to Iowa State University and a short two weeks later admitted to my dream school: the University of Oklahoma! All it took was one visit on transfer days in 2017 and my heart was set attending OU.

Arriving at OU changed my entire outlook on education and work ethic. I put my heart and soul into studying meteorology here, knowing full-well I may not get another shot at this. The more and more I studied here, the more I felt at home with everyone. The people that I’ve met have been the most supportive throughout the whole journey and the professors have been nothing but helpful. I’ve surprised even myself with the grades that I have obtained at OU. Meteorology courses never really felt like an impossible task to me. Even the Dynamics courses didn’t appear difficult to me, which disturbed me greatly! I started working at the Centers for Autonomous Sensing and Sampling (CASS) in my fourth semester thanks to being granted the opportunity by Dr. Chilson and Dr. Pillar-Little. Working with CASS has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience and has improved my coding skills exponentially. I also got the opportunity to work with the National Weather Service forecast office in Norman thanks to encouragement by Glen Kendrick. Learning about the inner workings of the NWS and being able to have the opportunity to work hands-on has been nothing short of incredible. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances that had to be cut off early. Overall, the hardest thing I’ve had to overcome is fighting back every sense of doubt that I had going in. For the longest time, I’d always believed that I couldn’t do it and there was some voice in the back of my head who told me I couldn’t. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong because I did it. In less than a month I’ll be a meteorologist with a degree from the best school in the world and I couldn’t be happier!

There are plenty of people I want to make sure to thank in this journey. The biggest one that needs shouting out is my Aunt Cathi, who fostered this interest and allowed it to explode. Without her encouragement, I don’t think I would have ever studied meteorology and for that I couldn’t be more thankful. Dr. Blumberg and Noah Brauer, both TAs for various courses along the way. Their teachings forced me to push myself harder and beyond anything that I believed myself capable of. Without their help (and the mountains of lab work Dr. Blumberg gave), I don’t think I would have been successful in my undergraduate career. There is also a need to thank all my friends who put up with my anxious self for three years, especially Max, who put up with my stressed self while studying. To everyone who supported me along the way, with all the twists and turns, thank you. To those who supported me in coming out and helping in accepting myself, thank you. To those that taught me and enlightened me, thank you. I couldn’t be happier with my time at OU and I would not have traded it for anything in the world.

Soon I will be virtually graduating with many friends. This wasn’t how I pictured it ending, but I know deep down we’re all doing it together and that is what matters the most to me. I hope to see as many of my friends as possible at the commencement in August. I don’t know what the future may hold for me, but I feel like I am prepared for almost anything after putting myself through this university and going through a global pandemic. I am going to miss this university beyond belief. To all the meteorologists in my class graduating, thank you again for everything and I wish nothing but the best for y’all! Boomer Sooner and Live On University!

Congratulations Austin! You have a lot to be proud of, and the School of Meteorology can’t wait to see where you go next!