2010 Tillman Scholar
Sam enlisted in the US Air Force (USAF) as a communications airman in 2001, desiring to serve his country and to learn what it means to serve in the Air Force. The Air Force core values of integrity, service before self, and excellence in all we do was adopted early in his enlistment, becoming Pacific Air Force’s Communication and Information Airman of the Year 2003. Before leaving the service in 2005, he completed his Community College of the Air Force’s Applied Science in Information Systems Technology.
Longing to attend school full-time, he pursued his love of literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Being practical, he pursued a BA in Education with a concentration in English and a minor in Psychology and taught in South Korea at an international high school. Feeling unsettled, he desired to explore foreign affairs through further language, history, and cultural study at the University of Hawaii’s Korean Flagship, a national security education program.
Before graduating in 2012 he became a Kelly Fellow at Pacific Forum’s Center for Strategic and International Studies. During his fellowship he was offered a position at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Benefits Administration. In 2014-2015 he served as the VA’s Overseas Military Service Coordinator in the Tokyo region, providing benefit briefings and counseling to transitioning military members. In an unexpected twist of fate on his Tokyo tour, he felt the call to serve once again in the USAF. As of 2016 he became a USAF Chaplain Candidate and will continue his studies at Fuller Theological Seminary.