2019 Tillman Scholar

Michael Sheppard

Arizona State University
Ph.D., Engineering Education Systems & Design

“I aim to develop pragmatic solutions to human trafficking that emphasize emotional recovery and societal reintegration for survivors.”


Michael was a Senior at Lynchburg College in Virginia when Sept. 11, 2001 brought foreign attacks to American soil. Throughout his last year of college, Michael continued to feel a pull toward contributing to the defense of our country and, following the completion of his Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science degree, he made the commitment to enlist in the United States Navy. Michael sought to become one of the proud members of this Nation’s Special Operations Forces and, after years of rigorous training, he continued his service as a Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsman at 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion. The years that followed were comprised of operations overseas. Often, Michael found himself in circumstances where it was necessary he employ medical treatment for both injured men and indigenous animals. His final year of active duty was devoted to the training of other military members that would become the next generation of Reconnaissance Marines and Corpsmen.

Having completed a Master of Science in Engineering degree in 2019, Michael is continuing in his pursuit of a Ph.D. in Engineering Education. His drive toward this field of study is to cultivate skills and knowledge that will better prepare him for a career focused on combating human-trafficking. Michael is seeking to find a way to integrate technical engineering principles, scientific research practices, and a broad network of motivated leaders to end human trafficking. Michael believes this integrated team, coupled with a holistic approach, will inhibit future trafficking crimes, while improving the well-being of current survivors.