2020 Tillman Scholar

Melissa McCafferty

Coast Guard
Georgetown University

“I have witnessed first-hand the brutality of criminals at home and abroad. I want to use the law as my weapon to fight for justice and serve those in need.”

Coming from humble roots in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Melissa saw the demographic disparity in her state and its unfortunate effects on the population. She has committed herself to a career in public service to fight that disparity.

In 2007, she joined the Coast Guard through the merit-based academy, focusing her studies on political science. Melissa was selected as the 2010 Truman Scholar from Michigan and ultimately graduated as the top humanities student. Upon commissioning, Melissa became the first female officer assigned to a fast response cutter with deployments out of Miami, Florida. During this commission, Melissa fought against international drug cartels and disrupted human trafficking rings.

In Houston, Texas, Melissa served as command duty officer where she led 1,200 personnel and managed more than $1.5 billion in assets. Melissa oversaw the Coast Guard response to more than 1,000 incidents, rescuing 332 lives from the depths of the sea.

A true humanist, Melissa created and established Houston’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program, which trained and educated 49 victim advocates, and resulted in Melissa being selected the Coast Guard Female Leader of the Year in 2016.

Melissa dreams of a legal career fighting for those unable to fight for themselves and aiding in the dispensation of justice. She plans to bring her principles of honor, respect and devotion to duty, with her into the legal community at Georgetown.