2014 Tillman Scholar

Jamal Sowell

Marine Corps
Indiana University

“My tour of duty helped me realize how fortunate I am and how much I want to make a difference in national security.”

Having a grandfather who served in World War II, father who served in Vietnam, and brother who served in Iraq, Jamal always knew he would follow in their footsteps. During the initial stages of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Jamal was in college at the University of Florida. He was always perplexed by the way so many able-bodied military-aged men were extremely adamant about going to war and hawkish in their views, but were never willing to serve themselves. Knowing his family’s legacy of service, and not wanting to be one of those individuals, he knew his time would eventually come to answer the call to serve.

In his first year of graduate school at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, he enlisted as a private first class in the Marine Corps reserves, while simultaneously completing his Master’s degree. After graduation, he then went on active duty as an officer. Jamal found his experience in Afghanistan both life changing and humbling. Serving as an enlisted Marine, then being selected as an Officer to serve those same Marines as their leader was the most daunting responsibility he had ever accepted. The experience became a way for him to repay his country for the enormous opportunities it had provided him and to repay his men who had confidence in him to serve as their leader. His tour of duty with fellow Marines and with the people of Afghanistan helped him realize how fortunate he was and persuaded him to attend law school and make a difference in national security.