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The Pat Tillman Scholarship


Pat Tillman was only four years into a successful National Football League contract with the Arizona Cardinals when he made national headlines; he was giving up the NFL life of travel, fortune, and fame to become an active duty serviceman in the United States Army. With his brother, Kevin (a Major League Baseball player with the Cleveland Indians), they joined the Army in 2012, moved by the events of September 11th, 2011 and wanting to serve their country.

Unfortunately, this patriotic story did not have a happy ending; Specialist Pat Tillman was killed on April 22nd, 2004 in Afghanistan. His death was later attributed to friendly fire. Family and friends turned this personal tragedy around. Channeling their grief and anger into something positive, they created the Pat Tillman Foundation, dedicated to “Investing in Veterans and their Families through Education and Community.”

At first look, particularly for those who have been out of education for a long time, this scholarship may seem complicated and unattainable. Multiple requirements at the different stages of the application, after being designated as a Scholar, and in order to retain the scholarship may turn off some potential applicants. Please do not let this be you! The Tillman Foundation first and foremost looks for people who want to give back to their community.

This scholarship is not limited by choice of major. Looking through the list of former and current Scholars, the Foundation seems to adhere to this statement. Studies listed encompass science, social sciences, humanities, and many other divisions. It does not seem to be heavy on any one major or disciples between studies, but pursuing a law degree does seem to be prominent in the social sciences.

Being a Veteran, active duty serviceman and woman (including reservists), and the spouse of the aforementioned is the first step in eligibility for the Tillman Military Scholars Program. You must also pursue (or be pursuing) a full-time undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate degree at an accredited American university; community colleges do not count.

While those are the only two objective requirements at the initial application for this scholarship, there are a host of other criteria that need to be met to become a Tillman Scholar. These include service record, former and potential civic participation, leadership ability, and personal achievements.

Initially, you will need to fill out the Foundation’s application, provide proof of military service (a DD Form 214 will suffice), and answer two essay questions. Semifinalists will have to provide a copy of their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and its subsequent Student Aid Report, the financial aid notice from the school you choose to go to, and a photograph that highlights your (or your spouse’s) military service.

Tillman Scholars are required to connect to the Tillman Foundation’s online Tillman Community and are given multiple opportunities to participate and lead service projects sponsored by the Foundation. Renewal of the scholarship is based on maintaining a 3.0 grade point average and actively engaging with the Tillman Foundation, although there are no set hours or set numbers of projects. Students are also required to be in school full time (except for the student’s last semester).

The opportunities to hone leadership skills and develop contacts, both professional and personal, are numerous. Seminars, publishing opportunities, and civic projects are ongoing, allowing flexibility in a busy student’s schedule. This is an excellent opportunity to develop an employment network, pay for your schooling, and give back to the community all at the same time.

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