veterans - The University of Tulsa


Military veteran and electrical engineering senior triumphs over adversity

Each University of Tulsa student’s story is unique. Some, though, are clearly more unique than others.

Consider electrical engineering rising senior Benjamin Bozworth. In addition to his formal studies, Bozworth is a member of two prestigious engineering honor societies: Tau Beta Pi and IEEE Eta Kappa Nu. In May, he was elected president of the latter. “Being invited to join these organizations has been astounding to me,” said Bozworth. “Sometimes I worry that if people really knew who I was they wouldn’t accept me or would reject me.”

head and shoulders of a man wearing a red polo shirt standing outdoors
Benjamin Bozworth

So, what is there in Bozworth and his past that might cause such concern?

Being 31 years old in a crowd of early 20-somethings definitely sets him somewhat apart. But getting together with Bozworth for a chat quickly reveals that beyond mere calendar years it’s what he has experienced and accomplished during his three decades that has challenged, scarred, frightened, exhilarated, motivated and forged this determined U.S. Army veteran about to enter the final year of his undergraduate studies.

What doesn’t kill you

Bozworth’s rough and rutted road began when he was placed into foster care at the age of 3 or 4. “I stayed in the system and lived in several parts of Oklahoma until the Bozworth family in Cushing adopted me when I was around 15,” he recalled. “I am beyond grateful for them welcoming me into their home when they did. Not many people are willing to adopt teenagers, but the Bozworths adopted two other boys besides me and have three biological children of their own.” The stability this new environment provided enabled Bozworth to graduate from Cushing High School in 2008.

Halfway through his senior year of high school, Bozworth joined the National Guard, opting to become an infantryman. His plan was to do six years in the guard, get a degree, become an officer and then go on active duty. “I think I had some convoluted idea that by doing those things I could get people’s respect and admiration, like in the movies.”

Even though he had a full-ride scholarship to Oklahoma State University, two days after his high school graduation Bozworth showed up for basic training. While he could have stayed home and attended university, after basic, he volunteered for deployment and was sent to Kuwait in fall 2008. “My time in the Middle East was nothing like I imagined a combat theater would be like,” Bozworth said. “No action, no gunfights, none of the stuff I had signed up to do. It was just hot and boring. Returning stateside in summer 2009, Bozworth married in October and then divorced four months later. “Typical young soldier stuff, really,” he commented.

“Being a veteran gives you a set of tools, but how a person uses those tools is up to them. I used those tools to cause myself a lot of unnecessary pain for many years until I found someone to show me how to use the tools correctly. Things like be early and stay late. Ask questions. Focus on the objective. Work as a team. Respect your peers and superiors.”

Back home, Bozworth also enrolled at OSU. During his third semester, he received word that deployment to Afghanistan was imminent. “I had started drinking and partying around the same time and decided that was – given the propsect of not coming home from battle – certainly more important than school, so I dropped out.”

Arriving in Afghanistan in June 2011, Bozworth’s eyes were opened to the reality of bloody, violent warfare. “This was nothing like my time Kuwait. We were told that the place we were going was a Taliban stronghold and that it would be a hell of a fight. What an understatement! For nearly three months, we took contact every day in some form. Mortars, rockets, ambushes. It was what I had signed up to do, but it quickly got out of hand. This takes a toll on a person.” On Jan. 22, 2012, Bozworth was injured by some shrapnel from an explosion and medevac’d to Germany. From there, he was sent to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio where he spent several months recovering.

Back in the United States, Bozworth was fighting another powerful adversary: drug addiction. “I couldn’t keep a job, I was getting into trouble, and life got pretty bad for quite some time.” In 2013, he called Veterans Affairs for help and was sent for treatment. He stayed clean for a couple of months, but then things deteriorated further. That December, Bozworth made his first suicide attempt. “If I ever forget where I came from or how bad my life was I only have to look in the mirror at the scar on my neck from where I slit my throat and had to have 18 stitches put in.”

At that point, Bozworth was medically discharged from the National Guard. “I would like to say that was when I got clean and turned my life around. Unfortunately, it’s not. This went on for several more years: more trips to rehab, more suicide attempts and eventually homelessness.”

That vicious cycle, however, eventually came to an end. “May 21, 2016. That’s the day I got clean, and I have been clean ever since.”

Beginning afresh

Bozworth’s triumph over addiction and self-harm enabled him to resume his academic journey. After about a year, he enrolled at Tulsa Community College, unsure of what major to pursue but energized by his studies. After two years, during which he maintained a consistent 4.0 grade-point average, Bozworth graduated with two associates degrees in math and physics.

During his third semester at TCC, Bozworth applied to study at The University of Tulsa. “Calling myself a nontraditional student is a bit of an understatement, and I certainly didn’t think I would ever get in,” he recalled. “I had a lot of fear coming to a place like TU. I am nearly a decade older than all of my peers, and there is a stigma that goes with being in recovery, even if only in my head.”

One man’s “amazing” TU story

Life at TU has required hard work and, through that, Bozworth has achieved great personal and academic success. “Two or three semesters in, I was invited to join the engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi. This was astounding to me, going from two-time drop out to honor society! And then last semester I was invited to join the IEEE Eta Kappa Nu honor society. Somehow, I am now the president of the TU chapter.”


Overall, Bozworth says, his time at TU has been amazing. From feeling distant at first and worried about fitting in, he transformed into someone who feels part of a strong community. “I’m still astonished by the inclusivity of the student body, and the faculty are remarkable and always willing to take the time to help. That’s undoubtedly contributed to my success here.”

Bozworth also underscores the role of staff in helping him settle in and move forward, from Electrical and Computer Engineering’s department assistant Marla Zumwalt – “someone who I’ve been able to talk honestly with since I first got to TU” – to Cindy Watts, the university’s director of veterans affairs. In that role, Watts has had ample opportunity to get to know Bozworth. “He is such an amazing person and truly a pleasure to work with,” she said. “After all of his service for our country, Benjamin is now utterly dedicated not only to his studies, but also to supporting other student veterans across the university and to getting involved in the events we put on through the McKee Veterans Success Center.”

For Watts, Bozworth was the natural choice to receive the 2020-21 Chevron Student Veteran Association Engineering Scholarship. “When I called to give him the news, Benjamin was so thankful and honored,” she recounted. “He’s a man who never takes anything for granted.”

Digging into research

A highlight thus far of Bozworth’s academic journey at TU has been getting involved in the Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge (TURC). During summer 2020, Bozworth studied solar panel efficiency as a factor of mounting technology.

“I wouldn’t say that I made any major discoveries that would change the solar industry, but it was still an incredible learning experience for me to work the project through from proposal, design, construction, testing and on to findings,” said Bozworth. “I had to design and build the mount and program the Arduino to control the servo so it was a good use of a lot of the different things I have learned so far.”


Bozworth’s TURC mentor was Chapman Applied Assistant Professor Nathan Hutchins. “Benjamin works hard and strives for excellence both in the classroom and in his research,” commented Hutchins. “He never complains that something is difficult. He just always does his best. One of the things that impresses me most is that he’s always asking questions in order to gain genuine understanding rather than an easy answer. As a researcher, he never fails to complete work on time and he’s 100% focused on improving whatever system he’s tackling. I am looking forward to seeing where Benjamin winds up after he graduates. I don’t doubt he’ll go on to do extraordinary things.”

High-voltage internship

In summer 2021, Bozworth packed his bags and headed to Borger, Texas, to take up an internship with Phillips 66 at the refinery. Working on high-voltage power systems, his main project entailed designing an automatic transfer scheme for all four of the facility’s main substations in the event of a power failure. The other part of this project has been critical motor analysis and protection.

David McCauley, an electrical engineer with Phillips 66, supervised Bozworth during his internship. “Benjamin has been making great progress on the projects we’ve assigned to him,” McCauley commented. “He’s a really quick learner and likes to get right in the middle of things. Added to that, his positive attitude and interesting sense of humor makes Benjamin really easy to work with. There’s no doubt this guy has a rewarding career ahead.”

“I cannot overstate how much I have learned through this experience,” Bozworth enthused. “From high-voltage distribution systems to motor controls and schematics to load analysis, it’s all been an incredible experience.” The fact that he has been assured that his automatic transfer solution will be implemented in 2023 underscores both Bozworth’s growing expertise and the company’s trust in him.

Looking forward to a smoother road ahead

As he looks to his final year of undergraduate studies, Bozworth is particularly keen on the senior design course: “I enjoy a good challenge, and I feel like it will be a great opportunity to put all the knowledge I’ve gained to practical use.”

After graduation, Bozworth hopes to find employment in the renewable energy sector. “There’s going to be an ever-increasing demand for energy across the U.S. and the globe,” he observed, “and I believe that to meet that need we’re going to rely more and more on renewable resources.”

“I really want to stress the importance of asking for help. No matter what you may be going through there is ALWAYS help available. In in my own experience, the strongest and most courageous people are the ones who ask for help, not the other way around.

“I did not do any of this on my own. I am only here as a result of the support of my friends and family. I especially want to thank my mentor, Richard Wolfe Jr., who saved my life by showing me that there is a different way to live. Richard always says it’s better to live with failure than regret.

“So, do the hard thing. Do the thing that you don’t think you can do because you may just be surprised at what you can accomplish. I know I am.”

Outside of work, he plans to continue lifting up other people who have struggled in ways similar to himself. Currently, Bozworth mentors a couple of veterans, helping to provide guidance and support. His efforts extend beyond former military, however, as he is active in the Tulsa recovery community, “just helping in whatever way I can.” Despite taking up about eight hours a week on average, this work “is something I’m really passionate about. It’s a small way to make a big difference in someone’s life. We all just need someone who understands our struggles. Kind people did the same for me when I was down.”

You’ve served your country, now write the next chapter of your story with a TU degree. TU participates in the Yellow Ribbon program, an addition to the Post-9/11 GI Bill® that provides full tuition to qualified veterans. Get in touch with the McKee Veterans Success Center today.


Veteran, TU alumnus builds cyber career in Tulsa

Nathan Singleton (BS ’08, MS ’10) has blazed his own trail to success first as a veteran, then a University of Tulsa student and now as a cybersecurity professional. He was the first full-time cybersecurity employee at a Tulsa-based drilling and technology company. Starting with zero budget and staff almost five years ago, Singleton has developed a ten-member cybersecurity team with a multi-million-dollar budget. “We get to interface with all levels of the organization, from the guys on the rigs to those in the mailroom and up to the executive leadership team,” he said.

Learn more about TU’s undergraduate degree options in computer science or graduate programs in cybersecurity.

nathan singletonHis ability to think independently and relate to different fields outside of the cybersecurity discipline are skills he developed as an undergraduate and graduate student at TU. In the ever-changing environment of digital security, Singleton said professionals must be open to continuous learning and different ideas. “There are a lot of bad actors out there that are spending as much money or more than we are in the industry to figure out new ways to get beyond our security measures and protocols,” he said.

“Cybersecurity is always marching forward. It is very fast-paced and going through an education program that is set up in a very similar manner helps prepare you for that.”

Attending TU as a veteran

Originally from Houston, Singleton attended high school in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and joined the military after graduation. He worked 10 years as an electronics technician on submarines in the U.S. Navy, and as his time on active duty drew to a close, he visited Tulsa where a friend told him about TU. He discovered the opportunities that awaited him if he pursued a computer science degree with a focus on cybersecurity. After studying a couple of semesters at Tulsa Community College, Singleton enrolled at TU as a 28-year-old transfer student. Key staff members in the TU Veterans Student Success Center, such as Cindy Watts, helped him coordinate his Department of Veteran’s Affair Vocational Rehabilitation funding. His seamless transition to a four-year university was enhanced by fellow student veterans on campus from all branches of the military.

“It’s a very welcoming vet-friendly environment, and those are relationships that are probably going to carry me through the rest of my life,” Singleton said.

He immediately got involved in research, publishing papers, representing the university at conferences in Japan and Poland and completing internships with local businesses and federal agencies. “My overall experience was amazing,” Singleton said. “I think research at such an early stage of my educational career was what drove me further and further. Because I was former military and because I was older, I had the opportunity to lead research projects that prepared me to manage a cybersecurity department at a multi-national company.”

From grad school to the government

Research, internships, direct interaction with professors and the tight-knit dynamic of TU’s computer science and cybersecurity programs convinced Singleton he’d made the right college decision. Following his bachelor’s degree, he stayed at TU and earned a master’s in computer science, which opened up a whole new world of cyber scenarios and research leadership opportunities. TU’s reputation as a cyber education center set him on track with a career at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Southwest Power Administration where hydroelectric power from U.S. Army Corps of Engineer dams is linked to preference customers in cooperatives and military bases. As the security program manager, Singleton was responsible for the protection and security of the agency’s dams and infrastructure in four states as well as other facilities, substations and power lines that interface directly with the U.S. Army. He rebuilt the physical security program to respond to floods, natural disasters and pandemics. Singleton also oversaw counterintelligence and counterterrorism projects and eventually led the agency’s cybersecurity team.

Finding opportunity in Tulsa

Three years later, he began to look for a new challenge and was contacted by H&P in Tulsa. He has developed the company’s cybersecurity team from the ground up and manages all incident response activities and system reviews. The department’s roles also have expanded to providing security awareness and training, governance, risk analysis and compliance.

“TU taught me how to think outside the box, solve problems and succeed in the government and at H&P,” he said.

After his work experience in the government, he had planned to look for jobs in Washington, D.C., on the West Coast or overseas, but family ties and the prospect of entrepreneurial cyber growth pulled him back to Tulsa. He believes that with more investment from local organizations interested in building out the city’s cyber infrastructure and capabilities, companies will find Tulsa an inviting city with a low cost of living. “As the word spreads and more opportunities arise here in Tulsa, I think we’ll see how it’s a great location for a startup,” Singleton said. “It’s about attracting the minds, giving them what they need to make that initial, first shaky step and then watching them launch.”




Student veterans receive almost $9,000 to remodel lounge

The transition from the military to a college campus can be a daunting experience for student veterans. In order to ease the transition and provide a welcoming environment, The Home Depot Foundation along with Student Veterans of America (SVA) awarded The University of Tulsa $8,948 this month to renovate the veterans’ lounge on campus as part of the Vet Center Initiative. TU is one of 50 colleges to receive this valuable grant.

At TU, the veteran program is home to many services that assist student veterans. They provide veterans community connections, benefits and operate a Veterans Center. In addition, TU participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, an extension to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Through this program, qualified student veterans have the opportunity to obtain 100 percent tuition and assistance for housing and school supplies.

The TU Student Veteran Association (TUSVA) will utilize the grant money to remodel the Albert E. Schwab Veteran Lounge on campus. Founded in 2009, the lounge hosts meetings and serves as a place for student veterans to relax amid their busy schedules. The renovation will include repairs to the wall and floor, new furniture and updates to the game room, computer lounge, dining area and lobby.

“The lounge is named after the only Medal of Honor recipient from the city of Tulsa. Unfortunately, the lounge did not reflect the honor of its original dedication. It was reminiscent of a dreary and bleak barracks room, often the last place a veteran wants to return to at their end of active service,” said TUSVA President Kate Tillotson. “Last year, 79 percent of student veterans self-identified as combat veterans. The lounge has often served as a safe place to meet and talk about the hardships and challenges they face as both veterans and nontraditional college students.”

“The Student Veteran Association’s goal is to help our members connect with one another on campus for camaraderie. We share information about local veteran resources and help create a culture on campus and within the community that supports veteran academic success and future employment,” said TUSVA Vice President Karl Watkins. “My transition has been incredibly easy, and my experience at TU has been vastly superior to the experiences of some of my peers who attended other schools.”

In 2014, The Home Depot Foundation and SVA established the Vet Center Initiative to provide veterans with assistance in college and beyond. SVA chapters are encouraged to apply for up to $10,000 in grants to build or remodel a space for veterans. More than 60 campuses across the country have received $500,000 to renovate centers for more than 30,000 student veterans.

Click on these links to learn more about TU’s Yellow Ribbon Program or Student Veterans of America.