Tillman Scholars in the News

Blog, Tillman Scholars in the News | 05/10/2021

We’re proud of these Tillman Scholars for continuing to make an impact on their communities. Read on to see how they continue to lead through action.

Emily Balog, 2018 Tillman Scholar

Emily Balog won first place in the GW Showcase for the Nashman Community Based Participatory Research Award and second place in the GW Research Showcase of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

During her six years in the Air Force and her deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, she encountered a wide range of individuals in a variety of contexts. This afforded her the ability to confidently translate her military experiences to practical applications and prepared her for continued leadership. Upon graduating from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia as an occupational therapist specializing in geriatrics in 2007, she addressed barriers to meaningful participation and independence with her clients. Her interest lies in a concept called “aging in place” which allows older adults to successfully age in their homes and communities, preventing institutionalized care.


Dr. Maggie Smith, 2011 Tillman Scholar

Dr. Maggie Smith is editing an article series for the Modern War Institute at West Point. The series is titled, “Full Spectrum: Capabilities and Authorities in Cyber and the Information Environment”.

Maggie originally enlisted in the Army in 2004 to complete her undergraduate education but serving quickly became a passion and turned into a career. She is a trained senior watch officer, cyberspace operations planner and offensive cyberspace operations mission commander. Maggie is also a volunteer and advocate for previvors – women and men who inherit the BRCA 1 or 2 genetic mutation putting them at extremely high risk for developing breast, ovarian, or prostate cancer during their lifetimes. Sharing her personal experiences with preventive surgery, as a result of being BRCA 2 positive, with others facing a similar choice is a huge part of her life and personal healing process.


Jeremy Van Tress, 2019 Tillman Scholar

Jeremy Van Tress was featured by his doctoral alma mater, Walden University, in which he shared information on his journey with ALS and his passion for serving others. 

As a young 19-year-old, Jeremy put his education and collegiate running career on hold to serve in Chile for two years as a missionary. Those formative experiences inspired Jeremy’s decision to become a social worker and eventually commission as an officer in the United States Army. After serving honorably for six years in a special operations unit and the conventional Army, Jeremy separated from active military service to become a physician and provide medical care to vulnerable populations. During his first semester of medical school, he experienced unexplained neurological symptoms later diagnosed as Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS, a rare progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by his military service. Jeremy intends to make groundbreaking contributions to his field. In addition to conducting resilience research with ALS patients, and after attaining a Ph.D. in Social Work, Jeremy plans to teach, advocate to bolster public assistance programs on behalf of ALS patients, establish a fully accessible online ALS counseling program and launch a nonprofit social research firm.

Michael Kothakota, 2013 Tillman Scholar

Michael Kothakota published a research paper titled “Racial Animosity and Black Financial Advisor Underrepresentation” which investigates whether racial animosity across metropolitan markets is associated with Black financial advisor underrepresentation.

After his deployment to Iraq as an infantryman in the U.S. Army, Mike went to school at Northwestern to earn a Master’s in Predictive Analytics and concentrated on how information can be used to reduce risk. The application of statistical and modern machine learning techniques to make reasonable predictions about future outcomes is essential to reducing all sorts of risk – business risk, political risk, financial risk and personal risk. After Northwestern, he went on to complete a Ph.D. in Personal Financial Planning from Kansas State University and has merged those skillsets to research and solve problems around personal finance.


Jameson Lopez, 2015 Tillman Scholar

Tillman Scholar Voices: Jameson LopezThe College of Education at University of Arizona announced that EPSP Assistant Professor Jameson Lopez has been selected for the Early Career Scholars Award. This award was established to acknowledge outstanding early career faculty who are at the forefront of their disciplines.

As a leader of a tank platoon deployed in support of Operation New Dawn, Jameson was responsible for coordinating over 300 combat missions with the Iraqi and Kurdish security forces. Experiences during deployments taught Jameson to adapt to environments to accomplish the mission at hand, but his experience attending a funeral of a teenage boy on a reservation made him realize the importance of educators’ influence on young Native American students in a small community.