Tell us about your military service. What did you do? Where did you serve? What do you value the most about your military service?
I served most of my time at Fort Campbell with the 101st Airborne Division as a Sapper Platoon Leader. During this time I applied engineering solutions in order to solve problems for a wide variety of stakeholders. Injuries incurred during my service put me on an unorthodox career path where I served my last term of service with Medical Command. Here I worked directly with the Hospital Commander and it is a capstone to my wide variety of experiences over my career. I have always possessed resilience, but the Army refined that into a tool that could be used to benefit others. I am grateful for my time as a combat engineer and I acknowledge that I stand on the shoulders of giants who came before me.
What are your thoughts on mentoring other students while at Vanderbilt? As a role model, what values do you want to share?
I believe mentorship is a two-way street where you can learn something new from each individual you speak to. When I was in charge of various military units, I tried to limit distinctions on rank when possible and kept everyone on a level playing field. Just because I have walked a different path than someone else does not make their path incorrect. You never know what you can learn from the brand new private who just showed up to your unit yesterday. I think students at Vanderbilt get caught up in work at a world-class university and may need a reminder of this at times. I believe that a similar line of thinking will take them far as a leader in any industry.
While at Vanderbilt, what will be the focus of your studies and how do you plan to use this knowledge in your future career?
At Vanderbilt Owen, I plan on focusing on strategy and analytics. My engineering background has given me an interest in the future of big data and how it can be leveraged to drive corporate strategy. I believe this is extremely important in the growing renewable energy space. I would like to pivot from my military career into a strategy consulting role where I can influence the long-term decisions of major companies.
What would you tell other veterans about the Bass Military Scholars Program?
The Bass program combines three important areas. These are community service in the Nashville area, Vanderbilt University as an all-encompassing organization, and the veteran community as a whole. It cannot be overstated how valuable it is to have a group of like-minded, high performers with very experienced mentors. I hope that other veterans will see us lead by example and will continue to expand the program. The Bass Military Scholars Program values are aligned with my values as well.