Tag: Tuesday Talk

Tuesday Talk gives students insights into possible careers


James Waller, Staff Writer

In a Tuesday Talk at the Houston Cole Library, Jacksonville State University’s Office of Academic Advisement had alumni from the department of human services and social sciences speak to students about how they found their careers and what they get out of those careers.

Introduced by Jennifer Wood of Jacksonville State University’s Academic Advisement, Tuesday, February 19, at 5 p.m., on the 11th floor of the library, former students gave talks to human services social students about what to expect from careers as lawyers, probation officers, managers of disaster relief, and housing managers.

The first panelist, Tyrone Smiley, who graduated from Jacksonville State University in 2009  with a bachelor’s degree in communication and now works as the university’s assistant Director of housing operations, started by telling the attendees about his original goals to be a news reporter for CNN and how his career took a different when he accepted his initial post-graduate school job as live-in, university hall director at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, after earning a  master’s degree in public administration. Smiley advised that his undergraduate political science major had a variety of skills that would be useful in many career paths but were especially transferable for him transferring into working in higher education.

The second panelist, Katie Carter Stotts, a senior probation officer for the Northern district of Georgia, who graduated from Jacksonville State University in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, initially attempted to apply to law school. Stotts changed her mind on networking with a federal probation officer. After this, Stotts stressed the importance of networking in her career.

“My big spiel in all this is networking,” Stotts said. “Networking is absolutely huge in any line of work, but especially in federal law enforcement. A majority of my work is on the social work side and dealing with people’s personalities and helping them develop those better cognitive skills, making better decisions, putting people who have substance abuse issues into treatment, finding those programs for people so they can reintegrate into society.”

The third panelist, G. Davis Varner Jr., an attorney and partner of Shelnutt and Varner P.C., who graduated from Jacksonville State University in 2008 with a political science bachelor’s degree, spoke about how his undergraduate degree did little to prepare him for his career and told the attendees that almost any degree would get a person into law school. Varner stated that some of his classmates in law school had degrees as disparate as biology and music.

“The most challenging aspect of getting into law school—I would say three things: the LSAT, law school, and the bar exam,” said Varner.

Varner does both criminal and civil practices. He stated that he most enjoys that he can help people with his practice, but also says that the best way to do his job is to maintain some professional detachment and avoid taking on too much of his client’s emotional baggage.

The last panelist, Dr. Bryce Woodruff, a three-time-graduate from Jacksonville State University, graduated a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1994, a master’s degree in emergency management in 2004, and a doctorate in emergency management in an unspecified year. Dr. Woodruff is a manager of disaster resilience and recovery for a private company. He stated that he found his career’s start with FEMA when a professor passed his name along to an unnamed FEMA official. Dr. Woodruff was involved with the disaster relief following the tornado that hit Jacksonville, Alabama and other areas on March 19, 2018, doing much damage to the university.

“The most satisfying aspect of this job is being able to help people recover form devastation,” said Dr. Woodruff.

Dr. Woodruff went on to say that his job ties together knowledge from many disparate disciplines, like engineering, environmental science, and architecture, as many things must be considered and repaired during disaster relief efforts.

Tuesday Talk spotlights health sciences

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Panelists, from left, presented at the Health Sciences Tuesday Talk on Tuesday, September 19. (photo by Nick Adrian/The Chanticleer)

Nick AdrianStaff Writer

The JSU Department of Academic Advising held their monthly Tuesday Talk on September 19 on the eleventh floor of the Houston Cole Library. Their subject of interest this month was health sciences and what to expect from a career in that field. The meeting’s speakers were made up of five JSU alumni who have gone on to specialize in various branches of health science. The talk allowed students interested in the field to get a better understanding as to what they should expect after their years of schooling and what it is like in the medical world.

The panelists representing JSU’s past were seated in front of the students at a large table. Dr. Brent Abernathy, D.V.M., graduated in 2002 with a BS in Biology and now works as a veterinarian at Anniston Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Stephen Brackett, MD, who also graduated in 2002 with a BS in Biology, is now the Clinical Director of the Outpatient Substance Abuse Clinic at the Birmingham VA Medical Center. Dr. Stephen Craig, Pharm.D., is another 2002 graduate with a BS in Chemistry who is now a pharmacist at Target in Oxford, Ala. Dr. Christina Rachael Ginn, Pharm.D., graduated in 2011 with a BS in Biology and is a clinical pharmacist at UAB Hospital and Brookwood Baptist Health. Amy Beth Horton, PA-C, graduated in 2008 with a BS in Biology and is a physician’s assistant at Northeast Orthopedic Sports Clinic & Physical Therapy in Gadsden, Ala.

Each panelist talked about his or her schooling experience, from starting at JSU for their undergraduate studies to continuing their education at such universities as UAB or South Alabama. They continued to discuss not only what their jobs were, but what an average day was like, what perks were included and what challenges they faced. Along with this, they offered advice for the prospective students, covering the their time in undergraduate school to the interviewing process to their eventual careers.

“You have to be unique a little bit,” Craig said about his experience interviewing for pharmacy schools. “You have to have a good GPA…do good on the PCAT.”

Ginn shared additional advice regarding the interview process, stating that potential applicants should be the kind of employee that an employer would prefer.

“Would I (the employer) want to work beside them all day? Would I trust that person as a future healthcare provider?” Ginn asked. The answer could determine which student the employer picked, regardless of which one performed better in school.

Abernathy stressed the importance of people skills, and how a student with below average grades and great social skills was more likely to succeed in the long run than a student with exceptional grades and no social skills. Brackett agreed with this advice, saying he often takes on the personality of his patients to give them a more comfortable experience with a relatable doctor: “Just be able to kind of read people,” he suggested.

One inevitable subject that each panelist touched on was student debt. Every speaker offered the same advice, stating that the debt was a rough part of the student experience but they will eventually be able to handle it financially. They stressed that if having a career in health science, or any medical field, was what they really wanted, the debt should not discourage them because working a job that they love is well worth it.

The next Tuesday Talk will be October 3 at 5 p.m. at the library. This talk will feature alumni from the School of Business and Industry.