Columbia Student, Air Force Combat Photojournalist Named 2023 Tillman Scholar

Gregory Brook ’24GS, an aerial combat photojournalist in the U.S. Air Force with a passion for improving veteran mental health care, was selected as a 2023 Tillman Scholar by the Pat Tillman Foundation.

July 05, 2023

The Pat Tillman Foundation recently announced that Columbia University School of General Studies (GS) student and U.S. Air Force aerial combat photojournalist Gregory Brook ‘24GS was selected as a 2023 Tillman Scholar. The fifth Columbia GS Tillman Scholar, Brook is one of 60 U.S. service members, veterans, and military spouses from around the country to receive this recognition. 

“This scholarship is an incredible honor to receive,” Brook said. “It is so much more than an honor; it is an endorsement of both my efforts and goals.” 

His vast experiences in the Air Force, coupled with his steadfast commitment to service and community at Columbia and beyond, led him to set an ambitious, yet critical goal: end the veteran suicide epidemic.

“In the military, there is an understanding that team work makes the impossible happen, and being accepted into this community, along with the incredible network being at Columbia provides, I know that working together, my goal of ending the veteran suicide epidemic is something that is closer to happening than it was when I started here,” he said. 

Brook plans to pursue an advanced degree in psychiatry following his graduation from Columbia in 2024 and focus his career on military and veteran health care, specifically novel treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and military population-specific mental health concerns.

“We are all given one life. I can think of no better way to live my life than to spend it serving the needs of my military brothers and sisters,” Brook said.

The first member of his family born in the United States, Brook was raised in Massachusetts primarily by his grandparents. After attending multiple high schools in Boston and witnessing his family’s struggles, in addition to trying to cope with his own, Brook joined the U.S. Air Force. “The military saved my life in a very literal sense,” he said.

In the Air Force, Brook became a combat photojournalist, combining his passions for art and photography with service and empathy in various roles from a Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of Combat Documentation at the 1st Combat Camera Squadron to most recently as a Master Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force Reserve at the 4th Combat Camera Squadron.

In addition to studying neuroscience and behavior at GS, he also serves as the Operational Deployment Director for the Global Surgical Medical Support Group and was deployed twice while taking classes—once to assist the Afghan non-combatant evacuation operation in 2021 and again in 2022 to lead the first U.S. surgical team on the ground in Ukraine. 

When Brook decided to continue his education, he sought out Columbia University and GS specifically. “I wanted to attend Columbia because the School of General Studies feels like home in a way no other school has,” he said.

The Tillman Scholars Program

The Tillman Scholars program supports our nation’s 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. 

About Columbia University School of General Studies

The Columbia University School of General Studies (GS), founded in 1947, is the premier liberal arts college in the United States for nontraditional students seeking a traditional undergraduate Ivy League education. GS students take the same courses, study with the same faculty, and earn the same degree as all undergraduates at Columbia University.