2018 Tillman Scholar

Matthew Nettles

Air Force
Vanderbilt University

“As a leader in medicine, I want to care and advocate for the most vulnerable populations.”

A young man searching for purpose, Matthew found it after enlisting in the Air Force. He felt at home among his disciplined, fastidious and selfless peers. He served honorably for four years, after which he decided to pursue the opportunity to return to college.

Determined to continue the tradition of service and leadership he adopted in the military, Matthew began working at a state-run benefits counseling office for veterans as well as volunteering at the Arizona VA Medical Center. Additionally, while studying at the University of Arizona, he helped lead a fledgling tutoring program for veterans in math and science courses. He graduated from the University of Arizona Honors College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science.

Through his work and volunteering efforts, Matthew became acutely aware that physical, mental and emotional deficits, coupled with homelessness, addiction and underemployment are common challenges veterans face. He realized quickly through various encounters with despondent veterans that they are in many ways an underserved population. As a physician, he hopes to close gaps in access and quality of health care among veterans and other vulnerable populations.