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Career Champions program for Virginia Tech faculty and staff

Career Champions:

  • Training program for Virginia Tech faculty and staff, recognizing the importance of the many career-related conversations you have with students.
  • Created by Career and Professional Development.
  • Purpose is to share tools and referral resources so you can feel more confident engaging on career subjects with students.
  • Core training is offered as a series of sessions. Electives are open to those who have completed the core training.
  • Effective 2022-2023, we are partnered with TLOS. Career Champions is included in the Professional Development Network (PDN), with an updated format for trainings. The core training is presented through interactive asynchronous learning modules and augmented with live sessions for content application and conversation. For those participating in the TLOS/PDN Computer Refresh program, successful completion of the Career Champions Core Training provides 12 hours of credit.
  • Summer 2023 dates and registration information; registration deadline was Fr. May 26, 2023, noon.
  • Fall 2023 dates (registration and more information tba):
    Wednesdays, Oct. 4 and 25, and Nov. 8, 2023, 9:30-11am.
  • Any current Virginia Tech employee, full-time, or part-time, on any Virginia Tech campus, may submit registration for the program.

Optional Electives:

Optional, 90-minute, virtual electives are stand-alone sessions open to those who have completed the core training. Each semester, we offer three to four optional electives (fall, spring, and summer), and electives repeat on a two-year rotation. As electives are offered, we will email information to those who are eligible to attend.

We currently offer 19 electives including:

  • Population-specific topics.
  • Spotlights on different approaches to career conversations.
  • Foundational job search skills.
  • Career potpourri (timely career related topics).

Employer-Focused Opportunities:

To help our Career Champions connect with employers and stay up to date with recent recruiting trends, those who have completed the core training are also eligible to attend:

  • A fall, virtual workshop sharing trends we are seeing with employers and highlights from the fall recruiting season.
  • A spring, virtual Employer Panel oriented around different themes.

Bonus Opportunities:

In addition to electives and employer-focused opportunities, we offer several bonus opportunities for our Career Champions to deepen their learning and connect with peers across cohorts. In the past we have held Summer Book Clubs, and we hope to expand our bonus opportunities in the coming years.

Those who have completed core training are listed below by semester when they trained, with their Virginia Tech affiliation at the time of their training. If you wish to find contact information for a current Virginia Tech employee, use Virginia Tech people search.

Spring 2023 cohort.
Name and Viginia Tech department at time of training:

  • Adey Hailu Kefenie, The Graduate School
  • Brandy Respess, Statistics
  • Carrie Mayer, The Graduate School
  • Chelsea Nowak, Aerospace and Ocean Engineering
  • Chelsey Hancock, Apparel, Housing, and Resources Management
  • Chris LaPlante, School of Public and International Affairs
  • Christopher Arena, Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics
  • Elia Amegashie, School of Public and International Affairs
  • Fanny Jasso-Hernandez, Mathematics
  • Ginger Dempsey, Agriculture, Leadership, and Continued Education
  • Heath Furrow, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
  • Jason Johnson, University Studies and Scholarship Support
  • Jennifer Wayne, Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics
  • Jess Hoopengardner, College of Science
  • Jingjing Huang, Mechanical Engineering
  • Joe Wilder, Office of Undergraduate Academic Integrity
  • Julianna Ramirez, Biological Sciences
  • Katie Cross, Population Health Sciences
  • Kayla Dean, The Graduate School
  • Kelly Crist, School of Public and International Affairs
  • Ken Mallory, Corps of Cadets
  • Kim Dowdy, Center for International Research, Education, and Development
  • Lauren Varboncoeur, College of Natural Resources and Environment
  • Lindsay Barron, The Graduate School
  • Sarah Clinton, School of Neuroscience
  • Stephanie Hart, College of Natural Resources and Environment
  • Suzanne Shelburne, Student Success Center
  • Tim Reijo Saarinen, Chemistry

Fall 2022 cohort.
Name and Virginia Tech department at time of training:

  • Kelly B Avery, Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management
  • Heather L Bradford, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
  • Jonathan Briganti, University Libraries
  • Anne M Brown, University Libraries
  • Melissa Cumbia, College of Natural Resources and Environment
  • Mikaela David-John, Student Opportunities and Achievement Resources (SOAR)
  • Sophie DeSimone, Office of Undergraduate Research
  • Rebekah DeToma, Biological Sciences
  • Karen Drake-Whitney, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences
  • Monika Gibson, Graduate School
  • Helene Shine Goetz, University Studies
  • Sarah Harvey, Political Science
  • Kurt A Hoffman, Psychology
  • Geoff Kerr, Virginia Tech National Security Institute
  • Jacob Kerstiens, Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • Laila Kirkpatrick, Multicultural Academic Opportunities (MAOP)
  • Dawn Knight, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
  • Amy Kokkinakos, Chemistry
  • Rebecca Moreau, Undergraduate Academic Integrity Office
  • Barbara Parker, Computer Science
  • Cassie Pinaire, Residential Wellbeing and Dean of Students Office
  • Casey Polk, Student Opportunities and Achievement Resources (SOAR)
  • Brianna Posadas, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences
  • Nicci Ratcliff, Office of University Scholarships and Financial Aid
  • Parker D Sanders, Pamplin College of Business
  • Jessica StClair, Mathematics
  • Seth Sterlin, Office of Inclusion and Diversity
  • Lauren Surface, Graduate School
  • Haleigh Wallace, Women’s Center
  • Quina Weber-Shirk, Virginia Tech Center for Economic and Community Engagement

Fall 2021 cohort.
Name and Virginia Tech department at time of training:

  • Diane Agud, Mathematics
  • Jennifer Bradley, Computer Science
  • Leanne Brownlee, Pamplin Undergraduate Programs - Academic Advising
  • Herbert Bruce, Food Science and Technology
  • Grace Burden, Biological Sciences
  • Janice Chatham, University Studies and Scholarship Support
  • Juan Cordero, Office of Veteran Services
  • Julia Costello, Computer Science
  • Christy Cumbia, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Jessica Elmore, Engineering Education
  • Page Fetter, University Studies and Scholarship Support
  • Hillary Gaskins, Pamplin Undergraduate Programs - Academic Advising
  • Kayla Goodwin, School of Communication
  • Kim Grandstaff, Materials Science and Engineering
  • Beverly Griffin, Evening MBA Program
  • Ruth Hale, Computer Science
  • Nicole Hazuda, Engineering Education
  • Paige Johnson, Computer Science
  • Joe Merola, Chemistry
  • Peter Osebre, Biology
  • Erika Perdue, Economics
  • Martha Sullivan, Industrial Design
  • Haley Tucker, School of Neuroscience
  • Emily Vedder, School of Neuroscience
  • Emily Whitehouse, Living-Learning Programs
  • Ashley Wills, Myers-Lawson School of Construction

Spring 2021 cohort.
Name and Virginia Tech department at time of training:

  • Shania Clinedinst, Graduate School
  • Rommelyn Coffren, Global Education Office
  • Jen Hanratty, Political Science
  • Bryan Hanson, Graduate School
  • Maggie Johnson, Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • Susan Merten, Northern Virginia Center, Graduate School
  • Tonisha Montgomery, Computer Science
  • Amy Rasor, Biochemistry
  • Heather Simpson, Hospitality and Tourism Management
  • Kevin Sutton, Hokie Wellness
  • Alise Svihla, Student-Athlete Academic Support Services
  • Zack Underwood, University Academic Advising Center
  • William Weisenhorn, Higher Education Student Affairs
  • Katie White, Agricultural and Applied Economics
  • Allison Winterbotham, FBRI Montague Lab
  • Kenneth Wong, Northern Virginia Center, Graduate School

Fall 2020 cohort.
Name and Virginia Tech department at time of training:

  • Priscilla Baker, Biological Systems Engineering
  • Lisa Boothe, Career and Professional Development
  • Leigh Anne Byrd, Computer Science
  • Michelle Czamanske, Materials Science Engineering
  • Taylor Cupp, College of Engineering
  • Sarah Deisher, Mechanical Engineering
  • Nicole Easton, Office of Undergraduate Research
  • Jessica Hurdus, Mathematics
  • Felicia Jefferson, Student-Athlete Academic Support Services
  • Marlena Lester, Engineering - Academics Affairs
  • Liana Lewis, Higher Education Student Affairs
  • Jenean Meadows, Career and Professional Development
  • Christina Minford, Psychology
  • Charlotte Parks, Academy of Integrated Science
  • Julie Pence, School of Neuroscience
  • Sadie Powell, Mathematics
  • Laura Purcell, School of Communication
  • Taylor Swan, Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program
  • Ryan Underwood, Computer Science
  • Rex Waters, Undergraduate Studies
  • Crystal Wiltsee, Career and Professional Development

Spring 2020 cohort.
Name and Virginia Tech department at time of training:

  • Annette Ben-Tzvi, Mechanical Engineering
  • Matthew Cheatham, Engineering Education
  • Michelle Crotto, Mining and Minerals Engineering
  • Donna Faltin, Agricultural and Applied Economics
  • Laura Ferguson, English
  • Courtney Glass, Psychology
  • Maia Greene-Havas, Engineering Education
  • Cathy Hill, Mechanical Engineering
  • Taylor Snider Kindley, Pamplin Undergraduate Programs - Academic Advising
  • Tiera Lanford, Engineering - Academics Affairs
  • Ann Lee, Myers-Lawson School of Construction
  • Daniel Newcomb, Engineering Education
  • April Newcomer, Geosciences
  • Alice Noble, Engineering Education
  • Hannah Shinault, School of Communication
  • Stephanie Smith, School of Communication
  • Keri Swaby, Undergraduate Research
  • Lauren Thomas, University Academic Advising Center

Fall 2019 cohort.
Name and Virginia Tech department at time of training:

  • Cindy Beatty, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Academic Programs
  • Sarah Bechtel, School of Neuroscience
  • Rosanna Breaux, Psychology
  • Mary Brewer, Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Claudia P. Brodkin, Chemistry
  • Susan Broniak, Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Julie Burger, College of Natural Resources and Environment
  • Vern Ferguson, School of Architecture and Design
  • Nicole Gholston, Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Meghan Jester, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
  • Kimberly Johnston, Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Kara Lattimer, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Rachel Morgante-Richmeier, Population Health Sciences
  • Negin Nazem, Chemistry
  • Stephanie Nelson, Human Nutrition Foods and Exercise
  • James Newcomer, Engineering Education
  • Debbie Pollio, Human Nutrition Foods and Exercise
  • Amanda Sandridge, Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics
  • Nasim Schwab, Academic Advising Initiatives
  • Donna Sedgwick, Sociology
  • Emily Wilkinson Stallings, School of Communication
  • Jen Stewart, Biochemistry
  • Paula Van Curen, Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • Linda Vick, Mechanical Engineering
  • Kelsey Wall, Aerospace and Ocean Engineering
  • Heather Whedbee, Mechanical Engineering
  • Kevin Wogenrich, Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise

We have offered this program each semester since fall 2019, with the exception of spring 2022 while we prepared to offer the program through TLOS. We have continuously adjusted the program content since our pilot offering, based on feedback from our participants.

Why we offer the program:
The Career Everywhere concept recognizes that career conversations can happen anywhere. Whether with peers, faculty members, staff, alumni, employer partners, supervisors or beyond, students seek advice about their career aspirations and plans from a variety of individuals. In Career and Professional Development, having those conversations is our passion and how we serve the Virginia Tech community. Career Champions is the program we have created to share tools and referral resources with our fellow Hokies so that everyone can feel more confident engaging in career focused conversations when presented with the opportunity.


Recognizing that career conversations happen everywhere, the mission of the Career Champions Program is to build relationships between Career and Professional Development and the Virginia Tech community, creating and equipping Career Champions to support and build a career everywhere culture for the benefit of Virginia Tech students.


Provide training for those who are engaged in career conversations with students and want to enhance their knowledge of career resources, including facilitating a common vocabulary around career.

Create a network of ambassadors (Career Champions) who are having informed career conversations with students and serving as referral agents to Career and Professional Development.

Strengthen collaboration between Career Champions and Career and Professional Development through continuous learning in an interactive professional development program.

Actively partner with the university community so that together we support the university motto, Ut Prosim, that I may serve.

Learning objectives (updated for fall 2022)

  • Learn the components of the career development process.
  • Increase knowledge of resources available through Career and Professional Development for undergraduate and graduate students with varying career needs.
  • Increase confidence in ability to have career conversations with students.
  • Understand the importance of student reflection on career-related experiences.
  • Increase awareness of current career trends.

Contact for questions:
Amy McPherson, Senior Associate Director
Career and Professional Development