Danielle Sheppard didn’t always envision a military career for herself. While finishing high school in Ithaca, New York, she wasn’t sold on her mother’s aspirations for her to serve in the armed forces.
When she was a junior, however, Sheppard, originally from Brooklyn, was shaken by the 9/11 attacks. Three years later, she was further inspired by the story of Pat Tillman, a pro football star who left the NFL to enlist in the U.S. Army and who later died while serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan in April 2004. Syracuse University is a Tillman Scholar university.