2015 Tillman Scholar

Halli Lannan

University of Wisconsin
Ph.D, Urban Education

“For our most delicate and marginalized students, improving public education is paramount.”

At the age of 10, Halli became mesmerized by everything about the Army after visiting her sister and brother-in-law stationed in Fort Ord, CA. Waking up early and listening to cadence as soldiers ran in formation along with the courtesies and customs of the military, Halli was so intrigued that she joined the Army at the age of 17. After getting a taste of military life, Halli quickly changed to an active duty enlistment, serving for five years as a combat medic. The Army offered Halli structure, routine and discipline that she desperately needed at the time.

During her service, Halli experienced a traumatic event, which taught her to persevere and ignited a passion to fight for equality and justice. While stationed at Fort Knox, Halli also became a Combat Lifesaver Instructor, sparking her love for teaching and learning. Service in the Army equipped Halli with the skills to quickly adapt and overcome obstacles.

Halli continued her education after leaving the Army while working as an educator for the Racine Unified School District. She was a passionate advocate for equity, pursuing her Ph.D. in urban education and superintendent’s certificate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Outside of work, she worked tirelessly for sexual assault survivors and the LGBTQ community. She also turned her diagnosis with metastatic breast cancer into an opportunity to inform and inspire others around her.

Sadly, Halli passed away on Dec. 29, 2020, from complications from her five-year-long battle with metastatic breast cancer. She will be remembered by her fellow Tillman Scholars and our community for her tenacity, her warmth, her humor and her passion. She is survived by her wife Erica, her son Noah, her daughter Elliot, two sisters, her great aunt and, as her obituary noted, “a gaggle of nieces and nephews…a large family of wildly loving and accepting in-laws, and countless friends.” It was our honor to name Halli a Tillman Scholar and her passion and integrity will continue to inspire our community.