The Tillman Scholars program supports the nation's active-duty service members, veterans and military spouses by investing in academic scholarships, covering direct study-related expenses, including tuition and fees, living expenses and books. Scholars must be pursuing undergraduate, graduate or professional degrees as full-time students at a public or private, U.S.-based accredited institution. Also, scholars demonstrate academic and leadership potential, a track record of perseverance and a deep desire to impact change in our country and communities through their studies in medicine, law, business, policy, technology, education and the arts. To date, the Pat Tillman Foundation has invested more than $14 million in academic support, and it has named more than 450 Tillman Scholars at more than 100 academic institutions in the U.S.
With at least one University of Arizona student expected to be named a Tillman Scholar later this year, eligible active-duty service members, veterans and military spouses are encouraged to apply.
Each year, the Pat Tillman Foundation awards up to 60 students scholarships to pursue higher-education degrees in honor of former NFL star Pat Tillman. Tillman died in April 2004 while serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan after having left the Arizona Cardinals to join the U.S. Army.
Applications are open to join the 2017 class of Tillman Scholars, and they will close on March 1 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. Information is available online. Scholars are slated to be named by May, with funding provided for the 2017-2018 academic year.
"It is an honor to be one of only 15 partner institutions with the Pat Tillman Foundation," said Cody Nicholls, the UA's assistant dean of students for Military & Veteran Engagement.
"The primary benefit of being a partner institution is the University of Arizona is guaranteed one new Tillman Scholar," Nicholls said. "With so many outstanding active-duty service members, veterans and military spouses attending the University of Arizona, we encourage everyone to apply to become part of the upcoming class of Tillman Scholars."
Since 2008, the Pat Tillman Foundation has partnered with higher-education institutions to administer the scholar program. University partners are invited to join because they offer strong veteran-specific programs, services and supports.
"No matter where you stand, we can all agree it is fiercely evident that leadership matters," Marie Tillman, president and co-founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation, said in a statement.
"As a new generation of leaders, the Tillman Scholars are tackling global issues to strengthen communities at home and around the world," Tillman said. "In the spirit of Pat's legacy, we're committed to empowering more veterans and military spouses so they realize their potential as our country's next doctors, policymakers, scientists, entrepreneurs, teachers and artists."
Previously named UA Tillman Scholars include:
- Felisa Hervey, who earned a doctorate in Middle Eastern literature.
- Kris Carlson, Dane Parker, April Ellsworth, Angela Menard and Matt Randel, who earned degrees from the James E. Rogers College of Law.
- Martin Stahl, who earned a degree from the School of Geography and Development.
- Bryce Bodel, Barrett Howell, Sarah Severson, Brandon Hammond, Kent Martinand and Christopher Piercecchi, who earned degrees from the College of Medicine.
- Will McCraken, who earned a Doctor of Pharmacy.
- Brian Kolfage, who earned a Bachelor of Architecture.
- Kyle Brown, who earned a master's degree from the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.
Still enrolled at the UA are Anthony Cervantes, Adam Ratesic and Andrew Medburg of the College of Medicine; and Joshua Sparling and Wesley Stiner of the College of Law.
"Tillman Scholars represent some of the best and brightest student veterans and service family members in our nation. Their military experiences instill a sense of altruism and an ongoing commitment to serving our country," said Carmin Chan, assistant director for online and transfer for the Eller College of Management. "The generosity of the Pat Tillman Foundation allows these exceptional students to pursue their passions and continue their commitment to service within the civilian world."
Stiner, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, was named a 2016 Tillman Scholar.
At the law school, he has been involved with the Veterans' Advocacy Law Clinic and recently had an opportunity to represent the clinic during a presentation in Washington, D.C. While there, Stiner also met with elected officials to discuss the challenges veterans face, especially those who have received a less than honorable discharge. Of note, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that as much as 20 percent of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans experience post-traumatic stress disorder in a given year.
"My experience in law school has been great. Learning the law and having the chance to apply it as part of the Veterans' Advocacy Law Clinic has been exciting," said Stiner, who is on track to graduate from the UA in May with his Juris Doctorate.
Stiner said that he encourages other veterans to apply for the Tillman scholarship.
"The organization is made up of some of the most talented people I have had the opportunity to meet," he said. "Being part of a group whose goal is to cultivate and inspire the next leaders in America is inspiring and motivating. Becoming a Tillman Scholar has provided me a local and national network of diverse individuals with the common purpose of trying to make a difference in the world."