A community of doers

Tillman Scholars bring service home to campus

Every year, 60 new Tillman Military Scholars join the list of dedicated men and women nationwide who exemplify the strength of character and academics of Pat Tillman, the late NFL football player and U.S. serviceman.

The College of Education and Human Development is currently home to two Tillman Scholars: Tracy Buettner and Amber Manke.

Tracy Buettner
Tracy Buettner at University Veterans Services. Photo by Seth Dahlseid.

Buettner, left, is a master’s student in counseling and student personnel psychology. During her undergraduate program at the University, she was enrolled in the Reserve Officers Training Corps on the path to become a military officer. After graduation, she was commissioned as a lieutenant and spent seven years in the U.S. Army, leaving as a captain. Buettner took on many roles as an aviation officer, including platoon leader, Blackhawk helicopter pilot, and surveillance manager. She became interested in counseling when, as a platoon leader, she provided counseling to soldiers.

“I was interested in helping them with personal problems, whether it was divorce or returning to college,” she says.

Buettner was named a Tillman Scholar in June. The scholarship is helping her pursue a career as a licensed K–12 school counselor. She stays active in the veterans community by working at Veterans Services on the Twin Cities campus and volunteering.

After attending a summit for Tillman Scholars in Chicago, Buettner says she was blown away by her peers.

“It was impressive and awe-inspiring,” she says. “The Tillman Military Scholars are a community of doers.”

Another of these doers is 2012 Tillman Scholar Amber Manke, a captain in the Minnesota Army National Guard. Though Manke already had a master’s degree by the time she was deployed to Kuwait in 2011, she continued her education while overseas and after she returned home.

Amber Manke
Amber Manke volunteers and speaks to groups, including youth in schools.

The Tillman Scholarship is allowing Manke to pursue a Ph.D. in organizational leadership, policy, and development with an emphasis on human resource development and adult education. Her focus is on the evaluation of leader development programs specifically for women.

Last fall, Manke stretched her own leadership skills when she was asked to take command. She hopes to use her passion for women in leadership to make the military a career. Upon graduation, she plans to teach at the university level in the leadership field.

Manke is also a coach for Girls on the Run, speaks to youth in schools, and volunteers with several organizations, including the Salvation Army, Feed My Starving Children, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which serves children with life-threatening medical conditions.

Though the monetary element of the scholarship has been a big help, Manke emphasizes the importance of the cause it represents.

“A big piece of the scholarship is carrying on Pat’s legacy,” Manke says. “Scholars embody his unwavering commitment to service, learning, and action.”

Learn more about the Pat Tillman Foundation.

Story by Ali Lacey | Winter 2015