Corporal, U.S. Army
Vice President of Operations, Miracles in Sight
Growing up in Pittsburgh, PA, Mike Tramber always thought he wanted to be a doctor. As a junior in high school, when approached by an Army recruiter, he immediately inquired about opportunities to practice medicine in the Army.
When Mike found out the Army would assist him and his family in paying for college, AND offered a “split-option” program where he could fulfill his bootcamp requirements during the summer before his senior year, return home to complete high school, and then immediately report to Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio for AIT (Advanced Individual Training) training, he was sold. He enlisted right then, as a junior in high school.
Although he was the youngest guy at bootcamp, Mike took with him his “go with the flow” attitude and excelled in the environment at Fort Jackson in South Carolina. Prior to arriving, he talked with family and friends who had already been through bootcamp, and felt comfortable and prepared for the experience. Returning to finish high school afterwards, he felt an increased sense of maturity and took things more seriously. “Bootcamp made me more ready for college and the real world,” Mike says.
After graduating high school, Mike trained to become an Army Lab Technician. He credits his military training for his proficiency at reading medical charts and reports and running lab tests. He believes this deep understanding gave him a “leg-up” in his career, allowing him to advance faster.
Mike spent eight years as a reservist, although he was never activated to serve an actual tour. He was put on standby during Desert Storm and was honorably discharged in 1998.
During his first year in college at Gannon University in Erie, PA, Mike realized he didn’t want to pursue being a doctor. The years of schooling, and immense expenses were just too much. However, his military experience offered him a broad vision of what working in medicine looked like—there were far more possibilities than just being a doctor. “The field of donation allowed me to help people, and gives me surgical opportunities,” Mike explains. “Plus, I get to hear great personal stories about how donation has changed so many lives.”
Mike worked at CORE in Pittsburgh until 2002 before moving to Durham, NC for a management opportunity at Carolina Donor Services. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Health Care Management from Mt. Olive College in Raleigh in 2010, and later an MBA from Winston Salem State University in 2014. Seeing an opportunity for further advancement, he joined the North Carolina Eye Bank, which is now Miracles in Sight.
Defying stereotypes, Mike says you wouldn’t necessarily know about his years of military service by meeting him. “I’m a goofball,” he says. “I was raised to say ‘Yes, sir, and no ma’am,’ so that’s not from the military. I’m not an early riser or super regimented.”
He does admit there are plenty of ways the Army has made him a better eye banker, saying, “It definitely instilled in me great discipline, strong work ethic, and overall sense of service to others.”