2015 Tillman Scholar

Jacquelyn O’Connor

Northwestern University

“The United States represents opportunity and hope. I want to be part of spreading that hope.”

Jacquelyn’s passion for empowering those most vulnerable to abuse led her to the U.S. Army where she hoped to give victims of violent and ineffective governments a second chance. Not only was Jacquelyn able to achieve that goal by deploying in support of the War of Terror, but was also able to develop the skills necessary for future success.

She learned the importance of innovation and personal courage when she recognized a flaw in the operational systems units they were using. Jacquelyn knew a leader can’t just identify problems, however, and was determined to come up with a solution and implement change. After convincing her superiors to make the change Jacquelyn’s new system increased productivity and safety threefold, making the roads safer for civilians and military alike.

The continuing strife in places like Afghanistan has made Jacquelyn realize that the most effective way to combat violence is through economic development, not military action. While pursuing her MBA, Jacquelyn will focus on economic strategy and the public-private interface, with the hope of eventually progressing to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a subsection of the World Bank where Jacquelyn would specialize in women’s initiatives in underdeveloped regions.