Lieutenant Colonel Marc “Dewey” Boberg is in his third year as Professor of Military Science in BYU’s Army ROTC program. He has a bachelor’s degree in leadership from the United States Military Academy at West Point, as well as a master’s degree in international management from Troy State University.
You’re an active duty Army officer. How did you end up at BYU?
During the course of my career, I’ve had several academic opportunities. I’ve taught at Army schools; I taught for two years in Venezuela as a guest instructor at a Venezuelan Army school. Just before this assignment, I spent two years as a faculty member at West Point teaching Spanish in the department of foreign languages. I competed to be selected for one of these professor of military science jobs somewhere in the nation. So I volunteered and said, ‘Hey, I’d like to do that.’ The Army then has a board where those of higher ranking select from the candidates who’s going to go where. They informed me that they wanted me to go to Brigham Young University. … It’s a short-term thing; I’m expect to be here for four years.
How is BYU different than other military schools you have taught?
BYU is unique for a couple of different reasons. The first one that stands out to me is, in a lot of other places, we have to spend a lot more time in the building blocks of certain values that most LDS students maybe already have or at least have a head start. … It’s a fun environment in the sense that we can really focus on what we’re trying to accomplish instead of dealing with all these other distractions in many cases. The other thing we find is that the academic standards at BYU are high enough where you’re not dealing with any kind of remediation, for lack of a better term. Most people learn pretty quickly, especially in the practical application because we convert almost immediately from the classroom to the lab. So, there’s a pretty quick learning curve. … Most Army operations occur outside the United States, other than disaster relief and critical situations. So, if you go in to the Army as a leader, you’re going to get projected to the Middle East, the Pacific or China. … Returned missionaries that have already been out of the country have a good start. It’s one of those skills the Army really appreciates.
You didn’t always plan on making a career out of the Army. What were your plans?
That’s a great question. In my case, I played football in high school and I was recruited to play at the military academy at West Point. It so happens that this Army commitment was tied to it, but I didn’t care. I was all about, ‘I’m going to go play football!’ … When I came back (from my mission to Santiago, Chile), I realized that I really liked being able to serve others and it’s a good feeling. I feel that the Army is a team, but it’s a team of teams trying to achieve things much bigger than myself. At this point in my life, I almost don’t know how I would function in other career paths that weren’t about serving others in some way. Teaching is kind of a similar career path. It’s all about your students and whether or not they’re getting in and whether the lights are turning on. It’s not so much about me. … It’s all about people and relationships and leadership and ‘how do we get more than just me to get things accomplished?’ And I’ve really enjoyed that part of the work aspect.
What is the most rewarding thing about teaching cadets?
When I started this career path, I thought I would meet pay commitments to pay back the educational benefits I had received. But what I found is the Army is a team. I played sports growing up and played sports in college a little bit. I played football and it’s a lot like that football team. You’ve got to work together, the team has goals, the organization has goals, and you make a lot of progress. As I teach today, it’s all about making them realize ‘it’s not about me, it’s about the team.’ And as they realize that, you see the lights turn on. And that’s the greatest benefit. The greatest joy is when you hear back from them a year or two after they left, and they say, ‘Hey, it was just like we talked about in class, and I’ve applied it now, and I’m now in Afghanistan.’ They’re sharing their experiences and recommendations, and that light has turned on, and they’re having great experiences.
How has teaching and serving in the military affected your outlook on life?
It’s changed a lot. I think back to when I was in high school — I thought the world was all about me. I was worried about what I was going to do, what my GPA was, how I performed in life. Through the experiences I’ve had in team sports and the Army specifically, and also in Church service, I’ve learned in so many ways to put the needs of others ahead of my own. That service component is all about taking care of somebody else’s needs before taking care of your own and how you can put their priorities ahead of your own. That can be really hard. But what I’ve learned is by helping other people achieve their goals, I usually can achieve mine, sometimes in an indirect way but I’m still going to achieve mine. … It’s all about everyone else. It’s not about me. My needs will be taken care of if I worry about everyone else.