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University of Arizona

The University of Arizona has been selected again as a partner institution of the Pat Tillman Foundation, enabling the UA to continue to soliciting and submitting candidates for the Tillman Military Scholarship.

"We've been fortunate enough to be a partner institution and selected as a continuing partner each year since we were first invited," said military veteran Cody Nicholls, the UA's assistant dean of students for Veterans Education and Transition Services. "The Pat Tillman Foundation is very much in alignment with the institutional values in serving student veterans."

The Pat Tillman Foundation in May will select the sixth cohort of Tillman Military Scholars. Veterans, active-duty service members and current military spouses are eligible to apply for the scholarship. The online application will be open Feb. 7 through March 6. 

The UA will host the following information sessions: at the Arizona Health Sciences Center VETS Center on Fridays at 4 p.m., Jan. 24 through Feb. 28; at the UA main campus VETS Center on Wednesdays at noon, Jan. 29 through Feb. 26; and at the Eller College of Management on Tuesdays at 10 a.m., Jan. 28 through Feb. 25. Sessions are being planned for UA South.

Michelle McCarthy, spokesperson for the Pat Tillman Foundation in New York, said the UA was selected as a continuing partner because of its expansive programming and success in supporting student veterans.

"As a foundation, we are driven by the core principle that our nation's veterans and military spouses are leadership assets for our country and communities," McCarthy said. Her organization this year pared the number of partner institutuons from 16 to 14.

"We assess our university partnerships based on several criteria, all of which the University of Arizona excels at, including the strength of UA scholar applications, UA tracking and reporting on student veteran success, investment and responsiveness of UA administrators and faculty, networking and engagement opportunities for the UA scholar community, and fostering campuswide understanding of and investment in student veterans and military spouses as leaders and assets for our country and communities."

This past fall, the UA was named one of the best institutions for veterans pursuing a higher education degree, according to U.S. News & World Report's inaugural list of the Best Colleges for Veterans. The UA was ranked 23rd on the list.

In addition to supporting students seeking scholarships from the foundatons, the UA offers numerous other programs, services and resources geared toward student veterans. They include:

  • GI Bill counseling and priority registration.
  • A series of for-credit transitions courses, called "Supportive Education for Returning Veterans," or SERV, offered by the UA Department of Agricultural Education through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to increase retention and graduation rates of student veterans.
  • The VETS Center in the Student Union Memorial Center and the Arizona Health Sciences Center VETS Center.
  • Adaptive athletic sports teams.
  • UA chapter of the Student Veterans of America.

"Through a decade of war, many of them have faced and overcome extraordinary circumstances, including mental and physical challenges, that most of their civilian peers will never experience in a lifetime," McCarthy said. "By investing in Tillman Military Scholars, we believe their perspective is not only critical for the classroom debate, but also vital for the national conversation about how our country will lead and progress in the years ahead."

To date, 13 UA students have been named Tillman Military Scholars.

Recipients include UA College of Medicine student Anthony Cervantes, co-president of MedVets, which helps veterans transition to a civilian health care field. Cervantes has been working within the health science community to bolster interdisciplinary collaboration and networking, dedicating volunteer hours at the Tucson-based Shubitz Clinic. He also has volunteered at Casa De Los Niños, an organization that aids abused children, and has actively drilled as a pararescueman in the U.S. Air Force Reserves.

Felisa "Farzana" Hervey spent last summer doing research and nonprofit work in Afghanistan with the organization she leads, Civil Vision International. Hervey is studying Persian literature and creative writing while working with the Southwest Initiative for the Study of Middle East Conflicts. Previously, she organized and moderated a symposium on Afghanistan, called "Will the U.S. Exit Strategy Work?," gathering more than 125 participants.

Medical student Adam Ratesic served as an "experienced volunteer" during the Commitment to Underserved People Program's Clinical Skills Training event at the UA College of Medicine. Ratesic accepted a leadership position as co-chair of MedVets club at the UA and also founded the Veterans Housing Veterans program, which provides free lodging and transportation with a veteran in the College of Medicine.

Brian Kolfage, an architecture student, attended the American Airlines Sky ball charity event in the fall for children of killed servicemen. Kolfage spoke to members of the community and visitors. He is finalizing a nonprofit, Wounded Warrior Mentor Engagements, to support wounded veterans and their families. 

James E. Rogers College of Law student Matt Randle continues to work with the VET Court, representing and serving hundreds of veterans on an array of legal issues. Randle also been assisting in local benefit appeals, has served with the Arthritis Foundation and has coached a junior basketball team. 

"The vast majority of people who go into the military have a value in serving beyond themselves, and that is true for our student veterans," Nicholls said. "For a veteran that is selected as a Tillman Military Scholar, that is what it is about."

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