Bob Atkinson, a global affairs major and Grand Strategy program student, was recognized for his military service and his commitment to improving lives in the future.

Bob Atkinson ’24, a student in Yale’s Eli Whitney Students Program and an Air Force veteran, is among 60 U.S. service members, veterans, and military spouses chosen as 2023 Tillman Scholars.

The scholarship provides funding for higher education and recognizes the recipients’ service and leadership potential. Named for Pat Tillman, a former NFL football player who enlisted in the U.S. Army after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and was killed in 2004 while on duty in Afghanistan, the scholarship is awarded to individuals who are committed to continuing their service in the fields of healthcare, business, law, public service, STEM education, and the humanities.

“We’re thrilled to welcome these 60 impressive veterans and military spouses as part of our global Tillman Scholar community,” said Dan Futrell, CEO of the Pat Tillman Foundation and a 2011 Tillman Scholar. “These individuals are key to closing the leadership gap in our country, and it is our honor to support them with scholarship, community, and leadership development as they lead through action to impact the most pressing challenges facing our world today.”

Atkinson, a first-generation college student, is studying global affairs at Yale and is a student in the Grand Strategy program. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force (USAF) after graduating from high school. He underwent Special Warfare training and, after completing U.S. Army Ranger School, became the first USAF member selected and assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment’s Reconnaissance Company (RRC). While at RRC, he conducted multiple combat deployments to both Afghanistan and Iraq, twice receiving the Bronze Star medal for heroic or meritorious service.

Atkinson aspires to help shape U.S. drug policy, to improve access to medication-assisted treatment, and to help eliminate the domestic opioid epidemic. After graduation, he intends to pursue a M.P.P./J.D. with an emphasis on health law and policy. In addition to his military service, he interned at the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, focusing his efforts on illicit drug supply reduction. He is currently interning at McKinsey & Company’s Minneapolis office.

In April, Atkinson became the first student in the Eli Whitney Students Program (EWSP) to win a Truman Scholarship, which is given to a select group of scholars on the basis of academic success, leadership accomplishments, and public service leadership potential. EWSP is designed for accomplished nontraditional students who wish to earn a Yale undergraduate degree.

This article originally appeared in YaleNews.