2019 Tillman Scholar

Marisol Riddell

Military Spouse
University of Houston
M.S., Statistics & Data Science

“It’s not enough for me to care, I am called to act. Helping others escape domestic violence and human trafficking isn’t an obligation, it’s a privilege.”

Marisol doesn’t watch a crisis unfold on the news without doing something about it. Whether raising thousands for victims of 9/11, standing up for targeted individuals against religious, racist or homophobic attacks, or coordinating Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, Marisol values action over angst, especially for the exploited or abused.

Tenacity, doggedness and determination are the building blocks of Marisol’s personality. Marisol’s childhood was spent on the run from abusive stepfathers and she was raised in battered women’s shelters from Memphis, TN to San Jose, CA. She learned that life with an eighth-grade education consigned her mother to limited employment options and poverty. This made leaving her abusers financially difficult for Marisol’s mother. Convinced that poor education led to her family’s poverty, Marisol vowed to get a degree and shatter the limitations of circumstance.

Her academic journey began in 2000. In 2002, family tragedy derailed her efforts. Obstacles continually blocked her path, but no matter how far off-track life’s misfortunes threw her, she refused to give up, clawing and limping her way to the finish line. Nineteen years, three colleges in three states, and two children later, Marisol graduated cum laude with a B.S. in Economics from the University of Houston, and landed a competitive internship with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas – Houston Branch.

Inspiring her family, both her husband Mark Riddell and Luna, her oldest daughter, will graduate from the University of Houston in 2019 and 2021. Marisol seeks a Master’s in Statistics and Data Science to explore the intersection of data science and economics and to develop better ways to rehouse and educate victims of human trafficking and domestic abuse.