Why You Should Apply to Become a Tillman Scholar

The Tillman Scholars program is an unparalleled opportunity for student veterans and spouses who care about continued service to use higher education as a launch pad for their career goals and to make positive change.

Every U.S. military veteran and spouse pursuing higher education should submit an application to become a Tillman Scholar. The application is currently open and will close at 11:59pm PT on March 3rd, 2015. If you’re a military veteran or spouse pursuing a bachelor’s or graduate degree next year and haven’t applied, please read on. Based on our first-hand experience, there are three important reasons why you should consider applying ASAP. We are fortunate, honored, and humbled to be part of the Tillman Scholars community.

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Here is why being a Tillman Scholar means so much to us:

1. Be a part of an enduring legacy

Pat Tillman was the quintessential Post-9/11 US military veteran. A deep thinker and leader on and off the football field, Pat sacrificed a lucrative NFL career and volunteered to join the military at a time of war. Pat was truly a selfless individual. Marie Tillman and the Tillman family have transformed their personal tragedy into something beautiful: an investment that will return dividends to come for generations of veterans and civilians. We are—and will forever remain—grateful for the support of the Pat Tillman Foundation.

2. Fellowship with an inspiring community

Once selected, Tillman Scholars participate in the annual Pat Tillman Leadership Summit. This intensive experience provides a space for veterans to share their perspective with, and learn from, the experiences of fellow Tillman Scholars as well as thought-provoking speakers. The Summit is humbling if not outright intimidating given how many remarkably accomplished veterans you will meet.

Worry not. If you’re at the Summit, you deserve your seat at the table. Your Tillman Scholar peers will be an essential resource as you work to continue your service during and after your degree. Case in point: Tim’s roommate at the 2012 Summit was Adrian Kinsella:

Adrian is a Marine Corps officer completing his studies at Berkeley’s Boalt Law School. This spring, Adrian will graduate and return to service as a uniformed lawyer in the Marine Corps. Importantly, Adrian’s service never stopped during his time at law school, and the Tillman community played a vital role in Adrian’s groundbreaking actions. In the past two years Adrian has led the charge to ensure that the United States does not forget Afghan interpreters who served valiantly and selflessly with U.S. Service Members. Understanding that our mission in Afghanistan went beyond drawn-up battle plans and bilateral Status of Forces Agreements, Adrian worked tirelessly to ensure that America did not betray the safety of his interpreter, Mohammad. But Adrian didn’t stop there. He made it a personal mission to ensure the safety for Mohammad’s entire family by advocating for their relocation from hiding in Afghanistan, to safe passage in the United States through a notoriously difficult and complicated Humanitarian Parole application. The mission is not over for Adrian. To this day, he continues to help Mohammad and his family transition to the United States. The Tillman community is behind him every step of the way.

You can learn more about Adrian here and here.

3. Enabling Continued Service

Servant Leadership is the ethos that animates Marie Tillman and the entire Pat Tillman Foundation. This leadership philosophy is the bedrock of the Leadership Summit and defines the Tillman community at large.

Case in point: At the same Leadership Summit where Tim met Adrian, he also met Jake Wood, the co-founder and CEO of Team Rubicon. At the Summit, Jake shared Team Rubicon’s important mission: to provide much needed disaster relief while giving veterans an opportunity to continue their service.

An underlying conversation about service is at the heart of every Leadership Summit, and Tillman Scholars continue the conversation well after their time in school. Query the leadership pages of the most effective organizations serving veterans’ interests, and you will undoubtedly find Tillman Scholars serving in key leadership roles.

We are co-founders of Service to School, an organization that provides free application assistance to veterans applying to undergraduate and graduate school programs. The Pat Tillman Foundation has been integral to the success of Service to School. Countless Tillman Scholars have selflessly volunteered and mentored veterans in need of application assistance. The PTF leadership has also helped to cultivate and expand S2S’s offerings, and this year we are proud to announce an official partnership between our organizations. Service to School would not be where it is today without the support of the greater Tillman community, and our leaders constantly seek to emulate PTF’s servant leadership mantra.

We’ve listed just three reasons why every veteran pursuing higher education should apply to become a Tillman Scholar. But we could write a novel about the incredibly impressive change agents we have met through the PTF community. We hope that you will seek out the same opportunities. Student veterans, position yourself for future success—please apply to become a Tillman Scholar.

Lastly, if you are a veteran and are looking to maximize your education benefits with free application assistance, then please sign up here.

Additionally, please read and share our free guidebooks detailing how to successfully apply to top undergraduate and MBA programs, and stay tuned for a S2S Veteran Law School Application Guide which we will be releasing shortly.

Tim Hsia (Tillman Scholar ’12) and Khalil Tawil (Tillman Scholar ’13) are former Army officers, and among the founders of Service to School, a nonprofit organization that helps veterans applying to college and graduate school. Service to School has recently partnered with the Tillman Foundation.

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