Tedd Kuchta

Army taps soldier’s commercial appeal for national campaign

By Sue Stevens

Alumnus Tedd Kuchta’s career path has taken a few turns, but none as dramatic as his recent stint as the star of two TV commercials.

He was one of four Army Reserve members chosen for a national recruitment ad campaign late last year. One of the spots premiered during Super Bowl XLIII. A few weeks later he took his two daughters to the movies, and their dad suddenly appeared on the big screen in the second commercial.

An Army Reserve TV commercial features recent alumnus Tedd Kuchta in a library while a cargo helicopter hovers overhead. As Kuchta puts on his combat helmet, viewers hear, “Where can a student stay in school while expanding his education beyond the classroom?”

One of the ads places him in an educational environment that morphs into a military setting. As a narrator asks, “Where can a student stay in school while expanding his education beyond the classroom?” Kuchta walks between two bookshelves and puts on his combat helmet as a cargo helicopter hovers overhead.

“I had never done anything like that before,” says Kuchta, who answered the ad query as a joke. “The funny thing is, the commercial people called me about 30 minutes after I hit send on that e-mail. But I really enjoyed it, and I wouldn’t mind doing some acting in the future.”

At the moment, however, the 31-year-old soldier’s dance card is full. He graduated with an interdisciplinary studies degree in December 2008 and took additional classes until he reported at Fort Lewis in Washington state in June, where he completed the leadership development and assessment course. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in July and returned to UT Arlington as an ROTC recruiter.

“I had planned to be a military police officer,” says Kuchta, who did most of his undergraduate studies in criminology and criminal justice. “Then I learned about the Army’s new human intelligence program.”

The program was developed to fight terrorism. Kuchta explains that it’s based on knowing how to talk to people and blend in with the local civilians, understand their situation and get them to willingly provide information that could save lives. For Kuchta, the program’s potential for protecting the country surpassed what he could contribute as a military police officer.

“The funny thing is, the commercial people called me about 30 minutes after I hit send on that e-mail. I wouldn’t mind doing some acting in the future.”

It wasn’t the first time he changed careers. After high school he headed to Texas Tech with plans to be an engineer. Six years later he still needed 15 hours to graduate but lacked the enthusiasm to continue.

He also was married and had a young stepdaughter. He and his wife, Michelle, decided to return to the Fort Worth-Dallas area and get jobs. Shortly after 9-11, he felt compelled to enlist in the Army Reserve. After serving his active duty, he enrolled at UT Arlington.

“Michelle is a registered nurse but didn’t have her bachelor’s degree when we left Lubbock,” he said. “She enrolled at UT Arlington, finished her degree and then told me it was time for me to finish mine.”

He opted to pursue an interdisciplinary studies degree where he could pick and choose the courses that best fit his goals. He particularly enjoyed a law enforcement administration class taught by Rick Smith.

Dr. Smith remembers Kuchta as a serious student eager to learn, often lingering after class to continue a discussion. “Tedd took a scholarly, academic approach,” Smith said.

When Kuchta enrolled at UT Arlington, he also entered ROTC. Lt. Col. Albert Alba, professor of military science, calls Kuchta an outstanding cadet whose experience strengthened the program. He knows Kuchta will make an excellent officer.

“But the pressure is really on. He’s been out there in those commercials, and everyone knows his face,” Alba says. “There will be no room for errors for this new officer!”

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