In his mid-twenties, Terrence Weaver ’11 had served five years as a medic in the Navy, with tours of duty in Iraq and Kuwait. He had a lucrative career in sales after leaving the military. He had a family. But he wanted something more: a college degree.
Even with the benefits of the GI bill, leaving a job and paying for college expenses is a hard pill to swallow when you have a family to support. That’s why Weaver was overjoyed when he was notified that he would be a recipient of a Pat Tillman Foundation scholarship.
More than the financial benefits of the award, Weaver says he is glad to be a part the Tillman Foundation as he was impressed when he heard Pat Tillman’s story. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, Tillman put his NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals on hold to serve his country. He joined the Army, became a Ranger, and completed several tours of combat duty before being killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004.
“Lets us never forget the selfless acts and sacrifice of Pat Tillman and America’s military members alike,” said Weaver.
Since 2009, the Tillman Foundation has invested in veterans and their families through education, community and advocacy. It offers aid to all veterans and specifically the ever-growing population of veterans and dependents of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
The Tillman Military Scholars program provides educational scholarship support and resources to veterans, active service members and their dependents. From a pool of more than 1,500 applicants, 60 recipients were chosen this year, including Weaver and five others at A&M. The students were awarded a collective amount of $720,000 that will be used at 31 institutions in 24 states.
Weaver, who is from San Bernadino, California, says he chose to pursue a degree at Mays “because of the great program that it offers and the overall reputation for military support and patriotism.”
One differentiating characteristic of the Tillman scholarship is that it is not simply for tuition and books; the scholarship covers direct costs related to education expenses such as housing and childcare.
With three children ranging in ages from one to 10, Weaver says the additional income provided by the Tillman Foundation is extremely helpful for his family.
The foundation requires that Tillman Scholars pay it forward through involvement in philanthropic activities. Weaver performs community service with his church, but he says his real passion is to start a nonprofit business that provides food for needy people worldwide. He is still working on a business plan for this venture.
Gregarious, confident, and energetic, Weaver has a natural aptitude for sales and a zeal for entrepreneurship. In fact, he started his first business at 11-years-old, washing cars in his southern California neighborhood. As he completes his final year in the marketing department at Mays, he is looking ahead to reentering the workforce. He hopes to find a sales position that utilizes his talents and that involves marketing a product he is passionate about and believes in. He was highly successful in sales prior to starting college, despite a lack of genuine enthusiasm about the company or product. When he finds the right marketing opportunity, he expects to create that success again, and use his earnings to fund his nonprofit dreams.
“I like sellingâ€¦I like the freedom of it,” he says. “It’s always new. There are no strict guidelinesâ€¦.It’s super creative. I like bringing a new idea to life. I like creating something really out of just an idea. I think that’s pretty amazing.” That’s something he might have shared with the namesake of his scholarship: Tillman also earned a degree in marketing prior to his NFL years.