Christopher Stanfield EKU's Second Tillman Military Scholar in as Many Years

Stanfield photo

For the second consecutive year, an Eastern Kentucky University senior has been named a Tillman Military Scholar.

Christopher Stanfield, a political science major from Winchester and U.S. Army veteran, is one of 60 Tillman Military Scholars nationwide. Selected from among 1,800 applicants, he will use the $6,000 scholarship to pursue a master’s of public administration degree.

EKU is one of 42 higher education institutions nationwide selected as Tillman Military Scholar Universities. College and university partners are chosen on the basis of their innovative services for military veterans and proven culture of community for military families. Twice in the past three years, Eastern has ranked No. 1 among the nation’s four-year colleges and universities in the Military Times Best for Vets survey. It has also been recognized by G.I. Jobs magazine as a Military Friendly School each of the past four years. In 2010, EKU launched Operation Veteran Success, a series of initiatives designed to make the university even more veteran-helpful, and now is home to more than 1,200 veterans and dependents.

Stanfield, a graduate of George Rogers Clark High School, has achieved a 3.6 GPA at Eastern, where he is a member of the Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society. While stationed at Fort Wainwright in Alaska 2005-09, he was deployed twice to Iraq. He now expects to graduate from EKU this December.

He said his long-term goal, after completing his master’s degree, is “to be selected as a Presidential Management Fellow and work at the Department of Veterans Affairs for two years in order to acquire the skills to eventually work for a non-profit organization such as the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), VFW or the Wounded Warrior Project.”

His first duty as a Tillman Scholar will be to attend, all expenses paid, the four-day Pat Tillman Leadership Summit in Chicago in July.

“Being named a Tillman Military Scholar is an incredible honor,” Stanfield said. “I am grateful for my selection because I know that it will allow me to move forward with my education, cultivate relationships with fellow Tillman Scholars and allow me to stand out to future employers. The prestige and honor associated with being a Tillman Scholar is of the utmost importance, and I look forward to being associated with the Tillman Foundation for the rest of my life.”

The scholarship program, established in 2008, honors Pat Tillman, who left a successful professional football career to join the U.S. Army and who later died in combat in Afghanistan. Providing scholarships that cover tuition as well as other needs, such as housing and child care, the program supports the nation’s active and veteran service members and their spouses by removing financial barriers to completing an academic degree.

Each university partner in the Tillman program conducts outreach to its veteran and military spouse student population and actively participates in the Tillman Military Scholar selection process. Upon selection of Tillman Military Scholars on campus, each then supports the building of community among the recipients, strengthening their academic and personal experience.

Stanfield, who is also pursuing a minor in Veterans Studies and a certificate in Women and Gender Studies at EKU, said he was “not sure of my ability to succeed in higher education” when he first came to the Richmond campus. “The time and investment that EKU has placed on making sure its student veterans succeed is honorable and simply the reason why I am an EKU Colonel. The institution is committed to veterans, but the faculty also takes this commitment seriously. I have never felt chastised or marginalized because of my service. More often than not, instructors willingly seek my perspective as a student veteran, which in return fosters an environment in which I can excel.”

Over the past five years, the Pat Tillman Foundation has awarded more than $4.6 million in scholarship funds to 291 Tillman Military Scholars pursuing education at every level from freshmen undergraduates to Ph.D. candidates.

EKU was named a VetSuccess University by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and now has a full-time VA employee on staff to help veterans with their benefits issues.

For more information about services available to veterans at EKU, contact the university’s Veterans Affairs office at 859-622-7838 or visit va.eku.edu.

Published on May 30, 2013