Pat Tillman Foundation Announces Its 2020 Tillman Scholars

Chicago, IL – On June 12th, the Pat Tillman Foundation (PTF) announced the names of the 60 U.S. service members,...

Chicago, IL – On June 12th, the Pat Tillman Foundation (PTF) announced the names of the 60 U.S. service members, veterans and military spouses chosen as 2020 Tillman Scholars. In recognition of their service and leadership potential, the newly selected class will receive scholarship funding to pursue higher education and continue their service in the fields of healthcare, business, law, public service, STEM, education and the humanities. For the full list of 2020 Tillman Scholars, along with their service branches, institutions and fields of study, please visit

“Our newest Tillman Scholars join a community committed to leadership through action. In these turbulent times, values-based leadership is needed more than ever. These 60 men and women exhibited that leadership throughout their military service and show incredible potential,” said Dan Futrell, CEO of PTF. “As a Tillman Scholar myself, I’m excited to welcome them into the community and to see them respond to the challenge that Pat’s example offers us: how will your next chapter of service make a greater impact than your last?”

“Each year, it’s inspiring to get to know a new, incredible group of people who carry forward the values and energy that Pat lived by,” said Marie Tillman, Board Chair and Co-Founder of PTF. “It’s our honor to support these emerging leaders as they work to make a difference in fields as diverse as education, STEM, public policy and healthcare, particularly as we navigate uncertain times.”

To date, PTF has invested more than $20 million in scholar support and named nearly 700 Tillman Scholars at more than 100 academic institutions nationwide.

2020 Scholar List and Hometowns

Gabriel Albano, Marina, CA

Austin Almand, Grand Prairie, TX

Cynthia Bejar, Mustang, OK

Glenn Bessinger, Kailua, HI

Cassie Bronson, Missoula, MT

Kevin Bubolz, Stratford, WI

Laura Buys, St Paul, MN

Lance Decker, Tomball, TX

Roberto Diaz, Pomona, CA

Madison Esposito, Ackworth, GA

Shelane Etchison, Spring Hill, FL

Shannon Ewing-Sudds, Flint, MI

Austin Field, Seattle, WA

John Garcia, Harlingen, TX

Caitlin Haner, Yakima, WA

Khadidja Harrell, Brussels, Belgium

Adiba Hassan, Escondido, CA

Sadia Heil, Springfield, VA

James Hentig, Cedar Springs, MI

Ricky Holder, San Bernardino, CA

Danielle Alexandra Horton, Hermosa Beach, CA

Jessica Huerta, San Diego, CA

Matthew Jenkins, Tampa, FL

Guadalupe Jimenez, Bronx, NY

Theresa Jones, Coronado, CA

Phillip Jones, Newport News, VA

John Keyes, Ormond Beach, FL

Peter Kiernan, Babylon, NY

Jeffrey Laupola, Honolulu, HI

Samuel Long, Newnan, GA

Zachary Love, San Diego, CA

Jonathan Lu, Yelm, WA

Michael Luu, Fairfax, VA

Luis Martinez Jr., Jacksonville, FL

Melissa McCafferty, Newberry, MI

Michael McCarthy, Kent, WA

Daris McInnis, Flint, MI

Patrick Metke, Fort Myers, FL

Robert Mihara, San Antonio, TX

Jennifer Moffat, Coronado, CA

Shane Oravsky, Brooklyn, NY

HyeJung Park, Daegu, South Korea

William Parker, Columbus, OH

Tatum Perez, Whitehall, MI

Michael Ramos, El Monte, CA

Safiullah Rauf, Omaha, NE

Caroline Sabatt, Plymouth, MA

Marco Segura, Fairfax, VA

Heather Seminelli, Colorado Springs, CO

Mackenzie Shribbs, Sacramento, CA

Andrew Simmons, Fairfax, VA

Bradley Snyder, St. Petersburg, FL

James Speaks, Tacoma, WA

Haliehana Stepetin, Akutan, AK

Joeanne Thomas, New Philadelphia, OH

Emma Tyano, Atlanta, GA

Tom Wike, Ashland, OH

Rachel Wilcox, Murrieta, CA

Clark Yuan, Troy, MI

Tanner Zumwalt, Roseville CA

2020 Tillman Scholar James Alexander Speaks                                Marine Corps, San Francisco State University, B.S.                                “I have made it my mission to bring health care to those caught in the crossfire of violent conflicts worldwide.”                                Photo credit: Quennie Eslava

2020 Tillman Scholar James Alexander Speaks Marine Corps, San Francisco State University, B.S. “I have made it my mission to bring health care to those caught in the crossfire of violent conflicts worldwide.” Photo credit: Quennie Eslava

James Alexander Speaks was eight years old when he watched the attacks unfold on 9/11. Motivated by the countless tales of heroic men and women serving in the ensuing War on Terror, he enlisted as an infantryman in the U.S. Marine Corps shortly after finishing high school.

During his four-year tenure as a Marine, Speaks served on two combat deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. Those deployments proved to be transformative, as he was struck by the staggering amount of civilian casualties and the general lack of medical infrastructure in the war-ravaged communities. At the same time, he was moved by the actions of the Navy corpsmen with whom he served as they plied their life-saving craft on the many military and civilian casualties they encountered. Ultimately, these experiences sparked his desire to bring quality healthcare to vulnerable and underserved populations.

Speaks is currently an undergraduate nursing student at San Francisco State University, and he hopes to move on to a dual master of nursing/master of public health degree program in the future. He plans on combining his leadership experience and medical knowledge to have an impactful career with Doctors Without Borders. His goal is to help transform healthcare on an individual and structural level for the countless victims that are caught in humanitarian crises throughout the world.

About the Tillman Scholars Program: Founded in 2008, the Tillman Scholars program supports our nation’s active duty service members, veterans and military spouses by investing in education and professional development. PTF provides academic scholarships, a national network and professional development opportunities, so Tillman Scholars are empowered to make an impact at home and around the world.

University Partners: Each year, PTF proudly collaborates with 15 University Partners to identify and select qualified candidates on their campuses for the Tillman Scholar screening process. These University Partners offer innovative, veteran-specific services and a strong culture of support for military veterans and spouses while providing rigorous academic experiences. University Partners include Arizona State University; Columbia University; Georgetown University; The George Washington University; Indiana University; Texas A&M University; The Ohio State University; Syracuse University; University of Arizona; University of California, Los Angeles; University of Maryland; University of Minnesota; University of Missouri System; University of Oklahoma and University of South Florida.

About the Pat Tillman Foundation: In 2002, Pat Tillman proudly put his NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals on hold to serve his country. Family and friends established the Pat Tillman Foundation following Pat’s death in April 2004 while serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan. The Pat Tillman Foundation unites and empowers remarkable military veterans and spouses as the next generation of public and private sector leaders committed to service beyond self. The fellowship program supports Tillman Scholars with academic scholarships, a national network, and professional development opportunities, so they are empowered to make an impact in the world. For more information on the Pat Tillman Foundation and the impact of the Tillman Scholars, visit

– The Pat Tillman Foundation


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