2016 Tillman Scholar

Keith Caton

Stanford University
Stanford University, MBA Harvard University, MPA

“What I have achieved is attributed to how my mom taught me hard work and service to others.”

Keith’s motivations to serve in the military derive from his upbringing in Oklahoma and, in particular, the guidance and support of his mother.  As a single parent, it was her resolve, strength and love that provided him with an environment free from the negative influences in their community. Growing up, he watched as she tirelessly worked to provide her two sons a sense of normalcy at home, including putting Christmas presents on layaway. Looking back, he credits her optimism with gifting him awareness; an understanding that there were so many things in the world he could do, but only if he worked hard. 

Through hard work, he eventually graduated valedictorian and received scholarships to regional colleges; but ultimately chose the military not only to give back to his country after 9/11 but to fulfill the promise he had made to his mother that he would realize his full potential. In the Navy, Keith came to better understand the impact of his actions on fellow sailors and on the battlefield. Losing friends made him despise the brutality of combat, while allowing him to appreciate the sanctity of life.  Their deaths have allowed him to live life with gratitude, and without a sense of entitlement, nor self-absorption.

Today, he is pursuing a rigorous joint MBA/MPA at Stanford University and Harvard Kennedy School, with aspirations to work in renewable energy, conservation and economic development. Informed by his upbringing and EOD mission of protection of personnel and property, he wants to help protect natural and cultural resources vital to our environment by helping advance the clean energy transition.