VCU HSOR student selected as Tillman Scholar

Kristin MacDonaldKristin MacDonald, a student in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Health Services Organization and Research program in the College of Health Professions, has been named a 2023 Tillman Scholar by the Pat Tillman Foundation.

MacDonald, who has worked as a clinical dietician and nursing home administrator, is among 60 U.S. service members, veterans, and military spouses chosen for the scholarship, which provides funding for higher education and recognizes the recipients’ service and leadership potential. MacDonald’s husband serves as a judge advocate in the U.S. Army.

The Tillman Scholars program supports United States active-duty service members, veterans and military spouses by investing in them through education, lifelong leadership development, and a global community of high-performing peers and mentors to help them develop as leaders and make an impact at both a local and global scale.

“Kristin is not only a tremendous scholar, and instructor, but she is a strong leader in the College,” said Laura McClelland, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Health Administration and director of the doctoral program in Health Services Organization and Research (HSOR). “She is so deserving of the Tillman scholarship. She works exceedingly hard while brilliantly balancing the demands of being a military spouse and mother of young twins. We are so proud of our HSOR doctoral candidate!”

MacDonald says she always knew she wanted to work in health care, and is passionate about long-term care because of her professional experience in this area. Today, her research focuses on direct care workers in the long-term care setting.

"Kristin is a natural servant leader who is invested in living a life that grows human and community wellbeing,” said Jessica Mittler, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Health Administration and MacDonald’s dissertation chair. “Her dissertation research advances scholarship about pathways for individuals’ recovery and resilience in stressful, intense caregiving jobs. Given the growing burnout among the health care workforce, her work is poised to have a tremendous impact.”

“Throughout my PhD program, the idea of what it means to be called to one's career field is something that has fascinated me, and is truly inspiring my research.” said MacDonald. “Being honored as part of the Tillman Scholars community and working with others who are really pursuing their own callings – for me, this is connected to meaningfulness on the job and living a life where you feel like you're doing good for others.”

In July, MacDonald attended a leadership summit in Chicago, where she had the opportunity to meet her peers in the newest class of Tillman Scholars.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with other people who inspire you to keep doing great things. The areas of impact for all of the scholars are so varied in different fields, but that common thread of service to others really runs through what everybody is doing,” said MacDonald. “I am honored to be recognized by a foundation that exists to promote Pat Tillman’s legacy and support people who are inspired to do the same sort of work, have a large impact, and serve others the way Tillman did in his lifetime.”

To learn more about the class of 2023 Tillman Scholars, visit the Pat Tillman Foundation website.

By Malorie Burkett
VCU College of Health Professions
Aug. 4, 2023

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