From Missionary to Soldier

PROVO, Utah – Nov 25, 2022 – The United States Army base at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, carries unique meaning for Sadie Hampton. She first served on the base as a missionary and later returned as a soldier to complete basic training. Now a senior in the Army ROTC program, hosted through the BYU Marriott School of Business, Hampton embraces the program’s opportunities to lead and serve her peers.

Hampton taught soldiers at Fort Jackson while serving in the South Carolina Columbia Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During this time, Hampton distinctly recalls envisioning herself in the army.

"Joining the military felt like a crazy idea, but when I came home from my mission, the idea kept nagging me,” she says. Hampton missed the satisfaction and purpose she received from her mission, and feeling like she could find that same fulfillment in the army, she decided to enlist. 

In January 2021, Hampton returned to Fort Jackson for basic training. This time, instead of wearing her black missionary nametag, she donned army fatigues. “Basic training was extremely challenging,” she says. “But I like to do hard things.”

Besides the inherent rigor of this experience, additional factors weighed on Hampton. “My husband and I got married just eight months prior, and then I had to leave him for five months,” she says. “COVID-19 also made basic training more difficult. We couldn’t eat in the cafeteria, so they delivered our meals to us. I was always hungry because there was never enough food.”

Nonetheless, Hampton says this experience strengthened her. “I rediscovered what I am capable of enduring and conquering,” she says. “I proved myself and pushed my limits. This helped my confidence tremendously.”

Basic training prepared Hampton significantly for BYU’s ROTC program, which she joined in October 2021. “With basic training, I’ve already experienced a small piece of the ‘real’ army,” she says. However, she believes that BYU offers an additional, invaluable advantage to a military career. "Anyone can learn army skills,” says Hampton. “But character distinguishes people. At BYU, we learn about integrity firsthand from the fantastic cadre members, who embody and emphasize honorable attributes.”

Hampton also joined the National Guard, where she plans to stay. This commitment isn’t a full-time job, but instead requires Hampton to dedicate one weekend of military service a month and two weeks during the summer.

Although she was certain about joining the military, Hampton struggled to settle on a major. Her dad, a communications studies professor at BYU, pointed out that his field of study could be a good fit for her. Growing up, Hampton refused to consider pursuing this option. “No way,” she always told him.

"However,” Hampton now says, “serving in the military made me realize that communications studies meshes incredibly well with what I’m good at: taking care of people and adapting to their needs.”

Within the National Guard, Hampton hopes to work specifically with the Signal Corps, the army’s communication’s branch. Additionally, since the National Guard is flexible, she also plans to concurrently secure another job in communications when she graduates.

Hampton’s passion for people is the foundation for her life decisions, including the choice to pursue communications. "I need to find meaning in everything I do,” she says. “Most often, I derive meaning from relationships because people are most important to me.” Outside of work, Hampton pursues other areas where she feels this same passion.

“I especially care about women and women’s issues,” she says. To empower the young women in her ward, Hampton recently hosted an “army night” for the girls’ weekly activity. “I taught them basic army skills, and we set goals together about challenging feats we want to achieve in our lives,” she says. “This was a rewarding opportunity for me.”

Further, to serve her fellow cadets, Hampton volunteers with BYU ROTC’s Sexual Harassment/Assault and Response Prevention Program (SHARP), a cause she cares deeply about. In this capacity, Hampton primarily offers herself as a resource for female cadets to talk to about instances of sexual harassment.

Hampton expresses gratitude for her supportive husband, Collin, who encourages her to achieve her goals. “Not all men support their wives joining the military,” she says. “I have dreams and ambitions, and my husband is right there with me.”

Hampton’s family is also by her side as she pursues her creative goals. She and her family started a bluegrass band, and Hampton plays the mandolin. Others play the dobro, guitar, bass, and banjo.

Through both the military and her interactions with others, Hampton renders impactful service to those around her. Wherever she ends up, Hampton is committed to always putting people first.

Sadie Hampton, BYU Army ROTC cadet and communications studies major, with her husband, Collin. Photo courtesy of Sadie Hampton.
Hampton serving as a missionary at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Photo courtesy of Sadie Hampton.
Hampton in front of US Army helicopters. Photo courtesy of Sadie Hampton.
Hampton playing music with her family band. Photo courtesy of Sadie Hampton.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Jaden McQuivey