2010 Tillman Scholar

Janice Cunningham

Mississippi State University
B.S., Biomedical Engineering

Having grown up in a military community Janice had a desire to pursue a career serving those who served. Initially she aspired to become a biomedical engineer to make prosthesis and regenerative tissue grafts for injured and disabled combat veterans. With the support of the Tillman Scholarship she set out to obtain a biological engineering degree at Mississippi State University. Upon completing her Bachelor of Science degree she continued her studies with a research intensive Master of Science in biomedical engineering. However, it was her friendships with fellow Tillman Scholars and learning of their frustrations and obstacles when navigating engineering programs and post-secondary education in general that she discovered a new passion. 

As post-secondary educational opportunities have expanded with the last iteration of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, veterans and military-connected students are a growing demographic of under served students on campuses around the nation. With colleges and universities anticipating the influx of military veterans into higher education, she realized that campuses and campus resources (i.e. advising) are woefully unprepared for this growing population of military-connected students. It is more critical than ever that opportunities for research be focused on addressing programs and support services that improve the professional development and enhance veteran-student transition to civilian career pathways. Thus, Janice is currently funded by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program to pursue a doctorate in Engineering Education with a focus on investigating the suitability of engineering programs and campus support structures to address the needs of veteran and military-connected students to attain post-secondary degrees.