UVU and BYU students in AFROTC pursue a bachelor’s while learning leadership.
The rare student who arrives at school before 7 a.m. has probably thought how fortunate they are to not be one of the poor souls running laps and doing sit-ups in front of the library. What they don’t know is how lucky those young men and women consider themselves to be as part of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps.
The 150 – 200 cadets of the BYU/UVU Detachment 855 appear to be normal, hard-working, fun-loving students pursuing a bachelor’s degree of their choice, yet they spend several hours each week in training with one another in hopes to be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force upon graduation.
The AFROTC is split up into two groups of underclassmen and upperclassmen, with the older students undertaking leadership responsibilities.
“Basically it’s a laboratory where we get to practice leadership principles we’ve learned the past few years,” said Tyler Riffle, Cadet Captain and Public Affairs Officer. Riffle is a 22-year-old senior studying Aviation Administration and cites the AFROTC as a major component in helping students to not only better manage their time, but be more well-rounded citizens ready to lead others.
“UVU always talks about engaged learning, and they have a billboard that says, ‘Graduate with a diploma and a résumé,’ and that’s really what you do in AFROTC.”
In addition to attending school full-time, working, taking care of families and preparing for commission as an officer in the Air Force, some underclassmen also participate an extra 10 – 12 hours per week in the AFROTC’s Honor Guard, split into the Color Guard and the Armed Drill Team. These students participate in the annual Southern California Invitational Drill Meet held in early March in Huntington Beach. Detachment 855 won first and second place the last two years against prestigious organizations such as West Point and the United States Air Force Academy.
Although Riffle advocates that, as members of the AFROTC, they are building better American citizens, he admits the program is not for the faint of heart.
“I do love it, but it’s not for everybody. As an officer in the Air Force, you’re truly someone who’s gonna make a difference in the world.”
BYU/UVU Detachment 855
Air Force ROTC
380 Wells Bldg.
Provo, UT 84602
By Deven Leigh Ellis
Asst. Life Editor