George Mason University

News at Mason

He made sure life gave him a fair shake

September 27, 2017   /   by Damian Cristodero

Austin Harrison, a senior environmental science major and a member of Mason's wrestling team, says, "If you want something, you hustle you go get it."

When Austin Harrison thinks back to all the lessons taught him by his parents, three words stand out: Life isn’t fair.

“My dad told me that when I was probably 5 or 6 years old,” the George Mason University senior said. “That was him preparing me for a whole array of different situations.”

It also is why Harrison believes he took so quickly to the sport of wrestling—“It teaches you life lessons,” he said—and why he is such a proponent of self-sufficiency.

“If you want something, you hustle, you go get it,” he said.

That sensibility has served Harrison well at George Mason, where his work ethic made him a leader on the wrestling team, and his inquisitiveness pushed him to pursue interests such as photography and writing for the Key Reporter, Phi Beta Kappa’s publication of news and alumni relations.

Harrison is active in multiple on-campus clubs and organizations, including being president of the Student Athlete Advisory Council. The environmental science major said he plans to attend law school after graduating.

“He’s one of those people who thinks about his place in the world and how he can contribute,” said Jennifer Lewis, a graduate teaching assistant in Mason’s Department of Environmental Science and Policy. “I’d even like to do a small documentary about him because of his background with his parents always being 100 percent behind him.”

In addition to the lessons from his father, Calvin Harrison, Austin said his mom, Frances, was always in his ear with advice such as, “It takes a second to get into trouble and a lifetime to get out of it.”

“They helped keep me grounded,” Austin said. “That level-headedness my parents instilled is a huge reason for my progress in life thus far.”

Because of that relationship, Harrison, a Baltimore native, wanted to stay close to home. Mason offered that proximity and, Harrison said, the diverse campus and academic opportunities he craved.

Being near Washington, D.C., didn’t hurt, either.

“The Northern Virginia, D.C. area is really a hub for any field you want to be in,” Harrison said. “I knew the connections were here. It just made sense.”

So does wrestling, which he has done since his freshman year of high school.

The sport teaches sacrifice with its intense physical demands, said Harrison, who competes at 184 pounds. Mason wrestling assistant coach Mark Weader called Harrison “a hard worker, very dedicated” and “the kind of guy you want in your program.”

Wrestling also teaches discipline and perseverance, Harrison said, especially when things do not go well.

“You don’t leave situations to other people,” he said. “You don’t leave the match up to the ref.”

“Life isn’t fair,” Harrison said. “Life gets hard, you get back up.”

Mason assistant coach Mark Weader called Harrison "a hard worker, very dedicated," and "the kind of guy you want in your program."