Tillman Scholars in the News

Blog, Tillman Scholars in the News | 08/26/2022

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.

Thomas Bishop, 2011 Tillman Scholar

Thomas Bishop launched Fré Yo, a nonprofit organization started to help young men of color get the resources and professional development they need to reach their goals.

As platoon leader, Thomas led and conducted over 150 missions, including joint operations with Marines, British and Afghan forces in Kandahar and Helmand provinces. His platoon had multiple engagements with enemy forces to include IED clearances, strikes and ground force. For his efforts, Thomas was awarded a Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge, among other honors in Afghanistan.

He then returned to the University of Arkansas to complete his M.A., later working as an associate research director for Media Matters for America, before returning to the Army as a project engineer with missions in the Netherlands, Germany, Korea and Central America. He also worked as an operations officer for USACE during Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Recently, Thomas was granted admission into Harvard’s Kennedy School to pursue an MPA and continue his service as a military strategist.

Drew Marcantonio, 2015 Tillman Scholar

Drew Marcantonio recently published his book “Environmental Violence: In the Earth System and the Human Niche,” which examines the harm that humanity inflicts upon itself. Learn more about his book here.

Seeing the fruits of his labor first hand and ultimately becoming one of his life’s most defining moments, Richard plans to promote the proverbial ‘communal good’ by serving others, establishing sustainable security and economic stability in underdeveloped areas that are prone to violence due to a lack of livelihood, and to act as an agent of change instigating waves of systemic reform.

Richard’s military experiences, combined with his advanced set of skills, have led him to a course of study in environmental policy and natural resource management at Indiana University. He wants to serve as a change agent in underdeveloped communities with a goal of quieting violence at its source before it requires a much larger sacrifice to stamp it out.

Laura Jones, 2021 Tillman Scholar

Laura JonesJoint Special Operations University selected Laura Jones as a Joint Special Operations University Non-Resident Fellow.

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.

Kimberly Jung, 2014 Tillman Scholar

Kim Jung’s company Blanchard House proposed a #SXSW panel called “Minority & Female Founders: How to Raise $1 Million.” You can vote here.

After her first year at Harvard Business School, Kim decided to start a business importing saffron directly from Afghan farmers. She bought a ticket to Afghanistan and met with Pashto farmers from Ghuryan and Wardak, where she had served as Route Clearance Platoon 44’s platoon leader four years before. These farmers were growing some of the best saffron in the world, unbeknownst to Western consumers.

The company that Kim subsequently founded, Rumi Spice, now imports saffron directly from Afghan farmers, giving those farmers access to markets and an alternative to growing opium. Four Michelin-starred restaurants exclusively and proudly carry Rumi Spice saffron, and it was featured in six dishes at the James Beard Persian New Year Dinner. Most importantly, Rumi Spice is laying a foundation for peace through economic empowerment: the company established its first processing facility in Herat, Afghanistan, and hired 75 Afghan women, who are paid direct wages. Rumi Spice makes up 5% of Afghanistan’s total saffron production and 3.6% of Afghanistan’s total agricultural foreign direct investment.