6 Tillman Scholars With Incredible Backgrounds

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In this Dec. 20, 1998, file photo, Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman celebrates after tackling New Orleans Saints running back Lamar Smith for a loss in the third quarter of an NFL football game in Tempe, Ariz.
AP Photo by Roy Dabner

The Pat Tillman Foundation was created in memory of its namesake, an elite pro-football player who walked away from the NFL in the name of selfless service and was killed in action in Afghanistan in April 2004. Founded that same year, the Pat Tillman Foundation invests in military members, veterans, and spouses, uniting some of the best talent and leadership in the military community to continue their service. Over more than a decade, the foundation has invested more than $12 million in academic support and selected over 400 Tillman Scholars at more 100 institutions.


The Tillman Scholars program, which annually awards scholarships to 60 military veterans and spouses, is accepting applications now until March 1. The scholarship is more than a gift, it’s an investment in excellence and an opportunity to become part of a community of game-changers. Apply here, and read on to learn about six kickass accomplishments of the Tillman Scholars.

RELATED: Meet the Pat Tillman Foundation’s 2015 scholar class »

Worked in mission management at SpaceX. Tillman Scholar George Sondecker worked in mission management at SpaceX while attending business school, combining his aerospace engineering experience in the Air Force with a business education to help SpaceX customers launch spacecraft. George’s ultimate goals are to develop ways to lower launch costs — one of the greatest obstacles to space exploration — and work to develop space-based internet.

Served as a flight surgeon and medical mishap investigator. While serving as a Navy flight surgeon, Tillman Scholar Sarah-Blythe Ballard led medical mishap investigations for more than 20 incidents around the world analyzing, investigating, and reporting on accident prevention. Through her work, Sarah-Blythe developed a passion for aviation safety and innovative responses to disasters. While pursuing a doctorate degree in Global Disease Epidemiology and Control, she subsequently deployed as a civilian to develop air ambulance protocols in Liberia related to the Ebola outbreak. After completing her doctorate, she intends to return to the Navy to serve remote tropical populations with her extensive medical training and credentials.

Traveled by motorcycle from South Africa to Cairo. Tillman Scholar Erik Mirandette took a leave of absence from the Air Force Academy and set out on an adventure of a lifetime with his younger brother Alex — a motor bike expedition from South Africa to Egypt. At the end of their adventure in Cairo, a suicide bomber detonated in a marketplace. Erik was severely injured and his brother was tragically killed. After more than 30 surgeries, Erik returned to the Air Force Academy and spent the next six years leading counterintelligence teams. Erik is now pursuing an MBA focusing on entrepreneurship and innovation, and hopes to build a community of veteran entrepreneurs in regions of conflict.

Became the first African American class president at West Point. After growing up in Shreveport, Louisiana, as one of three brothers, Tillman Scholar Adrian Perkins was accepted to West Point where he served as the captain of the track team and became the first African-American cadet elected as class president in the history of West Point. Excelling as a soldier, Adrian began to see how lessons he learned during his military service could apply to communities in need. Now pursuing a law degree, Adrian intends to return to public service in Shreveport, using his law degree and legal training to solve complex urban and economic problems facing his hometown.

Worked as a fisherman in the Bering Sea. After a stint of homelessness, Tillman Scholar Josh Tarsky spent two years in the Bering Sea as a fisherman in some of the most treacherous waters in the world. Josh then enrolled in community college before matriculating into a theater program at Yale University. The events of September 11th led Josh to enlist in the Army after graduating. As a medic in Afghanistan, Josh realized that the causes of war often have roots in economic imbalances that stem from a lack of education. He earned his Master’s in Education and began teaching English. Now, Josh is working toward his law degree, taking night classes while he continues to teach high school, in an effort to directly influence systemic change through policy improvements.

Served as a doula. A devoted Marine Corps active-duty spouse, Tillman Scholar Lisa Rich homeschooled four children while their families endured deployments, military travel, and moves. After her experience of being alone during childbirth, Lisa became a trained doula to help other women give birth, sometimes in the absence of their partners. Lisa is now pursuing a master’s degree as a certified nurse midwife. As a midwife, she helps mothers and families have safe, compassionate, and evidence-based birth options. Eventually, Lisa hopes to open a birth center that serves at-risk populations, and to participate in international birth work.

The FBI is treating the recent shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, as a terrorist attack, several media outlets reported on Sunday.

"We work with the presumption that this was an act of terrorism," USA Today quoted FBI Agent Rachel Rojas as saying at a news conference.

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WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un risks losing "everything" if he resumes hostility and his country must denuclearize, after the North said it had carried out a "successful test of great significance."

"Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way. He signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore," Trump said on Twitter, referring to his first summit with Kim in Singapore in 2018.

"He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November," he said.

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(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Vaughan Dill/Released)

The three sailors whose lives were cut short by a gunman at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, on Friday "showed exceptional heroism and bravery in the face of evil," said base commander Navy Capt. Tim Kinsella.

Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters were killed in the shooting, the Navy has announced.

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The Pentagon has a credibility problem that is the result of the White House's scorched earth policy against any criticism. As a result, all statements from senior leaders are suspect.

We're beyond the point of defense officials being unable to say for certain whether a dog is a good boy or girl. Now we're at the point where the Pentagon has spent three days trying to knock down a Wall Street Journal story about possible deployments to the Middle East, and they've failed to persuade either the press or Congress.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the United States was considering deploying up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to thwart any potential Iranian attacks. The story made clear that President Trump could ultimately decide to send a smaller number of service members, but defense officials have become fixated on the number 14,000 as if it were the only option on the table.

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This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. – Gen. David Berger, the US Marine Corps commandant, suggested the concerns surrounding a service members' use of questionable Chinese-owned apps like TikTok should be directed against the military's leadership, rather than the individual troops.

Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, on Saturday morning, Berger said the younger generation of troops had a "clearer view" of the technology "than most people give them credit for."

"That said, I'd give us a 'C-minus' or a 'D' in educating the force on the threat of even technology," Berger said. "Because they view it as two pieces of gear, 'I don't see what the big deal is.'"

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