Christman, MBA 16, will be honored at the game as an NFL-Tillman Military Scholar. He was selected as one of 60 Tillman Military Scholars, a program that recognizes veterans for their leadership and academic excellence.
Christman served as a AH-1W Cobra Helicopter pilot and forward air controller, deploying for two tours in Afghanistan and one in Southeast Asia. While in Afghanistan, he also embedded with a battalion from the Republic of Georgia.
He sought a Berkeley MBA in order to pursue pragmatic solutions to global social issues that contribute to conflict. As a student, he says he’s learning a new kind of leadership.
“I think for a lot of us, we really enjoyed the leadership part of the military, but we get that in a whole different way here,” Christman says. “In the military, you get the top-down leadership style. But you really have to transition to lead without authority, to lead your peers again—which is very tough, but very rewarding.”
The foundation was created by the family of Pat Tillman, an Arizona Cardinals player who put his NFL career on hold post-911 to join the Army. He was killed in 2004 by “friendly fire” while protecting fellow soldiers during an ambush.
Tillman Military Scholars were awarded $1.4 million this year to pursue degrees in medicine, law, business, government, education, technology, and the arts. Of the 60 scholars chosen from 7,500 applicants, nine scholarships went to MBA students—two at Haas. A third student, Ryan Evans, MBA 15, received a Tillman scholarship last year.
The ceremony for Christman is part of the NFL’s annual Salute to Service. For every point scored at 32 games in November, the league will donate $100 to the Pat Tillman Foundation and two other veterans groups.