2024 Tillman Scholar

Ellery Hepburn Reason

Military Spouse
Duke University

“As a future physician, my priority will always be the patient in front of me and their goals. I will strive to make systemic changes in medicine without sacrificing empathy.”

Born in Celebration, Florida and raised in Apex, North Carolina, Elle grew up surrounded by three competitive siblings who pushed her to be the best version of herself both on and off the court. After playing college basketball, Elle redirected her energy to exploring her passion for service. While attending UNC Chapel Hill, she spent time supporting disabled community members as they navigated health challenges and end-of-life decisions. Inspired by this local work, she sought opportunities to serve on a larger scale. This led her to Malawi, where she spent months assisting with a project aimed at establishing the groundwork for the mental healthcare infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa. 

After graduating from college, Elle was motivated to serve locally and worked as a counselor at an underserved high school in rural NC, while also coaching the volleyball and basketball teams. Assisting many first-generation and underrepresented students with their pursuit of higher education helped her realize a newfound passion for mentorship. She continues this work now in Durham, helping pair minority high school students with graduate school mentors. 

Elle is now pursuing a Doctor of Medicine degree at Duke University. In addition to her clinical responsibilities, she is researching treatment options for a rare type of breast cancer. She plans to pursue general surgery for residency. Most of all, Elle looks forward each day to the interactions she gets to have with patients and the special window she is granted into their most vulnerable moments. She is constantly inspired by her husband Ross, who serves as an infantry officer at Fort Liberty, and her golden doodle Franklin, who is usually sleeping on the couch.