Many BYU students struggle to get to 8 a.m. classes on time, according to recent Air Force ROTC graduate Shawn Wortham. For Wortham, however, he’s up for two hours practicing with the ROTC Drill Team.
Wortham graduated in April after studying economics and is heading to flight school in Wichita Falls, Texas, to become a pilot. His two major reasons to serve are to fight terrorism and to give back in an effort to change American culture.
“It’s too much take and not enough give back,” Wortham said. “I just want to be a small piece in changing that culture and actually not think about myself but find a way to serve my country.”
Wortham grew up in Atlanta and always had a desire to serve. He did Junior ROTC in high school and felt right at home when he came to the Air Force ROTC at BYU.
“It’s taught me how to be a good person, a good citizen,” Wortham said. “I feel like all these skills that the military tries to instill in you is just great for everyday life.”
Wortham starts flight school this week and is excited to be a part of something bigger.
“There are some government jobs where people just do the bare minimum,” Wortham said. “But in the Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard, the taxpayers’ money goes to people who day in and day out give 100 percent, and that’s just what I want to do.”
While Wortham just completed his time in the ROTC, food science major Spencer Ng is two years away from the end of his time. He came into the program with no military background and has grown to love his experience.
“It’s a great way to be involved in something bigger than yourself — a lot bigger than yourself,” Ng said.
Ng knows there are dangers that come with military service, but being afraid has never been an option for him
“I’ve never stopped to think about that,” Ng said. “As strange as it sounds, that’s what we’re all training for.”
Ng has already learned a lot from his time in the ROTC, including goal-setting and self-improvement.
“It’s a great way to push yourself and keep moving forward and be better,” Ng said.
Wortham and Ng are just starting their military service, but Richard Bobo is in the middle of his service in the Army.
Bobo returned to BYU for his MBA after finishing the Army ROTC program in 2008. He studied accounting while at BYU as an undergrad and has been a finance officer in the Army for over three years after spending four years in the infantry.
Bobo, like Wortham, was interested in the ROTC in high school, and enjoyed being a part of the military the further he progressed. He found his service in both the infantry and as a finance officer extremely rewarding.
“Every day I can leave work and be very satisfied with the 10 or 11 hours of effort that I spent during that day and what it went to support,” Bobo said.
Bobo feels that his service both stretched him and helped him understand the world around him better.
“I feel like I’ve gained more of a perspective on the world around me and more of a perspective on how blessed we are to be in the United States of America and all the freedoms and opportunities that we have here,” Bobo said.
Once Bobo finishes up his MBA he’ll perform finance operations for the Army wherever they station him.
While Bobo and Wortham are still in their military service, army veteran John Snook finished his 10 years of contracted service in 2008.
Snook is from Chowchilla, California, but ended up joining the Army in Montana and leaving for his first tour in Iraq in 1999. He currently studies special education at UVU and feels strongly that his service in the military was what helped him find his passion.
“I just wanted to serve my country,” Snook said. “Also, I didn’t really have a focus. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I just joined the military.”
For Snook, it was this service and being part of something bigger that helped him realize that he wanted to be a special education teacher. He did a lot of volunteer work in schools and orphanages while he was overseas and felt really comfortable when he was in that environment.
“In that time period while you’re in service, you find something that you want to do, because you’re not just out there fighting,” Snook said. “You find what you want to do in life.”