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Student Spotlight

From Duty to Service

Professional photo of Jared Sturgell.
Jared Sturgell is an MBA student and a volunteer advisor for the BYU Army ROTC.
Photo courtesy of Jared Sturgell.

As a member of the Army Reserves and an MBA student in the BYU Marriott School of Business, Jared Sturgell believes in serving others. While much of his service has been through his commission in the US Army, Sturgell has found helping others brings immense satisfaction in life, and he continues to serve as a volunteer advisor for the BYU Army ROTC.

One day in his hometown of Bartlett, Tennessee, Sturgell arrived home from high school and was surprised to see a letter in his mailbox from the United States Military Academy at West Point. The letter sparked his interest in attending the army’s flagship school, even though he had no military background.

“My mom thought more about the letter than I did. She encouraged me to apply,” Sturgell says. With piqued interest and the support of his family, Sturgell applied to the military academy and was accepted.

“I was super nervous from the start, but I wanted to be there,” Sturgell says.

As he established himself at West Point, Sturgell received generous support from the local members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “There aren’t a ton of church members, but they’re extremely tight-knit at West Point,” Sturgell says. “Some amazing families from church would invite me to dinner almost every week.”

The kindness of the church members helped Sturgell remain positive. “West Point is very tough, and having those families around made it a lot easier,” Sturgell says.

After graduating with an engineering degree in 2016, Sturgell spent the next phase of his life in active duty serving in the Army Engineering Corps.

Sturgell talking to his military peers.
Sturgell is a member of the US Army Reserves.
Photo courtesy of Jared Sturgell.

Sturgell was first stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he trained as an engineer officer. He spent time building different types of facilities for the army on base. “We’d make concrete pads, but then we’d go out and practice convoy live fire,” Sturgell explains. “It’s like a mini construction company that also has machine guns.”

The education and training he received at Fort Campbell prepared Sturgell for deployment. He explains how combat experiences test the skills and training of each soldier. “In the army, you’re either training or you’re at war. We don’t want war, but war is the ultimate test of everything you’ve trained for,” Sturgell says.

In 2019 Sturgell deployed to Syria to curb the spread of the Islamic State. “ISIS began rising up again, and our responsibilities were to train the local allies and help them defeat ISIS,” Sturgell says. He also helped keep the bases operational by utilizing his prior construction experience.

Upon returning from his deployment, Sturgell became the commanding officer of US Army Recruiting in North Los Angeles. “I commanded five recruiting stations in Los Angeles. Numbers were down since coming off of COVID, and I was tasked with improving our recruiting efforts,” Sturgell says. “A lot of our recruiters and recruits were struggling, morale was low, schools were closed off to us, and I helped a lot of young people find purpose.”

Sturgell speaking to an audience.
Sturgell uses his leadership experience to help members of the BYU Army ROTC.
Photo courtesy of Jared Sturgell.

Throughout his experiences in the military, Sturgell developed leadership and problem-solving skills, but he aspired to gain specific business knowledge and skills that would help him transition to a new career. So he enrolled in the MBA program at BYU Marriott. “I had a great time leading soldiers and building teams, and now I’m forging a new path on the business and strategy side,” Sturgell says.

Sturgell’s six-and-a-half years of active-duty experience also prompted him to join a reserve unit during business school—the 414th Battalion. Members of this battalion are responsible for supporting Army ROTC programs across the country. “This unit does whatever the ROTC program needs,” Sturgell explains.

Joining the 414th Battalion and helping BYU’s Army ROTC was an easy choice for Sturgell. Remembering the generous support of the church members at West Point, Sturgell wanted to give back and serve students. “It was just the perfect fit for me,” Sturgell says.

Recently Sturgell has been assisting BYU’s Army ROTC during their lab period, where members of the ROTC practice what they learn in the classroom and apply small unit tactical maneuvers like ambush, attack, and defense. “These troop-leading procedures can be stressful for the students, so I help coach them as they work through these challenges,” Sturgell says.

Sturgell with his family.
Photo courtesy of Jared Sturgell.

After he earns his MBA from BYU Marriott, Sturgell plans on pursuing a career in business strategy. “I feel like coming to earn my MBA at BYU Marriott can really prepare me for success in new endeavors,” Sturgell explains.

Though Sturgell won’t always be fulfilling military duties, he knows that serving people will always bring the most satisfying results. “Part of my motivation is to give back to this amazing country. When I go to sleep at night, I like knowing that I’m doing something worthwhile.”

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Written by Jake Holt

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