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Ken Barnes

United States Navy
MBA Candidate, Class of 2021
Owen Graduate School of Management

“I am honored to be one of the first Bass Scholars, and incredibly thankful to the Bass family and this program for helping me to pursue my goal of being a leader in the healthcare community.”

ken-barnsTell us about your military service. What did you do? Where did you serve? What do you value the most about your military service?

I graduated from the United States Naval Academy and was stationed in Pearl Harbor, HI on the USS COLUMBUS (SSN 762), a Los Angeles Class fast attack submarine. As a division officer, I served as the Reactor Controls Assistant, Communications Officer, and Assistant Operations Officer. After leaving Hawaii, I was stationed at Navy Recruiting Command, where I served as the subject matter expert in nuclear programs for officer recruiters across the country. Learning how to completely trust the people that I served with is what I value most about my time in the Navy. Trusting in our training and in each other allowed us to submerge hundreds of feet below the ocean’s surface and carry out high-risk missions with confidence. Sharing in that process was a sobering responsibility and a remarkable experience.

What are your thoughts on mentoring other students while at Vanderbilt? As a role model, what values do you want to share?

I want to encourage students to be leaders and to take action. On a submarine, one of the first things every person learns is how to combat a fire. Unlike fires on land or even on a surface ship, there is no way to escape a fire on a submarine. We are trained to take action immediately upon noticing a burning smell, seeing a hint of smoke, or even hearing the word “fire.” Response time is key to prevent the fire from burning out of control and risking the lives of the entire crew. I know most situations are not life or death scenarios, but I want to encourage students to avoid taking a back seat when action is required.

While at Vanderbilt, what will be the focus of your studies and how do you plan to use this knowledge in your future career?

I am pursuing an MBA at Vanderbilt with a focus in healthcare. My goal is to use this degree and my military experience to become an effective leader in the healthcare community.

What would you tell other veterans about the Bass Military Scholars Program?

The diversity and camaraderie I value so much in the Navy exists in this program, as well. Each scholar has an incredible background, and we are all interested in mentoring and giving back to the Vanderbilt student body in a meaningful way.