USF Tillman Military Scholars Gather
USF Tillman Military Scholars participate in foundation's three-day conference.
TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 13, 2011) – University of South Florida’s Tillman Military Scholars are joining their counterparts along with Pat Tillman Foundation staff and board members for the Southeast Regional Gathering Oct. 14 to Oct.16 in Tampa.
Hosted by USF’s Office of Veterans’ Services, “The Marie Tillman Story: Finding Purpose in the Face of Adversity” is a highlight of the three-day conference. It takes place Oct. 14 with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Marshall Student Center’s Centre Gallery followed by a panel discussion from 7 to 9 p.m. in Room 2709. This event is free and open to the public.
“What’s wonderful about this scholarship is that it’s more than a monetary award,” said Director of Veterans Services Lawrence Braue. “These veterans are now a part of the Tillman Military Scholar Community. This superb program will enable these students to develop professionally while making an impact by serving in their local communities. This is an opportunity of a lifetime for these student veterans.”
The three-day event will also focus on increasing awareness of the issues facing military families today.
There are four Tillman Military Scholars at USF: Josiah Hill, Grey Leonard, Quincy Lopez and Robert Warden. Hill, Lopez and Warden will be part of Friday’s panel.
USF became one of 12 Tillman Military Scholar University Partners in the U.S. in January. USF’s students are joining a total of 171 Tillman Military Scholars representing 32 states and attending 59 academic institutions nationwide. So far over $2.2 million in scholarship support has been distributed among them. The program provides educational scholarships for veteran and active service members and their dependents.
Hill is enrolled in the USF College of Medicine working on a master of science degree in medical sciences. The former U.S. Coast Guard Junior Lieutenant is preparing for medical school. He landed in Denver, Colo. after leaving the military, though he now lives in Tampa Palms.
“By covering the tuition difference between out-of-state and in-state, the Tillman Military Scholarship helps me to afford an otherwise unaffordable program on my journey to becoming a physician,” Hill said.
The time he spent in the military after graduating from college is something he values.
“I would encourage anyone to consider public service after graduation, be it military, AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, etc.,” said Hill. “While the classroom is a fantastic arena for didactic and theoretical learning, I believe that true understanding and application of life principles, compassion for others, and global change – taught during one's college career – are best catalyzed by selfless service to others, especially those less fortunate. Although the prospect of a commitment that is a few years in length may initially seem daunting or that it will place you behind your peers, I assure you that what will be gained will far outweigh any potential loss.”
Leonard was a second lieutenant in the Air Force and is also studying medicine at the College of Medicine. He welcomes relief from the financial strength the scholarship offers. But his feelings go deeper.
“The program allows me to network with other scholars across the nation,” Leonard said. “Being a Tillman Military Scholar also instills in me a continued duty to serve. Particularly, I am motivated to study harder and serve more because I represent the Tillman Foundation on the medical campus and in my local community.”
Originally from Winter Park, he and his wife, also a USF student, now live in Tampa.
Leonard describes the USF veteran's office as “excellent. They have worked with me directly with sorting out the GI-Bill and Tillman scholarship funds. They helped to set up a work-study program at the local VA hospital for me so I could get some clinical experience. The office is friendly, efficient and helpful.”
The Pat Tillman Foundation was created to continue the legacy of the late football player who died after leaving his NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals to fight in Afghanistan with the 75th Ranger Regiment. His wife has honored her late husband’s memory with scholarships for veterans to pay tribute to his commitment to leadership and service.
"Working with the Tillman Military Scholars across the country is an incredible experience for me,” states Marie Tillman, founder and president of the Pat Tillman Foundation. “Being in Tampa provides a great platform to share the story of the Foundation as well as the inspirational stories of our Tillman Military Scholars while also building awareness for the broader issues facing veterans.”
USF was ranked eighth in the nation by Military Times Edge, a military and veteran career and education resource publication, in its “Best for Vets: Colleges 2010” issue.
USF’s Office of Veterans’ Services works in close cooperation with the Veterans Administration to assist veterans, active duty servicepersons and members of the Selected Reserve, as well as dependents of benefits eligible veterans, enrolled at USF, with their financial and academic needs. It can be can be accessed by visiting http://www.veterans.usf.edu/.
To learn more about the Tillman Military Scholars program eligibility and criteria, visit www.pattillmanfoundation.org/tillman-military-scholars.php.
Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563.