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Three Indiana University students named 2014 Tillman Military Scholars

May 22, 2014


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Three Indiana University students were named 2014 Tillman Military Scholars, the first students from IU to receive the prestigious scholarship since the program’s inception.

Jamal Sowell, a Florida native enrolled in the Indiana University Maurer School of Law in Bloomington; Carlos Armando Gonzalez, a student at the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis; and James Bishop, a Ph.D. student studying American literature at IU Bloomington, were among the 59 students named Tillman Military Scholars.

The Pat Tillman Foundation, a nonprofit organization that invests in military veterans and their spouses through scholarships, formed the Tillman Military Scholars program in 2008 as a supplement to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Scholarships cover direct study-related expenses -- including tuition and fees, books and a living stipend -- for scholars who are pursuing undergraduate, graduate or post-graduate degrees as a full-time student at a public or private, U.S.-based accredited institution.

In February, Indiana University was named one of four new partners of the Pat Tillman Foundation for the 2014-15 academic year, alongside Georgetown University, The Ohio State University and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. A total of 15 U.S. universities are partners of the Tillman Foundation.

The sixth class of Tillman Military Scholars will receive $1.4 million in scholarships to continue their service in fields of medicine, law, business, government, education, technology and the arts. This year’s scholars were chosen from over 7,500 applicants, representing 39 universities and colleges nationwide.

“IU is very proud of the many service members, veterans and military spouses who are enrolled at all of our campuses, and we are committed to honoring their service with excellent support services,” said John Applegate, executive vice president for university academic affairs. “The Tillman Military Scholars program honors outstanding individuals, and I know that this year’s recipients will not only achieve much themselves but also be an inspiration to others.”

The Pat Tillman Foundation was created to honor Tillman, an NFL safety who put his career with the Arizona Cardinals on hold to serve in the U.S. Army in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. He was killed in Afghanistan in April 2004.

Jamal Sowell, Maurer School of Law

Sowell enlisted as a private first class in the Marine Corps Reserve in 2006 during his first year of graduate school at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In 2007, after completing his master's, he decided to go on active duty as an officer and served until 2011.

During his active-duty service, he deployed to Afghanistan. He was tasked with coordinating and planning counterinsurgency operations in Helmand Province that deterred, disrupted and denied Taliban forces freedom of maneuver and the ability to conduct improvised explosive device and indirect fire attacks in the battalion’s battle space.

“I thank the men in my family for the legacy of service that my grandfather had in World War II, my father had in Vietnam, and my brother had in Iraq,” Sowell said. “I saw that same passion for service in Pat Tillman, and I will forever be grateful for men such as him.”

During his time in the Marine Corps, Sowell was also a company executive officer, platoon commander, anti-terrorism force protection officer, electronic warfare officer and a martial arts instructor, eventually obtaining the rank of captain.

Sowell earned his bachelor’s degree in religion with a minor in family, youth and community sciences from the University of Florida, where he served as student body treasurer and president. He currently works as special assistant to University of Florida President Bernie Machen and will start pursing his law degree at Maurer School of Law in the fall.

As a lawyer, Sowell wants to focus on business and national security law and policy, while counseling disadvantaged youth about leadership and service.

Carlos Armando Gonzalez, McKinney School of Law

Born in Managua, Nicaragua, Gonzalez worked as a police officer in Oakland, Calif., for 10 years before enrolling at the McKinney School of Law.

After earning degrees from California State University, Gonzalez was a soldier in the U.S. Army Reserves and was deployed to Southern Iraq in 2004 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, providing training to the Iraqi police and coordinating hundreds of humanitarian projects as a Civil Affairs solider with the 350th Civil Affairs Command unit.

Gonzales will graduate from the McKinney School of Law in May 2015. He was recently selected for the Program on Law and State Government Fellowship, where he will explore creative and aggressive ways to prosecute and dismantle sex trafficking of children.

“This scholarship will put me one step closer in accomplishing my goals as a law student and becoming the first attorney in my family,” Gonzales said. “As a combat veteran, it gives me great pleasure to be put in a category of talented individuals that strive for a common goal: freedom.”

James Bishop, IU Bloomington

Bishop, a native of Arnold, Neb., was commissioned into the United States Air Force after earning his bachelor’s degree in physics from Louisiana State University in 2000. He earned his master’s degree in literature from IU Bloomington and became an instructor at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs for the next two years.  

"There are myriad reasons for cynicism about our national politics and values, and I think that is why Pat Tillman's story resonates," Bishop said. "'Who walks away from millions of NFL dollars to be an infantryman?' people ask. His story demands that we examine the assumptions of that stock reaction."

Bishop is working toward his Ph.D. in American literature from IU while serving in the Air Force Reserve; he hopes to return to teaching at the Air Force Academy after receiving his degree in December 2015.