For Army ROTC cadet Tyrus Griffin, hard work and dedication have always been second nature because of his competitive drive, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when he found out he was ranked as the No. 1 cadet in all of Arizona.
“I never do anything halfway,” said Griffin. “If I choose to do something I always have the mentality that I can be the best at it.”
Cadets are ranked on the national Order of Merit List (OML) by GPA, Army physical fitness test scores, extracurricular activities and overall leadership ability in the ROTC program. According to those metrics, Griffin ranked No. 1 among cadets in Arizona and in the top 10 percent of cadets nationwide.
Griffin credits his achievement to the mentorship of Arizona State University’s Army ROTC military instructors in helping to shape and mold him into the leader he’s become.
“The investment that other people put into me really motivated me to excel,” said Griffin. “I think people saw the potential in me and invested time and mentorship into me, which is something that I’ve tried to pay forward in my time here.”
As a 4.0 student and leader in the Army ROTC program, Griffin pays that mentorship forward by taking time out of his schedule to help train new cadets, which he believes is paramount to future success as an officer in the Army.
“I view ROTC as a step to being a leader in charge of soldiers, so the mentality I had throughout the program wasn’t about being the best cadet but to be the best leader of soldiers,” said Griffin.
This May, Griffin, a Hawaii Kai, Hawaii native, will receive his bachelor’s degree in geography and commission as an infantry officer for the U.S. Army.
He answered a few questions about his time at ASU and what he has in mind for his future.
Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?
Answer: I came into college as a photography major. I applied for the four-year national ROTC scholarship and the degree I wanted to pursue was not recognized by the Army so I chose photography because I was interested in it. When I got to ASU the Army ROTC program was offering scholarships for STEM majors so I thought switching to STEM would be the best way to get my foot in the door and make me more competitive down the line. So I chose geography and got the four-year scholarship. It ended up being super-interesting after I took a geomorphology class. At that moment I decided this would be a fun major.
Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that changed your perspective?
A: The biggest thing I took away from ASU and being a cadet here is developing others. The Army’s leadership model is "leads, develops, achieves" and I kind of took that develop one to heart. When I was an underclassman a lot of the seniors and cadre took time out of their schedule to mold me into the person I am today. I’m really appreciative. When I’m given the opportunity, I try to imprint my success philosophy, work ethic and knowledge on the new cadets. It’s something I plan on taking with me throughout my career and life.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: When you live on the same corner of an island, you kind of want to go and branch out elsewhere. I wanted to go to a bigger university for new experiences. My friend suggested ASU because that’s where his parents went so we decided to go to ASU together. Once I looked into the Army ROTC program and liked what I saw, I thought the school would be a good fit for me.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those managing school and Army ROTC?
A: Don’t be afraid to take full days to work on your homework. Making sure you’re caught up on homework is the most important thing. I put a big focus on GPA and spent the rest of my time focusing on ROTC. The people who succeed at managing school and ROTC are the ones that want to be here, want to lead soldiers and have the motivation and tenacious mindset to succeed.
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? And why?
A: I put a significant amount of time, effort and brainpower in at the Memorial Union Starbucks. I spent the first three years of college getting all of my studying done there. I would get out of class and sit in that Starbucks for six hours and knock out all my math homework, which probably took everyone else 45 minutes, but I don’t really do math well.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I’m going to the Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course at Fort Benning. After that I plan on finishing Army Ranger School and then going to my first duty station. While I’m in the Army I would like to get selected for Special Forces.
Q: Do you plan on making the Army a long-term career option?
A: Getting selected for Special Forces is the deciding factor for staying in long term. I don’t know how my opinion will change going forward, but right now I’m excited about my options in the Army.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: Climate change. I’m a big surfer so I really care about the ocean and those kinds of environments. I think coral bleaching is a big problem so I’d like to see some long-term solutions to prevent that. I’d like to see more renewable energy sources as well, so I’d like to donate a lot of that money to the U.N. to help them reach their sustainability development goals.
Written by Christopher Farrington, ASU Department of Military Science
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