Tillman Scholars in the News

Blog, Tillman Scholars in the News | 10/01/2021

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.

Christopher Bellaire, 2021 Tillman Scholar

Christopher Belliare co-authored an op-ed in the Journal of Operations Medicine on the Yellow Ribbon Program in medical education.

Chris is a Marine Corps veteran and medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Chris graduated from Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs in 2011. He served as an intelligence officer in the Marine Corps for four years, with deployments to Japan and the southern Philippines. During his deployment to the southern Philippines in 2017, an ISIS-aligned terrorist group attacked and took over the city of Marawi, killing hundreds of people and creating a humanitarian crisis of 300,000 internally displaced persons. Chris was part of the Special Operations task force that spearheaded the U.S. mission: to advise and assist host-nation partners on counterterrorism operations against the ISIS threat.

From this experience, Chris took to heart the human consequences of war and poverty and the disparities in global healthcare access. Following his service in the Marines, Chris attended Columbia University’s post-baccalaureate pre-medical program before starting medical school at Mount Sinai. Chris is committed to advocating for veterans’ health in his medical training and future career as a physician, and he hopes to increase awareness within the medical community about how military service can affect veterans’ physical and mental health later in life. Chris volunteers with the educational non-profit Service to School to encourage veterans to pursue careers in medicine, and he is the leader of the military medicine and veterans healthcare group at Mount Sinai.

Kanaan Goldstein, 2021 Tillman Scholar

Kanaan Goldstein was hired by the Hillel at University of Oklahoma to lead the Jewish High Holiday services (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur) for the students and Jewish Community there.

In the Navy, Kanaan learned that by promoting self-care, she set an example of healing and growth for those around her. She saw the deep need for human connection and now aims to translate her life experience into her chaplaincy to help others find a sense of purpose. Through conversation with people, she tapped into how Judaism plays a role in her life and how connection to others helps create her identity as a pastoral caregiver.

Kanaan graduated from the University of Oklahoma, with degrees in Psychology and Judaic Studies. She will begin her second year at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia in Fall 2021. Before Rabbinical school, she worked as the Engagement Specialist at Syracuse University Hillel, where she built relationships with Jewish students and student veterans by creating programs that helped students explore their individuality and connections to each other. Becoming a rabbi is the best way for Kanaan to prepare herself for service. She is dedicated to spending her life as a chaplain in service of others by empowering people to express themselves. Kanaan’s mission will strengthen the future of the military by enhancing the lives of service members.

Jeff Mueller, 2012 Tillman Scholar

Jeff Mueller has been appointed to the Trinity University Board of Trustees.

While flying combat missions in Iraq, Jeff was honored to have the opportunity to play a guardian angel-type role to the men and women on the ground. The ability to be in a position to truly tip the scales in a firefight while protecting the bravest men and women of his generation was and remains one of Jeff’s proudest moments as an active duty Marine.   

Inspired by a book he read in Iraq by Ben Graham, Warren Buffett’s professor at Columbia University, Jeff applied to Columbia Business School and was accepted. He graduated with Honors and Distinction in 2013. Jeff is eternally grateful for the support he received from the Tillman Foundation while in business school. Jeff impacts his community through example and service. He is currently a partner at Polen Capital Management, an investment firm based in Boca Raton, Florida and teaches as an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School. Jeff also gives motivational speeches to high school students in South Florida on the importance of living a life of character, service and integrity.

Laura Jones, 2021 Tillman Scholar

Laura JonesLaura Jones co-hosted a podcast for the Irregular Warfare Podcast, sponsored through the Modern War Institute and Princeton. You can check out their latest episode here.

As a special operations pilot, Laura became an expert in irregular warfare, personnel recovery, and various other special operations mission sets. Throughout her time as a pilot, Laura deployed as a liaison officer to French-speaking forces in Djibouti, filled a short-term position at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, and conducted U.S. Africa Command-sponsored research in Senegal. Laura also authored a RAND study proposal that was selected for funding and produced five volumes examining adversary disinformation campaigns on social media.

In 2020 Laura was selected by Air Force Special Operations Command to be the command’s first-ever directly sponsored  Ph.D. Fellow. After ten years of flying and being immersed in tactical special operations, Laura will pursue a  Ph.D. in international relations at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where she will study proxy conflict within modern great power competition. She hopes to use the expertise gained through her  Ph.D. to help drive special operations strategy into the future.