Tillman Scholars in the News

Blog, Tillman Scholars in the News | 09/24/2021

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.

Tara Flaugher, 2021 Tillman Scholar

Tara Flaugher received a 2021 Department of Defense Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship.

During deployment, Tara navigated various hydrographic survey vessels through high seas and used her scientific skills to make daily weather observations and collect quality salinity, soil, and sonar data. She also led educational programs on best practices for international port surveys for foreign and domestic service military service members. After honorably serving for four years, she decided to separate from the Navy in 2014 to pursue her education at Texas State University, where she received her bachelor of science in biology.

Currently, Tara is a doctoral student at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she helps lead a diverse group of transdisciplinary researchers in understanding communication skills after mild traumatic brain injury. Upon completing her neuroscience Ph.D., she will continue her life-long pursuit of helping individuals, like her brother, that struggle with communication to tell their stories through participation in her language research at one of her future transdisciplinary research clinics.

Lindsey Erdmann, 2021 Tillman Scholar

Lindsey Erdmann was featured by University of Minnesota for becoming a 2021 Tillman Scholar.

After uniformed service, Lindsey transitioned to serving her community. Following earning a bachelor’s in social work from the University of St. Thomas, she served with organizations focused on youth mentorship, criminal justice, housing, and mental health. A common thread throughout this work is the foundational need for safe, stable housing to allow people to live with dignity, self-determination, and prosperity. These experiences have inspired Lindsey to work towards dismantling structural inequities within the housing system that hold people captive rather than providing an avenue for true freedom.

Drawing parallels between the marginalization of women in the military and other oppressed communities, Lindsey knows that intersectional policies and systems are vital components for creating environments for all people and communities to thrive. Lindsey will pursue a master’s of public policy and a minor in integrative leadership at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Her goal is to continue making an impact with a career in public service by better understanding the social, political, and economic systems that drive housing inequality in order to develop sustainable, community-centered housing solutions to end housing insecurity in her community.

Sam Long, 2020 Tillman Scholar; Aleja Rocha 2021 Tillman Scholars

Sam Long and Aleja Rocha were featured by University of Virginia’s School of Law for their commitment to service and for both representing the Pat Tillman Foundation as Tillman Scholars.


Inspired by Marines with all different backgrounds, Sam was particularly drawn to immigrants who volunteered for service. Though not everyone can join the military, some men and women otherwise exceptionally qualified were being excluded because they did not have a green card. This is a disqualifier unless their parents were lawful residents and petitioned them to have the same status. Sam recognized these challenges, so he trained recruiters on how to help them. After connecting three San Diego based Marine Corps Recruiters with the U.S. Immigration office, he was able to help fourteen applicants become Marines. Today, each has graduated boot camp, military occupational school, and now preparing for second reenlistment. Sam considers helping these applicants become Marines as one of his greatest achievements, knowing without help, they would have never joined. Now, after eight years of military service, Sam is pursuing his law degree at the University of Virginia and will become a lawyer in Houston, Texas.

Alejandra comes from Colombia, where she grew up seeing inequalities, political corruption, and war as part of everyday life. She studied law because she had the desire to find legal solutions to armed conflicts with the goal of being a change agent. After becoming a lawyer, she gave a pro-bono service, where she learned how to understand, and represent vulnerable populations in need. It strengthened her resolve to help others through her knowledge of law. In order to meet her goals of being an agent of positive change she has elected to pursue an LLM at the University of Virginia. Her objective is to keep learning and doing research of legal strategies that can conclude armed conflicts in completely different societies around the world. By doing this, she hopes to limit the international human rights violations and finally achieve post-conflict stability.