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St. Mark's School of Texas
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The Student News Site of St. Mark's School of Texas


The Student News Site of St. Mark's School of Texas


Alum receives award for work fighting human trafficking

Matt Osborne ‘90 received the second Lee Smith ‘65 Courage and Honor Award for his work fighting human trafficking and sexual exploitation while working with the CIA and his organization, Operation Undergound Railroad.

Working across the globe, Operation Underground Railroad has one mission: to lead the fight against child sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Its Global Operations Ambassador, Matt Osborne ‘90, is one fighter for the cause.

After receiving his master’s degree in International Policy, Osborne joined the CIA and later the US Department of State from 2002 to 2014. There, he learned about human trafficking from both the policy side and from undercover operations.

After a long tenure with the government, Osborne learned about Operation Underground Railroad in early 2014. Osborne was asked to write a government report grading other countries’ protection of sex trafficking victims, learning of the true magnitude of the trafficking issue.

“My eyes were opened.” Osborne said. “This is trafficking—this isn’t prostitution. These are victims—these aren’t volunteers. I had no idea.”

Through the Underground Railroad, Osborne has helped curb human trafficking worldwide.

“It’s been the best decision I’ve ever made,” Osborne said. “It is an opportunity to have a mission and a calling.”

While working with the organization, Osborne has had the opportunity to travel across the world, engaging with local government and law enforcement to successfully complete operations.

“I worked accounts such as China, Iraq and terrorism, but with Operation Underground Railroad, I’ve led about 27 missions,” Osborne said. “In some, I was boots on the ground doing undercover negotiation across the table with traffickers. In others, I was in the control room or command center.”

Although he has since stepped down from undercover missions at Operation Underground Railroad, Osborne still continues to fight against human trafficking in many ways. He believes spreading awareness is the next best thing.

“I don’t see myself ever stopping this fight as long as I’m working in some capacity, because now I want to turn my attention to focusing on demand and reaching young men,” Osborne said. “That’s why I love talking to great schools.”

But, Osborne’s work isn’t just self-fulfilling. He has gained praise and recognition around the country for his bravery in such a dangerous and serious field. After more than two decades of working against human trafficking, Osborne was recently chosen to receive the second ever Lee S. Smith ‘65 Courage & Honor Award, which seeks to recognize alumni who elevate humanity through positive impacts in the world. Last year, the recipient was Dr. David Vanderpool ‘78, who administered aid in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

“I’m so grateful to the selection committee for seeing me fit to have this award,” Osborne said. “I pledge to do all I can to raise the bar in my own life to reach Lee Smith and David Vanderpol and what they represent.”

Even though Osborne’s journey in Operation Underground Railroad has not been easy, he believes that his education here was essential to equip him with the fundamental skills he has used so often in his career.

“St. Mark’s gave me such a great education, preparing me on the academic side, the athletic side and social, extracurricular activity side,” Osborne said. “So much so that college was much easier than St. Mark’s, and I was grateful for my St. Mark’s training.”

In recent years, Osborne has returned to the school multiple times to talk with students and alumni alike, as he believes that spreading awareness early is crucial in stopping the spread of human trafficking.

“I’ve noticed that most of the serious problems in this world are caused by men. We need good men like St. Mark’s is producing. We need Marksmen to step up in local, state, federal and international organizations to be those leaders that will help us address some of these most serious problems, and I love what I’m seeing coming out of St. Mark’s.”

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About the Contributors
Eric Yi, Head Writer
Joshua Goforth, Staff Writer