Coming Full Circle
PROVO, Utah – Apr 27, 2022 – The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, were life changing for 13-year-old Nathan Christiansen. That day, and the events that followed for years after, would inspire Christiansen to serve his country. Since completing the ROTC program at BYU, which operates under the BYU Marriott School of Business, in 2012, Christiansen has been serving in the United States Army.
Now a captain, Christiansen currently serves as an assistant professor of military science at Utah Valley University (UVU). Because UVU and BYU Army ROTC programs are a shared detachment, Christiansen works with both UVU and BYU cadets. He enjoys interacting with cadets and sharing his experiences in the Army with them.
In his position at UVU, Christiansen assists with recruiting new cadets. “I feel like I have seen my life come full circle,” says Christiansen. "The students I work with remind me of myself at that age.”
Throughout his teenage years, Christiansen had stayed committed to his plan to join the Army after high school. Because he didn’t come from a military family, Christiansen was unsure of the best way to do this. He sought advice from one of the young men leaders at church who had served in the military, after which he decided to become an officer and attend college instead of enlisting right away.
Christiansen still remembers his first meeting with an Army recruiter and describes the experience as one of divine intervention. “In 2005, recruiters were under a lot of pressure to enlist young men into the Army,” recalls Christiansen. “The recruiter could have easily talked me into enlisting, but instead he respected my desire to become an officer. I will always be grateful for that, because becoming an officer has shaped not only my entire career but also my life.”
In 2006, Christiansen started as a freshman in the Army ROTC program at BYU. He paused his education between 2007–09 to serve a mission in Russia for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The summer before graduating from BYU, Christiansen completed an internship for the Army known as Cadet Troop Leadership Training at Camp Casey in South Korea.
“I worked for a maintenance company and found that I liked working in the maintenance field,” says Christiansen. “I decided I wanted to go active duty for the Army after graduating and work in maintenance and supply chain management.” Christiansen graduated in December 2012 from BYU with a degree in Russian and a minor in military science.
Officially commissioning into the Army after graduation, Christiansen completed entry-level training at Fort Lee in Virginia for 12 weeks. He was then assigned to Fort Lewis in Washington for four years and was promoted to the rank of captain in 2017.
Assigned to Belgium in 2017, Christiansen says the country is his favorite place he has lived. “I was the first U.S. Army Soldier stationed at a tiny Belgian Air Force base, and I enjoyed the ups and downs that came with that,” he says. “My service in Belgium was the first time in my career where I encountered difficult challenges that required more than my Army training.”
Christiansen explains he also had to rely on his religion and faith in God to help him through his struggles in this new country. Mixing his professional and religious lives together was something he had learned how to do during his time at BYU Marriott.
In 2018, Christiansen left Belgium and was assigned to Germany. He served there for three years, where he commanded a company of more than 150 soldiers his first year. Christiansen enjoyed living in Germany with his wife, where their first child was born. “We loved traveling on the weekends to the other European countries and experiencing the different cultures,” says Christiansen. “I will never forget my time there and the lessons I learned.”
When the position for UVU Army ROTC became available in 2021, Christiansen applied and interviewed right away. “I wanted to come back to Utah and have the chance to work closely with the BYU Army ROTC program,” explains Christiansen, who has a year and half left in the position; the Army routinely changes assignments every three years. “Being in the Army and starting as an officer was one of the best decisions of my life, and I love having the opportunity to share my experiences with cadets.”
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Bethany Benham