2019 Tillman Scholar

Akhil Iyer

Marine Corps
Harvard University

“I want to help bridge the civil-military divide by better connecting front line operators with the immense private sector expertise here at home.”

The son of immigrants from India, Akhil was imbued with a sense of patriotism for the nation that gave his family so much. While reading stories about the great warriors from Hindu mythology, Akhil also became fascinated with the U.S. military’s immense technological edge as the nation went to war after Sept.11. Realizing that military service was the best way to give back, Akhil joined the Naval ROTC program while attending Stanford University.

It was in college that Akhil was first exposed to the civil-military divide and the role that he and his fellow ROTC students could have in helping to bridge that gap. One of Akhil’s most memorable experiences was his involvement in campus and faculty discussions surrounding the reinstatement of on-campus ROTC at Stanford.

After graduating and commissioning as a Marine Officer, Akhil was fortunate to work with an amazing group of Infantry Marines and Sailors while serving as a Platoon and Company Commander. Transitioning to Marine Special Operations, Akhil again found himself alongside remarkable warriors while serving as a Special Operations Team Commander. Through his deployments, Akhil began to recognize the need to better connect private sector expertise and technologies with front line operators tackling evolving threats. Now pursuing a joint degree through the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School, Akhil hopes to foster this connection as he continues to give back to the nation in ways that transcend the uniform.