Tillman Scholars in the News

Tillman Scholars in the News, Blog | 02/23/2022

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.

Phil Caruso, 2016 Tillman Scholar

Phil recently co-authored the opinion piece, “Our Allies Deserve Better Than Starvation and a Life on the Run,” in the New York Times.

During over eight years of humbling service in the United States Air Force, Phil learned more about the world, life, and leadership than he ever dreamed possible. Through training he underwent, jobs he had, people he led, and difficult situations he faced, one critical lesson endured: every day, everywhere, and in every way, the world needs leaders to guide it toward a better future. Phil also learned that although it seems like only a precious few take the world upon their shoulders and sacrifice for the greater good, anyone can step up and make a difference. Phil’s mission is to make an impact and inspire others to do the same.

Lance Decker, 2020 Tillman Scholar

Lance published his paper, “Designing a Smart Trailer System using Bluetooth 5 Beacons and a Mobile Application to Monitor a Semi-Truck Trailer’s Conditions,” published in The Technology Interface International Journal

After tragically losing his son to a drug overdose in 2012, Lance combined his grief and love of teaching to become a certified grief recovery specialist, reaching out to his community to help grievers find peace, hope and new direction. Since 2015, Lance has touched more than 150 people through his grief classes and speaks regularly on the topic.

Throughout his military career and the years after Lance has earned two associate degrees, a bachelor’s and a master’s in engineering. Leveraging his love for teaching, strong engineering background and his sincere desire to help people, Lance is now pursuing his Ph.D. in interdisciplinary engineering. He has also set aside a career in industry to teach as an engineering professor at the collegiate level. To Lance, there’s nothing more thrilling than seeing the recognition of learning in a student’s eyes when a complex topic is suddenly understood or deep emotional pain is lifted from someone’s heart.

Adrian Kinsella, 2012 Tillman Scholar

Adrian was featured on KCRA3 for his work in getting the community together to prepare housing for Afghan refugees.

In Afghanistan, Adrian became close with his translator, Mohammad. After returning home, Adrian discovered that his friend had been marked by the Taliban for collaborating with the U.S. Military. That’s when Adrian, a then-aspiring lawyer, began a three-year campaign to bring Mohammad to America, finally succeeding in January 2014. Later that same year, after Adrian helped bring national attention to the subject, Mohammad’s mother and seven younger siblings joined him in the United States. Today they are living in California studying, working, and living the American Dream.

Shane Harris, 2017 Tillman Scholars

Shane joined the 2022 class of Conquering Kili, a project by Waterboys, founded by former NFL players to build sustainable water wells. Each Conquriering Kili class climbs Mt. Kilimanjaro, a walk that represents the miles that many African women journey on a daily basis to fetch water for their families. While training for the climb, each team member works to raise funds and transform communities through the gift of clean water.

Enlisting out of high school in 2006, Shane was motivated by a desire to serve his country and be part of something larger than himself. Four years later, he had seen more of the world, and learned more about life and leadership than he had ever imagined he could. Serving with 3rd Ranger Battalion, Shane’s life changed when he was introduced to a platoon sergeant who had worked his way back into the fight, despite being a below knee amputee. As his enlistment was coming to an end, Shane set his sights on becoming a physical therapist, a career he deemed to have a pivotal role in the rehabilitation of an individual’s physical and mental well-being.