2018 Tillman Scholar

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First-year graduate student and US Marine Corps veteran Zeeshan Parvez (Spokoyny group) has been named a Tillman Scholar for the class of 2018.

Parvez is among an elite group of only 60 national recipients selected out of a pool of 2300 applicants from all universities across the state for the 10th Tillman Scholar class. In recognition of their service, leadership and potential, the newly selected class will receive more than $1.3 million in scholarship funding to pursue higher education and continue their service in the fields of medicine, law, business, policy, technology, education and the arts.

As a United States Marine, Parvez served as a critical skills operator with the Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC). During this time, he specialized in explosives and deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).  After separating from the military in 2011, he went on to Penn State University where he received a B.S. Chemical Engineering in 2015. He then continued his studies at the University of Rhode Island where he received an M.S. in Energetic Materials and a Master’s in Business Administration. Parvez joined the research group of Professor Alex Spokoyny in 2017 where he conducts research on dodecaborane clusters. 

“I am extremely honored to receive such an amazing award, and look forward to upholding the core values of the Pat Tillman Foundation” Parvez said.

From the 2018 Tillman Scholar announcement:

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“I want to increase the survivability of our armed forces deployed in harm’s way”


University of California, Los Angeles

Ph.D., Materials Chemistry

Zeeshan has had a strong affinity for military culture, camaraderie, and mission since youth. His time in the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets (USNSCC) working with Navy and Marine special operations personnel served as the catalyst that pushed him to enlist in the Marine Corps. He naturally gravitated towards the Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC). Serving as an explosives expert, he led his team in all matters that related to the training and implementation of explosive devices. During his deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, he trained host nation forces in explosive offense and defense.

In the Marines, Zeeshan quickly realized the dangers that explosive devices pose to American and allied forces. After separating, he pursued advanced degrees in chemical engineering, energetic chemistry, and business, so he could make a more sizable contribution to the community he served. At UCLA, Zeeshan is furthering his research as a doctoral student in materials chemistry.

His goal is to develop a business that focuses on research, development, and training for military personnel. He hopes to give our armed force members the physical tools including protective equipment they require to increase situational awareness and survivability. His ultimate objective is to disperse knowledge that can supplement force protection protocols and reduce inherent risk associated with proximate explosive exposure.

Founded in 2008, the Tillman Scholars program supports the nation’s service members, veterans and military spouses by investing in education and professional development. The program provides academic scholarships, a national network and professional development opportunities, so Tillman Scholars are empowered to make an impact at home and around the world. To date, the Pat Tillman Foundation has invested more than $16 million in academic support, and named over 580 Tillman Scholars at over 100 academic institutions nationwide.