2014 Tillman Scholar

Elizabeth Verardo

Yale University

“I aspire to teach and mentor the Army’s future leaders while becoming a more adaptive and effective leader.”

Growing up in the suburbs of Long Island, Liz’s familiarity with the military was limited at best, but the events of 9/11 and her proximity to Ground Zero inspired her to answer the call to service. After graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2007, she commissioned as an Army aviation officer, attending flight school and ultimately qualifying as an AH-64D Apache pilot.

Liz deployed twice to Afghanistan, serving first as a platoon leader from 2009-2010 and then as a company commander from 2013-2014. As a young Lieutenant during her first deployment, Liz’s unit became involved in an international incident when an Apache attack helicopter crew killed two Pakistan border guards during a reconnaissance and security mission. The subsequent investigation exonerated the pilots, finding that they acted in self-defense against the guards’ warning shots, but the controversy and international attention immediately following the incident taught Liz that tactical decisions often have strategic-level consequences. Realizing that a thorough understanding of international relations and national security would become increasingly relevant throughout Liz’s time in the military, she sought enrollment in an Master’s program that would challenge her assumptions and enable her to grow as a leader. Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs provided the ideal environment for personal and professional development, enabling Liz to interact with a wide array of students and faculty, all possessing diverse backgrounds and world views.

Liz graduated from Yale in May 2016 and continues to serve the Army as an instructor at the United States Military Academy. She plans to leverage her tactical experiences on the battlefield to help develop cadets and prepare them for the often ambiguous and complex operating environments they’ll face following graduation.