Tillman Scholars in the News

News, Tillman Scholars in the News | 12/08/2021

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.

Junaid Lughmani, 2021 Tillman Scholar

Yahoo! Finance interviewed Junaid on Digital Dunkirk and keeping his vow to support our Afghan allies.

Junaid is a first generation American from the Bronx whose parents emigrated from the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan. 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.

LeNaya Crandall Hezel, 2021 Tillman Scholar; Michelle Ruehl, 2021 Tillman Scholar

George Mason University featured LeNaya and Michelle’s selection to the 2021 class of Tillman Scholars.

LeNaya is a 2021 Stand-To Veterans Leadership Program Scholar with the Bush Institute. She is a classically trained soprano where her music background paved the way to use her voice to advocate and create DEI culture changes. Whether it is presenting to board leadership, facilitating a training seminar, or pitching an idea to potential collaborators, she uses creativity to build equitable communities. LeNaya has over a decade of experience as a higher education professional supporting underrepresented student populations.

As an English teacher at the Air Force Academy, Michelle also served as a sexual assault victim advocate and theater director. She led hundreds of cadets in the Social Impact Theater Project, which brought the community together to find solutions to tough issues like suicide and sexual assault. Her desire to guide people through trauma also led her to become a therapeutic riding instructor, where she uses horses to help people find healing. After her last deployment, Michelle and her husband started a non-profit to honor the friends they lost in the war and the resilient people of Afghanistan. They provide leadership programs to veterans and their families, so graduates can then use these concepts to lead others. Now, Michelle is pursuing her Ph.D. in rhetoric and writing, so she can study how the humanities and strategic messaging can bring healing to military communities who struggle with trauma.

Margaret Smith, 2011 Tillman Scholar

Maggie coauthored an article on the need to improve our federal cybersecurity, which was one of two articles recognized by the Modern War Institute at West Point for 2021.

Maggie originally enlisted in 2004 to complete her undergraduate education but serving quickly became a passion and turned into a career. She commissioned as a military intelligence officer in 2013 after completing her MPP (with a focus in Homeland Security and Intelligence Policy) at Georgetown University with the Army’s Green to Gold Program. While at GU she was named a Tillman Scholar and received the Whittington Scholarship for second year students at the McCourt School. She is a trained senior watch officer, cyberspace operations planer, offensive cyberspace operations mission commander, and will take a position at the United States Military Academy’s Army Cyber Institute following her doctoral studies at George Washington University’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration.