Nearly 13 years ago, friends and family of Pat Tillman established the Pat Tillman Foundation in honor of their loved one: a pro-football player who walked away from the NFL to follow a greater calling and was killed in Afghanistan in April 2004. Today, the Tillman Scholars program unites the best talent and leadership from the military to continue making a significant, positive impact for our country and communities and carries on Pat’s legacy of service, learning, and action.
The Pat Tillman Foundation annually awards scholarships to up to 60 military Veterans and spouses though the Tillman Scholars program and is accepting applications through Wednesday, March 1 at 11:59 p.m. PT. Academic awards vary on each individual’s unique financial need, and the average annual award is expected to be $10,000 in 2017. It’s not too late to apply!
Of the 60 Tillman Scholars chosen annually, each has a goal, determination, and drive that sets them apart. We welcome applicants who not only share Pat’s core values, strength of character and commitment to service in and out of uniform, but also demonstrate tenacity for life and the potential to go out into the world and change it. To explore the profiles of current Tillman Scholars and see what distinguishes our most successful applicants, visit our scholars page.
Read on to discover five facts that you may not have known about Pat and the Tillman Scholars program:
- The Arizona Cardinals selected Pat in the 7th round of the 1998 NFL Draft. Despite skepticism about his ability, he became the team’s starting safety and broke the franchise record for tackles in 2000 with 224. But Pat’s NFL success didn’t go to his head: he continued to drive the same beat-up truck he had in college. In the off-season, he challenged himself with marathons and triathlons, while pursuing a master’s degree in history from Arizona State University. He also spent his downtime volunteering with Boys and Girls Clubs, the March of Dimes, and local schools.
- The Tillman Scholars represent a wide diversity of military experience, academic interests, and fields of work including science, technology, medicine, law, business, policy, education and the arts.
- About 35 percent of Tillman Scholars are first-generation college students. They have contributed more than 55,000 hours of community service while maintaining an average GPA of 3.77. They are approximately 50 percent enlisted and 50 percent officers, 30 percent are women, and they represent all branches of the military.
- Each summer, the annual Pat Tillman Leadership Summit convenes more than 100 Tillman Scholars to collaborate on continued service. The three-day flagship event features inspiring keynote speakers and engaging panels and breakout sessions. Past speakers include authors Jim Collins, Jon Krakauer, Sebastian Junger, Phil Klay, and Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, and David Epstein, Medal of Honor recipient Sal Giunta, former Congressman Patrick Murphy, DuffelBlog founder Paul Szoldra, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in addition to representatives from Google, Dear World, Uber, the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project, and leaders of national veterans organizations, including Service to School, Warrior Scholar Project, Student Veterans of America, Team Rubicon, The Mission Continues, Team Red, White, and Blue, HillVets, and the Veteran Artist Program.
- The Pat Tillman Foundation strategically partners with 15 institutions of higher education. These University Partners help PTF market the annual Tillman Scholars application, recruit applicants, and participate in the selection process at their institution. They are guaranteed one Tillman Scholar per selection cycle. Click here to see if your institution is a University Partner.
About the author: Elizabeth O’Herrin is the director of Programs & Scholarships for the Pat Tillman Foundation. She is also a proud 2010 Tillman Scholar.