2015 Tillman Scholar

Rahul Harpalani

Columbia University

“Strength has less to do with how much one can lift and more with how one reacts when faced with challenges.”

Rather than follow in his father’s footsteps as a fourth generation engineer, Rahul – who monitored daily the reports of soldiers killed in Afghanistan – decided to apply to West Point during his senior year of high school. In 2010, only two days away from the end of his first combat deployment to Afghanistan, Rahul’s strength was tested when he was injured by a roadside bomb.

Told he would be ‘lucky’ to ever walk again, Rahul defied every expectation for his recovery. He went on to jump with the 173rd Airborne and return to combat operations in Afghanistan, despite a traumatic amputation.

Rahul’s experiences as a patient have led him to pursue an MBA at Columbia University, with the goal of working at a healthcare company to implement sustainable healthcare infrastructure among the poorest, and most ignored, demographics. Currently working at the Department of Veterans Affairs, he aspires to lead one of the 153 VA regional medical hospitals nationwide to implement lasting change for veterans and their families.