2021 Tillman Scholar Media Round Up

Blog | 08/06/2021

Becoming a Tillman Scholar is no small feat and their stories are already being told! Check out the headlines our 2021 class made as they establish themselves as leaders in their communities.

Sara Wray, University of Oklahoma

Check out Sara’s feature from the University of Oklahoma!

As the domestic violence victim assistance program director in Oklahoma’s largest police department, Sara carried a heavy caseload, ran a court advocacy program, and supervised interns and volunteers. She chaired a coordinated community response team comprised of child welfare specialists, prosecutors, law enforcement, and batterers’ intervention professionals, teaching her the power of collaboration across disciplines and agencies.   Along with her dedicated court advocacy team, she was a Liberty Bell recipient for non-attorneys making an impact on the legal system. She hoped to return as a lawyer. However, shortly thereafter, she joined her husband in his military relocation to Japan for several years.

She embraced her life abroad by traveling, learning basic Japanese, launching a business, and volunteering. Now, with their recent state-side assignment, Sara will re-engage her mission at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Despite the career shift her legal education will provide, her mission remains unchanged: create access, build community, and increase public safety by amplifying the rights and voices of survivors of abuse.

Jacob Schillo, University of Iowa

Check out Jake’s feature on Radio Iowa!

Inspired by the technologies he worked with during his military service, Jake began a new career path focused on solving complex diseases. While pursuing his undergraduate degrees, he conducted research focused on discovering the underlying mechanisms by which secondary cancers arise in childhood leukemia patients following treatment. Seeing the destruction cancer can cause firsthand convinced Jake he needed to make an impact in the lives of the patients battling this disease.

Jake is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in genetics at the University of Iowa, where he studies how cancer evolves to evade targeted chemotherapies. He employs unique technologies to answer critical questions, collaborating and adapting to better engage cancer and improve patient outcomes. Through the development of an integrated network of scientists, clinicians, and legislators, Jake is committed to altering the cancer research landscape.

Kanaan Goldstein, Reconstructionist Rabbincal College

Check out Kanaan’s feature in the Jewish Insider!

In the Navy, Kanaan learned that by promoting self-care, she set an example of healing and growth for those around her. She saw the deep need for human connection and now aims to translate her life experience into her chaplaincy to help others find a sense of purpose. Through conversation with people, she tapped into how Judaism plays a role in her life and how connection to others helps create her identity as a pastoral caregiver.

Kanaan graduated from the University of Oklahoma, with degrees in Psychology and Judaic Studies. She will begin her second year at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia in Fall 2021. Before Rabbinical school, she worked as the Engagement Specialist at Syracuse University Hillel, where she built relationships with Jewish students and student veterans by creating programs that helped students explore their individuality and connections to each other. Becoming a rabbi is the best way for Kanaan to prepare herself for service. She is dedicated to spending her life as a chaplain in service of others by empowering people to express themselves. Kanaan’s mission will strengthen the future of the military by enhancing the lives of service members.

Josh Burnes, University of South Florida

Check out Josh’s features from Fox 13 and University of South Florida!

As a senior non-commissioned officer, Josh understood the importance of an NCO’s role in coaching, teaching, and mentoring other service members to become the best versions of themselves. As a combat veteran, he has experienced firsthand many of the hardships and struggles shared by those who have repeatedly deployed into harm’s way.

After leaving the service, he has volunteered with various veteran causes but noticed that there was a lack of military cultural understanding within the mental health field. He now seeks to bring that experience and NCO skills to helping other veterans within that field. Currently, he is finishing his bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of South Florida and then intends to continue onto a Ph.D. in counseling psychology with a focus on researching and treating combat veteran mental health.

Bryan Watson, Georgia Institute of Technology

Check out Bryan’s feature from Georgia Tech!

While serving, Bryan developed a deep appreciation of the role that mentorship plays in the lives and success of teammates. He was also inspired by witnessing the impact that complex systems (fleets, weather, port infrastructure) have on individuals and the impact individuals have on the performance of complex systems.

Following his transition from active duty, Bryan began pursuing a  Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Bryan’s work began at the Computation and Advancement of Sustainable Systems Lab where his master’s thesis developed a new method for distributed system demand estimation. Bryan was named a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, and this allowed him to focus his research on examining the relationship between people and systems that he observed in the Navy. He focuses on methods of improving the resilience of systems-of-systems in the Sustainable Design and Manufacturing lab. His long-term goal is to establish a career as a research professor where he can mentor veterans returning to school and where his methods of systems-of-system design can help make the world a more resilient and sustainable place.

Christiana Obioma, University of Oklahoma

Check out Christiana’s feature from the University of Oklahoma!

As a member of the 469th ground ambulance unit, Christiana learned medical skills and the importance of serving others irrespective of their different backgrounds. She is currently a second-year medical student and is committed to improving the health outcomes of the most vulnerable populations by volunteering at free clinics in her community and advocating for educational programs that highlight the disparities affecting medically underserved populations.

As a physician, Christiana will improve the health of underserved populations in her community and internationally by building teams with interdisciplinary health professionals that will provide patient-centered care, promote patient education and preventative health care in medically underserved communities. She plans to improve the disparities and patient experiences of under-represented patients by incorporating their health struggles into the medical curriculum. Christiana will continue to embody the values of leadership and service she has learned in the military while drastically improving the health outcomes of underserved populations.

Julia Bologna, College of William and Mary

Check out Julie’s feature from College of William and Mary!

After returning stateside, Julie attended paramedic school and returned to the hospital to work in the emergency department. In 1993, Julie earned her aircrew wings at aircrew search and rescue school and became one of two female search and rescue corpsman in the Atlantic fleet. She flew diverse missions, from medical evacuation, search and rescue, and search and recovery. During this time, she received numerous awards and commendations, including the Sikorsky Life Saving Medal. Concurrently, Julie also witnessed firsthand the need for mental health counseling for service members and their families.

After leaving the Navy, Julie continued to serve the military community as an ombudsman at two of her husband’s commands while he served as a Navy SEAL. As an ombudsman, she connected families to commands and to resources. Serving as part of the death and injury notification team, Julie solidified her passion to provide mental health services to Gold Star families. She is now pursuing her master’s degree in counseling, with a specialization in military and veterans mental health.

Tim Torres, Georgetown University

Check out Tim’s features from Georgetown University and McDonough School of Business!

Tim’s time in special operations evolved his views on the war’s impact and its lasting devastation on all who experienced it. With a strong desire to lessen the human suffering caused by armed conflict, Tim drastically altered his career path by volunteering for diplomatic roles within the Army. This new position brought Tim back to the same war zones he previously served as a Ranger, but this time with the mission to end and prevent armed conflict. During negotiations to support the Afghan peace process, Tim sat across from the same Taliban fighters he had previously faced on the battlefield.

This experience motivated Tim to pursue a master of arts in international business and policy at Georgetown University. Now a Chief Warrant Officer 2, Tim will use his combat experience, diplomatic expertise, and education to develop actionable economic and government stability policies designed to prevent future conflicts and improve the quality of life in turbulent regions.