Tillman Scholars in the News

Blog, Tillman Scholars in the News | 04/06/2022

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.

Tabatha Renz, 2013 Tillman Scholar

Tabatha has joined the 2022 Advisory Council for the Veterans Leadership Council

Formerly appointed to a position on the Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism in Idaho, Tabatha Renz is committed to public service in its many forms. While pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree at New York University in 2013, she was selected as a Tillman Scholar. Prior to joining the Pat Tillman Foundation staff in 2019, Tabatha was employed in local government and the nonprofit sector in New York City. She hopes to continue to facilitate change at the intersection of policy, technology, and operations.

Jason Poudrier, 2018 Tillman Scholar

Jason was featured in an article from ABC 7 for his involvement in putting together the Veterans Expression Workshop in Lawton.

Two years after joining the Army, Jason Poudrier was on the ground in Iraq, face down in the sand, hit by shrapnel in both of his legs. He recovered from his injuries and, eight months later, ran as a member of Fort Sill’s Army Ten Miler team and was nominated for USO soldier of the year. Promoted to sergeant, he became a section chief for an MLRS ammo platoon and was twice selected as 2-14 Field Artillery Noncommissioned Officer of the Quarter before being medically retired.

Jason’s experiences weighed heavily on his mind: the starving Iraqi children he witnessed as his unit crossed the border from Kuwait into Iraq; his friend’s lifeless body slid up beside him in the back of a deuce and a half; thoughts that he shouldn’t have survived. He found solace in his literature and creative writing classes at Cameron University and found that he was able to turn his intrusive thoughts into powerful poetry.

Harold Penson, 2017 Tillman Scholar

Harold recently started a new position as a Product Manager for Adyton.io

Harold’s call to serve came two years after he graduated from Stanford University and started a finance career. At the time, the Global War on Terror was turning out to be an enduring effort. Harold grew uncomfortable knowing others risked their lives for his safety. Additionally, being a former collegiate wrestler, he wanted to be challenged mentally and physically. So in 2005, he enlisted in the U.S. Army to serve as a Green Beret medic and help eliminate America’s enemies while providing medical aid to injured soldiers.

As a Green Beret, Harold witnessed the difficult circumstances that caused some people to pick up arms. Once, he treated a former-Taliban member who was mortally wounded by the Taliban for joining a U.S.-backed security force. Prior to the war, this man farmed for a living. When conflict eroded the economics of farming, he joined the Taliban to feed his family and keep them safe. When U.S. forces gained ground, he quit the Taliban and joined the local security force. To Harold, this man was not truly evil; he merely had to make difficult decisions given a set of bad options.

Justin Nichols, 2018 Tillman Scholar

Justin started a new role recently as a Hydrologist at the USGS Water Science Center in Albuquerque, NM.
Justin Nichols was born and raised in New Mexico, and he knew from a young age that he wanted to serve in the military. This was mostly due to the past military service of his grandad, grandpa, and uncle and the stories they told him about their time in the service. After Justin graduate high school, he joined the U.S. Army where he served for four years. Justin took great pride in being a soldier, but during his service he also realized how many communities are lacking clean water across the globe. Therefore, he decided to leave the Army to pursue a degree in Civil Engineering at the University of New Mexico.