Welcome back to the 2021 Tillman Scholars Spotlight! Each week, we highlight a few of the remarkable veterans and military spouses from our 2021 scholar class. These 60 individuals continue to embrace service beyond self in a variety of fields, from diversity and inclusion to medical breakthroughs, to make an impact and create a better tomorrow.
Today, we’re focusing on scholars pursuing impacts in education. With the values of Pat Tillman instilled in them and through leadership development, scholarships, and the support of a global community, they’re furthering their capabilities to become leaders in their individual impact areas.
Shelina’s service coincided with her degree plan as a teacher, as she trained as a soldier during the weekend but lived those Army core values and planned to use them in her very own classroom. She had always wanted to be a teacher and now the Army was helping her ensure this dream would become reality. Upon graduating college at 23 and taking her first teaching job, she crafted her classroom, teaching style, and her tenacity around the skills she learned in the military. As a result, many of her students joined the military via ROTC or enlisting after high school. She has made an impact on her community. She now lives in Washington, D.C., where she is a high school teacher and academy director of a law and public policy academy. She teaches inner city youth how to use their voice and actions for the betterment of their community. She is their biggest advocate and works hard to expose them to people, places, and things that will benefit them most.
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.
After his honorable discharge in 2013, Mikey began his career in education as a substitute teacher. While earning his undergraduate degree, he was inducted into Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society. As a graduate student at the College of William and Mary, Mikey led the Student Veterans Society and served as the vice president of the Student Virginia Education Association. After earning a bachelor of arts in English and master of arts in education, Mikey joined Teach for America and taught 7th grade special education and English for three years. In 2019, Mikey earned his master of arts in English and matriculated into the English Education doctoral program at ASU, where he hopes to teach the next generation of teachers. He is passionate about supporting his fellow graduate students, teacher candidates, and ASU community. Mikey’s area of interest is the portrayal of mental health in young adult literature; specifically, finding ways to connect the English classroom to suicide prevention.
Most recently, Trice served as the Professor of Military Science at Lincoln University (LU) of Missouri. Trice and his team of cadre were charged with revitalizing the program through recruitment, training, and organizational culture. He quickly connected with LU alumni, the greater Jefferson City community, and university leadership to develop a strategic plan for program growth. As a result of Trice’s collaborative nature, learned in Ranger school, his cadre of instructors improved the enrollment and graduation rates of Lincoln’s ROTC program. As a professor of military science and department head, Trice reconnected with the civilian community and solicited their support with recruitment, scholarships, and fundraising in order to revitalize the ROTC program. During this assignment, his proudest moments involved awarding ROTC scholarships to students whom could not attend college without financial assistance. As a result, he is pursuing a Ph.D. to improve college access for low-income minority students.
Three years after enlisting, Erika deployed to support the Fourth Infantry Division in Tikrit, Iraq as a psychological operations specialist. In Iraq, Erika provided cultural awareness training and cultural intelligence to Fourth Infantry Division Command. Her unit worked to build relationships with the local people, provided school supplies to children, and served as liaisons between the Iraqi people and the U.S. troops in the area. Upon returning from combat her childhood ambition was realized. Erika continued her service in a very different capacity teaching 5th grade. Erika has taught for 17 years and looks to the future when she can inspire educators to embrace change, empowerment, and innovation, as well as bring about necessary change in education policy and curriculum. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Learning and Organizational Change and teaching a new batch of rambunctious fifth graders. When she is not serving, Erika trains for triathlons and half-marathons, embraces being a boy mom, and takes every opportunity to go exploring with her husband and three sons in their travel trailer.
Inspired by his inclusion in Martha Raddatz’s The Long Road Home, Eddie’s research continues the complex story of war and family affecting post-military life. Eddie holds B.A.s in history and political science from Arizona State University. He completed an M.A. in teaching at the University of Southern California, where he also completed the master of business for veterans. His story was featured in Transitions in Leadership: The Story of the MBV, A Unique Program for Transitioning Veterans, authored by the inaugural director, Dr. Robert B. Turrill. Eddie is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Texas State University, investigating trauma and social integration experiences among Central Texas veteran communities. His most recent publication in Education and Society, “In Defense of Education: Schooling, Teaching, Learning and Leading in Globalized Educational Contexts,” was co-authored with Dr. Duncan Waite. Eddie plans to use his extensive experiences to continue supporting veterans in higher education.
Faced with the unknown, Fabersha fought through bouts of depression and anxiety to embrace her new normal. It was through the reaffirmation of her faith in God that she was able to walk through her loss and find her purpose in helping others in higher education. Since her revitalization, she has created a scholarship in memory of her late husband and founded an educational consulting firm geared towards helping institutes of higher education foster learning environments that value diversity and inclusion for marginalized students. Through these avenues, she has made it her mission to help traditionally underserved and underrepresented students pursue their educational goals. Passionate about creating opportunities for the disenfranchised within higher education, Fabersha looks to use her knowledge and skills in a leadership position. It is within this context she hopes to change the trajectory of how higher education views and promotes diversity, equity and inclusion in student learning, faculty and staff retention, and leadership. By pursuing a doctorate in higher education administration at the University of Southern Mississippi, Fabersha will use relevant scholarship and strategies to help give voice to the need for educational equality and its significance in providing “liberty and justice for all” within higher education and beyond.