Becoming Army Strong
PROVO, Utah – Aug 24, 2020 – The military isn’t the path for everyone. Long hours, difficult training, and potential danger make the journey of a military career a challenging one. However, for BYU student Harrison Mayer, the current commanding officer for the Army ROTC cadets at BYU Marriott, the military offers the perfect balance to help him become the leader he aims to be.
Joining the US Army didn’t cross Mayer’s radar until he was a junior in high school. Born and raised in Bountiful, Utah, Mayer remembers first feeling drawn to the military life when the United States Military Academy visited his school. Along with the recruiters' visit, Mayer had the influence of multiple members of the armed forces in his family, especially his grandpa who served in the air force. After weighing his options, Mayer decided to sign an enlistment contract with the army where he would receive financial aid for schooling and then serve active duty for four years.
In his current role with the BYU Marriott Army ROTC, Mayer juggles multiple ROTC and student responsibilities including supervising other cadets, physical military training, and academic learning. “I put so much time into the army, I feel like I have a second job,” Mayer says. With the army taking up such a large portion of his time, Mayer was grateful that he was already in the program when he first started dating his wife, Megan. “She knew the army and I were a package deal from the start,” he says.
For the Mayers, the Army ROTC program has helped form a strong sense of community and family while in school. “The people and the family environment that the program fosters are one of my favorite aspects of military life. I've become close with my classmates,” he says. “The amount of support offered is unparalleled.”
BYU Marriott’s Army ROTC program has helped Mayer become a strong, more well-rounded leader. Unlike with many other employment paths, those who are commissioned in the military often don’t get to choose their job assignments. Because of this, the Army ROTC program focuses on helping students develop in as many areas as possible. “The army is good at developing holistic leaders and those who are academically proficient, driven, interpersonal, athletic, and motivated,” he says. “That focus has been immensely beneficial for me.”
Mayer has used his experience in the Army ROTC program to lead in other areas of his life as well. Along with his political science major, Mayer is studying three minors: political analysis and data analytics, military science, and German. If his plate wasn’t already full, Mayer is also the head research assistant for a data-gathering group on campus, WomanStats, which catalogs data on the living situations and security of women worldwide.
Adding to his accomplishments at school, Mayer was chosen as one of the inaugural recipients of the Major Brent Taylor Scholarship award in 2020. Created by Taylor’s wife, Jennie Taylor, after her husband, Brent, was killed in action in 2018, the award honors military students who follow a similar education path as Taylor when he was in school.
“I actually met Jennie before I even knew about the scholarship. She was an honoree who fired George Q., the howitzer cannon shot before every BYU football game, and I was manning the howitzer that game,” Mayer says. “I learned more about her husband from talking with her. Receiving the scholarship is meaningful to me, not only because I have read a lot about Major Taylor but also because I have met his family.”
When he thinks about his future, Mayer hasn’t yet decided if a long-term career in the military will be the path for him. However, he knows that no matter where he decides to go, the BYU Marriott Army ROTC program has better prepared him to handle anything he’ll encounter along the way.
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Erin Kratzer