2013 Tillman Scholar

Lea Santoyo

Marine Corps
University of Texas
B.S., Criminal Justice

Originally born in Mexico, Lea grew up witnessing the origins of the drug war that was taking place around her as she grew up in Ciudad Juarez. After moving to the United States, the opportunities afforded to her family in this country made her realize how fortunate she was to have left her original country of birth. With a great desire to serve her new country, and with permission from her parents, Leah enlisted in the Marine Corps at the age of 17, graduating boot camp to serve as an infantryman.

After three successful deployments, including two in Iraq, Lea re-enlisted and was later selected to join her unit’s sniper platoon. During her time as a sniper, Lea was meritoriously promoted to sergeant and served two additional deployments as a sniper team leader. For actions during her final deployment to Sangin, Afghanistan, Lea was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with combat “V” and was also selected to train a group of Georgian Army soldiers in Germany before leaving the service in 2013.

As a Tillman Scholar, Lea graduated with a 4.0 from the University of Texas in El Paso majoring in Criminal Justice. She is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Intelligence and National Security with the goal of joining the intelligence community and impacting crime on a global scale.