Don Naab

2022 Knoxville Medal of Honor Convention is an annual event that celebrates an exclusive group of American heroes. The Medal of Honor is the highest award in the military given to soldiers who risked their lives against all odds to save others.

As the son of a soldier and the grandson of a sailor and soldier, service is a value that has always stood out for Don Naab. Even while taking classes in Carson-Newman University’s online Master of Business Administration program, he is among the key players in the organization of the 2022 Knoxville Medal of Honor Convention.

The convention is an annual event that celebrates an exclusive group of American heroes. The Medal of Honor is the highest award in the military given to soldiers who risked their lives against all odds to save others.

Naab said his experiences coming from a family of servicemen have helped him gain a deep sense of respect and a debt of gratitude to the men and women who serve.

“Service for me is a value that stands out the most and is the easiest to implement. And while you are serving, you are having some level of sacrifice,” Naab said.

Balancing the convention, his family, his day job as a chemical engineer and his schoolwork takes a lot of effort, but Naab said that Carson-Newman has helped him ease some of that pressure.

“I like that it is a Christian university that is unashamed to put faith forward while still offering quality programs and flexibility,” he said.

Philip Bailey, assistant professor of Business and director of the MBA program at C-N, said that Naab’s involvement in the convention sets a good example for other students.

“This is the kind of thing we want our students involved in: teaching the next generation to remember the achievements of the previous generations,” Bailey said.

For the 2022 convention, Naab is the director of Education Programs while also serving as a board member and a member of the Executive Committee.

“We first earned the right to host the convention in 2014, and it took us three years to prepare for that,” said Naab. “Knoxville was selected because we had really embraced the Character Development Program.”

The Character Development Program is a curriculum to help teachers instill values embodied by recipients of the Medal of Honor in their students. When they began preparations for the convention in 2011, Naab and his team did a robust deployment of the program to middle and high schools in the state.

“The program exists to perpetuate the legacy of the Medal of Honor,” Naab said. “Students gain a new understanding of what it means to be a warrior. It is not about doing something courageous in battle but in life. And that can happen anywhere, whether they are in school or at the store, and it can happen multiple times a day. Don’t let someone else do it, you be the one to do it.”

The core values in the program are commitment, integrity, courage, sacrifice, patriotism and citizenship.

Bailey praised Naab for his commitment to the program, adding that recognizing the past and preparing for the future are essential to be a good citizen. Citizenship and service are key elements in Carson-Newman’s mission “to help our students reach their full potential as educated citizens and worldwide servant-leaders.”

Founded in 1851, Carson-Newman is a Christian liberal arts-based university affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention. The University is located in Jefferson City, Tennessee, among the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and has over 2,900 students. Carson-Newman offers 50 undergraduate majors, as well as associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The institution’s website is cn.edu.