Using Your Major

What can you do with your major after college?

Learn from professionals in the industries that interest you. Each session will feature
a panel of professionals representing six different career fields. Ask questions about
their jobs, career paths and find out how to use your major.

FEBRUARY 17, 19 & 20
Auburn University Student Center Room 2107

**Free pizza for attendees**

Using Your Major Monday

Government Panelists:
David Dorton - Director of Public Affairs for the City of Auburn | Bio
Sheila Eckman - County Commissioner for Lee County | Bio
Gregory Smith - Deputy Directory/Governmental Relations Mgr of AL Dept of Child Abuse Prevention | Bio
Joseph Vonasek - Professor in the Department of Political Science | Bio

Non- Profit Panelists:
Becky Benton - Executive Director of United Way of Lee County | Bio
Micah Melnick - Executive Director of BigHouse | Bio
Julia Pipes - Executive Director of East Alabama Medical Center Foundation | Bio
Lisa Stephens - Executive Director of Domestic Violence Intervention Center | Bio

Using Your Major Wednesday

Healthcare Panelists:
Curtis Borum - Physical Therapist for Hughston Clinic | Bio
Jessica-Lauren Newby - Registered Dietitian for Auburn University | Bio
Anna McDill - Occupational Therapist for East Alabama Medical Center | Bio
Michelle Clayton - Director, Risk Management and Medical Staff Services at East Alabama Medical Center

Helping Professions Panelists:
Megan Ellis, MSW, LGSWA - Care Coordinator for Children's Rehabilitation Service | Bio
James Tindell - College Readiness Coordinator for Auburn City School System | Bio
Tania Wolverton - Education Administration background | Bio

Using Your Major

Engineering Panelists:
Chip Johnson - Director of Business Development for Sprayroq | Bio
Beth Vaughan - Senior Project Manager & Hazardous Waste Technologist for CH2M HILL | Bio
David DeBaets - Plant Manager at Briggs and Stratton | Bio
Steve Howser - Lead Staffing Specialist at ThyssenKrupp Steel USA | Bio

STEM Fields Panelists:
Juan Barnes - Laboratory Supervisor for Auburn University Medical Clinic | Bio
John Granade - Owner of Granade Technology Solutions | Bio
Heather Jones - Quality Assurance Supervisor for Wayne Farms LLC | Bio
Shabaka McKey - Director of School Engagement for Project Lead the Way, Inc | Bio


Panelist Bios


Government Panel

David Dorton
David Dorton is the Director of Public Affairs for the City of Auburn, Alabama. He was first employed by the city as an intern in the Office of the City Manager while earning a Master of Public Administration degree from Auburn University. After the internship, Dorton worked full-time in the city’s Information Technology Department as a Network Engineer for several years before returning to the Office of the City Manager. As Director of Public Affairs, Dorton is a member of the city’s Management Team, is the primary point of contact between the city and the media and coordinates the city’s communications and intergovernmental relations initiatives.

Sheila Eckman
Coming Soon

Gregory Smith
Gregory is the Deputy Director/Governmental Relations Manager for the Alabama Department of Child Abuse Prevention (Children’s Trust Fund). He has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Auburn Montgomery.

Joseph Vonasek
Joe has a both a BS and MBA in Business Management, and a Ph.D. in Public Administration; all from Florida State University. He has served as a local government executive and senior staff member; and as a consultant to state and local governments. He teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in public policy, public budgeting and finance. His research interests include public budgeting and finance, public financial decision making, public management, and administrative ethics.

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Non-Profits Panel

Becky Benton
Becky, a native of Opp, Alabama, began her career as a teacher in the field of Special Education. After completing a 10 year tenure of teaching in both Alabama and Texas, Becky returned to Alabama to pursue her MBA at Auburn University. While at Auburn she worked in Housing and Residence Life which rekindled her desire to work directly with individuals within the social service arena. After completion of her MBA Becky took the position of Executive Director of the program against Domestic Violence in East Alabama now known as the Domestic Violence Intervention Center. In 1997 Becky was chosen as the Executive Director for the United Way of Lee County. Under this umbrella network of local social service organizations, hundreds of thousands of dollars are raised each year to improve the lives of people in need in Lee County.

Micah Melnik
Micah Melnick is a native of Opelika, AL and a 2009 graduate of the University of Alabama. While at Alabama, she received a dual degree in Human Development and Digital Media. Micah and her husband Blake began planning BigHouse Foundation in 2008 and officially incorporated the organization in February of 2009. Shortly after graduating, they returned to Opelika to run BigHouse full-time. Micah is currently the Executive Director of BigHouse, which meets the needs and improves the quality of life for children in foster care. Over the past 5 years, BigHouse has reached over 7,000 children in Alabama's foster care system through a variety of programs.

Julia Pipes
Julia O. Pipes, CFRE - Julia joined the East Alabama Medical Center Foundation in January 2010. The Foundation is dedicated to securing charitable gifts on behalf of EAMC and its programs. Prior to joining the Foundation, Julia spent ten years in fundraising consulting. In 2008, she received her certification as a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE).  Julia is a graduate of Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. She and her husband, Caleb, reside in Opelika.

Lisa Stephens
Ms. Stephens is a graduate of Auburn University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication. Because of the importance of education, Ms. Stephens continued her studies at Troy State University where she received her master’s in Human Resource Management. Ms. Stephens currently serves as the Executive Director of the Domestic Violence Intervention Center in Opelika, which provides professional and confidential services to victims of domestic violence in Lee, Chambers, Macon, Randolph and Tallapoosa counties, the equation of 247,181.00 citizens, 17 Police Departments and 5 Sheriff Offices. Besides budgeting, Lisa has the enormous task of providing safe, emergency shelter to domestic violence victims in all of the aforementioned locations.

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Healthcare Panel

Curtis Borum
Coming Soon

Jessica-Lauren Newby
Jessica-Lauren Roberts Newby is currently employed as the Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist for Auburn University students, faculty, and staff by Campus Recreation and Wellness. She assists her clients with grocery shopping, meal planning, weight management, food allergies, gastrointestinal issues, disease prevention, fertility issues, and eating disorder recovery. She received her Bachelor of Human Environmental Sciences in Human Nutrition and Hospitality Management while simultaneously completing the Coordinated Program in Dietetics at the University of Alabama in 2008. She then received her Master of Arts in Health Studies in 2010 while at the University of Alabama Recreation Center as a graduate assistant in research and fitness providing nutrition services as a wellness dietitian. She came to Auburn in August of 2010 to pursue her PhD in nutrition with a concentration in exercise and has been employed by the University providing nutrition services for the last 3 and a half years.

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Helping Professions Panel

Megan Ellis, MSW, LGSWA
Megan received her MSW (Masters in Social Work) in 2010 from The University of Alabama. She is currently licensed by the ABSWE (Alabama Board of Social Work Examiners) as a LGSW (Licensed Graduate Social Worker). Megan has been with Children’s Rehabilitation Service (CRS) for almost 3 years, serving as a Care Coordinator for children with special healthcare needs. CRS is a state agency that serves children from birth to age 21.

James Tindell
James is presently in his seventeenth year as an educator—all of which has been spent in the Auburn area. He holds three professional degrees: B.S. (Secondary Education: English Language Arts); M.Ed. (School Counseling & Psychology); and, an Ed.S. (School Counseling & Psychology). His current position with the Auburn City School System is that of College Readiness Coordinator, a title under which falls many assigned duties and responsibilities: College Readiness Test Coordinator (PLAN, PSAT, ACT and SAT assessments); AP Coordinator; Senior College Advisor (admissions, scholarship and financial aid); Scholarship Coordinator; Senior Honorary Events Coordinator, and IB Counselor.

Tania Wolverton
Tania spent 17 years in K-12 education, 8 years as a secondary education teacher in the areas on science, math, ELL and social sciences, and 9 years as a school administrator (Elementary, Middle and High School). She earned a B.A.- Public Education and Social Sciences From Concordia University in St. Paul, MN, a M.A. In Urban Education from Hamline University in Saint Paul, MN and an Educational Administrative Licensure from St. Mary's University in Minneapolis, MN. Tania is currently a full-time graduate student pursuing a Ph D in Educational Leadership. Her area of study is sustainability and green schools. She also co-leads a learning gardens initiative in the Opelika City Schools as part of her graduate assistantship responsibilities.

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Engineering Panel

Chip Johnson
Coming Soon

Beth Vaughan
Beth Vaughan currently works at CH2M HILL, a global leader in consulting, design, design-build, operations, and program management, as a Senior Project Manager and hazardous waste technologist. Her major clients include NASA and the Navy, and she has been a teleworker for 19 years allowing her raise a daughter in Auburn and be very involved in community organizations while working. Mrs. Vaughan attended Auburn University and earned both Bachelor and Master degrees in Civil Engineering. While at Auburn, she was a member of Chi Epsilon and ASCE, and served as President of her social sorority.

David DeBaets
Coming Soon

Steve Howser
Steve Howser, Lead Staffing Specialist for ThyssenKrupp Steel USA, has over 25 years of progressive human resources experience. A graduate of Auburn University with a B.S.B.A., Personnel Management & Industrial Relations, and SPHR Certification, he has hired over 1,000 engineers in his career. Go to

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STEM Fields Panel

Juan Barnes
Juan has a BS degree in Business and an AS degree in Medical Technology, and is the Laboratory Supervisor at Auburn University Medical Clinic. He isASCP/AMT certified in Medical Technology (the 2 most used registries in Medical Technology). Juan has been employed by East Alabama Medical Center for the last 24 years. He has been a generalist, a supervisor (5 yrs.), a manager in the hospital laboratory (5 yrs.). He was also the Director for Laboratory Outreach for 4 years. Juan has been in his current position for almost 5 years. He also worked for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals for 18 months doing phase 4 drug studies before going to work at the hospital. Phase 4 is testing on actual patients. He also worked as a weekend Med Tech at a hospital in Georgia for 20 years.

John Granade
John graduated from Auburn University with a BS in Management in 1993.  He has been a Systems Administrator for Southern Company Services,  the Manager of Internet Technologies for Compass Bank, Manager of Solution Architects for Data Return (a hosting company later acquired by Verizon), and Director of IT for eLeadCRM (an online CRM company for auto dealers) before founding Granade Technology Solutions.  His business provides infrastructure services and support, custom software development, cloud computing, and consulting for businesses of all sizes.   His company supports clients primarily throughout the Southeast and is headquartered here in Auburn, AL

Heather Jones
Heather graduated from Auburn University with a BS in Poultry Science in August of 1998. She started her career with Wayne Farms LLC- Enterprise, Alabama, in September of 1998, as a management trainee. In February of 1999, she was promoted to the Quality Assurance Supervisor position. In December of 2000, Heather was promoted to the QA Manager position. Her QA department consists of two QA supervisors, one HACCP Coordinator, and a total of 25 hourly QA technicians.

Shabaka McKey
Shabaka has a BS in mechanical engineering and physics and a MS in Manufacturing Systems. Currently he works as Director of School Engagement for Project Lead The Way ( and has been in this position for almost 2 years. Previously, Shabaka has worked as a middle school/high school PLTW teacher, PLTW coordinator for 6 years and a manufacturing engineer at Ford Motor Company for 6 years.

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Last Updated: Feb 11, 2014

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