War on Terror Leads to OU

Posted by Paula Paine on July 7, 2014 in "Your OU" It was September 11, 2001. Early that morning, William Cutburth went to the U.S. Army in-processing office in Kansas City to sign a four-year contract. Shortly afterwards, he learned of the terror attack on the Twin Towers. He was sworn in that afternoon.

Little did Cutburth know that his life would be forever altered in multiple ways by his decision that fateful day.William-Cutburth.jpg

Originally from Paola, Kansas, Cutburth was sent to South Korea for two years following basic training, where his enlistment led to his life mate. When he became homesick, Cutburth found comfort through a long-distance friendship with Ottawa University education student Stephanie Servais ‘05, who is now a teacher at Central Heights (KS) Elementary School. The pair connected during his visit home to surprise his mom for her birthday in 2002, and their relationship deepened. The next summer, May 2003, Servais arrived in South Korea, and by the end of the month, the couple was married.

Following a stint at Fort Carson, Colorado, Cutburth was deployed to Iraq in July 2004. Six months later, on January 9, 2005, the decision he made in 2001 altered his life again when he was severely wounded by a roadside bomb that severed his carotid artery. Had it not been for his fellow soldiers, his story would have ended that day. As it turned out, Cutburth recovered, but the residual effects of his wounds cost him his military career. In November 2005, he was discharged from military service.

Cutburth was eventually able to take advantage of vocational rehabilitation offered through the military, graduating from Fort Scott Community College in May 2010, almost one year after the birth of daughter Madelyn (Maddie). He then petitioned the vocational rehabilitation program to allow him to attend the closest four-year university to his home. They agreed, and he started at the residential campus in Ottawa in August 2010 as a non-traditional student, with a major in Management of Information Systems (MIS).

Beyond not living on campus and not being a just-out-of-high-school student, Cutburth was a non-traditional student in other ways. Dedicated to public service, he ran for Miami County District 3 Commissioner while a junior and for Ward 1 Osawatomie City Council in 2013, losing by a small margin both times. Also while a student, his second daughter, Macy, was born, and his third child, a son, was born the same month he reached his goal of earning his BA in July of last year. Cutburth participated in the 2014 commencement ceremonies in May.

Since completing his degree, he has had an internship with YRC Freight, earned four IT certifications, and landed a job with Cerner Corporation in Kansas City. “Getting my degree has changed my family's future forever,” says Cutburth. “It also has greatly increased the likelihood that my children will obtain their degrees. Frankly, that is what getting my degree meant - the ability to take care of my wife and kids in the future. In the technology field, technical skills will get you hired, but a degree will increase the chances of you getting promoted and increasing your earning potential. Had I not gotten my certifications, I never would have been hired by Cerner, but had I never attended OU and attained my degree, I never would have been hired by Cerner either.

“Aside from my own family, I am truly blessed to have known and studied under so many great instructors and mentors at OU. They have all shaped me both professionally and personally. For that I am eternally blessed and grateful.”