2011 Tillman Scholar

Rachel Ericksen

Air Force
University of Nebraska
B.S., Nursing

Rachel held her nine-month old nephew as they said good-bye to his mom who was leaving on a one year deployment to Iraq. Rachel’s brother-in-law had recently returned from deployment and everyone knew he would soon be heading back. Rachel knew the family would need a lot of support and help raising her nephew. This experience solidified Rachel’s commitment to work with children.

When Rachel enrolled in the pre-nursing program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, her goal was to work in a profession where she could help children. As she continued her community service work throughout college, Rachel realized teaching would give her the opportunity she was looking for to be a catalyst for change. 

Rachel earned her Bachelors of Science in Education degree in May 2016. During college, she continued to serve as safety officer for the 155th Composite Squadron – Civil Air Patrol. She was a mentor in the Teammates program and volunteered at Clinic with a Heart. She traveled to Honduras on a volunteer medical team. The team served children and their families in villages in remote locations. 

Rachel was selected by Teach for America and was hired in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is teaching first grade at William Penn Elementary School. The school is located in an economically distressed area. The poverty rate of the families in the school over the last five years ranges between 92-96%. Rachel is currently working on developing a program that provides opportunities for positive experiences in order to improve the health and well-being of her students and the surrounding community.