Instructors come from many walks of life; they often teach us things we don't know we need. Almost everyone can recall that one instructor or teacher who made an impact on them. For U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Anthony Gantt, an instructor for the Naval ROTC Program at the University of Texas-Austin, his goal is to have a long-lasting impact on his students' lives.
Gantt joined the Marine Corps in 1999 as a reservist, after completing a year of college. A year and a half later he transferred to active duty to further serve his country and to help make a difference.
Once promoted to sergeant, he went back to school to pursue his higher education. He applied for the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program (MECEP), a program designed to help enlisted Marines commission as officers and to attend school full time while remaining active duty. When he met the Marine officer instructors at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, it piqued his interest in one day being an instructor. Later as an officer, Gantt did just that.
“I wanted to tell them what I wish I had known in ROTC and what I wish I had known about the Marine Corps,” Gantt said. “It's kind of a pay it forward.”
During his time as an instructor, Gantt searched for ways to impact his students. He has helped many students in their journey to become both Marine Corps and Naval officers. He is always willing to put in extra time and effort in order to better help his students to commission, he said.
Gantt recounted one student who was having a particularly hard time. He wasn’t sure if the student was going to commission. “This student was very passionate about becoming a Marine, she didn't just want it, she needed it,” he said. “There were just so many obstacles in her way. It wasn’t even a hill, this student had a mountain in front of her. She just had so many obstacles, some not even in her control.”
Gantt knew she wouldn’t commission if someone didn't help her. So he decided to step up.
“We sat down, knee-to-knee, and we talked,” Gantt said. “We started chipping away little by little at the mountain, together.”
Gantt hopes that all of his students appreciate the commitment they are making.
“The most important thing is to let the students know what they are embarking on,” Gantt said. “Regardless of MOS, you could possibly be harmed or killed. Marine officers have to understand that they are going to tell another American citizen to go kill the enemy or possibly be killed themselves.”
Gantt believes part of being an instructor is ensuring he instills the Marine Corps values, the ethics and morals of honor courage and commitment into his students. By instilling those qualities in each and every student he instructs, Gantt can influence not only why they lead, but how they lead.