2024 Tillman Scholar

Zahra Johnson

Syracuse University
MS, Biomedical Forensic Science

“Through persistence and dedication, I have navigated a life of breaking barriers. I strive to ensure every life is honored with dignity and truth, especially the lives of our soldiers.”

Growing up in Afghanistan, Zahra Johnson witnessed firsthand the devastating impact of a flawed justice system on a nation and knew she had to make a difference. Her dream is to contribute to a better and more just world. Zahra holds a BS in Forensic Science and is currently completing a Master’s degree in the same subject at Syracuse University. 

The unforeseen death of her uncle in the Afghan Army–and the devastating impact of a flawed and impaired investigation of his death left on her family–prompted her to focus her career on Medicolegal Death Investigation to ensure timely, thorough, and accurate investigations of tragic events. Zahra enlisted in the US Army as a CBRN specialist after graduating from college. 

Now in the Green to Gold program, she aims to become a CID agent and a death investigator after completing her graduate work, leading and training soldiers on effective investigations. She is determined to dedicate her career to pursuing improvements in the death investigation system in the US Army to ensure that family, military units, and the nation receive clear, accurate, and timely information in the wake of tragedy.