2023 Tillman Scholar

Kevin Sacco

Marine Corps
University of Pennsylvania
Ed.D., Educational Leadership

“In this age of conflict, I want to bring healing. As a school district leader, I will design initiatives to assist war refugee students in their recovery from PTSD.”

Before even graduating high school, Kevin knew he wanted to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was proud of his family’s history of military service, and he too wanted to serve. Shortly after becoming a Marine, Kevin watched the Twin Towers collapse from his parent’s bedroom window and breathed in all the debris that floated through the air on his walk to work that day. 

In 2004, Kevin’s unit was activated and deployed to Iraq, where he sat behind a 240G machine gun atop a tactical vehicle. His unit, CSSG-15, played an active role in the Second Battle of Fallujah within Al Anbar province during OIF II, delivering ammunition and supplies to Camp Fallujah during some of the worst days of fighting. 

Fascinated by languages and cultures, Kevin devoted his life to the study and teaching of languages, even returning to the Middle East to study Arab culture. Kevin then worked as a teacher in the NYC Department of Education, servicing refugee students from war-torn countries and helping them learn English. Hoping to serve in a greater capacity, he became an assistant principal and introduced building-wide initiatives to help pedagogues teach refugee students. 

Kevin will attend the University of Pennsylvania to study educational leadership. By working closely with UPenn and its constituents, Kevin hopes to collaborate with New York City officials in designing better practices and policies to help war refugee students recover from PTSD and become successful, contributing members of their new communities.