Tillman Scholar Perseveres
U.S. Air Force pilot Ed Woodward, grounded by a stroke, now studies to hopefully one day become a doctor.
Video: Katy Hennig | USF News
By Katy Hennig
TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 4, 2012) – Ed Woodward always wanted to fly. Not just any plane, but an F-15 C military fighter jet.
“I mean, that was goal one,” said Woodward.
He served six years in the U.S. Air Force, fulfilled his dream of flying the vaunted F-15, but then his world suddenly went dark.
“It was after a night flight. I mean my head just really hurt on the left hand side,” said Woodward.
Woodward had suffered a bleeding stroke caused by a blood clot in his brain. When he woke up, his world had changed.
“I woke up and everybody was shocked. Some of the words were coming out right and some of them weren’t but I could get the gist across.”
As Woodward began his rehabilitation in 2006, the challenges mounted. His flying days were over. He continued to be affected by the death of his twin brother, Gene Woodward – a medical student at the University of South Florida - who was killed in an accident involving a drunk driver in 2000.
Woodward lapsed into depression. He struggled to find a new purpose in life, a goal to set his sights on. Until one day, when he talked with his grandfather.
“He’s like, ‘what are you going to do?’ I’m like, I don’t know what can I do. ‘Why don’t you just go finish what Gene started, that’s what you should do.’ I said that sounds like a damn good idea," said Woodward.
Woodward is on his way to fulfilling his brother’s dream. He is working toward a master’s degree in Medical Science at USF and he’ll find out in the spring if he’ll be accepted to the USF Morsani College of Medicine.
Woodward is one of two veterans at USF this year to be awarded a Tillman Scholarship, an award that aids and encourages education and leadership for military personnel and made it possible for Woodward to continue his studies.
Katie Carson, an admissions officer at USF’s Morsani College of Medicine, noticed Woodward’s drive early on and recognizes what Woodward and veterans like him bring to the classroom. She believes he will succeed in his quest to become a doctor and fulfill his brother’s dream.
“He’s demonstrated that he has the academic ability to do well in a medical school environment,” said Carson.
Katy Hennig can be reached at 813-974-6993.
Photo courtesy Robert X. Fogarty, Dear World.