Open Calendar


University News | athletics | Military and Veterans

UCM Student James Culp Named Student Veteran Athlete of the Year

By Alex Greenwood, May 1, 2024



Mules wrestler and cancer survivor selected as one of six athletes recognized nationally by Military Friendly®.


WARRENSBURG, MO  – Military Friendly® recognized University of Central Missouri (UCM) student and wrestler James Culp with the 2024 Student Veteran Athlete of the Year Award.


James Culp on wrestling mat.Culp is one of six exemplary student veterans honored in 2024. The Military Friendly® Schools survey is the longest-running, most comprehensive review of college and university investments in serving military and veteran students. Military Friendly® is owned and operated by VIQTORY, a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business. UCM is recognized as a Military Friendly® Top 10 School.


“James Culp's story stands out as truly remarkable and epitomizes the essence of this award, said Courtney Swoboda, UCM director of military and veteran services. “He is undeniably inspiring with his remarkable achievements and resilience in the face of challenges. Observing a student navigate such adversity while juggling the roles of an adult learner, student-athlete, active campus and community participant, alongside the responsibilities of a husband and father, is truly remarkable.”


Culp is majoring in Computer Information Systems and a member of the Mules wrestling team. Enrolling at UCM in 2014, he began his collegiate wrestling career but soon sought to expand his horizons. In 2015, he enlisted in the United States Air Force, serving in Avionic Systems Technology with B-2 aircraft at Whiteman Air Force Base. Over seven years of active duty, Culp took on multiple roles, including honor guard service, where he completed 120 details, and participated in Air Force wrestling.


He earned numerous accolades, including Avionics Technician for both his squadron and group, Senior Airman Below the Zone, distinguished graduate of Airman Leadership School (ALS), top graduate of ALS, and appointments as Noncommissioned Officer in Charge and Noncommissioned Officer for the Squadron on two separate occasions. In 2022, he completed his associate degree in Avionic Systems Technology from the Community College of the Air Force.


Diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2018, he achieved remission six months later and eventually became cancer-free. After separating from active duty in 2022, Culp immediately rejoined the military community as a member of the Missouri Air National Guard, focusing on cyber defense operations.


In 2022, he returned to UCM to continue his bachelor's degree in computer information systems and rejoined the wrestling team. In 2022-2023, he tied for the most wrestling matches of the year and received Academic All-American honors.


Off the mat, he contributes vigorously to campus life in the UCM Military and Veterans Success Center and as president of the Computer Information Systems and Analytics Organization. He is a consistent Dean’s List honoree, and a Fellowship of Christian Athletes mentor at Knob Noster (Missouri) High School.


As a Student Veteran Athlete of the Year, Culp is featured in the spring edition of GI Jobs magazine.


He is expected to graduate from UCM in 2026.


  • facebook
  • twitter
  • youtube
  • linkedin
  • instagram