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Tillman Scholar counts experience as one of best at ASU

April 13, 2010

From the first few minutes of a Tillman Scholars interview with friends and classmates of Pat Tillman, Michael A. Barney knew he would be joining something that would make a profound difference in his life.


“Mainly it was the passion. You could see that these people were going to do something very powerful,” Barney said.


Barney was among the first group of Tillman Scholars in 2005. The group focused on developing leadership skills and traits during their time as scholars at Arizona State University.


Barney counts his experiences as a scholar among his best memories of ASU. The scholars learned a lot about themselves by listening to leaders in the community, doing extensive reading and writing and engaging in “a lot of introspective analysis” to identify leadership traits that they possessed.


“It was very intense. I was only 19 at the time,” he said. “It was a very humbling and maturing process.”


As part of being a Tillman Scholar, Barney and fellow scholar Katie Mahoney put into practice their newfound leadership skills by implementing a business plan that taught high-school students about Tillman’s life and the run that is held in his honor. The duo encouraged students to get involved with a lesson plan, DVD about Tillman and promotional posters.


“Each year, Pat’s run has grown,” Barney said.


Barney, who grew up in Scottsdale, remembers the day that he heard that Pat Tillman had died overseas. “I remember standing there and thinking what a big deal he was in Arizona,” Barney said.


Although he didn’t know Pat Tillman, he felt like he got to know what kind of person he was by talking with the Tillman’s friends.


“Everyone you talk to has something positive to say about him. He really was an amazing and inspiring man,” he said. “He protected those he loved and what he felt near and dear to his heart.”


Barney graduated in 2008 with a degree in finance and now works for Weller, Anderson & Co. in Houston.


And, he’s still involved in Pat’s Run in Houston by helping to organize a shadow run that will be held on the same day as the Tempe run.


“Being a runner, I love challenging myself,” he said. “It’s always good to be there, find your passion and go for it.”