In conjunction with our 60 Days of Scholars feature, we are taking a look at the different impact areas of our remarkable 2022 class of Tillman Scholars. Our scholar community has found their passions leading them to diverse fields of studies all with the same goal in mind, unite others and advance ideas that change the world. From business and STEM to education and public service, each week we will be highlighting our brand new scholars and how they plan to make their impact.
Our next group of scholars focuses on the humanities. 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.
Anthony Ornelaz, Syracuse University
His eight years of service saw him hold positions like nuclear security controller, installation patrolman, and physical security manager. Anthony’s military service would eventually push him towards academia upon his discharge. He would attend Sierra College and earn three associate degrees in History, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and LGBT studies. From there, Anthony would transfer to Amherst College, where he earned his bachelor’s in History and Sexuality, Women, and Gender studies. Currently, he is completing his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Syracuse University. His work—a collection of poetry—centers on military service, America’s nuclear apparatus, and his involvement in and proximity to both. Anthony is pursuing this endeavor in the hopes of reflecting and inspiring those who do not normally occupy artistic spaces. He is also striving to carve out new spaces in the field of poetry that allows new perspectives and experiences to exist and flourish.
Christina Ebersohl, University of Illinois
For Christina, music also lays the foundation for change and harmony. As a classical violist, her performances offer to transport audiences far away from modern struggles and discomfort, and create a bridge for all to shelter under. Additionally, as a blind musician, Christina utilizes her concerts and public image as a platform for change, donating concert proceeds to the National Federation of the Blind and other charities, as well as raising her voice in advocacy for blind musicians and accessibility around the world. As a Doctoral candidate, Christina’s resources expand, providing opportunities to develop relationships with organizations internationally, and to continue advocating for accessibility, equitable opportunities, and visibility in the field. Through her performances, public speaking, and lectures, and through her publications as Editor of the Journal of the American Viola Society, Christina is actively working to diversify the classical music industry and promote the underrepresented voices of disabled musicians. Additionally, utilizing her platform and leadership, she has already begun laying the foundation to launch an innovative scholarship competition for musicians who have overcome physical hardship.
Rio Tate, University of South Florida
After his military career, Rio examined cognitive aging as well as minority aging. Specifically he tries to serve his community through making research more inclusive. He pursued his degree plan because he believes science can make a positive difference in the lives of many people. He wants to be involved in that positive change. Through research and collaboration with the community he attempts to do so by recruiting minority participants into the Preventing Alzheimer’s with Cognitive Training (PACT) study and as a Black Men’s Brain Health scholar. Long-term he hopes to examine factors such as behaviors to reduce the prevalence of dementia in either a government or academic capacity. He hopes the impact he makes on his community is in showing others that they can impact change, and that the circumstances they find themselves in today will not necessarily be the circumstances they find themselves in tomorrow.
Christopher Wilson, University of Chicago
During his service, Christopher’s now-husband inspired and motivated him to begin a college education. This led to a simple associate degree that inspired a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University. He is currently receiving a Master’s of Archaeology from Yale University and plans to attend the University of Chicago in the fall of 2022. Recently, Christopher was able to combine his service and educational experience by performing an archaeological extraction of service member remains in Poland. He hopes to graduate from the University of Chicago with a Master’s of Curatorial Studies and start an archaeological firm aiming to find and retrieve the lost remains of service members abroad. By bringing home the remains of lost mothers, fathers, sons, brothers, family, and friends, he hopes to bring closure to those whose hopes may be lost or forgotten.