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WVU Creative Arts alumni in the military

When thinking of careers options for those pursuing creative arts, minds do not typically wander to the military. But opportunities in the arts are available for those enlisted, from communications and graphic design to military bands.

“Artistic individuals are needed in all parts of society,” said Dean Keith Jackson. 

In honor of Veterans Day, we take a look at some West Virginia University College of Creative Arts alumni who have served or are currently serving in the United States Armed Forces.

“The alumni featured here are fine examples of creative, dedicated individuals who serve our nation and the global community as members of our military,” Jackson said.

Christina Bayes

A 1995 graduate of the Music Education program, retired Chief Musician Christina Bayes came to WVU on full scholarship after learning about the School of Music through Professor Curtis Johnson.

“Professor Johnson attended a solo performance on the state level that I gave, and he took the time to introduce himself and to tell me about WVU's school of music,” Bayes said. “Although I auditioned at several schools, it was the personal connection and outreach that led me to choose WVU. I still remember the warm and friendly audition process and the personal interest that the faculty took with me.” 

After graduating, Bayes went on to earn her master’s degree in Music Performance at Illinois State University and DMA in Music Performance at University of Maryland while in the Navy.

“I served in the Navy Band for 20 years as flute and piccolo instrumentalist and became the Principal Flutist for my final six years,” Bayes said. “For 19 of those years, I was also the principal flutist with the Harp and Flute Duo. Additionally, I was the Blood Donor Coordinator for the Navy Yard and the Coordinator of the Young Artist Competition.”

Christina Bayes with Joe and Jill Biden and a Navy Band member

Bayes fondly looks back on her time in the Navy Band. 

“I got to represent the US Navy, playing in concert halls full of wonderful audience members all over the country as well as in Quebec, Norway and Virgin Islands,” Bayes said. “Since this is a Presidential Support Unit, I felt like I got to witness history first hand, performing at venues such as the White House, State Department, Pentagon, Arlington Cemetery, US Capitol and more. 

“Playing for Presidential Inaugurations and Presidential funerals will always stand out in my memory. My favorite memory, though, will always be watching veterans stand, no matter how hard it is for them to do so, during the playing of their service song.”

David McClean

Retired Colonel David McClean attended WVU after receiving a recommendation from a recent graduate. He graduated in 1980 with a BFA in visual arts before furthering his education at Central Michigan University, earning a master’s degree in Human Resource Management.

McClean served in the Army and participated in Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Uphold Democracy.

Today, McClean is President of Allons Consulting Group, LLC and Allons Business Solutions LLC. With his more than 27 years of logistics experience and a professional background in strategic planning, training and education, McClean is a results-oriented management professional with proven results in strategic and operational planning, project and process management, development of policy, and workplace training and education plans/programs. 

McClean authored the book “Strategic Planning: As Simple as A, B, C,” about simplifying the strategic planning process.

Tim Hill

Musician First Class Tim Hill grew up 30 minutes from Morgantown just over the Pennsylvania state line. Interested in playing the saxophone, Hill began lessons at WVU and attended School of Music summer camps during high school. Those opportunities were influential in Hill deciding to attend WVU.

After receiving his Bachelor of Music in Music Education in 2008, Hill knew he wanted to be a part of the prestigious Navy Band.

“The Navy Band has a rich tradition of excellence as a musical organization and I wanted to be part of it,” Hill said. “The act of service is also important to me, and I wanted to help tell the Navy story to our patrons around the world.”

To become a member of the Navy Band, first there must be a position available. Hill found out there was an opening for a musical arranger. He passed a rigorous audition to be eligible to enlist in the Navy.

“I have been in the Navy Band for eight years now,” Hill said. “I am one of two music arrangers/composers that serves on staff at the Navy Band. I have written music for protocol engagements (ceremonies), National Christmas Tree Lightings, various guest artist collaborations, national concert tours and our large-scale command production concerts, which include our Holiday Concerts, Navy Birthday Concert, and Concerts on the (Pennsylvania) Avenue in the summer.”

According to Hill, the School of Music and the Navy Band have some shared qualities.

“The College of Creative Arts School of Music has had a strong tradition of excellence much like the Navy Band,” Hill said. “I am, perhaps, the third generation of staff arrangers at the Navy Band with ties to WVU, which include Budd Udell, Jeff Taylor, and Jay Chattaway. As a musician in the Navy, it is important that we are in an environment with each other so that we can learn and grow from each other. We look out for each other. WVU provided that environment.”

Jay Chattaway

Jay Chattaway attended WVU on a Board of Governors’ scholarship to study Composition and Music Education. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, Chattaway’s graduate studies were interrupted by the Vietnam War, when he joined the arranging staff of the United States Navy Band. He was soon promoted to Chief Arranger and Composer-in-Residence. 

Chattaway returned to WVU many years later to complete his master’s degree and was inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Alumni.

After leaving the Navy, Chattaway began writing and producing for CBS. His first album contained the hit version of the theme from “Rocky,” earning him a gold album and the first of many Grammy nominations. In 1991, Chattaway was asked to be a guest composer for “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and subsequently worked on scores for “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Deep Space Nine,” “Voyager” and “Enterprise.” His television work has garnered nine Emmy Nominations and one Emmy.

Chattaway received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from WVU in 2019.

Kelly Cartwright conducting

Lieutenant Commander Kelly L. Cartwright is Fleet Bandmaster of U.S Pacific Fleet Band and Deputy Director of U.S. Navy Fleet Band Activities.

As a high school student, Cartwright attended Double Reed Day at WVU on the advice of Holly White, her oboe teacher. White had studied with WVU’s Cindy Anderson. 

“At Holly’s recommendation, I attended a double reed day at WVU and Dr. Anderson’s teaching style immediately resonated with me,” Cartwright said. “Between WVU’s reputation as an outstanding Music Education program and the opportunity to study with her, it was the perfect fit for me.”

Cartwright graduated in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in Music Education. Her passion for performing ultimately led to enlistment.

Kelly Cartwright watching a child use a conducting baton

“I wanted to continue performing and the quality of the Navy and Air Force Bands particularly appealed to me,” Cartwright said. “I thought I would do a four year enlistment and here I am 22 years, 10 duty assignments and 45 countries later. I’ve had the honor to see the power of music to bring people together all over the globe and am humbled by the opportunities I’ve had.” 

If you or a classmate are an alumni of WVU College of Creative Arts and served in the military, we would love to know. Alumni are asked to fill out the form at

“We are proud to have been a part of helping all of our military alumni prepare for a meaningful career,” Jackson said. “We owe them a great deal of gratitude for their service.”