2017 DAFVM Spotlight Employees

Donald Carmicael
Donald Carmichael
January 2017

CVM Ancillary Services
CVM Facilities Engineering
Starkville Campus

Years in Position: 16
Years at MSU: 16

Donald Carmichael keeps the College of Veterinary Medicine ticking.

As coordinator of the college’s ancillary services, he manages the maintenance of buildings and grounds.

“This job found me. I just kind of fell into it,” Carmichael said. “I’ve been in construction my whole life, so this job is a natural fit.”

Each day is a surprise, which is what he loves most about the job. His duties include everything from making sure light bulbs get replaced to organizing interior construction projects.

“It’s always something new,” he said. “You never really know what you’ll be doing when you come in to work every day.”

When he’s not working, Carmichael enjoys hunting and fishing.

Phyllis Parker
Phyllis Parker
January 2017

Office Associate
MSU Extension Service
Forrest County

Years in Position: 25
Years at MSU: 27

Forrest County Extension Office Associate Phyllis Parker enjoys working for an organization where she knows there is genuine care for others.

“It’s good to know that you’re employed by an organization that isn’t just concerned with their own success but with the education of the people they serve,” Phyllis said.

After transferring from East Mississippi Community College and graduating from the University of Southern Mississippi, Phyllis began working for MSU Extension in 1990. When she took her first position as an office associate in her native Noxubee County, Phyllis was unaware of the opportunities that Extension offers people.

“In Noxubee County, I was blessed to see firsthand the impact Extension can have on others,” Phyllis said. “I worked with the Mississippi Homemaker Volunteers, and it was such a joy to be so tied to the community.”

In 1994, she moved to Hattiesburg with her husband, Virie, who works as a manager for the USM Barnes and Noble Bookstore. Phyllis then began working for Forrest County Extension and is currently in her 25th year there.

Phyllis’s job requires a great deal of human interaction. Her daily duties include answering phones and helping clients find the information to fit their needs. Some online facets of the job include managing inventory, updating the mailroom database, downloading updates for the postage machine, and ordering supplies and publications. Phyllis also proctors the TummySafe certification exam and assists with scheduling conferences and events.

Phyllis enjoys meeting clients and volunteers.

“Whether it’s fulfilling requests for Extension information, signing for packages, dealing with service technicians and county maintenance workers, or directing someone lost to the correct place, with Extension, no two days are the same, so that makes the job unique,” Phyllis said.

Outside of the office, Phyllis’s home is her church, Rock of Ages Christian Fellowship Center. She serves as VBS director, welcomes new members, and organizes the first Sunday bulletin.
Phyllis has two children: Phenique, a senior MSU biomedical engineering major, and Jamarquez, a sophomore USM music education major.

Thomas McParland
Thomas McParland
February 2017

Equine Intern
College of Veterinary Medicine
Starkville Campus

Years in Position: 1.5
Years at MSU: 1.5

For CVM equine surgical intern Dr. Thomas McParland, being more than 4,000 miles from home offers both challenges and opportunities.

A graduate of the Royal Veterinary College at the University of London, Thomas was chosen to intern at MSU through the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians Veterinary Internship and Residency Matching Program.

“I really wanted to try something new,” Thomas said. “I saw this opportunity as a way to experience a different culture, while continuing to learn my trade.”

As an equine surgical intern, Thomas performs lameness exams and responds to on-call medical emergencies. He also assists with a variety of surgeries from colic to fracture repairs.

“I went from simply knowing the basics to being able to apply that knowledge in a surgical setting,” Thomas said. “In my 18 months here, I’ve gained quality experience.”

In July, Thomas will move into a new phase of life. “After my internship, I’ll have to enter the next stage of my career- where to go, what to do next,” Thomas said. “I plan to enter a private practice and then pursue my residency either here in the states or back home with my family.”

Thomas has a twin brother who is a lawyer, an older brother who is a financial consultant and a younger sister studying to become a teacher.

Moving from London to Starkville was a big change. “The most striking difference is Mississippi has a friendlier culture,” Thomas said. “Everyone is so welcoming and interested in conversation. The Southern hospitality everyone talks about is definitely real.”

Being the huge sports fan that he is, Thomas loves being a part of American athletic events.  “It’s interesting to see how education and sports go hand-in-hand here,” Thomas said. “A college game day here is so fascinating because everyone is so supportive of the athletes. It’s been a pleasure to be a part of.”

Ann Twiner
Ann Twiner
February 2017

Extension Agent III
MSU Extension Service
Sunflower County

Years in Position: 19
Years at MSU: 19

Sunflower County Coordinator Ann Twiner oversees a variety of programs for the MSU Extension Service.

Her main responsibilities are with 4-H, community resource development, and family and consumer sciences. However, she monitors other programs and events when needed. Some of her involvement includes helping with canning workshops, aiding educational meetings for a diabetic support group, and teaching sewing and ServSafe classes.

Ann’s contributions to 4-H include hosting the FARMtastic exhibit for area schools, facilitating the Junior Chef program in the summer, and assisting with livestock shows and MyPI.

“I’m really trying to learn more about robotics,” Ann said. “I really think it will be a great project for 4-H’ers to be involved in.”

Ann has been a part of the Extension family off and on since she graduated from MSU in 1979. After receiving her degree in home economics and Extension education, she interned at the Extension office in Humphreys County and worked as program assistant for several months. She took a job in Jackson, working for the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce promoting the state’s agricultural products.

After marrying her husband, Ricky, Ann worked as a school teacher for two years in Yazoo City. She says her classroom experience helped her in all aspects of her current job.

“I started in Sunflower County in 1998 as a home economist,” Ann said. “I think that has made me very well-rounded and able to offer experience to our office.”

Ann said she enjoys the fact that her job is constantly changing. She also enjoys helping people learn new trades and skills.

“I like that Extension offers great resources on a variety of topics,” Ann said. “Especially areas like canning and clothing construction, which are making a comeback in today’s DIY society.”

When opportunities arise, Ann likes to travel with her husband and spend time with her three children and three grandchildren. She also enjoys getting involved with her church, working in her yard and on sewing projects.

William Kay
Will Kay
March 2017

Neurology/Neurosurgery Resident
College of Veterinary Medicine
Starkville Campus

Years in Position: 1.5
Years at MSU: 1.5

For Dr. Will Kay, being a veterinarian is a family value.

“I am a third generation vet,” Will said. “I grew up at a vet hospital. I’m also a second generation neurologist. Dad is a neurologist and Mom is a veterinary surgeon.”

Neurologists treat patients with issues related to the nerves and nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord.

Will is in the second year of a three-year residency at the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine.

“We see primarily referrals and emergencies from the local veterinary community, up to a 5-hour radius for various neurological cases,” he explained. “From seizures to surgical cases, traumas, and emergency herniated discs in dogs, we provide imaging, such as CTs and MRIs, and diagnosis. Then we provide the best treatment plan, whether it be medical or surgical.”

In a typical day, Will and the team see three new appointments and a couple of rechecks, plus the various inpatients in the hospital. His patients are primarily dogs and cats.

“The team is a combination of a good group of veterinarians, excellent veterinary technicians, students, and our front-of-house staff. My mentors are board-certified neurologists. We all work very closely together, and we work with the imaging staff,” he said. “We teach the students in 2-week rotations to get them familiar with neurological exams. They learn how to come up with a reasonable differential list so they are better able to provide care, communicate with clients, and refer to us when necessary.”

Will said he enjoys working up some of the more difficult cases and provide an outcome they might not have had at a smaller institution.

“I like providing that service for the community and owners to extend the time they can have with their pets,” he said. “The highlight of my residency so far was sending home a young husky puppy to his family after a month in the hospital for treatment of tetanus.”

Will enjoys running and spending time with his family, including his wife, Tiffany, a veterinarian in Columbus, their 4-month-old son, James, and their dogs.


Rachel Welborn
Rachel Welborn
March 2017

Program Manager
Southern Rural Development Center
Starkville Campus

Years in Position: 9
Years at MSU: 15

Texas native Rachel Welborn is committed to the well-being of people and communities in the rural South.

As program manager for the Southern Rural Development Center, Rachel works with her colleagues across the region on various multistate projects.

“The Southern Rural Development Center’s mission is to build capacity and collaboration among the 13-state region’s land-grant universities on issues around rural development,” Rachel said.

After earning a degree in elementary education in 1982, she taught first grade and then took a position as parent educator within the school system. In 1995, she received her master’s in family studies from Abilene Christian University.

Rachel worked as a county educator in Jones County and as a Community Health Coordinator for the state prior to taking this regional position.

She said she enjoys fostering civic engagement. 

“This past year has raised awareness of the importance of helping individuals and communities work through challenges of difficult issues in ways that are both respectful and productive,” she said.

The nation’s increased focus on rural America shines light on the importance of SRDC’s mission to serve the rural South, she said. 

“The majority of our food, energy, and water comes from rural areas,” Rachel said. “So protecting, building and sustaining rural America is a priority that affects us all.”

Another one of Rachel’s passions is her faith.

“I enjoy spending time with my church family, especially working with college students that share my faith in God and His Son,” Rachel said. “These young adults inspire and challenge me to live my faith in fresh, authentic ways.”

In addition to church activities, Rachel has a small photography business, Come and See Photography, which allows her a creative outlet.

Rachel and her husband have been married for 33 years and have two sons.

“We’ve enjoyed watching our sons grow into strong men,” Rachel said. “They have both married phenomenal women, and we are experiencing the joys of being grandparents with two little ones in our family.”

Suzanne Creely
April 2017

Office Associate
MSU Extension Service
Starkville Campus

Years in Position: 17
Years at MSU: 17

As someone passionate about serving others, working for the Mississippi State University Extension Service couldn’t be a better fit for Suzanne Creely.

Since August 1999, Suzanne has worked as an office associate for the MSU Extension Service’s Mississippi Boll Weevil Management Corporation.

“All of the data that comes from the traps set in cotton fields comes to me,” Suzanne said. “Other than organizing and analyzing that data, I assist with other office duties, such as answering the phone and making copies.”

After high school, Suzanne moved from Memphis to Starkville to attend the East Mississippi Community College cosmetology program. After holding various jobs in the Starkville area, she was working for Garan Manufacturing, a clothing production company, when she heard about the position in her current department.

“Since I started, I’ve seen a lot of changes in technology and within the industry,” Suzanne said. “However, the impact that Extension has on the community and the state has remained the same.”

Suzanne says being part of the Extension family and serving the public is what she loves about working for MSU Extension.

“There are a lot of people who don’t understand the significance of Extension and the work we do through the Boll Weevil Management Corporation,” Suzanne said. “I enjoy being able to share with others just how important we are to Mississippi.”

Being very strong in her faith, Suzanne’s passion is ministering to youth.

“My husband serves as the music minister for Border Springs Baptist Church in Caledonia,” Suzanne said. “We both love spending time mentoring youth and talking to them about current issues they face in school.”

Suzanne and her husband, Brad Creely, have two children: Zack, who will attend MSU in the fall; and Alissa, who will be a junior in high school. Outside of church activities and family time, Suzanne occupies herself with crochet projects. 

Jana Morgan
April 2017

VetView Coordinator
College of Veterinary Medicine
Diagnostic Research Labs, Pearl

Years in Position: 11
Years at MSU: 14

For technology savvy Jana Morgan, working as VetView Coordinator for the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine Diagnostic Lab is a perfect fit.

After graduating from Louisiana Tech University in 2001 with an Animal Science degree, she worked for Monsanto on a research farm in Stoneville for 2 years. Jana’s MSU career started in 2003 at the Poultry Research and Diagnostic Lab. 

“Upon learning about the position and realizing they were looking for someone with computer expertise, I knew the job was for me,” Jana said. “I started at the Lab as a Research Associate in 2003 doing poultry serology and bacteriology. I later became the Universal Veterinary Information System (UVIS) Coordinator once we started to implement the UVIS laboratory information management system.”

Currently, Jana is the main coordinator for the VetView program with the Mississippi Veterinary Research Diagnostic Laboratory and Poultry Research Diagnostic Laboratory.

“I deal with how the information runs through the system from accessioning to reporting and everything in between, as well as any user or client issues that arise,” Jana said.  “I am also in charge of pulling out statistics from our database that help with the annual reviews of the laboratory.”

Jana says she enjoys using computers and likes finding solutions to problems that arise.

Outside of work, Jana enjoys reading, playing with her children, and going to the gym. She is currently training for a 10K in May.

As a house divided, Jana’s husband works for the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Together they have two children: Caleb, a third grader, and Gemma, an 11-month-old.

June Grubbs
June Grubbs
May 2017

Office Associate
MSU Extension Service
Simpson County

Years in Position: 26
Years at MSU: 29

For 26 years, June Grubbs has been the first face Simpson County residents see when they come to the Extension office for help.

“My primary duties are answering the phone and greeting clients, and if I can help, I do. If I can’t, I send them to one of the agents,” June said of her job as a part-time office associate.

From managing travel paperwork to sending out monthly newsletters, June keeps the office on track.

“I’m just a general go-getter and I try to help with everything I can as needed,” she said. “I send soil samples to campus, enroll 4-H’ers, and I’ll be at Farm Safety Day this week.”

 Unless she changes her mind, June will retire this summer.

“I really enjoy and like my job,” she shared. “I have mixed emotions about retiring because I love the people I work with. That’s hard to give up after 26 years. So many people are unhappy in their work, but I love my job. It speaks well of Extension that so many people stay for so long.”

June started working for the Extension Service as a call-in secretary in Lawrence County where she lives. The county agent, Ted Pruess, knew she was looking for a part-time job. When a position with more hours and benefits opened in Simpson County, she took it.

At one point, the Lawrence County office associate position opened but June was content to keep her position in Simpson County.

“I was working with Maggie Harris, and we got along great so I didn’t want to change,” June explained.

June has several hobbies she’ll have more time for after she retires, such as reading both fiction and non-fiction, playing SkipBo, fishing and traveling.

She and her husband of 60 years, Glenn, have two daughters and four grandchildren.

Megan Robbins
Megan Robbins
May 2017

Veterinary Technician/
College of Veterinary Medicine
Starkville Campus

Years in Position: 5
Years at MSU: 10

Lions, tigers, and bears are standard patients for CVM veterinary technician Megan Robbins.

From big cats to large horses, Megan assists veterinary anesthesiologists and surgeons with procedures on animals of all sizes.

“With it being a research institution, we have the opportunity to work on an array of animals, whereas most private practices are more limited,” said Megan. “Since we work with a big cat rescue, I’ve been able to help with a few lions and tigers, which is pretty interesting.”

Prior to her position on the anesthesiology team, Megan worked as a vet tech in the CVM equine department.

“While studying veterinary medical technology at Hinds Community College, I did an externship with the equine department and heard about this position,” Megan said. “It was a perfect fit for me, because I had experience at a large animal referral hospital in Jackson.”

Megan said there is a constant increase in the need for veterinary medical technology.

“We see growth every year,” Megan said. “It’s unbelievable the amount of animals we see on a daily and even monthly basis. The vet tech profession is one of the fastest growing sectors of the medical field.”

Megan and her husband own their own horses, so it’s no surprise they are her favorite animals. Megan’s husband of ten years helps manage Prairie Livestock Inc. in West Point, and they have an eight-month-old daughter.

Megan said they love the Starkville area.

“I went to school here, my husband and I met here, and now I work here,” Megan said. “It’s the best place to raise our daughter. I just love the atmosphere of the university and the small town feel. It truly is an exciting place to live and work.”


Gail Gillis
Gail Gillis
June 2017

Extension Associate
Dept. of Agricultural Economics
MSU Starkville Campus

Years in Position: 34
Years at MSU: 34

From the time Gail Gills was a graduate student in the MSU Department of Agricultural economics, she has been interested in figuring out how everything works from a financial standpoint.

Gail earned her Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics in 1983 from Mississippi State University. Her work with the department began in 1982 as a research technician. She now manages data for farm management and appraisal projects. 

“We publish cost and return estimates for row crops grown in Mississippi,” Gail explained.  “Producers use them as planning tools.  Bankers use them in their lending decisions.”

Gail has worked with the Mississippi Chapter of the American Society of Farm Mangers and Rural Appraisers, the Ag Econ Club, the Mississippi Agricultural Economics Association, and State FFA contests.

Her favorite part of working in the department is the people. 

“The staff and faculty are the best and I love the interaction with the students. Over the years I have had many students work in my office. It is great to check in with them from time to time to see what they are doing.”

Gail grew up in Sturgis and is a lifelong Bulldog.  For fun, she enjoys Irish and Scottish Ceili dancing.

Miranda Tucci
Miranda Tucci
June 2017

VetView Coordinator
College of Veterinary Medicine
Diagnostic Research Labs, Pearl

Years in Position: 11
Years at MSU: 14

A chance conversation in her Sunday School class led West Virginia native Miranda Tucci to a job she loves.

Miranda, now a grants and contracts specialist with the Southern Rural Development Center, had been a stay-at-home mom while her husband of 10 years, Shelby, was in the Navy. But when he decided to pursue a degree in professional golf management at MSU, they switched roles.

“We moved around for 8 years, and when we came to Starkville I needed a job,” Miranda explained. “Rachael Welborn heard me mention it at church, and said they had an opening for an intermittent worker at SRDC. I’ve been here ever since.”

Miranda moved from intermittent worker to office associate to grants and contracts specialist in just over two years.

“I have my hands on everything behind the scenes,” she said. “I keep things running in the office: budgeting, payroll, ProCard, you name it. We are grant funded, so I deal with USDA a lot. It’s a lot of detail-oriented work.”

SRDC is part of a network of 29 universities in 13 Southern states, and Miranda enjoys talking to people in different places.

“I’ve met a lot of really cool people since I started working here, and in my new position I’m meeting new people at MSU too. Interaction with others is what I enjoy the most,” she said.

Miranda and Shelby have an 8-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter, so they spend a lot of their free time involved in their kids’ activities. They all love to travel.

David Howell
David Howell
July 2017

MAFES Administration
Starkville Campus

Years in Position: 21
Years at MSU: 21

As an engineer for the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, David Howell uses his leadership and management skills to ensure projects are successful.

After moving from southern Louisiana to Starkville, David graduated from MSU in 1978 with his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He then worked at Gulf States Manufacturing for 13 years as a design engineer. In 1995, David returned to his alma mater to serve in his current position.

“My main responsibility is serving as project manager for construction projects within the Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine,” David said. “On a typical work day, I may be communicating with architects, engineers and contractors to resolve design or construction issues.”

David said he also spends a significant amount of time planning for future projects and inspecting current projects that are under construction.

“It’s the actual construction of a project that is my favorite,” he explained. “I enjoy seeing contractors clear the site, establish the foundation and construct the building.”

David said he finds comfort in knowing his career will always play a vital part in the project development process.

“State laws require that building projects be designed and stamped by a registered professional,” he said. “Engineers are required for the design of the electrical, mechanical and structural components of a building. Engineers are tasked with safeguarding life, health and property and promoting the public welfare. At the end of the day, we also want to make sure we have been effective in the use of all funds provided.”

When David is not at work, he spends his free time doing yard work, playing tennis or working on the family farm. He also enjoys spending time with his wife of 38 years, Mona, and two children, Amanda and Bryan.

Clinton Neely
Clinton Neely
July 2017

Custodian II
CVM Facilities Engineering
Starkville Campus

Years in Position: 3
Years at MSU: 5

Faculty and staff at the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine rely on custodian Clinton Neely to see that the facilities are clean and in good condition.

“On a daily basis, I’m responsible for the upkeep of the building and any waxing services that need to be completed,” Clinton said.

Before he came to MSU, Clinton worked at the Coca-Cola Bottling Company warehouse in Starkville for 10 years, loading orders into delivery trucks and assisting with record keeping.

“I pursued my current position because I felt it was a better opportunity for me,” Clinton said. “Now, I have a more stable job with better hours and more time to spend with my wife and kids. Overall, I enjoy the work environment, and I am comfortable interacting with people on the job.”

Clinton’s work ethic carries over into his duties as trustee at Sixteenth Section Missionary Baptist Church and Life Center, where he assists with events and building maintenance. For his devotion to his faith and the church, Clinton was named the church’s Man of the Year in 2016.

“When I’m not at work, I try to help out the elderly in our community with landscaping their yards and mowing their lawns,” Clinton said. “I think being able to offer assistance to those who need it is just as important as my job at the vet school.”

Clinton said he takes pride in all he does and makes sure that the job is done right.

To relax, Clinton finds time to go fishing with friends, dancing with his wife of 12 years, and hunting with his three children.

David Butler
David Butler
August 2017

Machinist/Instrument Maker
Starkville Campus

Years in Position: 19
Years at MSU: 19

Working at Mississippi State was a goal David Butler set for himself when he was still in college, and once he met it, he didn’t change his mind.

David grew up farming in Sturgis, and his dad suggested he take the machine shop course at East Mississippi Community College. David enjoyed the work, and once he graduated, he took a job at Taylor Machine Works in Louisville. After 7 years there, he worked at Starkville Tool & Die for 2 years before getting a job in the MSU Forest and Wildlife Research Center.

“I’ve been here 19 years and haven’t regretted it,” David said.

He enjoys the variety in his job as a machinist/instrument maker. He works primarily with faculty and staff testing lumber and wood products.

“We fabricate testing fixtures. One of our jobs is to test lumber by breaking it. So we create the fixtures we put the lumber in to do the breaking,” he explained. “There are all different types of machines. Sometimes they have blueprints for the fixtures they want me to make, and sometimes they tell me what they need to test and I build the fixture. I do a lot of repair on stuff that gets broken. Some of our equipment is obsolete, and you can’t get parts for it. So I make the parts.”

David’s skill with machines carries over into other duties. He oversees the vehicle fleet, operates the Wood Mizer sawmill to saw logs into lumber, and welds. He also conducts all of the boiler maintenance for the dry kilns and presses.

“I enjoy the interaction with faculty, staff, and students. I love having new challenges every day. I don’t have a set schedule for what I’m going to do each day – sometimes it changes every 15 minutes so the variety keeps it interesting,” he said.

David stays busy farming, gardening, and volunteering when he’s not at work. He is on the board of the Wake Forest Water Association and a member at Sturgis Baptist Church.

He and his wife of 28 years, Marsha, have four children, Lamar (26), Apryl (24), Ashley (12), & Daniel (9), and two grandsons, Bentley (5) and Jackson (1).

David Cross
David Cross
August 2017

Research Associate II
Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology
Starkville campus

Years in Position: 13
Years at MSU: 19

David Cross merges his love of the outdoors with his passion for science as a research associate.

“This job combines my interests in the living world around us with the satisfaction of teasing out a few of Mother Nature’s secrets, even if the discovery process is sometimes happening only in small increments,” he explained.

David is used to working on a small scale.

“For several years our research has been looking into the genetics and temperature limits of invasive ants,” he said. “We’ve mostly been researching the imported fire ant and more recently, the tawny crazy ant. This crazy ant is a relative newcomer to Mississippi that has reached such high population densities in spots as to be very bothersome to homeowners and costly to industry.”

This research involves collecting samples, and recently allowed David to apply the skills used in one of his hobbies: woodworking.

“When we needed to collect many hundreds of a new pest ant, I couldn’t find an appropriate commercially available device. I tinkered in my shop and devised a mechanical aspirator from inexpensive parts that allowed us to get as many ants as we might possibly need,” he shared.

 David enjoys the variety his job affords.

“For weeks I may be hunkered down in the lab trying to map out genetic differences for the species of insect for our project. The next month, I may be presenting our findings at a conference or, more enjoyably, spending time collecting new material in the field, whether in the far reaches of Mississippi or nearby states,” he said.

He also likes hearing from students who are now involved in scientific careers.

“We have had more than our fair share of excellent student workers who have contributed their time and talent to the research done in our lab,” he observed. “Occasionally, I hear back from them how the experiences they’ve had here, or techniques they learned made them better biologists or medical technicians, etc. That’s always a plus for me.”

In addition to woodworking, David enjoys hiking, kayaking, photography and cycling. He has been happily married for 16 years to Juliet Tang.

Charlsie Halford
Charlsie Halford
September 2017

Administrative Assistant
Starkville Campus

Years in Position: 6
Years at MSU: 14

For Charlsie Halford, working at Mississippi State University was unexpected.

“I never really thought I would end up having the chance to work here, but the opportunity came along, and I was blessed to be selected for the position,” Halford said.

Her career is multi-faceted. She plans campus-wide events for the College of Forest Resources, schedules meetings for faculty, and handles student paperwork. She also assists the director of development for the Forest and Wildlife Research Center. There, she plans tailgating events for donors, brainstorms donor relations activities, and helps coordinate an annual CFR Benefit Golf Tournament.

She finds that change is an enjoyable part of her occupation.

“Some days are spent in my office processing travel and leave, or scheduling meetings and phone calls; some are spent dealing with maintenance issues; some are spent out of my office preparing for and hosting events, and some are spent trying to balance everything at the same time,” Halford said. “I don’t spend my days doing the same thing over and over, which keeps my job interesting.”

What Halford appreciates most about her job, however, is the community. “I love the people I work with. Everyone in the college and research center is down-to-earth and kind,” she explained. “I have had the privilege of meeting some great people, and I feel fortunate to be able to interact with them.”

This grateful disposition helped her earn a Stellar Staff Award in the Division of Agriculture, Forestry, and Veterinary Medicine last year.

“I had absolutely no idea that I was even considered and was totally shocked when they called my name. I felt extremely undeserving, but I was very humbled by the recommendation letters read,” she said.

Each day, Halford makes an effort to live up to the award, which is proudly displayed in her office.

When she is not working, Halford enjoys singing, taking pictures, and teaching youth at her church. Her husband of 13 years, Larry, pastors their church while she leads the worship team. Most importantly, she loves spending quality time with Larry and their 9-year-old son, Jacob.

Hailey Deihmann
Hailey Deichmann
September 2017

Veterinary Technician
College of Veterinary Medicine
Starkville campus

Years in Position: 1
Years at MSU: 1

Working with animals has been a lifelong dream for Veterinary Technician Hailey Deichmann.

“Ever since I was a child, I knew I wanted to work with animals, and this career allows me to do that,” explained Deichmann.

She administers anesthesia to animals, preps them for surgery, and aids in their post-operation recovery.

But Deichmann’s passion for animal care goes beyond working inside a veterinary clinic. Through her role at Mississippi State, she is able to contribute to animal rescue in her community.

“Through working with animal shelters, I've given two animals a new home with me, and I have found homes for other animals with friends of mine,” Deichmann said. “I’m fortunate enough to get to see how much happier they are at my home, as well as my friends’ homes, after leaving the shelter.”

While her dedication for animals is evident in the clinic and her community, Deichmann expresses her commitment in another way: teaching.

She is responsible for teaching and supervising students in the CVM, as well as integrating the Veterinary Technician program into the Humane Ethics service. This facet of her career allows her to inspire and encourage students with goals just like hers.

“I love teaching the CVM students, and I love that our service helps save the lives of animals in shelters across North Mississippi. It makes me happy to know that I’ve made a difference in their lives,” Deichmann explained.

In her free time, Deichmann enjoys the outdoors. She hunts, fishes, and travels frequently, but finds that her dog, Diesel, receives most of her love and affection.

Sean Pruett portrait
Sean Pruett
October 2017

Engineering Shop Supervisor
Delta Research and Extension Center

Years in Position: 2
Years at MSU: 2

Twenty years ago, Sean Pruett was preparing himself for an engineering career that he could only imagine.

His multifaceted background in welding, marine industry and engineering created in him a passion to work diligently, and at the Delta Research and Extension Center, he does just that.

“Catfish farming is new to me, but I’ve been able to apply skills I knew before to my job here,” Pruett said.

He is responsible for daily maintenance of the catfish compound and oversees six employees. For the most part, he works independently but performs community tasks such as caring for catfish ponds and corresponding with scientists who are working to improve the catfish enterprise.

“We’re involved with research that is making a direct impact in the industry today, and it has a profound impact on catfish in today’s market,” Pruett explained. “Catfish farming is a big industry that provides jobs, state revenue and tax dollars.”

But it is not the big industry that appeals to Pruett -- it is his hand in the constant improvement of catfish aquaculture. In the last year, Pruett has aided researchers in implementing a vaccine for the biggest disease catfish face.

Years of educational preparation prepared him for that involvement. While working at Stoneville full-time, Pruett completed a bachelor’s degree from Mississippi State University in Business and Technology and began working on a master’s degree.

“Opportunities present themselves. Any choice we make, we gain experience from,” he said.

When Pruett is not supervising the engineering shop or researching for school, he continues his work ethic by managing a small welding business.

“I enjoy working, but I love spending time with my family,” Pruett said.

Pruett and his wife have been together for 16 years. Together they have one 13-year-old daughter, Maggie. Pruett has a son Zach, 25, and a stepson, Jarrion, who is 21.

Mary Bennamon
Mary Bennamon
October 2017

FSNHP Program Asstistant

Office of Nutrition

One month in position
Years at MSU: 1

Mary Bennamon feels as if she was drawn to working with young people at a very young age. Through her career at Mississippi State University, she continues to develop this long-standing passion.

Mary teaches nearly 40 nutrition and health promotion classes to children monthly. She travels to East Kemper Elementary School and West Kemper Elementary School, following a curriculum that teaches children how to eat according to current nutritional guidelines, practice food safety and learn hand washing skills.

“We just break it down. Then we have a snack of vegetables or fruit. I might bring apples or oranges, or something they haven’t tasted, like plums,” Mary said. “Something they haven’t tasted and don’t get every day at home.”

She is devoted to improving their present and future walks of life -- to keeping children healthy by creating long-term habits for their benefit. Her dedication has resulted in admiration from her students.

“In my first year with MSU in the nutrition program, I thought I was a movie star or something, because I was at the game and children were saying, ‘Hey, Mrs. Bennamon’ and ‘Mama, Mama. This is the nutrition lady,’” Bennamon said.

She applied for her current position in the interest of her own children after working and living in a city away from them.

“I was working at America Reads at MSU, but I wanted to be even closer to my girls,” said Bennamon. “And now I’ve been here for 13 and a half years. They gave me a chance to work here 13 and a half years, and I plan on working 13 and a half more.”

She likes to spend time with her 4-year-old granddaughters, Nevaeh and Nylah, and her daughters Shaniqua, 26, and Brittany, 23. She has been married to Edward Bennamon for 28 years.

Ann Davis
Ann Davis
November 2017

County Coordinator
Extension Service
Wilkinson County

Years in Position: 14
Years at MSU: 14

As Extension county coordinator, Ann Davis plays a critical role in her community.

“After many years of working in retail and managing a historic site, I wanted a position where I could work with diverse groups of individuals, make a difference in their lives and not be confined to an office,” Davis said.

That perfectly describes her job with Extension. Davis manages the Extension’s Family and Consumer Science, Community Resource Development and 4-H programs. She also has a hand in forestry and logger education classes, financial management, diabetes prevention, local summer camps, and leadership classes in nearby schools.

“Almost every day is different, and it’s seldom boring,” Davis explained.

Her work in Extension has given her many stories to tell.

“Once, I had a call from a producer that something was destroying his soybean crop and he couldn’t determine the cause. I drove 32 miles to the far reaches of the county,” said Davis. “He looked at me kind of funny. Of course I didn’t know anything about a soybean, but I made a valiant effort to look at the leaves. About that time, very small grasshoppers started moving on the plants,” she said. “After that, he called me regularly for Extension advice.”

Stories like these make Davis laugh, but they also remind her of the community and connections she has found through Extension. She said working with local people and a great office staff are two of the greatest joys of her job.

When she is outside of her office, Davis enjoys cooking, reading, fishing and traveling. She has one son, Adam.

Mary Kelly
Mary Kelly
November 2017

College of Forest Resources
Starkville Campus

Years in Position: 22
Years at MSU: 32

Mary Kelly’s current career began with a surprising twist. 

“I didn’t choose this job,” Kelly said. “More or less, it chose me. I was offered a great position and accepted it. Now it’s been 22 years.”

She attributes her love for her career to her coworkers, faculty, and students in the Department of Forestry.

“Every day is different,” Kelly said, “but it’s challenging and rewarding.”

Kelly cares for the department’s finances, and as the business manager, she supports teaching, research, and Extension. Each day, she manages the department’s budget, which includes state, foundation, private and federal budgets for over 300 specific and individual accounts. She oversees purchasing, invoicing, travel reimbursement, deposits and Pro-card purchases. Kelly also assists and coordinates the development of various budgets for proposal submission.

“Timeliness is crucial in my job,” Kelly said, “because it could mean a loss or renewal of grants, or it could interfere with refunds due to inappropriate distribution of funds. Missing a deadline is unacceptable.” 

While the punctuality of her job keeps her on her toes, Kelly loves every aspect of accounting.

“It’s rewarding to balance each monthly account perfectly,” Kelly explained. “No words can describe the feeling of closing a million-dollar grant successfully."

“When Kelly is not organizing finances, she advises young women in her sorority on campus and across five states. She is very active in her church’s ministries, especially working with youth. She enjoys travelling and working in her flower beds, but most importantly, she loves spending time with her family and her daughter, Kimberly.

Misti Crum portrait
Misti Crum
December 2017

Office Associate
Extension Service
Alcorn County

Years in Position: 19
Years at MSU: 19

For Misti Crum, lifelong friends and community engagement are natural outgrowths from her career as an MSU Extension Office Associate.

Crum's days bustle with service to others. She manages data, keeps records and assists clientele. She works alongside Extension agents during programming, all while sending press releases to local newspapers and managing social media sites for Alcorn County's Extension office.

Crum finds purpose in meeting the needs of others.

"I've made connections with clients, co-workers from across the state and people in the community that I may have never crossed paths with outside of my job, and I continue to meet people from all ages and all walks of life," Crum said.

Many of the community connections Crum makes are with 4-H'ers. Since her office works closely with 4-H, she watches many children join and benefit from the program immensely.

"We have had many at-risk children come through our county 4-H program over the years, and it is always a joy to see them come out of their shells and begin to excel because of the skills they learn," Crum explained. "I have also had the privilege to watch the reactions on their faces as they experience things that some may take for granted, such as attending a college football game."

When she is not in the office, Crum finds a second home in her church, New Covenant Christian Assembly of Falkner, where she co-teaches a Sunday school class for elementary-aged children, volunteers with Vacation Bible School and facilitates special events. Her favorite activity is spending quality time with her 8-year-old niece, Jozie.

Jansen Garrett portrait
Jansen Garrett
December 2017

Family Nutrition Program Assistant 
Extension Service
Lee County

Years in Position: 15
Years at MSU: 15

As a Family Nutrition Program Assistant, Jansen Garrett works with underprivileged Mississippians in Lee County and beyond.

"I work with schools in the county that offer 50 percent free or reduced lunch, and I also work with low-income adults," Garrett explained.

While she helps better the lives of all ages, she has a natural affinity for children. She intentionally chose her career to better the lives of youth, and they are her favorite part of going to work each day.

Seeing Garrett during a school day proves a highlight for many children. They adore her so much that they remember her years after attending the schools she serves.

"I see children years later that I have taught and they remember me as 'the food lady,'" Garrett said. "One group even thought that my name was Mrs. Carrot, not Garrett."

When Garrett is not bringing joy to the cafeteria, she spends time at home with her grandchildren and completes various crafts and projects. She has two adult children, Nick and Hunter, with her husband, Eric.

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