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.

Rachel Welborn
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.

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