Tillman Scholars in the News

Blog, Tillman Scholars in the News | 10/06/2022

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.

Don Gomez, 2009 Tillman Scholar

Don Gomez co-authored an article published in the Modern War Institute at West Point Going Viral: Preparing Ground Forces for Combat in the Information Age.

Don joined the US Army in April 2001 and served for five years as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. He deployed to Iraq twice during that time.

The experience of being on the ground in Baghdad and witnessing some of the missteps of the early days of the Iraq War led Don to leave the Army to pursue an education in Middle East Studies. It was clear that a gap existed in terms of what we were doing on the ground and the expertise required to get the job done. By pursuing an education in Middle East Studies, Don hopes to contribute to the mission through developing a better understanding of the language, culture, history, and politics of the Middle East. 

Adrian Perkins, 2015 Tillman Scholar

Adrian Perkins was interviewed by BBC, discussing “Dads on Duty,” a group of volunteer dads who are working to reduce school violence in Louisiana.

Growing up one of three brothers, competition was always in Adrian’s blood. After his older brother Jeff joined the Army, Adrian was inspired to attend West Point where he served as the captain of the track team and the first African-American cadet ever to be elected class president in West Point’s history. The Academy developed and nurtured Adrian’s ambition, so that he not only looked forward to becoming a Soldier, but he also began seeking ways to implement the lessons he learned into communities outside of the military.

After serving, Adrian graduated from Harvard Law School where he was elected its student body president. While a law student, he focused his scholarship on criminal justice reform and the importance of innovation in small and mid-sized cities. While in law school, he assisted Governor John Bel Edwards on criminal justice reform. He currently serves as the mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana.

Ambyr Rios, 2018 Tillman Scholar

Ambyr Rios started a new position as Assistant Professor of Teacher Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction within the College of Education at Kansas State University.

In 2008, after graduating both high school and college a year early, Ambyr stowed her English degree from Texas A&M University in a moving box and journeyed to Baltimore, M.D. to teach ninth grade English.

During the following ten years, Ambyr served as a secondary English teacher in Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Austin. Ambyr was honored as the Teacher of the Year in two different school settings. Her leadership experiences include roles as a Grade Level Administrator, Supervisory Program Specialist, and district Director of Curriculum & Instruction.

While teaching, Ambyr earned a Master of Arts in Teaching at Johns Hopkins University and a Reading Specialist Certificate at George Washington University. Ambyr’s experiences with underserved students have afforded her incredible opportunities to see breathtaking student resilience, inconceivable academic growth and heartbreaking systematic breakdowns. Ambyr’s desire is to empower future teachers to be the transformative leaders all students deserve.

Safi Rauf, 2020 Tillman Scholar

Safi Rauf was featured in an article from Navy Times discussing the need to continue finding aid for our Afghan allies.

In 2016, Safi moved to Virginia to attend college and enlist in the U.S. Navy Reserves as a corpsman. Safi is currently assigned to the Expeditionary Medical Facility Bethesda’s Naval Reserve unit, where he performs duties as a medical assistant to physicians and supports in the medical readiness of 80 patients per month for more than 2,800 reservists. In April 2020, Safi mobilized to New York City to staff the military’s makeshift hospital at the Javits Center.

Concurrently, Safi is a pre-medical student at Georgetown University, studying human science and is the president of the Georgetown University Student Veterans Association. Safi works as a research assistant for an ongoing clinical trial through Georgetown University Medical Center’s Department of Family Medicine. Upon graduating in 2021, Safi aspires to attend medical school, continue his military service and ultimately become a surgeon. Safi seeks to provide healthcare services to disadvantaged communities, ensuring everyone, regardless of their background, has access to affordable, quality healthcare. Safi is fluent in Farsi, Dari, Pashto and Urdu.