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Humans of the U: Robert and Austin Long

"Becoming an officer for me is leading, teaching, training and mentoring a platoon, as well as taking care of your Marines, something that was done for me."

Austin: My older brother Robert is the one who first got me interested in joining the Marine Corps. Our grandpa was in the Air Force back in his day, but we’re currently the only members of the military in our family. I enlisted based on Robert’s recommendation back in 2016 and I’ve been working with the military ever since. It’s been a fantastic experience. There’s great job security and I’ve been able to receive training I couldn’t get anywhere else.

Robert: We both got accepted into the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program (MECEP) back in 2020, a selective program available to active duty or active reserve members of the Marine Corps. The program allows you to get your undergraduate degree while still being on active duty. Essentially, our job right now is to be full-time students and then once we graduate, we will commission as second lieutenants in the Marine Corps.

Austin: A second lieutenant is a grade of officer that usually leads platoons of about 10-36 people, depending on your Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). I chose to become an officer the day I graduated boot camp. I had a colonel tell me about the MECEP program and I set a goal to achieve that. Becoming an officer for me is leading, teaching, training and mentoring a platoon, as well as taking care of your Marines, something that was done for me. I just want to give that back to them.

Robert: I decided to do the MECEP program to take a different approach to my career. Before I got into the program, I was not satisfied with my career progression or options. In short, I had reached a point of seniority in the Marine Corps which had me sitting at a desk for the remainder of my career. I do not have the option of switching my occupation while being enlisted, but by going the second lieutenant route, I’ll essentially start my career over again. I won’t be bound to a desk anymore and I’ll have more opportunities to deploy, go on training assignments, etc.

Austin: As a part of the program, before we came to the U, we attended Officer Candidates School (OCS) together in Virginia. We graduated from OCS in March of 2021 and then moved here to Utah. We are both studying business and actually have five classes together this semester. Robert is planning on studying supply chain management and I’m still deciding between business administration or information systems.

Robert: We both grew up on the West Coast in Washington, but came to the U because we wanted a change in scenery that was still somewhat close to home. The U was one of the best options that had a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) program, which is one of the requirements for our program.

Austin: As active-duty members of the Marine Corps, while we’re here we help with some of the administration in the NROTC, like helping the midshipmen with naval science labs and drills. Just the other day we helped to lead a land navigation activity.

Robert: The NROTC program is intended to help the midshipmen here at the university improve their decision-making and develop leadership skills and being a member definitely has its benefits. If they’re interested, U students should definitely look into the program.

Austin: When we’re not studying or helping with the NROTC, I love to spend time outdoors with my wife and two kids.

Robert: Utah is great for that. I really enjoy biking, if I can put in 20 miles or so after school, I’m happy! If I’m not biking, I might try a hike or really anything that gets me outside and gets my blood pumping.

—Austin and Robert Long

Learn more about the NROTC and ROTC programs at the U.