2021 Tillman Scholar

Rikeem Sholes

Washington State University

“We should never be done learning. We can always strive to improve ourselves and the situations of others.”

The U.S. Navy gave Rikeem a toolkit to pursue his dreams of becoming a scientist. His time training during his military service gave him the confidence to pursue university studies in civilian life. Deployments instilled in him the grit to persevere through stressful situations. He learned to think critically and analytically, two skills absolutely necessary for any scientist.

After his discharge, he enrolled at Louisiana State University, pursuing a degree in biology. After graduation, he began working at various environmental agencies, accruing skills to become a biologist. He traveled the country, working on various projects and getting to know the people that make up the melting pot that is the U.S.. This exposure strengthened the appreciation he had for his country and sparked within him a desire to share its beauty with others.

Almost 20 years after enlisting he enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Washington State University, hoping to become the first person in his family to obtain a doctorate. He strives to advance the global pool of knowledge in his scientific discipline while also making sure that science is made accessible for all people.