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Cadet graduates from UNG in Cumming with 3 degrees
Cadet William Putt
William Putt. - photo by For the Forsyth County News

CUMMING -- Since age 7, William Putt has wanted to commission into the United States Army.

Soon, he will do so, but with an added bonus: he will have three undergraduate degrees from the University of North Georgia to take with him.

The Forsyth County cadet earned the title of distinguished military graduate Dec. 17 after graduating with honors from UNG’s Honors Program with degrees are in Arabic, history and international affairs with a Middle East concentration.

Distinguished military graduates are those who rank in the top 20 percent of Army ROTC graduates nationwide.

“I never really [imagined] I would take the path I ended up taking,” Putt said. “Especially as 18-year-old me: this is a kid who got C’s in Spanish in high school.”

Putt said while commissioning into the Army was always the goal – every male on his father’s side except for his father was in the Army, dating back to Revolutionary War – the three degrees just happened.

“I knew I wanted to train with one of the best military school in the country and be in the hardest program in the country,” he said. “But the degrees [came] because I had a bunch of transfer credits coming in. I was also able to test out of bunch of courses and each semester I kept taking 20 [credit] hours and by sophomore year, I realized I would fall under 12 credit hours, which is breach of contract with Army.

“So I picked up hours by adding a major, then junior year, I realized I could pick up a third major and a minor.”

Putt didn’t spend all his time on campus, though; his college career included multiple trips overseas and working a part-time job at the outlet malls in Dawsonville and as an instructor to third-year cadets.

This meant extra training time for the 23-year-old, who already had a full plate.

“The most difficult thing was the strain it put on my relationship with my parents and trying to keep my family involved in my life,” Putt said. “Also, ensuring I got enough sleep was [tough] and I often would pull all-nighters. I also never got a week off from work.”

Overseas, too, his busy schedule didn’t let up.

“My first time [abroad,] I lived in Jordan with a Palestinian family,” he said. “I spent time studying Arabic and working some with Syrian refugees.”

His next trip took him to Oman, where he spent four months continuing his Arabic studies and doing research on the country’s foreign worker population.

He then spent time in Romania, teaching advanced English and training Romanian cadets in field tactics, while also teaching officers how to deal with civilians on the battlefield.

In Poland, he spent a week at the International Military Academic Forum, reviewing current military curriculum for cadets and officers in European Union member countries.

And in Rome, Italy, he interned at a NATO defense college in the Middle East sector, where he worked with diplomats and colonels from Middle Eastern and European countries to create a cooperative security environment.

As the only American there at the time, he said it was a bit like “herding cats that were kittens.”

Putt said he is grateful for the opportunities UNG gave him and that he is proud he will now commission into the Army as a 2nd lieutenant.

“Graduation was pure bliss – it seems surreal, though,” he said. “I took 25 hours this semester and when I got to the finish line, it didn’t seem real at first.”

He will soon travel to Fort Benning, Georgia, where he will begin training.

He plans to enter the infantry for four years while also attending Ranger school, and after four years he hopes to be transferred to military intelligence.