2023 Tillman Scholar

Monica Williams

University of Pennsylvania

“My immigrant mom’s example of empathy and unrelenting grit reminds me why I serve; to create opportunities for others, boldly take chances, and appreciate the liberties to do both.”

On September 11, 2001, Monica watched the television in disbelief as the second tower was hit during her senior year of college. Already set to commission that spring, her steadfastness strengthened to serve her country. She immediately deployed upon arriving at her first duty station. 

Throughout her career, she served in numerous operational and leadership roles, including platoon leader, company commander, and battalion commander. She also deployed several times to support combat operations. Twenty years after commissioning, Monica continues to serve active duty today, assigned to Special Operations Command. 

As the global economy and national security increasingly intertwine, Monica will attend the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania to earn her M.B.A. and learn how the two are synchronous. Creating impact requires growth and diversification. Monica’s commitment to service drives her desire to combine her military experiences with a new range of unconventional ideas from different industries to tackle challenging problems such as investing in human capital, evaluating risk in programmatic decisions, ensuring privacy while integrating evolving technologies, and tackling bureaucratic processes. She hopes her plan to take on these challenges in both peacetime and wartime situations will leave an impact for years beyond her service.