An incoming graduate student at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Lindsey Erdmann, has been named a 2021 Tillman Scholar.
Erdmann, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran from the Twin Cities, is one of 60 elite students who are also military service members, veterans, and spouses across the country selected for the 13th class of scholarship recipients by the Pat Tillman Foundation.
Tillman Scholars are chosen in recognition of their high potential for impact as demonstrated through a proven track record, the pursuit of education, and commitment of their resources to service beyond themselves.
Erdmann and the others in the newly selected class receive scholarships to pursue higher education and continue their service in the fields of healthcare, business, law, public service, STEM, education and the humanities. The Tillman Scholar program is named after Pat Tillman, an NFL player who put his pro football career on hold to join the military in 2002. He died in 2004 while serving in Afghanistan.
Erdmann joined the Marine Corps in 2010, partly because of her family’s history of military service, but also to further her education. Erdmann has enrolled in the Humphrey School’s Master of Public Policy program with an emphasis in integrative leadership.
“This scholarship gives me the space and opportunity to further my education while developing my leadership skills, so I can go back out in the professional world and make an impact in the lives of Minnesotans,” Erdmann said. “I am driven by a passion to create positive changes in my community, and that passion resonates with the Tillman scholarship and the Humphrey School, where my contributions can help achieve a greater systemic change for good.”
Erdmann achieved the rank of corporal in supply and logistics management, using her experience with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit to lead her on a continued path of service to the community.
“The humanitarian missions we supported throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East were some of my first exposures to other cultures, where my eyes were opened to another part of the world,” she said.
After leaving the military, Erdmann earned her bachelor's degree in social work from the University of St. Thomas in 2017; she was drawn to social work’s connection between social justice and direct services.
Erdmann volunteered, interned and worked professionally within housing, criminal justice, legal services, and mental health organizations, which gave her additional opportunities to work with communities that historically experience less access to resources and opportunities.
“As a Big Sister within the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, I was paired with a young girl who had experienced serious trauma from being in the foster care system,” Erdmann said. “I saw a different part of American society where there were systemic issues like a lack of mental health resources, poverty, and housing instability.”
Erdmann began her professional career at a Minneapolis nonprofit. From there, she went on to work as a program coordinator connecting community members and organizations to pro bono legal services.
People of color and those with disabilities and mental illness had been pushed “to the fringes of society, and were forgotten,” and Erdmann said she felt as though she was putting a bandage on bigger, systemic issues. Housing instability is one area where Erdmann feels she could make a difference.
“These experiences led me to apply to the Humphrey School. The great work done here around housing and social policies is intertwined into my community in the Twin Cities,” she said. “I was one of the many who joined the military to have more options. and every morning I get up, ready to do the work to achieve my dreams and help others do the same.”
Since the Tillman Scholars program began in 2008, 15 University of Minnesota students have received this award. Erdmann is the fourth Tillman Scholar from the Humphrey School.