SERVICE IN HIS BLOOD
From military to blood bank supervisor, Travis Barton is geared up for life of service
Travis Barton knew that he was meant to help people since childhood. At the time, he didn’t know exactly what that would look like.
Joining the military allowed him to zero in on his passion, and East Carolina University prepared him to pursue his dream.
Barton graduates this spring with a Bachelor of Science in clinical laboratory science, part of the College of Allied Health Sciences. He plans to join his wife in his home state of Texas, where she is stationed in San Antonio, and will use the skills he’s sharpened at ECU to pursue a career as a blood bank supervisor.
“My whole family wouldn’t be here without a blood bank,” said Barton. “My mom, my dad and my little brother have all received blood products in their life.”
After high school, Barton joined the U.S. Navy as a corpsman — the Navy’s version of a medic — and took an assignment to work as a lab technician. He finished the six-month military training program and then spent three years working in the naval hospital in Guam. There, he worked in the laboratory and was eventually promoted to blood bank supervisor.
He quickly developed an appreciation for the work.
“The blood bank is very fast-paced, but it’s also very black and white,” he said. “There’s no middle ground. It’s yes or no kind of answers, and it really can change someone’s life. It can save someone’s life in a matter of minutes.”
Although his service introduced him to the field that became his passion, he realized that a baccalaureate degree would be crucial to pursuing his dream career as a civilian. He chose ECU and was admitted in January 2018. Although his program is traditionally completed in four years, Barton accelerated his timeline for graduation by taking summer school classes and completed the program in three and a half.
Name: Travis James Barton
College: College of Allied Health Sciences
Major: Clinical laboratory science
Hometown: Austin, TX
Hobbies/interests: Disc golf, landscape and nature photography
Favorite place on campus: Student Veteran Services lounge
Favorite class: Chem 2, Blood Bank
Professor who influenced you the most: Dr. Offenbacher, Ann McConnell
Favorite TV show: “Game of Thrones”
Favorite band/musician: Highly Suspect
Favorite movie: “American Sniper”
Dream job: Specialist in blood banking technology (official title); Blood bank supervisor at a Level 1 trauma hospital (dream job)
Role model: Lt. Matthew Coon, U.S. Navy, SBB (ASCP)
Your words to live by: “It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.”
While his path to a bachelor’s degree wasn’t the same as many of his peers, Barton said the program’s flexibility and ECU Student Veteran Services helped ease his transition from the military to student life.
“My first semester was a struggle, just getting back into the school mindset versus being an adult.” Barton said. “Being a veteran there with Student Veteran Services is phenomenal. The counselors make sure everything is taken care of, helping me with my GI bill, helping me with any scholarships that I could have applied for.”
With that support in mind, Barton wanted to pay it forward for others through a service-oriented career.
“My biggest concern was that I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life,” Barton said. “I joined the military trying to find that way to help people. The military might have told me to be a lab tech, but it’s really what I found and is my calling. I want to do this.”