Univ. of Iowa graduate student becomes one of 60 Pat Tillman Scholars nationwide

Published: Nov. 9, 2023 at 5:32 PM CST
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Every year just 60 people are selected to be a Pat Tillman scholar. Tillman was a a professional football player who enlisted after the September 11 terrorist attacks. He died while serving, but his friends and family have continued to remember him by giving opportunities through the Pat Tillman foundation. Now, one University of Iowa graduate student is thanking the nonprofit.

As a veteran and a third-year graduate student at the UI College of Dentistry, Zachary Graham has been able to pull various similarities between his school work and his time spent serving.

“When I was in I decided that I wanted to have a more direct impact and I started chatting with a friend who is a dentist and very quickly I realized dentistry is a way to have a direct impact on your community with your bare hands,” said Graham.

Now, he is getting the opportunity to further his academic career by being named a Pat Tillman scholar.

“They’re selected based off the values that Pat lived his life by, so service, scholarship, humble leadership, and impact,” said Graham.

More than 2,000 people applied this year, all veterans, active duty, or military spouses pursuing higher education like Graham.

While he acknowledged the odds, he says receiving this opportunity is just the beginning for him.

”How I view it, though, is this is not for what I’ve done in the past, it’s an investment in your future,” said Graham. “While there is a monetary amount associated with it, really it’s about leadership development and the support network that you get from the foundation so you can achieve more.”

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