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Vanderbilt welcomes first cohort of seven veterans to Bass Military Scholars Program

by Aug. 28, 2019, 9:30 AM

Vanderbilt University’s Bass Military Scholars Program begins its inaugural year with the arrival of seven new scholars on campus this semester. The scholars, all of whom are U.S. military veterans, are pursuing professional degrees across several of Vanderbilt’s schools.

“Vanderbilt has long made a priority of supporting our veteran students, from financial aid opportunities like the Yellow Ribbon Program to specialized career services,” said Interim Chancellor and Provost Susan R. Wente. “The Bass Military Scholars Program takes those efforts a step further by providing scholarships and learning opportunities outside the classroom for deserving candidates who want to pursue advanced degrees as they transition to civilian life.”

The program, established in 2018 with a $25 million gift from the Lee and Ramona Bass Foundation, provides significant financial aid and programming support for military veterans pursuing the following professional degrees in five of Vanderbilt’s schools:

Each recipient currently receives $25,000 per year toward annual tuition costs. Once fully endowed, the program will support up to 40 scholarships and programming.

In addition to their studies, the Bass Scholars will meet regularly as a group, collaborating on projects across their various schools throughout the academic year. Those projects include a range of campus service activities designed to foster military-civilian exchanges and mentorship opportunities within the broader Vanderbilt community.

Standing, left to right: Ken Barnes, Owen, U.S. Navy; Matt Smith, Medicine, U.S. Navy; Devin T. Adams, Law, U.S. Army; Craig Kuphall, Owen, U.S. Army; Lt. Gen. Gary Cheek, Bass Military Scholars program director, U.S. Army; and Alba Cook, program coordinator. Sitting, left to right: Alyssa Hartley, Law, U.S. Navy; Mandi Mizner, Nursing, U.S. Army National Guard; and Vanessa Thomsen-Johnson, Nursing, U.S. Army. (Anne Rayner/Vanderbilt)
Standing, left to right: Ken Barnes, Owen, U.S. Navy; Matt Smith, Medicine, U.S. Navy; Devin T. Adams, Law, U.S. Army; Craig Kuphall, Owen, U.S. Army; Lt. Gen. Gary Cheek, Bass Military Scholars program director, U.S. Army; and Alba Cook, program coordinator. Sitting, left to right: Alyssa Hartley, Law, U.S. Navy; Mandi Mizner, Nursing, U.S. Army National Guard; and Vanessa Thomsen-Johnson, Nursing, U.S. Army. (Anne Rayner/Vanderbilt)

“This innovative program will encourage dialogue and collaboration across several academic disciplines and schools,” said Vanessa Beasley, vice provost for academic affairs and dean of residential faculty. “I’m excited to see how the veterans interact with the rest of our university community and share the lessons they’ve learned from their leadership and service in the military.”

The members of the inaugural cohort of Bass Military Scholars are:

  • Devin T. Adams, former U.S. Army field artillery officer and current student at the law school,
  • Ken Barnes, former U.S. Navy submarine officer and current student at the Owen School,
  • Alyssa Hartley, former U.S. Navy special operations naval aviator and current student at the law school,
  • Craig Kuphall, former U.S. Army special operations aviation officer and current student at the Owen School,
  • Mandi Mizner, former U.S. Army medical evacuation helicopter pilot and current student at the School of Nursing,
  • Matt Smith, former U.S. Navy SEAL and current student at the School of Medicine,
  • Vanessa Thomsen-Johnson, former U.S. Army Persian-Farsi linguist and current student at the School of Nursing.

“The scholars in this first cohort are the ideal foundation for this program. They embody all the qualities we look for—they’re patriots and proven leaders, who are committed to learning both inside and outside the classroom,” said retired Lt. Gen. Gary H. Cheek, director of the Bass Military Scholars Program. “Those qualities also make them excellent ambassadors for Vanderbilt, and I’m confident this group of scholars and those that follow will elevate the mission of the university in countless ways.”

To learn more about the Bass Military Scholars Program, visit vu.edu/bass-scholars.

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