2018 Tillman Scholar
Emulating his grandfather, Steven enlisted in the U.S. Army to live the principles he held dear: duty, honor, and service to others. Though the trials of his service brought Steven to appreciate the value of camaraderie, teamwork, integrity, leadership, and above all, freedom, his experience also confronted him with an unavoidable truth: his dream of “bringing freedom to others” could not be accomplished through military intervention. To accomplish this dream, Steven resigned his commission and began his formal academic career.
Through his experience and double major in political science and sociology, Steven found his answer: for people to be free, they must first find the self-capacity needed to thrive. To thrive, one must be able to earn or produce what is needed. To earn and produce, one needs an education and marketable skills. At the intersection of these requisite skills and his love for the environment, Steven found a solution that would empower those in need, reconnect humanity with nature, and lessen the impact we have on the natural world: the self-contained, produce-yielding ecosystems known as aquaponics.
Eager to empower others to achieve freedom for themselves, Steven continues his studies in nonprofit management. To leverage the power of aquaponics, Steven has conceived the nonprofit concept of “Urban Oases”. By partnering with local schools and disenfranchised communities, Steven plans to use aquaponics to eliminate “food deserts”, reconnect urban communities with nature and one another, and empower them to take the reins of their own future.