2018 Tillman Scholar

Paul Clayton

Marine Corps
University of North Carolina

“Victories are measured in centimeters, scratched out by the quietly determined for the betterment of all.”

Paul grew up in a military family. Frequently being relocated, he became accustomed to ambiguity and grew to appreciate the presence of mind which accompanies that life. Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, he joined the military at 18, a decision that would alter him fundamentally. The Marine Corps instilled in him a bias for action, an appreciation for the power of humble and selfless teamwork, and a dedication to service, precepts which have since directed his course.

After his enlistment, Paul’s interest in the drivers of human behavior led him to study economics. However, his plans for graduate school were derailed by the sprawling opioid epidemic. Despite his best efforts, he watched as it swelled, consuming his mother and a close friend. Enraged, Paul began an exploration of addiction and found himself face-to-face with a medical system ill-equipped to address the problem it had helped to create. He changed course, intent on confronting the crisis head-on. In medical school, his enthusiasm was welcomed by the compassionate and brilliant minds already hard at work creating innovative solutions.

As he continues to grow as a physician, Paul will remain dedicated to the practice of compassionate medicine and to contributing meaningfully to this and other problems facing our world. He will pursue Emergency Medicine, both because of its vital interface with this at-risk population and because it embodies so many of those principles which have defined his journey.