2017 Tillman Scholar

Karl Holt

University of North Carolina

“Driven to positively impact, inspire, and care for others with respect and excellence.”

In 2000, Karl witnessed an Army Trauma Surgeon save his friend after being shot in the stomach. Karl knew then that medicine was his true calling. 9/11 came a few months later, and the need to do something meaningful became overwhelming. His grandfather had served as a pilot in WWII. Serving was in Karl’s blood as it made him feel empty to see all these individuals putting themselves on the line to serve their country and he felt compelled to contribute. The desire to serve merged with Karl’s medical aspiration and he left a civilian career to become a Special Forces Medic.

Throughout his time in the service, Karl saw a lot of trauma, but one moment in Afghanistan solidified his future. He and his team were in a helicopter crash wherein ten Americans lost their lives. Although severely wounded, he did his best to save as many possible. It took many years and many surgeries, but the process of recovery gave him unique compassion and insight. Knowing what it feels like to be on the other side of the hospital bed, Karl says his goal is to be a Trauma Surgeon, but his purpose goes beyond the operating room. As a doctor, he wants to inspire others to use their trauma to maximize their own potential; he also hopes to be a voice in Healthcare policy while pursuing several non-profit interests.