Students Named Tillman Scholars

Sam Long ’22, Aleja Rocha LL.M. ’22 Recognized for Leadership, Commitment to Service
Sam Long and Aleja Rocha

Marine Corps veteran Sam Long ’22 and Army spouse Aleja Rocha LL.M. ’22 have been named 2021 Tillman Scholars. Photos by Sarah Morris and Julia Davis

September 17, 2021

University of Virginia School of Law students Sam Long ’22 and Aleja Rocha LL.M. ’22 have been named 2021 Tillman Scholars.

Named for the NFL player killed in Afghanistan after he enlisted in the Army following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, The Pat Tillman Foundation benefits military service members, veterans and their spouses. Scholarship recipients must demonstrate a track record of leadership and a commitment to “service beyond self,” according to the foundation’s website. The foundation funds recipients pursuing undergraduate, graduate or professional degrees.

The Marine Corps commissioned Long, whose five siblings are all also veterans, after he earned a B.S. in political science from the U.S. Naval Academy. He went on to earn an M.S. in accounting from Liberty University. He was also a 2020 Tillman Scholar at the Law School.

After graduation, he will work at Arnold & Itkin in Houston.

“This year, being selected as a Tillman Scholar is a unique reminder of my privilege to serve others,” Long said. “It was a privilege to serve our great nation as a Marine infantry officer, and the Tillman Scholarship has blessed my family with the privilege to attend law school. Selection to the Tillman community is a reminder that service above self is the highest calling one can pursue.”

Rocha, of Colombia, worked in an administrative court, where she facilitated reparations to soldiers whom the Colombian Army had conscripted. She met her husband, a special forces Army officer, when he was deployed in her country.

“Being selected as a Tillman Scholar is an absolute honor because it makes me part of an incredible cohort of humans that are dedicating their life to selfless service towards others, are passionate about their intellectual growth and are humble leaders that want to impact the world in a positive way,” she said. “I know that this recognition will open many doors, allowing me to connect with more people with whom I can work in a team looking at and executing efficient ways to make a better and more peaceful world.”

Rocha is the third UVA Law student to receive the Tillman Scholarship, after Brian Wotring ’13 and Long.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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