2019 Tillman Scholar

Stephen Donovan

Indiana University

“My goal is to break down social and economic barriers to create opportunities for those who aspire to live the American Dream.”

As a first-generation American, Stephen felt compelled to join the United States military. Through experience, he knew that many countries do not enjoy the liberties, freedom and safety that America does. He enlisted as an infantryman and was deployed to training two days after his high school graduation. After training, Stephen received orders to the 101st Airborne Division. He supported the Iraq troop surge for 14 months.

After Stephen separated from the military, he continued his passion to serve selflessly for the newly discharged military population. He became a veteran service center case manager for the only nonprofit in California that offered transitional housing to homeless veterans. During this time, he completed his bachelor’s degree and started his own nonprofit that helps veterans receive dental care at no cost.

Currently, Stephen has created an initiative with the Department of Defense and Department of Veteran Affairs that advocates for more veterans to receive healthcare. He has been working with bipartisan members of Congress to create an automatic enrollment system for eligible veterans. Stephen’s goal is to improve the transitional process for military personnel. He is currently pursuing his Master of Public Affairs with plans to impact his community and other veterans by helping to create opportunities. It is Stephen’s goal to start with improving his current community of Indianapolis. In the future, he wants his degree to assist him in breaking down complex social and economic barriers to create more opportunities for all people who aspire to live the American Dream.