As a Marine, Sergeant Emily Thompson Schelberg was deployed to Iraq. It was while she traveled the countryside working with a Navy corpsmen on a humanitarian aid mission that Thompson Schelberg discovered her calling.
"I want to help people who may be at a disadvantage," Thompson Schelberg, 26, said. "I got interested in medical school."
Now a student at Johns Hopkins University, Thompson Schelberg is working on her Bachelor of Arts degree and will then pursue her master's in nursing. The Pennsylvania native moved to Towson seven months ago with her husband, a Towson native, whom she met in the military.
"I am definitely interested in prevention of diseases rather than treatment of diseases," Thompson Schelberg said. "Preventative, proactive health – the knowledge mechanisms to avoid diabetes and heart issues."
On Nov. 11, Thompson Schelberg will be recognized as the third recipient of the NFL -Tillman Military Scholar award for leadership and service to the medical profession. Her award will be presented at the Baltimore Ravens-Oakland Raiders game.
"I am very excited about," Thompson Schelberg said. "It is a wonderful opportunity."
The Pat Tillman Foundation was established in 2004 following the death of Pat Tillman, a NFL player for the Arizona Cardinals who died while serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan. It provides educational support and resources to veterans, active military and their spouses.
"They are so wonderful to set up this ...network of other veterans dealing with the same thing you are," Thompson Schelberg said, of the Foundation. "The partnership between the NFL and Tillman is not just monetary, it is also networking."
"Emily's military experience and training opened her eyes to a career in healthcare," said Marie Tillman, co-founder and president of the Pat Tillman Foundation in a statement. "She is an extremely strong and dedicated individual who will someday make a difference in the quality of life of her patients. It's an honor to recognize her as this year's NFL-Tillman Military Scholar."
In February 2013, Thompson Schelberg will be officially a civilian as her duty to her country ends.
"I will always be connected to it," Thompson Schelberg said, of the Marines. "There are opportunities to have in civilian life I'm looking forward to. There are ways to give back outside of the military."
With family in Pennsylvania and New York City, Thompson Schelberg is excited to share her recognition with them.
"I will have a pretty large contingent to come celebrate with me," Thompson Schelberg said, though the game may leave little to be desired for some of her family members. "I am a huge Ravens fan because of my husband. (Other family members) are huge Jets fans."