Doctoral Student Sara Olsen, MPH ‘17, Selected as a 2019 Tillman Scholar
Sara Olsen, a behavioral and community health doctoral student, was named a 2019 Tillman Scholar for her work with Crossroads Adaptive Athletic Alliance, a nonprofit designed to increase inclusive fitness for all people with disabilities.
Sara is a 17 year Navy combat veteran and worked as an active duty explosive ordnance disposal officer for nine years. As a civilian, Sara worked with Working Wounded Games and experienced the positive impact of physical activity on this population first-hand. In 2012 she helped found Crossroads Adaptive Athletic Alliance which started as a functional fitness competition for people with physical impairments. Sara is a firm believer that fitness has mental, spiritual and physical benefits.
In 2017, Sara was one of the first to receive a Master of Public Health degree in the physical activity concentration from the Department of Kinesiology. Now pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Health, Sara aims to further her understanding of the different barriers to physical activity as well as the psychosocial benefits of community-based fitness for populations considered physically disabled. She intends to advocate for people with disabilities in research and policy, “People with disabilities deserve to be heard," Sara says in her Tillman Scholar profile. "I intend to be the change agent for how fitness and medical professionals learn to listen.”
The Tillman Scholarship supports active duty service members, veterans and their spouses with academic scholarships, a national network and professional development opportunities. Tillman Scholars receive an average of $10,000 each for academic tuition or $1,000 for professional development. Each year, up to 60 Tillman Scholars are selected for their military service, academic passions and desire to make an impact.
Sara was also inducted into the 2019 class of the Women Divers Hall of Fame in recognition of her Navy diving career and work with Crossroads Adaptive Athletic Alliance.