Garrett Booth wasn't quite ready to leave the University of Mississippi.
The Austin, Texas, native graduated from Ole Miss in December with a degree in biochemistry and was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy in January through the university's Naval ROTC program.
He was assigned to flight training and ordered to report to Pensacola, Florida, in late May. While many recently commissioned midshipmen use the break between commissioning and reporting to relax or establish themselves in the town to which they will be moving, Booth decided to remain at his alma mater as a staff member, assisting midshipmen in their journey toward becoming officers themselves.
"I requested to report as late as I could," Booth said. "I wanted to enjoy more time here because I know the second I am down there, I will be thinking about being back in Oxford. I just wanted a few more months here."
Booth's transition from undergraduate midshipman to commissioned officer on staff at the university is not common for ROTC graduates.
"For us, it's an interesting transition to go from student to commissioned officer," said Lt. Zakary Smith, Ole Miss Navy ROTC officer. "Most individuals go straight from their commissioning source to their next command, but Booth gets to see the actual shift as it affects his relationship with his peers.
"One day he's just another guy, the next he is in a position of authority and all the students are calling him 'sir.' He has been very humble and attentive through the process, just looking to learn as much as he can."
Booth grew up in Texas and initially began his college career at UCLA, before transferring to Ole Miss. His sister, McKinley, is a student at UM, and he knew it was the university for him when he joined her on a campus visit.
"I love the people here," he said. "Oxford, honestly, has the best hospitality and some of the nicest people you can find on any college campus."
He grew up around airplanes. His father, Jim, two of his uncles and his grandfather were all pilots.
"From an early age, I really fell in love with (flying)," he said. "I started flight training when I was 14 and it really amped up close to the end of my high school career."
He earned his private pilot's license at 18. His hobby and his desire to serve his country ultimately intersected.
"I always knew that I wanted to serve in the military," Booth said. "I didn't want to have a regular 9-to-5 job. I wanted to do something not everyone gets the opportunity to do: to serve my country and do something that puts my life last."
He ultimately chose to join the university's Navy ROTC program.
Booth has not been the sole beneficiary of his decision to remain at Ole Miss for the spring semester.
"On a basic level, (Navy ROTC) benefits from having an extra set of hands," Smith said. "He performs several administrative tasks and even has been responsible for a couple of our events this semester. He's able to act as an example and source of information for the midshipmen."
Booth also participates and guides midshipmen through physical training exercises and leadership seminars.