TULSA, Oklahoma - A TU student has been named Student Veteran of the Year. This is the very first time a Tulsan has won the honor.

Kate Tillotson said she was surprised to find out she had even been nominated for the award, but her work for TU's Student Veteran Association did not go unnoticed.

For Tillotson, a Tulsa native, attending the University of Tulsa was a childhood dream.

"For me, it's a huge deal - growing up as a kid, driving around this campus thinking, ‘Oh I'd never be able to go there.’ Now, getting out of the military, I have these benefits and I can go to TU for free," she said.

Tillotson served in the Marine Corps for four years and was deployed in Iraq for nine months. She never imagined that the Student Veterans of America would name her the Student Veteran of the Year.

"I think we were considered the underdog,” she said. “We had a very small student veteran population on campus."

Tillotson said when she joined the service, only six percent of the Marine Corps was made up of women. Now she serves as a pioneer in Oklahoma, as the only female SVA leader in the state.

TU Provost Roger Blaise said, "I was certainly not surprised because she's really made that effort all along. She's just a wonderful contributor."

Out of 1,300 SVA chapters across the country, Tillotson was named as a top three finalist. On Saturday night in California, she won.

She said, "Our group attempts to reach out to veterans not just on our campus, but in Tulsa as a whole. So, I think it's that innovative approach is what, under my leadership, won me the award."

Now, Tillotson pushes forward, with hopes to continue expanding her chapter, helping connect veterans all across the Tulsa community.

Tillotson said SVA's gatherings aren't only open to TU students they welcome any and all student veterans in the Tulsa area to join them.