2L Named Tillman Scholar ….Navy Veteran Kirk Wolff ’26 Recognized for Leadership, Commitment to Service

Kirk Wolff, a U.S. Navy veteran and second-year student at the University of Virginia School of Law, has been named a 2024 Tillman Scholar.

The Pat Tillman Foundation’s scholarship recipients are military service members, veterans and spouses with “a high potential for impact as demonstrated through a proven track record of leadership, the continued pursuit of education and the commitment of their resources to service beyond self,” according to the organization’s website. The newly selected class will receive funding to pursue higher education and continue their service in the fields of health care, business, law, public service, STEM fields, education and the humanities.

Wolff said the honor is a recognition of everyone who helped him succeed. Born into a family with many veterans, he said he attended the U.S. Naval Academy to be part of something bigger than himself, and so that he could benefit from the school’s structure and discipline as a young man.

“I was given so many legs up and chances,” he added, “whether it was from my mother who truly played a bigger role in my success than everyone else combined, or from the sailors I served with who made me look better than I really am through their hard work.”

Wolff was a surface warfare officer and deployed to the Middle East and Southeast Asia. He led a division of engineers and the gunnery division on two guided missile destroyers. In 2019, he was named the Navy’s public affairs representative of the year.

Wolff said he was drawn to law school because “being an attorney is an honor” and he wanted to make a real difference in people’s lives. He added that attorneys, like military officers, are bound by a code of ethics and serve a higher calling, which also appealed to him.

He called UVA “a really special place” and that conversations with Admissions Dean Natalie Blazer ’08 showed the school cares about its students.

“That was validated when I went to the admitted students open house and met more faculty,” Wolff said. “When I met the other incoming 1Ls, I knew I had to be part of this community. I am so impressed everyday by my classmates. I am lucky to be among them.”

At UVA Law, the Morristown, Tennessee, native is an editorial board member of the Virginia Law Sports & Entertainment Journal and president of the Virginia Law Wine Society. Wolff also received the Arthur Murray Preston ’38 Scholarship, named for a Navy officer who was the Law School’s only Medal of Honor recipient.

In law school, Wolff said he and fellow Navy veteran Eli Sinai ’26 are working to start a new legal clinic for veterans.

“I am going to use this platform to make positive changes for veterans and our community at large, and to honor the legacy of Pat Tillman,” Wolff said.

He is still weighing his career options and plans to work at a firm, but Wolff would also like to be an adjunct professor while practicing, or even a full-time professor.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the Naval Academy and an associate degree from Walters State Community College.

Wolff is the fifth UVA Law student to receive the Tillman Scholarship, after Brian Wotring ’13, Sam Long ’22, Aleja Rocha LL.M. ’22 and Tyler Adams ’24.

The Pat Tillman Foundation was created by family and friends of Pat Tillman, an NFL player who enlisted in the Army after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and was killed in Afghanistan in 2004.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.