Tillman Scholar: Anthony Ornelaz

“Life does not travel in straight lines, for progress manifests in many unexpected and meaningful squiggles.”

Originally, Anthony was from a small agricultural town in Southern California named Wasco. He always dreamed of joining the military and following the examples set by his grandfather and father and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as a Security Forces member in 2006.  His service gave him the opportunity to live and work in Turkey, Italy, Kuwait, and Germany, where he immersed himself in those respective cultures. His eight years of service saw him hold positions like nuclear security controller, installation patrolman, and physical security manager. Anthony’s military service would eventually push him towards academia upon his discharge.

He would attend Sierra College and earn three associate degrees in History, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and LGBT studies. From there, Anthony would transfer to Amherst College, where he earned his bachelor’s in History and Sexuality, Women, and Gender studies. Currently, he is completing his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Syracuse University. His work—a collection of poetry—centers on military service, America’s nuclear apparatus, and his involvement in and proximity to both. Anthony is pursuing this endeavor in the hopes of reflecting and inspiring those who do not normally occupy artistic spaces. He is also striving to carve out new spaces in the field of poetry that allows new perspectives and experiences to exist and flourish.