2024 Tillman Scholar

James White

Duke University

“Everyone deserves the best possible care, no matter the circumstance. We must do everything possible to continue improving our healthcare system to make this a reality.”

Born in Pasadena, California and raised across the United States, James attended West Point from 2006 to 2010, earning a B.S. in both international relations and international law. Following graduation, he was commissioned as an Infantry officer and soon found himself deployed to Afghanistan. 

Experiences overseas drove James to become a Special Operations Civil Affairs officer, where he deployed five more times working to identify local humanitarian needs during operations against the Islamic State in the Middle East, Boko Haram in Africa, and the Taliban during the final days of the American mission in Afghanistan. 

Inspired by the work of military healthcare providers on these deployments, James realized that his true calling in life was to work to serve others as a physician. This calling was tragically affirmed when he and his wife suffered the unexpected passing of their first child, experiencing personal loss firsthand. In the wake of this transformative event, James committed himself to the medical path: he completed his medical school prerequisites, became a paramedic, and earned a master’s degree in biomedical engineering from both UNC and North Carolina State University with an emphasis on device design for the reduction of patient harm. 

As a Duke University medical student, James is following in the footsteps of his wife, a fourth-year medical student at UNC and fellow Tillman Scholar. He aspires to utilize his prior military and biomedical engineering experience to systematically identify and reduce medical errors while improving patient safety in both clinical and prehospital healthcare environments.