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Graduation in the third degree

William Putt will graduate from UNG with three degrees on Dec. 17.

The life of the average cadet at the University of North Georgia (UNG) is notoriously busy. For a cadet major to also work a part-time job while earning three degrees simultaneously would therefore be impossible. Yet, William Putt of Cumming, Georgia has done just that.

Putt is graduating during the December commencement ceremony with honors from UNG's Honors Program while also earning the status of distinguished military graduate.

"I came to UNG with transfer credits, and kept challenging myself each semester by taking 20 hours a semester," Putt said. "All the while I began working to test out of courses with DSST and College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams. By the time I was a sophomore, I did the math and noticed I could achieve another major. As time passed, I was so far ahead of schedule that I would have fallen under 12 hours a semester, which for the Army is a breach of contract. So, I picked up a third major and the leadership minor as well. Essentially, my balance is a juggling act of a part-time job, being an observer, trainer and mentor for the Military Science III Leader Development Program, school, and trying to get enough sleep."

Putt's majors include Arabic, history, and international affairs with a Middle East concentration. He will commission active duty into the Army as an officer, and plans to enter the infantry for four years and also attend Ranger school. After four years, he plans to be transferred to military intelligence.

"UNG has provided me with opportunities I could never imagine. My teachers and military instructors mentored and developed me, and supported me in taking several international trips. For starters, I was able to study Arabic in the Middle East twice on Army scholarships — in Jordan for three months and in Oman for four. My junior year, I was selected by UNG to intern at the NATO Defense College in Rome, Italy for four months. There I worked with senior officers from all across NATO and the Middle East in fostering a cooperative security environment."

Leadership is a major tenet of UNG's Corps of Cadets, and Col. (retired) Tom Palmer, commandant of UNG's Corps of Cadets, said that Putt's experience has exemplified the very best that he desires for all cadets to achieve.

"We strive to give our cadets opportunities to participate in studies abroad, internships and strategic languages. These experiences, along with being placed in positions of increasing responsibility, are the mainstays of our leadership development program," Palmer said. "Cadet Putt has challenged himself to meet a wide variety of those experiences during his time here, and I am proud of his personal initiative in seeking opportunities to lead, both on and off campus."

Putt also took a Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency mission to Romania, where he trained Romanian cadets in field tactics and advanced English. He then earned the honor of top cadet for his unit at Cadet Leaders Course, the month-long evaluation all cadets from across country attend in order to commission. UNG's military cadre also selected Putt to attend the International Military Academic Forum in Wroclaw, Poland for a week.

"I've been prepared every single way possible for my future career and for the privilege of leading soldiers, from academics to international experiences to leadership training to tactical knowledge," Putt said. "I wanted to train within the best program in the country for preparing officers, and I feel that's exactly what I got. This, combined with the support of my parents, peers, the military cadre, my professors, and the staff in our Military Leadership Center, have put me where I am today."

UNG will host three commencement ceremonies to celebrate the students and families of the fall 2016 graduating class.

The first ceremony will be held on Friday, Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. on UNG's Gainesville Campus in the Hugh Mills Physical Education Complex. The ceremony will honor associate degree graduates from all campuses and all Gainesville- and Oconee-based graduates earning bachelor's degrees.

The second and third ceremonies will be held On Saturday, Dec. 17.  Dahlonega- and Cumming-based graduates of the College of Health Sciences & Professions, College of Science & Mathematics, and Mike Cottrell College of Business will be recognized on the Dahlonega Campus at 1 p.m. The ceremony to honor graduates of the College of Education, University College, and College of Arts & Letters, and will begin at 4 p.m., also in the Memorial Hall Gymnasium.

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