From welder to lawyer: Steven Iverson to graduate for fourth time as Ichabod

If not for Washburn, Steven Iverson says he would have lived his life convinced he wasn’t “cut out for college.”

Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m. at Lee Arena on the Washburn University campus, Iverson will graduate for a fourth time as an Ichabod: from the Washburn University School of Law. 

Iverson began his Ichabod experience in 2004 as a student in the welding program at Washburn Tech.

“I wanted to be a welder because I didn’t think I could go to college,” Iverson said. “I didn’t have scholarly confidence.”

While he loved the work and paid his way through school with a welding job, he knew he didn’t want to stay in the physically demanding profession for his entire working life. Then he learned that the unique relationship between Washburn Tech and Washburn University meant he could grow his welding certificate into an Associate of Applied Science degree through the School of Applied Studies.

“Once I passed one class I thought ‘I’ve made it this far’ and I kept going.”

But an 18-month deployment to Baghdad, Iraq with the National Guard delayed his progress – and took his hearing. Iverson, originally from Holton Kan., received an Army Commendation Medal from Gen. David Petraeus personally while in Iraq. He completed more than 100 combat missions and now is dedicated to his physical and mental health. Iverson regularly attends meetings at the VA hospital to help him cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and traumatic brain injury related to his service.

“My first semester back was tough. I knew I just needed to keep moving forward,” said Iverson.

Support he found in the Student Services office on campus helped connect him with VA services and he graduated with an associate degree in applied science in spring 2009.

He was just getting started. 

Iverson said he knew he wanted to be an attorney but he didn’t know any attorneys or how to get there. He did know how to keep moving forward.

“Mitch (Higgs) was my advisor. She helped me pick out my classes. We read through the catalog,” Iverson said. “One semester at a time, I felt like my bachelor’s was within my reach.”

Higgs said Iverson is one of the most hardworking and dedicated students she has had the pleasure of working with. She marvels at his perseverance and how he used his skill as a welder to help his transition back to civilian life. He welded a Jeep Wrangler in those first months back.

Iverson earned his bachelor of arts in political science in spring 2011. It was during his constitutional law courses that he began to really imagine himself working as an attorney. But it wasn’t until after his first year of law school that he finally had built up that scholarly confidence and knew he could do it.

Iverson met his wife, Ashley, at the Washburn University Student Recreation and Wellness Center. Ashley, originally from Dodge City, Kan., will also graduate from the Washburn School of Law on Saturday.