Alexander Hilser, a second-year medical student at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, has been chosen as a Tillman Scholar by the Pat Tillman Foundation. The highly competitive national scholarship program recognizes military service members, veterans and spouses who demonstrate exceptional leadership qualities, a commitment to education and a dedication to serving others.
Hilser’s selection as a Tillman Scholar not only recognizes his outstanding accomplishments, but also affirms the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson’s commitment to nurturing individuals who make a positive impact on society.
As a Tillman Scholar, Hilser will receive financial assistance for academic expenses including tuition, books and living costs. He joins a global community of high-performing Tillman peers, mentors and industry leaders, facilitating invaluable networking opportunities. Additionally, he will have access to lifelong leadership development initiatives.
After graduating from Rice University in 2014 with a degree in kinesiology and sports medicine, Hilser enlisted in the Air Force and underwent rigorous training to become a pararescueman. During his training, he acquired diverse skills such as combat diving, freefall jumping and paramedicine.
After completing his training, Hilser was stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson and joined the 48th Rescue Squadron in 2017. He served in Africa in 2018 as a jump team primary medic and later as a rotary wing medic supporting special operations missions. In 2020, Hilser deployed to Afghanistan, where he was assistant team leader of a rotary wing personnel recovery and combat search and rescue team. After more than six years of active duty, he moved to the Air Force Reserve in 2021 and began medical school in 2022.
Hilser serves as the president of the medical student government and excels academically. Currently, he is leaning toward specializing in emergency medicine. In addition to his coursework, Hilser actively participates in field rescues with Southern Arizona Search and Rescue Association and maintains his qualifications as a pararescueman. He anticipates using his medical skills to save lives in a hospital setting while continuing his role as a reserve pararescueman.
“My time as a pararescueman taught me how to think critically, adapt to severe conditions and lead a team. If that doesn’t describe my time in medical school to a tee, I don’t know what would,” Hilser said. “I am grateful for the support of the Tillman Foundation, which will provide more resources for my development as a leader and help me advance my knowledge, skills and experiences.”
Sixty Tillman Scholars are chosen annually based on their demonstrated qualities of service, scholarship, humble leadership and impact.