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Ruthenberg named Tillman Military Scholar

June 03, 2013

Efraim Ruthenberg, a United States Army veteran, has been selected as a Tillman Military Scholar for the 2013-2014 academic year. A native of Peoria, Ariz., Ruthernberg is currently pursuing an MBA through the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

In 2008, the Pat Tillman Foundation established the Tillman Military Scholars program to support educational opportunities for service members and military families by bridging the financial gaps left by the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. As a result, Tillman Military Scholars receive financial support to not only cover traditional study-related expenses such as tuition and books, but also other needs, including (but not limited to) housing, transportation and childcare.

As a child, Ruthenberg’s father would talk about the United States Army and the West Point Military Academy. Ruthenberg was an avid swimmer and knew he wanted to one day swim on an NCAA level. After doing some research, he learned that the academy would afford him both a college swimming experience and the military training he needed to join the Army.  

In 2008, Ruthenberg was sent on his first deployment to Iraq under the Operation Iraqi Freedom campaign. He took a position as a logistics officer and had a three-month stint as the compound commander where he oversaw 120 people. He says the comradery among the soldiers living on the base is something he will always value.

On his next deployment, Ruthenberg was sent to Afghanistan for nine months where held a position as a supply specialist. The job led him to uncover an interest in finance management.

“I enjoyed it because I was able to look at the costs being spent and save taxpayer dollars when possible. With our national debt so high, it was an opportunity to evaluate how the Army spends money on supplies,” he said.

The core value that Ruthenberg learned while in the service was to never complain.

“I knew a guy who lost both his arms and legs. It’s a memory I hold with me because, thankfully, I was never even injured. You could always have it much worse, so don’t complain,” he said.

While abroad, Ruthenberg made the decision to apply to ASU and the W. P. Carey business school. He knows he wants to open his own startup company, but says the business plan has not yet come to him. In the meantime, he is working at Intel where he reviews software contracts.

“When you have your own company, if you fail it’s your fault. I want to build something of my own. Risk takers are what America was built on,” he said.

Shortly after his acceptance to ASU he applied for the Tillman Military Scholars program, not out of financial need, but because he wanted to align himself with the values and opportunities that the Pat Tillman Foundation promotes.

“I just want to be a part of the program. I’m excited to meet new people at the leadership summit and be involved in community service opportunities,” he said.

Ruthenberg’s dreams were put to the test last year when he was diagnosed with bone cancer. He says that growing up, he could feel something in his leg and didn’t have full range of motion. It wasn’t until he was stationed in Afghanistan that he began having difficulties doing basic exercises. The doctor on the base examined the problem and concluded that there was a benign tumor in his knee.

Six months ago, the Veterans Affairs Hospital found that the tumor was active and Ruthenberg needed surgery to remove his knee. In January he went in for surgery at the Mayo Clinic where they placed a metal rod in his femur.

With a clean bill of health, he is working to regain motion and strength in his leg. His positive attitude has kept him going throughout the ordeal. He reminds himself everyday that things could still be worse.