2018 Tillman Scholar

Alex Pruden

Stanford University

“I want to re-engineer traditional economic systems to defeat corruption and reduce global wealth inequality.”

Alex grew up in southern Arizona and represents the fifth generation of his family’s military service. An Arizona Cardinals fan, his career choice was also inspired by Pat Tillman’s decision to turn down a lucrative career in favor of national service after September 11. Accordingly, Alex chose to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point after high school.

Alex began his nine-year Army career as an Infantry Officer in the 101st Airborne Division. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 as part of the “surge” of forces intended to turn the tide against the Taliban insurgency.

In 2011, Alex was selected to become a Special Forces officer, earning his Green Beret. In 2014, Alex and his team were among the first to train and lead Iraqi Special Forces and Kurdish “peshmerga” paramilitary forces against ISIS in Iraq. A year later, he participated in a coalition effort to train and equip Syrian rebel fighters to defend their homes against ISIS in Syria.

Having fought on three separate battlefields, Alex realized that the problem of terrorism is often connected to economic inequality, corruption and desperation. These lead to radicalization, which creates the conditions for terrorism to flourish. After leaving the military in 2017, Alex set his sights on addressing these underlying problems.

Alex attends the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. After attaining his MBA, he plans to start a technology company that employs blockchain technology to address corruption and promote economic opportunity in the developing world.