SDI Graduate Feature: Joseph O’Connor, Now an SDI Team Member!

  • Joey Upper

Joseph O’Connor is a graduate of Sonoran Desert Institute and one of the few we have been blessed to keep within our family after the completion of their academic careers. 

He now works full time in the shipping department as a member of the team that works so hard to get our students what they need, when they need it. 

Before that career change was made, however, we were actually able to snag him for an interview when his career looked totally different. His reflection on his time with SDI before he made a major career move – working with us full-time – gives us a fun look into his experience, unbiased. 

O’Connor earned his Associate of Science in Firearms Technology, and while he did so he found the opportunity to dig into the curriculum a rewarding experience. 

“My favorite time here was actually learning the material – getting (my) hands on those books when they came in,” he said. “I just sat down and read through them, and it was great learning all new stuff!

“My favorite course that was provided was the armorer’s course – the 1911 armorer’s course. That really got you into using everything that they gave you throughout the course. All the tools and all the knowledge that you learned to put everything together and make it functional and going out and shooting – it was actually a blast!”

The pun didn’t seem to be intended. 

He took what SDI had to offer, and he ran with it. At the time of the interview, he found that during his time between being an SDI student and an SDI employee, his education had influenced his day-to-day occupation. 

“What I’ve learned at SDI I’m using almost every day now,” he said of his then-current job at the time of his interview. 

“I have a job in firearms right now and I do salvage, and repair, and refinishing of old M1 in 1903 rifles, so that’s been very helpful – recognizing the parts and putting everything all together.”

“I think SDI is amazing!” he said later on, an amusing indicator of his career change to come. 

To those considering SDI as a possibility for continuing their education, he was unequivocal: 

“If someone was considering SDI as an option, I’d say, ‘Go for it,’” he said. “They’ve been nothing but the best support online. They had a great (platform), so you can do all your courses online, and the feedback was quick and accurate, so I would say: ‘Yeah, definitely go for it!’”

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