UMSL upperclassman 1 of 2 Missouri students named Pat Tillman Scholars

UMSL student veteran Heath McClung, 2017 Tillman Scholar

Student veteran Heath McClung, who was injured during his 2011 deployment to Afghanistan, aims to help create the next generation of prosthetics. He is the second UMSL student – and the university’s first undergraduate – to ever receive the prestigious scholarship. (Photos by August Jennewein)

Two University of Missouri students are among the 60 student veterans selected to the 2017 class of Pat Tillman Scholars. Heath McClung, Army veteran and University of Missouri-St. Louis engineering student, and Paul Wade, Army veteran, member of the Missouri National Guard and University of Missouri–Columbia law student, each received the award.

Every year, the Pat Tillman Foundation receives thousands of applications from military veterans and their spouses. Only 60 of the best-poised leaders, who show strength in character, academic excellence and potential, are chosen as Tillman Scholars. McClung and Wade are the only scholars from Missouri universities in the 2017 class.

Heath McClung, UMSL student

Engineering student Heath McClung is president of the UMSL Student Veterans Association.

“The Pat Tillman Scholars program is one of the most prestigious awards for our nation’s student veterans,” said Mun Choi, president of the UM System. “This year, 60 scholars were named from an applicant pool of thousands. As Tillman Scholars, Paul and Heath are representing our nation’s very best, right here in Missouri.”

McClung graduated from Lafayette High School in Wildwood, Missouri, and briefly attended Truman State University before joining the Army, serving three years active duty. During his 2011 deployment to Afghanistan, he suffered injuries that ultimately resulted in the amputation of his left leg. Now enrolled in the UMSL/Washington University Joint Engineering Program, with minors in math and biology, McClung hopes to work in the prosthetics field to help other people. He plans to obtain a graduate degree in prosthetics and orthotics.

“I think it’s fascinating technology and really rewarding,” said McClung, who is president of the UMSL Student Veterans Association and volunteers with The Mission Continues, the World Pediatric Project, and the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association. “These are things that help people in their daily lives. Ideally I want to work either in a practice and treat patients or work for a company helping to design and make the next generation of prosthetics. The Pat Tillman Foundation is helping me achieve this goal.”

Wade graduated from Glenwood High School in Chatham, Illinois, and received his undergraduate degree from Truman State University. In the Army, Wade served in three combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now a full-time law student at MU, Wade spends his free time volunteering with Team RWB, a community organization aimed at enriching the lives of America’s veterans. Previously, Wade served as vice president of Mizzou Law Student Veterans Association. He also has participated in the Mizzou Law Veterans Clinic, where law students can practice their legal skills helping veterans with legal issues connected to their service.

“As a veteran, I don’t believe myself to be any better than my civilian classmates, but I recognize that my experiences are drastically different from many other people attending law school,” Wade said. “The Pat Tillman Foundation recognizes the need to have veteran leadership at all levels to bring the unique experiences and perspectives veterans share into the public discourse. Being in the small group of Tillman Scholars allows me to be part of a group of veterans working to make the country and world a better place.”

Founded in 2004, the Pat Tillman Foundation invests in military veterans and their spouses through academic scholarships. The scholarship is named for Pat Tillman, the former NFL player who put his playing career on hold to serve his country after 9/11 and was killed by friendly fire. Since the foundation formed, more than 520 Tillman Scholars have been named from more than 100 universities.

UMSL doctoral student Ryan Barrett was among last year’s group.

Media coverage:

St. Louis Post-Dispatch


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