2020 Tillman Scholar

James Alexander Speaks

Marine Corps
San Francisco State University

“I have made it my mission to bring health care to those caught in the crossfire of violent conflicts worldwide.”

Alex was eight years old when he watched the attacks unfold on 9/11. Motivated by the countless tales of heroic men and women serving in the ensuing War on Terror, Alex enlisted as an infantryman in the U.S. Marine Corps shortly after finishing high school. 

During his four-year tenure as a Marine, Alex served on two combat deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. Those deployments proved to be transformative for Alex as he was struck by the staggering amount of civilian casualties and the general lack of medical infrastructure in the war-ravaged communities. At the same time, he was moved by the actions of the Navy corpsmen with whom he served as they plied their life-saving craft on the many military and civilian casualties they encountered. Ultimately, these experiences sparked his desire to bring quality healthcare to vulnerable and underserved populations. 

Alex is currently an undergraduate nursing student at San Francisco State University, and he hopes to move on to a dual master of nursing/master of public health degree program in the future. Alex plans on combining his leadership experience and medical knowledge to have an impactful career with Doctors Without Borders. His goal is to help transform healthcare on an individual and structural level for the countless victims that are caught in humanitarian crises throughout the world.