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 second to last impact area highlight is showcasing our 2022 Tillman Scholars who have dedicated their careers to public service. Check out how they are planning on making their impacts below!
Andrea Baker, Vanderbilt University
In 2006, Andrea answered a long-felt call to ministry after her family relocated to California. She was ordained in 2010 and served as an Episcopal priest in Honduras and California. During seminary, she learned the Army needed chaplains and she was commissioned a chaplain in the Army Reserve in 2011, fulfilling another long-felt call after a 20-year break in service.
Serving service members and their families fills Andrea’s soul. She volunteered for a deployment to Afghanistan with 1-52 Aviation Battalion in 2014 and mobilized in 2017 to stand up the chaplain section for Special Operations Command Africa. She joined the Army Active Guard Reserve program in 2018 and has served in chaplain recruiting operations at Ft. Knox, Kentucky since 2019. She returned to the operational world and direct religious support in July 2022 as deputy command chaplain, 9th Mission Support Command at Ft. Shafter, Hawaii. Andrea is also pursuing a doctor of ministry degree focused on the integration of chaplaincy and mental health. She is passionate about supporting soldiers, veterans, and their families in living spiritually and emotionally grounded lives of meaning, hope, and purpose.
Angel Escobar-Rodas, Harvard University
During his architecture studies at Woodbury University in Burbank, California, Angel pursued avenues of service through volunteer social workshops in Latin America, where he worked with teams and communities to design and build public spaces in impoverished areas. As the only American volunteer, Angel drew upon his upbringing and military service to forge connections and work collaboratively with an international group of designers. Angel sees the impact of community-based design-and-build projects and endeavors to bring this positive impact to communities in the United States through design and design education.
Angel is currently pursuing a Master of Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design, where he is focusing on the ways in which design can positively impact communities. Angel’s long-term goals include starting his own architecture practice that focuses on design-build strategies and design-oriented social programs for communities, as well as teaching design.
Elizabeth Tarbox, Missouri University of Science and Technology
In 2017, Elizabeth followed her grandfather and joined the US Army as an engineer officer. As a Lieutenant, she led an Equipment Support Platoon through the National Training Center. She then led the 517th Geospatial Planning Cell – a position two ranks above her own. There, Elizabeth planned, prioritized, and managed geospatial security cooperation engagements to Africa Partner Nations. She managed geospatial intelligence for the U.S. Army – Africa during critical Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) missions. She also deployed to African countries where she familiarized their engineers on geospatial sciences to counter human trafficking and terrorist activity.
Today, Elizabeth is studying environmental engineering at Missouri S&T. She plans to use her education to further her work as an Army Engineer. Some of her goals include working for the US Army Corps of Engineers – a leader in civil works in the U.S. with notable projects including hurricane Katrina and post 9-11 reconstruction. Long term, Elizabeth hopes to merge her leadership, geospatial, and environmental engineering skills as the commander of the JTF-Bravo, Honduras and provide counter human trafficking and HADR to South America.
Haley Padgett, College of William & Mary
Haley is currently teaching at a Title I dual-language school in Alexandria, Virginia, and working towards a degree in clinical mental health counseling. After witnessing the impact of trauma on the physical and mental well-being of her students, and the lack of supportive services available to them, Haley decided to pursue a career in counseling. Her goal is to become an effective therapist who uses play therapy and other trauma-responsive practices to help children and families build resilience, heal, and thrive. Haley is passionate about addressing barriers to mental health care by partnering with school districts to bring high quality services to communities in need.
Her long-term goals are to increase access to counseling services in communities suffering from intergenerational poverty and violence, as well as to recent immigrants and refugees. Haley’s students, through their strength, spirit and resilience have shown her that we all have reason to feel confident and optimistic about our future, and that there is nothing more important than investing in the health and happiness of our children.
Ryan Benally, Arizona State University
Ryan served with the Marine Corps for four years, which included two deployments to Iraq. Having spent nearly half his enlistment overseas on deployment, he began to appreciate the freedoms we have as Americans and unwavering support of his family and friends. Mission after mission eventually turned into tense combat situations with his fellow Marines.
These events taught him how effective training could turn the tide in your favor with prudent planning and instruction. Values could be learned and taught. Upon exiting active duty service, he worked to obtain his bachelor’s degree in financial management. Yet, the act of service to the community never left Ryan. He volunteered his time and experience to help build up his home community on the Navajo Nation. Lack of basic services and infrastructure in his community led Ryan to continue his education in a master’s program in the field of construction management and technology at Arizona State University. Ryan intends to use his education to help build a better community back home.
Zachary White, Emory Riddle Aeronautical University
After witnessing a tragic accident at age 17, Zach felt compelled to follow a life of service. He joined his local fire department, which ignited his passion for helping others and heavily influenced his decision to join the U.S. Air Force as a Fire Protection Apprentice. Ten years later, Zach has served across the United States and around the globe. He has acted as a US Southern Command Air Advisor and Incident Commander for six major international military exercises. He has been an executive member of six private organizations and holds the designation of Chief Fire Officer from the Center for Public Safety Excellence.
Zach is the Assistant Fire Chief for the Vandenberg Space Force Base Fire Department, where he oversees the wildfire and emergency operations for 22 space and missile launch platforms spanning 118,000 acres. He also serves as an advisor to the readiness and training of the specialized fire and emergency services personnel who respond to such incidents. Zach aspires to propel innovation and growth of the fire service by pioneering the development of space-related fire and emergency operations training that will support and protect launch operations worldwide.