2020 Tillman Scholar

Tom Wike

Marine Corps
Ohio State University

“Service to others is the foundation of my purpose. As a social worker, I will improve the lives of the common people.”

Tom enlisted in the Marine Corps to join something bigger than himself and defend a nation at war. He deployed once to Afghanistan and spent the rest of his contract in Japan, North Carolina, California and South Korea and was honorably discharged in June 2015. After service, Tom worked in a variety of industries before realizing his potential and decided to attend college using the Post 9/11 GI Bill. 

Tom began his college career majoring in English education. He had an eye-opening experience after spending a semester in an inner-city school and witnessing the lack of resources and support for the students. Tom saw great teachers become burnt out and quit or become cynical of their situation. He knew he needed to affect change on a broken system and fighting a conventional battle from within was not the answer. This experience prompted much self-discovery, eventually prompting Tom to enter social work where he could advocate change for everyone. 

Tom is pursuing his bachelor of social work and will initiate a master of social work shortly thereafter. Upon completing his degrees, he will advocate for change at both the state and federal levels of government. Tom would also like to eventually work as a clinician at his local Veterans Affairs Vet Center and use his skillset abroad as a foreign service officer with the United States Agency for International Development.