Our Stories

Finding Support Among Newfound Friends

After leukemia diagnosis, community rallies around Blaine Davis

Blaine Davis
Director of Operations, Outlander VC

Vanderbilt MBA 2021

During orientation, Blaine Davis received an unexpected medical diagnosis: acute lymphoblastic leukemia. With the urgent need for chemotherapy treatment, which he received at Vanderbilt and at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, he left school and deferred his admission for a year. That’s when he fully came to experience how, at Vanderbilt, community is more than just a feeling.

“Throughout this whole process, my classmates and the staff at Owen reached out constantly to check on me and see if they could help,” he says. “They went above and beyond any of my expectations. This is a community that truly bands around everyone and supports everyone through any endeavor.”

After his diagnosis and during his treatment, Blaine wanted to “take a step back and figure out what I wanted to do long term.” The Owen team and community, he says, “could not have helped more with this. The MBA program at Owen allows you to be involved with so many real-world experiences and to essentially ‘play in a sandbox’ for two years to figure out exactly what you want to do.”

Once he came back to school, Blaine immersed himself in a variety of those real-world opportunities through the Owen Venture and Entrepreneurship Club and through Professor Michael Burcham’s Launching the Venture class (Blaine’s favorite, and one that he highly recommends to anyone). He took on a volunteer leadership role with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He got engaged—his fianceé is earning a Ph.D. at Vanderbilt. And he won a Global Treasury internship with U.S. Bank in Atlanta.

Along the way, his classmates and staff at Owen have been a vital support network. Liz Scowden in the Student Programs Office, he says, “has been almost like a mother/coach in how much she checks in on me and helps me out.” He talks to Heather Yockey, Courtney Fain, and Brook Meissner in the Career Management Center almost every day. “I think of them much more as friends than as a resource,” he says. “They are like therapists and coaches to me. They are the best.”

Fun Fact: Blaine received the Wigginton Memorial Scholarship for Finance.

My classmates and the staff at Owen reached out constantly to check on me and see if they could help.