2019 Tillman Scholar

Jabulani Mzee

Stanford University
B.A., Black Studies

“Serving my country afforded me the opportunity to reach higher. I want to ensure that children, from all backgrounds, are granted the educational opportunity to reach their dreams.”


Becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the lack of productive paths presented by his environment, Jabulani knew he had to find a way out. On the heels of being expelled from school, he decided to join the Army as an infantryman, where his life began to change.

His first experience abroad showed him that he had a lot to be grateful for. His fellow countrymen proved that his preconceived notions he’d held before service were far from true. Lastly, the military developed within him a sense of pride and purpose, traits he had always held, but ones which he was rarely able to exhibit back home.

Seeing the significant difference the military made in his life, Jabulani looked to make a difference of his own. He tutored and advised students at his local community college, and mentored the youth in his hometown. His intent was sound, but he soon realized they were being negatively impacted by the same socioeconomic factors that he once was. He would have to seek a larger platform to investigate and improve racial disparities in education.

Remembering how his family, with its many military veterans, was once denied the privilege, Jabulani decided he would attend college. Reading the humanities will give him the breadth of knowledge necessary to ensure all children, regardless of their culture, color, or class, are granted equitable opportunities.