Tillman Scholars in the News

Blog, Tillman Scholars in the News | 11/23/2021

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.

Fernanda Palacios Herrera, 2021 Tillman Scholar

The State Bar of Texas recently featured Fernanda in celebration of the National Pro Bono Week.

Fernanda began her community engagement working with refugees, asylees, victims of domestic violence, and survivors of human trafficking as a Department of Justice (DOJ) accredited representative at Refugee Services of Texas and later at American Gateways. During that time, she served and represented neglected indigent populations who otherwise would have no access to quality legal services. She is now pursuing her J.D. at St. Mary’s University School of Law and aspires to become an immigration attorney. While in law school, she has continued seeking opportunities to serve underrepresented communities through pro bono advocacy.

She has also worked with various organizations providing legal services to indigents, including helping asylum seeking victims of gender-based persecution during her Equal Justice Works student fellowship at The Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, and is currently providing legal services  to low-income communities in Massachusetts as a summer 2021 student attorney with The Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. Through her experiences, Fernanda has learned that dedication, passion, and drive can spark change and empower others to work alongside each other for prosperity. She will continue to use her skills to provide fervent legal representation to impoverished communities.

Timothy Berry, 2021 Tillman Scholar

NPR published Timothy Berry’s photo essay Black Veterans Remember Colin Powell and Offer Him a FInal Salute for the Ages, honoring the late Colin Powell through the voices of those who knew him or were inspired by him.

After serving in the 101st Airborne Division, Timothy returned to his alma mater as a diversity admissions officer and was part of the team that ushered in the most racially diverse class in the Academy’s history—witnessing the educational disparities and lack of representation of Black and Hispanic officers in the military. Timothy created Collaborate and Graduate (CAG), a non-profit focused on helping Black and Hispanic students applying to service academies or selective ROTC programs pay for SAT/ACT preparation classes.

Now, in the private sector, Timothy has seen the impact of that compound opportunity debt that accelerates through a lack of education credentialing and has worked to spread economic opportunity through people programs and global business policy. Timothy continues to be a vocal advocate for racial justice issues. He has written or been quoted in publications such as the New York Times, U.S.A Today, National Public Radio, CBS Radio, The Root, Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Huffington Post. He is currently pursuing a master’s in business administration at NYU Stern, where he is focused on strategy.

Michael Kothakota, 2013 Tillman Scholar

The Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education awarded Michael Kothakota the 2021 Outstanding Research Journal Article of the Year

Mike wanted nothing more than to serve in the military – like his father, his mother and his brother. Deployed to Iraq in 2004 as an infantryman, his idealized thoughts about combat were shattered. Assuming that military leadership ran on the best available information, he realized very quickly that decisions were made that were not always congruent with what we knew.

He 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.  

Junaid Lughmani, 2021 Tillman Scholar

Berkeley Haas School of Business’s Newsroom profiled Junaid Lughmani for being recognized as a 2021 recipient of the Pat Tillman Foundation’s Make Your Mark Award

Junaid is a first generation American from the Bronx whose parents emigrated from the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan. In his sophomore year of high school, 9/11 happened, and years later he would be involved in the war between his birth country and ancestral homeland. When Junaid graduated from college, he volunteered to become a civilian Pashto interpreter for the U.S. military in Afghanistan. He spent three years embedded with U.S. troops and intelligence officials, serving as a liaison between the U.S. and Afghan governments, conducting interrogations and intelligence gathering of interned Taliban and al-Qaeda enemy combatants.

After returning home, inspired by his military colleagues, he joined the Army. Junaid was commissioned as a Lieutenant and served as an infantry rifle platoon leader, deploying to Afghanistan, where he led his platoon during multiple combat missions. Throughout his career, Junaid has been uniquely positioned to provide U.S. military personnel with guidance on the intricacies of Afghan and Islamic culture, helping to bridge the intellectual and cultural gap and strengthening relationships between the American and Afghan people.