Active-duty service members, veterans and military spouses have the opportunity to pursue higher education with the aid of scholarships provided by the Pat Tillman Foundation.
The UA is one of the Foundation’s 18 university partners of the Tillman Scholars University Partner program and has already funded about 20 UA students, with eight who are currently active scholars, said Elizabeth O’Herrin, director of programs at the Pat Tillman Foundation.
The scholarships from the Pat Tillman Foundation are available for those pursuing their undergraduate or graduate careers at a public or private U.S.-based, accredited institution. The application process for potential Tillman Scholars is open for eligible students until March 3.
Scholarships are eligible for renewal every academic year.
Cody Nicholls, assistant dean of students for Veterans Education and Transition Services, said that the increasing the number of Tillman scholars at UA is not about numbers; it is about presenting an opportunity to current and former service members and their spouses.
The program in itself is about networking and engagement and about those who served for a compelling reason,” Nicholls said. “All of our veterans have a compelling story in terms of why they chose to serve.”
The average amount of financial aid given to each recipient was $14,000, Nicholls said.
O’Herrin added that potential scholars should exhibit proven service whether they are in or out of uniform. The foundation also looks for those who are making a positive impact locally, nationally and globally.
“We look for applicants who are committed to making the world a better place and demonstrate they have the potential to achieve their goals and [have] the drive to get there,” O’Herrin said.
Anthony Cervantes, a second-year medical student, has been a Tillman Scholar as of 2013. He is currently a Pararescueman in the Air Force Reserve and has served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa.
Cervantes said the foundation does much more than supporting his higher education career, as it creates lifelong connections with previous, current and future scholars.
“Their financial support has been an incredible help,” Cervantes said. “It’s been a huge part of transitioning out of active duty into being a full-time student and still having the responsibility of raising a family.”
There is huge growth for personal and professional development within the scholar program, Cervantes said. He said the most humbling experience he had was attending the annual Pat Tillman Leadership Summit in Chicago, where he was able to be around a community that was driven and selfless — framing the way he thought about life and service. He added that, even if money was not offered, he would have been honored to be a scholarship recipient.
“The money you get will be gone tomorrow,” Cervantes said, “but who you become and who you strive to become as a result really impacts your life.”