2016 Tillman Scholar

Nathan Derge

Marine Corps
University of Wisconsin
B.A., Political Science

“Seeing innocent people so easily abused revealed to me how fragile civil rights are abroad and at home.”

Motivated by a desire to find meaningful purpose and see the world beyond rural Wisconsin, Nathan enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at age 17. In the military, he was fortunate to serve with men and women from different ethnicities, cultures, economic and varied backgrounds – fighting together to protect civil and human rights where laws did not defend them.

Overseas, he witnessed corrupt officials neglect and mistreat people they were appointed to protect, and came to realize how fragile civil rights are. He watched as people’s meager possessions and homes were taken, leaving them without shelter or a means to survive. These acts of horrendous injustice sparked within him greater compassion and awareness of disparities in how the law protects different people in many communities – rural and urban – across the United States.

By pursuing his studies in political science and criminal justice, Nathan is determined to ensure laws protect the rights of all regardless of class, ethnicity, or gender.  Currently, he has ambitions to volunteer with a local legal clinic to address policies that have created disparate opportunities for impoverished Milwaukee area citizens. After graduation, he plans to attend law school to continue his service in the Federal District Court system.