2014 Tillman Scholar

William Burns

University of Miami

“My desire to serve outweighs any fears or reservations I had about going back to school and becoming a physician.”

Service to others has been a benchmark of William Burns’ life thus far. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, he served his country proudly as a Naval Aviator flying F/A-18s. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan multiple times along with Kosovo. William was no stranger to lengthy combat deployments and time away from home supporting our fighting troops on the ground in direct contact with the enemy. A constant professional, he was always seeking new challenges to better himself which took him down the road of becoming a Navy Test Pilot. Another challenge he undertook outside the Navy was becoming a volunteer EMT/firefighter to give back to his community. It was this step which started William down his current path. Many would think twice about going back to school later in life for a second career. William instead looked at it as an opportunity to continue his lifelong service to others. His desire to continue to serve others outweighed any fears or reservations he had about going back to school and starting a rigorous curriculum in medicine to become a physician.  

As a result, he applied and was accepted to the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. William now plans to serve others through healing. As the elected President of his medical school class and the Executive Director of his school’s Department of Community Service (DOCS), he continues to show his ability to positively affect others through his actions. William intends to make a similar impact on the Navy Medical Corps as his previous operational experience will bring a unique perspective. He is excited about the future and his ability to serve others through medicine as his service as a Navy pilot in combat zones led to an unconventional path to become a volunteer EMT and firefighter.