The Collegian
Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Richmond law student receives exclusive military scholarship

Greg Collins, a University of Richmond Law School student and active-duty Marine, received the prestigious Tillman Military Scholarship, making him the first recipient in the school's history.

The Tillman Foundation awarded Collins the award on merits of leadership, personal ambition and a "drive to make a positive impact on others through service," as declared in the foundation's mission statement.

The foundation started when Pat Tillman, an NFL quarterback, chose a place with the Army Rangers over a successful and lucrative professional contract. He did so in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. On April 22, 2004, Tillman was reported killed-in-action by enemy fire. The story later swept national headlines when the Pentagon revealed he died under friendly fire.

Following Tillman's death, his family created the Pat Tillman Foundation, which, while starting off awarding only a few scholarships, has now raised $4.1 million in military scholarships. Scholarships are aimed at active-duty military personal of all army branches, but also include military family members and spouses.

Collins applied for his scholarship while serving as a military instructor in Quantico, Va. When at first he did not win the award, he applied the next year and successfully entered the foundation's sixth class of Tillman Scholars.

At Richmond, Collins finds that the scholarship allows him to extend his efforts in ways he never could have done without the funds and the name of the foundation.

One of Collins' biggest goals is driving veterans of modern conflicts together. Today's veterans, as opposed to veterans of World War II or the Vietnam War, are minorities in the stateside population, he said. Some veterans pull themselves out of society, rather than engage with a populace that they cannot relate to after military service.

"As a regular guy, it's harder to pull people together," Collins said. "That's what's great about the Tillman Scholarship. People recognize the name Pat Tillman."

Collins, while studying law at Richmond and raising three children with his wife Christina, works with the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Administration Medical Center. He hopes to build strong connections between the school and the hospital, in part because the hospital could use Richmond's help, and in part because the stories and experiences of the soldiers could mix well with the energy of the students, he said.

Contact staff writer Ben Casella at ben.casella@richmond.edu

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