2017 Tillman Scholar

Jonathon Florance

Harvard University

“Medicine will help me strengthen communities by caring for what makes us human.”

Jon enlisted in the infantry at 17, but entered West Point less than a year later. He commissioned back into the infantry and served as a platoon leader during the troop surge in Iraq. Relishing the experience of working alongside Iraqi security forces and partnering with local leaders to build lasting security, Jon applied to Special Forces.

As a Green Beret, Jon worked alongside people from a wide range of cultures. He deployed to Iraq, central and northern Africa, the Balkans, and Southeast Asia. Each experience strengthened his belief that people have so much in common, and that one thing above all else enables them to enjoy a secure and prosperous environment: community. Through community, people sacrifice for a greater good and put others above themselves, creating the conditions that undermine extremism.

Although the United States Armed Forces have an important role in the world, Jon felt he couldn’t instill this sense of community through military strength alone. Instead, he witnessed several examples of small scale success where individuals literally built community with their own hands. Of all these examples, medicine proved the most powerful medium. Now at Harvard Medical School, Jon hopes to graduate into a profession which will allow him to address local and global health issues, in an effort to build stronger communities.