|A Graduation Story - Brinner Better Late Than Never|
Growing up Omri Brinner was interested in a lot of things, but higher education wasn't one of them.
"To be honest, before I came to San Jose State I never thought about going to college," Brinner said. "Actually, I was pretty much against it. When you grow up in Israel, you generally don't think about college because you know you have to serve in the military for three years."
Omri served his three years in the Israeli military as an air traffic controller. "To do that job I had to study so much information and I hated studying. But, toward the end of my service I thought about coming to the United States. It took about five minutes to make up my mind and is easily the best decision I've ever made."
He had grown up playing soccer and wanted to play again. "Because of my military service I hadn't been on a team in a while, but I wanted to play soccer again. My options were limited in Israel and I knew about the college system in the U.S. because my dad is a professor at Cal. I used to visit him in the summers and workout with some of the players there. It just seemed like the best option for me to keep playing."
Decision made, he realized he would have to get serious about school. "I was a pretty bad student in high school, but again I didn't think higher education was in any way important so I didn't really put forth my best effort. When I came here it just clicked and I applied myself in the classroom," said the three-time San Jose State Scholar-Athlete. "I always liked history, so I chose that to study."
Omri thinks his age has also helped him in his educational journey. "Spending three years in the Army allowed me to mature. I've had more time to develop as a person. I don't necessarily think you need to go to college right out of high school. You can work, travel, do community or military service and give yourself a chance to mature. There is no rush. Go out and see the world before you go to college. Experience different cultures and see different things."
While he now has a degree in history, things always seem to come back to the game he loves. "Everything I know, I know learned through soccer. If I know geography, I learned it through soccer. History...I know it through and from soccer. I used to say that I know two things, history and soccer and half the history I knew was the history of soccer. Now that I've graduated, I know a bit more history.
With diploma in hand, Omri heads back to Jerusalem at the end of June and begins the next journey in his life. "I've lined up some (soccer) tryouts and hopefully that works out. If not, I will take a year off from school and get a job which involves history. But not teaching, perhaps doing research. No matter what happens, at the end of the day, there'll probably be more education in my future. I'm very interested in Middle Eastern issues.
As for the city of his birth, "Jerusalem is hectic all the time. Life there isn't as easy or as comfortable as it is here, but in Jerusalem on Friday evening, everything stops. There is a different feeling in the air. It's wonderful and magical. It's such a special city. No other place I've been has the feel of Jerusalem."
Higher education was never something Omri thought about as a kid, but his love and desire to play soccer brought him to San Jose State and got him a degree in history. Now we hope he makes some history of his own.