Flower Power

Flower Power

Whether she’s doing missionary work or extravagant floral
designs for Cardi B, Catherine Wayman ’07 never stops growing

CATHERINE WAYMAN ’07 HAD GIVEN UP ON HER DREAM OF BEING A FLORAL DESIGNER IN ATLANTA.

She had packed up her apartment in a U-Haul and was driving south on I-85 when her phone rang. It was a prominent event producer for whom Wayman had staged a floral photo shoot several months earlier. She had a job for her. A big job.

“I told her I was driving to Auburn, but I didn’t tell her that I had given up on having an Atlanta-based business or that I was returning to Auburn to work full time with my mother in her floral business,” Wayman said.

Instead, Wayman turned the truck around and met the producer at a nearby Chick-fil-A where she laid out the details of the event. She wanted Wayman to design the floral arrangements for the 40th birthday celebration for Kim Zolciak (of the Bravo hit TV show “Real Housewives of Atlanta”).

“She was convinced I was the right designer to pull off the star’s vision,” Wayman said. “I was honored. And confused. And excited. I honestly didn’t know if I could pull off an event of that magnitude, but I decided right then and there that I was going to try.” Raised in Marietta, Ga. by Mike ’76 and Cathy ’75 Wayman, she always knew she would attend Auburn University. Her first letters were A-B-C-D-E-F, then A-U-B-U-R-N. She majored in hotel and restaurant management in the College of Human Sciences and set her sights on a career in hotel management. She landed her first job at Highlands Inn in Carmel, Calif., thanks in part to her uncle, Ed Crovo, a senior vice president
with Hyatt®.

“It was a dream job at first and then it wasn’t,” Wayman said. “The hospitality industry is hard, working nights and weekends and managing unhappy guests and staff.” Even so, Wayman excelled and was offered a resort management position with Hyatt in San Antonio, Texas, quite a change from the idyllic California environment she had become accustomed to. But her heart just wasn’t in it. Even with a promotion, she realized this path was not what she had envisioned. She needed a break.

Over the next three years, Wayman explored several opportunities, spending time in Thailand with a ministry devoted to young girls who had been trafficked, becoming an operations manager for a sales training company in Atlanta and working as an event manager and floral designer in Birmingham, Ala. She took advantage of opportunities to study floral design in New York City, first with famed designer Preston Bailey, followed by time at the Flower School NY. It was those experiences that gave her the confidence to take on the Zolciak party. She was ready.

Jumping into designer mode, Wayman began her preparation. To stay organized, she created large spreadsheets for every design, calculating which florals to order, how many and where they would fit in the designs.

“I would do all this figuring—for instance, this wall will have 400 red roses and we’ll have 200 stems of peonies here and so on,” Wayman said. “It involved a lot of math and I was, like, ‘man, I thought I had gotten away from math!’”

Wayman had to hire, train—and trust—a staff to work together to execute her elaborate designs and do it on a quick deadline. “I can clip a rose, knowing exactly what angle it needs to be placed in the arrangement and intuitively see how colors go together without even thinking about it,” she said. “But where

She was convinced I was the right designer to pull off the star’s vision,” Catherine said. “ I was honored. And confused. And excited. I honestly didn’t know if I could pull off an event of that magnitude, but I decided right then and there that I was going to try.”

I struggle is teaching others how to do that. I really try not to drop people off in the deep end, but technique only takes you so far. There comes a time when you just have to ‘feel it.’ You have to be artistic. You have to be creative. You really cannot overthink design.”

With the help of her whole family and her small staff working out of an Airbnb, C. Wayman Design succeeded in a big way. “It was just gorgeous and I was so proud of everything and everybody who helped me,” Wayman said. “I could not have done it without them.”

Word of Wayman’s magnificent design work spread quickly and soon after that event, she was hired to do the floral designs for rapper Cardi B’s baby shower.

Giraffes, orangutans, trains and other designs—all made from flowers and greenery—were so impressive that Vogue magazine featured some of her pieces in their recap of the party. Almost overnight, Wayman had become the florist to the stars.

In August 2019, she came home to Auburn to design the florals for the grand opening of the Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center. Lifesize figures of a ballerina, a violinist and an orchestra conductor, all made from greenery and florals, greeted guests as they arrived. At the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, a floral installation hung from the ceiling was made to look as if music was floating through the air. Each table centerpiece had a different instrument filled and surrounded with flowers. The event really pushed her creativity to new levels.

Life in the floral design business was a dream—and then it wasn’t.

COVID-19 hit. The need for extravagant floral designs abruptly stopped. No celebrity parties, no weddings, no large gatherings of any kind. C. Wayman Design came to a screeching halt. She had to furlough her staff and give up her studio. Depression crept in.

But remember, Catherine Wayman is a creative artist, and the time had come for her biggest challenge of all—to re-create herself. She reached out to an acquaintance who was a photographer in the movie and music video industry in Atlanta and offered to help him with set designs—for no compensation.

He jumped at her offer, but it didn’t take long for industry professionals to see what she could do. Soon she was being hired to create sets for movie scenes and music videos. She separated her floral design business from this new creative outlet, forming C. Wayman Production.

“The experiences I have had since graduating from Auburn have made me who I am today,”

Now that the pandemic is subsiding, Wayman is slowly moving back into the floral design business, being commissioned to do the flowers for rapper Quavo’s 30th birthday party and continuing production design for music videos, commercials, books and album covers.

Even though Wayman has stayed in the creative design business, her career has taken her in a direction she never saw coming. She is grateful for all it has taught her. Along her journey, she said, she has learned much about people, humanity and humility.

“The experiences I have had since graduating from Auburn have made me who I am today,” Wayman said. “They have given me a whole new perspective on people, whether it’s doing floral design for celebrities or designing sets for rap music videos, there is a level of humility in knowing that just because we have different backgrounds, it doesn’t mean we are all that different. In a way, we are all the same. One day you can feel on top of the world, and the next, be burdened with things not turning out as you had envisioned. It is just important to keep moving forward with faith, love and passion for what you do.”

Lemons to Lemonade

Lemons to Lemonade

The proverbial expression, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade inspires optimism and a positive can-do attitude in the face of difficulty or misfortune. Five alumni share their stories of taking bitter, even devastating, circumstances in their lives and turning them into something positive.

MAKE TODAY YOUR BEST DAY

When Gary Godfrey ’86 got the devastating news that he had ALS, he made a decision. He was not going to fight it—he was going to live with it.

In April 2018, Gary Godfrey ’86 rode 60 miles in Bo Bikes Bama. Now, just two years later, he has lost the ability to ride a bike. Or even to walk, talk, eat, use his arms or legs or breathe on his own. But one thing Gary Godfrey has not lost is his will to live.

It all started with weakness in his arm while shooting free throws, which Godfrey chalked up to age and being out of shape. When it didn’t get any better, he began a series of doctor visits that ended when Jonathan Glass told Gary he had ALS.

Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS is a cruel disease with no cure and devasting effects. “Carol and I were prepared for the diagnosis because we had earned medical degrees from the ‘University of Google,’” Gary said. “When it was confirmed, my mind went into problem-solving mode. After all, as an engineer, that is what I did for my clients during my career. Now I was the client and I had a choice; I could spend my energy fighting and battling ALS or I could focus on living with it. I chose the latter. To borrow a famous Michael Jackson quote with one slight alteration, ‘I’m a liver [lover], not a fighter.’”

Gary and his wife Carol ’86, made the decision not to fight ALS, but to live with it. The couple came up with a campaign to live by, “Make today your best day,” and they strive to do that every day.

For this interview, Gary used technology originally invented by Walt Waltoz ’69. In spring 2020, before Gary got his ventilator, stealing his ability to speak, he recorded over 1,600 random phrases. Using only his eyes to type what he wants to say and when he is ready, the computer reads—in Gary’s voice—what he has composed.

“When you are facing a terminal disease, there comes a clarity on how important each day is,” Gary said. “You cannot change yesterday and tomorrow is not guaranteed, so each day is a blessing. I did not understand that when I was caught up in daily activities. I have realized how much joy there is having a positive impact on someone or something each day. Therefore, I try to make each day my best day yet. My best days are when I can make a difference in someone’s life. I know that God has a plan for me. I believe there is a purpose that God wants me to serve. I believe the purpose is to share how important today is and to make a difference in this world we live in.”

Gary was a walk-on basketball player for Auburn during Charles Barkley’s years at Auburn and has received tremendous support from his teammates.

“You may not remember this,” Gary said, “but Charles and I combined for nearly 1,200 points during our careers at Auburn: I had three and Charles had the rest.”

Gary’s eyes lit up and a smile spread across his face. “I had a higher GPA than point total. Seriously, [Coach] Sonny [Smith] should have played me more because we never lost a game I played in.”

His sense of humor is another thing Gary hasn’t lost. He and Carol have been surrounded with an incredible support system that encourages them every day and says in many ways, this diagnosis has been a blessing.

“We have been overwhelmed with the love and support from so many friends and family,” Gary said.

“The Auburn family has really wrapped their arms around us, from day one. From my fraternity brothers, to our engineering friends, to our tailgate team, to the Auburn basketball team, there isn’t a day that goes by that doesn’t include some War Eagle support and love. One of the most special days was to be at the Final Four game in Minneapolis and to see the coaches all wearing ALS pins.”

ALS requires significant care and money to treat. It often falls on the shoulders of family members.

Both Gary and Carol are graduates of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, so their problem-solving skills have helped them navigate the challenges ALS presents.

“The selfless and unconditional love that Carol gives me is truly a gift,” Gary said. “Throughout this journey, she has been my rock! Everything—I mean everything—falls on Carol’s shoulders. She has selflessly given up so much to take care of me. In addition to Carol, there is a village of family, friends, and caretakers that help me each day and for that, I am incredibly grateful!”

BEAUTIFULLY BROKEN

With a single step, a nonmetallic IED changed Josh Wetzel’s life forever.

On May 31, 2012, SPC. Josh Wetzel ’16, carrying a metal detector, led his troops through a mission to search for land mines in Kandahar, Afghanistan. This was a task Josh had mastered, successfully Finding 30 active IEDs (improvised explosive devices) over the six weeks he had been at the front of the group. Now, as the day was ending, Josh’s platoon was getting ready to move through a field bordered by a mud wall. Josh carefully cleared the area near an opening in the wall, knowing it was a prominent location for IEDs to be buried. With no signal from the detector, Josh stepped over the wall. He would end the mission—and his Army career—at 30-1.

As soon as his foot touched down, a nonmetallic IED blasted Josh six feet in the air, immediately severing both legs. As soon as he hit the ground, he knew his legs were gone.

“I knew I was hurt bad, but at that point, I really wasn’t in pain,” Josh said. “My medic was my best friend. He was a nervous type and I was his first major injury, so I was trying to calm him down and assure him I was going to be okay. I asked him if he saw that sick flip I did–and he laughed.”

Josh was airlifted to a nearby hospital, then own to Germany before arriving at Walter Reed Military Hospital in Washington, D.C. five days later. There, Paige, his wife of just 17 months, was waiting for him. In addition to the loss of both legs, the list of injuries she had been given included a broken neck, broken arms and severe brain trauma.

“When I finally got to see Josh and saw things weren’t as bad as I had been told, the loss of legs didn’t seem like such a big deal,” Paige said. “As soon as Josh saw me, he started crying and apologizing. When I asked him what he was apologizing for, he said ‘for losing his legs.’ I told him they weren’t really ‘lost’ because we knew where they were, we just weren’t going back to get them.”

That kind of love and support was what would get the couple through the next two years of recovery and rehab. There were multiple surgeries, excruciatingly painful recoveries and rehab sessions. Josh and Paige’s lives had been drastically changed forever.

“Not only were we dealing with all of Josh’s injuries and recovery, but we were newlyweds

who all of a sudden were faced with so much change and we were literally living in a hospital room 24/7,” Paige said. “All of that took a toll on our marriage. We lost our focus.” Almost 18 months after Josh’s injury, doctors began talking about releasing him from Walter Reed.

Josh was going to be medically discharged from the Army and Paige had given up her job in Washington (where Josh was stationed before being deployed). And, they had a new baby. What was next? Where would they go? What would they do? They were at odds. Did they even want to stay together?

“It was such a difficult time for us in so many ways,” Paige said. “We sought counseling and by the time we were released from Walter Reed, things were better. At least for a while.”

The couple took a leap of faith and moved to Auburn in January 2014. Much of their decision was based on the tremendous support they had received from the Auburn Family following the accident. Auburn fans all over the country had rallied around the young couple.

“I had always been a huge Auburn fan and the support we received from the Auburn Family was really overwhelming,” Josh said. “It absolutely was a deciding factor in wanting to move to Auburn. I also dreamed of getting an Auburn degree, but I had flunked out of two colleges already, so I was sure the chances of even getting admitted to Auburn were slim, much less getting a degree.”

But, through a series of circumstances, Josh was accepted, enrolled in Auburn in fall 2014 and, brain trauma and all, graduated with a marketing degree in May 2016.

Now four years later, Josh and Paige have released a book, “Beautifully Broken,” that tells their story.

Taken from journals they both kept, it tells the ups and downs, the trials and tribulations, the struggles and sacrifices, the joys and victories, and their fight to save their marriage.

SULLIVAN’S LEGACY

A grieving mother turns her heartbreak into joy.

Laura McCarty ’10 and her husband, Mark, had no idea anything was wrong with their baby until the moment she was born. As soon as they saw her, they knew something wasn’t right, but they had no idea that in just a few hours, she would be gone.

“We were expecting a perfectly healthy baby,” Laura said. “We could see immediately that her belly was distended and within minutes, the delivery room was crawling with doctors and nurses.”

Sullivan Yates was given two full-body blood transfusions, but her tiny body rejected both. Doctors continued to work on her, but she did not respond to the treatments. It took months of research before the McCartys learned that Sullivan had died of a cancerous tumor. Originally thought to be a rare virus, the cancer diagnosis was the first of its kind researchers in pathology at Washington and Lee University had ever seen.

The grief of losing her first child unexpectedly overwhelmed Laura. She was heartbroken. Confused. Bitter. But she was also grateful. Grateful to have been able to hold Sullivan. To look into her eyes. To hear her cry.

“I had a lot of tough conversations with God. I wanted to know why,” Laura said. “I began to understand and really feel Psalms 34:18: ‘the Lord is close to the brokenhearted.’ He had laid it on my heart to honor her.”

Initially Laura had no idea exactly how she would do that but after doing some research, she decided on a children’s clothing line, even though she had no experience designing children’s clothing, much less manufacturing them.

“For me, something as simple as putting clothes on your child was very significant,” Laura explained.

In March 2018, Laura and Mark’s second daughter, Miller, was born and two months later, Sullivan Yates, a line of playful children’s clothes launched. “After lots of prayer, telephone calls and connections, I found a wonderful seamstress in Tennessee who was committed to creating every order, one piece at a time,” Laura said. With the tagline, “Because your kids should stand out, not blend in,” sales soared and it quickly became apparent that Julie in Tennessee was not going to be able to keep up, so Laura began researching manufacturers to mass produce the designs. She found the perfect company, but when COVID-19 hit overseas, all plans were derailed. The factory was, of all places, in China.

Laura was also pregnant with their third girl (Stockton) and Mark was offered a job opportunity that would necessitate a move from Birmingham, Ala. to Florida.

“As much as I hated to close Sullivan Yates just as it was taking off, with the pandemic, another baby on the way and a move more than four hours away, it just wasn’t the time to continue,” Laura said. So now what?

Laura, who is a graphic design major and an artist, turned to her artistic talents. She found peace

in her studio and enjoyed painting again. Her pieces are primarily done with acrylics, charcoal and oil pastels. She began selling her work online and discovered others appreciated it, too.

“It’s been so good to get back to painting,” she said. “I can work on my own time and it is therapeutic; I’m thankful and have accepted the Lord’s plan is better. He provides the peace I need.

Laura finds blessings in all that she and Mark have endured and says she wouldn’t change anything. “Even though Sullivan only lived a few hours, her life still had a purpose,” Laura said. “I wouldn’t be the mother I am today without her story. Although my life will never be the same, a lot good has come from it, too. My marriage is stronger and Mark and I have our two daughters. We also have more caring hearts and compassion and understanding for others, especially those who have lost a child. Perspective is everything.”

Although Sullivan’s story is a tragic one, Laura says much joy that has come from her life. “When I think about her, I think I’ll always have parts of me that are sad, but more parts of me will be grateful for the little time we did get to have with her. She’s changed us in every way.”

TRASH TO TREASURE

When COVID-19 derailed a job offer on Wall Street, 2020 graduate Walter Hindman created his own career.

Walter Hindman ’20 had his immediate future secured—or so he thought. He had landed a dream job working on Wall Street in New York City as soon as he graduated in May. But, then, COVID-19 changed everything. The job oer was retracted and Hindman had no choice but to return home to Nashville, Tenn. to figure out what to do next. Using his newly earned degree in business administration, he began researching businesses with minimal start-up costs. He got intrigued with junk removal and dug deeper. He called his best friend and Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity brother, Colin Shepardson, who had just finished his sophomore year at Auburn and was spending the summer working in Cashiers, N.C. Hindman pitched the idea to Shepardson, who loved it and decided to quit his three jobs in Cashiers, pack up his car and move to Nashville, a city he had never visited.

“Walter called me with the idea of starting a junk removal business and shared how he wanted to see it happen and I thought it had great potential, so I decided to give it a shot,” Shepardson said. By the time Shepardson arrived in Nashville on August 1, 2020, Walter had done a lot of the leg work to get the business off the ground. The website was ready, storage units and trucks had been secured, clients had been booked and “Junk Drop Nash” was ready to roll. Literally.

With just one post on Next Door, an app that brings communities together to, among other things, support local businesses, and several posts on social media, Junk Drop Nash was making stops all over Nashville, offering curbside pickup, garage and full home clean-outs. Local media and word-of mouth propelled the growth of Junk Drop Nash and Hindman and Shephardson added three additional employees in their first four months of operation.

Clients pay Junk Drop Nash to either pick up unwanted items or to come in and clean out storage areas, homes, or garages and haul the “junk” away. But just picking up and discarding other people’s trash wasn’t good enough for this duo. They wanted to do more.

“We have partnered with five local charities to help us find individuals or families who need the items we pick up,” Hindman said. “If we get a refrigerator in good, working condition and somebody needs it, we deliver it to their home and get it hooked up and running. If someone needs a bed, we either pick up a bed or get one from our storage, deliver it and set it up before leaving. If a family needs a whole house full of furniture, we provide everything they need at no charge to the recipient. All that is taken care of by the client.”

When the guys pick up junk at one house and make a “drop” at another, they send photos to the client who donated the goods, letting them know how their items were bringing joy to someone else. “

The reactions on both sides are amazing,” Hindman said. “We pick up things from the well-to-do and deliver and set it up for those who have little or nothing. It’s a blessing to the giver, the receiver and to us. It’s is one of the things that makes us really unique and it’s a win-win for everybody. The family who needs the items is happy and the family who donated their “junk” gets a great feeling knowing they have helped someone in need.”

TURNING THE PAGE

Life has never been easy for Leslie Hooton ’80—especially in 2020—but at long last, it’s the aspiring authors turn in the sun.

It was supposed to be Leslie Hooton’s year. After the disintegration of her marriage and the death of her mother, Elizabeth Hooton ’74, the aspiring author finally achieved her lifelong goal of publishing a book. In March 2020, her debut novel “Before Anyone Else” finally hit the shelves.

The story of 30-year-old Bailey Ann Edgeworth, an aspiring restaurant architect (affectionately known by her initials as “Bae” to friends and family), “Before Anyone Else” tracks her trials and travails as she struggles to and a place—and a career—in a world that waits for no one.

The book also mirrors Hooton’s own triumph over adversity, encapsulating her fears and hopes before its publication. At its climactic nale, Edgeworth’s professional success liberates herself—and Hooton—to a bright future teeming with possibilities.
Then tragedy struck again.

“I was so excited that my book was going to be released, and then my brother Robert Hooton ’85 died. I’m like, ‘OK, God. All my family is gone.’ And I have FOMO (fear of missing out), because they’re all up there in Heaven, living on a cloud, having a good time, and you’ve left me down here with this bargain basement body. But I know, you’ve given me my book. OK.”

Hooton’s book tour had huge events planned around the south, wiping out the ensuing publicity. She opened a bottle of champagne at home to celebrate. Alone. “

Somebody said, ‘Well, Leslie, everybody has time to read, this could be a swell time [for you].’ And I’m like, ‘Well, if you’re John Grisham, that’s OK. But, if you’re an unknown writer, it’s not.’ It’s the literary equivalent to, if a tree falls in the forest, and no one hears it, did it fall? Well, that’s the way I felt the day that my book was released.” Walter Hindman ’20 and Colin Shephardson pick up unwanted items in Nashville and gift them to those who can use them.

But, when the Auburn bookstore hosted an interview with her over Zoom, everything changed. Her college roommates came out to support her, and RBD Library hosted her on a Zoom call that drew hundreds of views. She was invited to speak at book clubs and since has done an abbreviated “virtual” book tour.

Hooton isn’t planning to retire on her laurels, though—she’s working on a sequel to “Before Anyone Else” due out in 2022 and a “southern gothic”-type memoir of her mother. She’s also currently writing a book expected out in September 2021 that draws from her law career and features “friendship, funeral casseroles and lucky dust.”

READ LESLIE HOOTEN’S FULL ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT HERE

Oh Baby!

Oh Baby!

Courtney ’04 and Eric ’04 Waldrop wanted a fourth child, but got six more—and a TV show

Oh Baby Waldrop Header photoshoot

BEFORE TRAVELING TO ALBERTVILLE to meet the Waldrop family, I spent weeks studying each of the faces of their nine children. I watched and re-watched The Learning Channel’s (TLC) “Sweet Home, Sextuplets,” a show that has followed the family since before the six babies were born. I took notes about every little thing that might help me distinguish one baby from another. Rivers has big brown eyes and long hair; Rawlings has blue eyes and curly hair and Rayne is the smallest, most petite of the girls. Tag has dark hair and dark eyes; Blu has blonde hair and green eyes and Layke has blonde hair with blue eyes. I had it. I was ready.

I arrived at the house and walked into pandemonium. There were toddlers everywhere. Courtney was in the kitchen trying to wrangle the girls to put matching orange bows in their hair. One of the toddler boys was climbing on the kitchen table, at least three were running through the house, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t even keep up with whether the one who just ran by me was the same one who ran by seconds earlier. It didn’t take long to realize that all my preparation was worthless.

Waldrop Photoshoot 2nd image

It was constant motion and a lot of noise, yet Courtney and Eric were calm and cool; none of it seemed to faze them. It was almost like they didn’t even hear—or see—the chaos. They made it look easy. Really easy. The three older boys interacted seamlessly with their younger brothers and sisters. They didn’t have to be asked to help, they just did it. If a baby was crying, an older brother scooped them up.

A typical day—if there is such a thing at the Waldrops’— begins around 9 a.m. and goes full speed until well into the afternoon. “The babies take about a one-hour nap in the afternoon,” Courtney said. “The little boys are full speed when they are awake, running, climbing on literally everything. The girls are chatterboxes: they think bedtime is a spend-the-night party.

 

 

“There really are no words to describe our lives.”

They would talk all night if we let them.” Once the babies are asleep at night, the Waldrop household enjoys around 10 hours of peace and quiet—and then it starts over again the next day.

Courtney and Eric started dating in the eighth grade, graduated from Albertville High School and both attended and graduated from Auburn in 2004. Courtney earned a degree in early childhood education and Eric earned a horticulture degree. Eric co-owns the Robinson & Waldrop Landscape Group. The family lives on 40 acres, which includes 20 acres of cattle

The couple wanted a fourth child to complete their family, but after suffering the heartbreak of a miscarriage, Courtney took a low-dose fertility drug marketed to reduce the chance of multiple births, sextuplets being a one in 5 million chance. At her first appointment, her ultrasound indicated there were six (placental) sacs. A week later, before the couple could even comprehend six babies, the ultrasound showed eight. Courtney and Eric were terrified.

“That was the shock of our lives,” Courtney said. “We were distraught. We were worried and scared. We were anything but happy at that point.” At the next appointment, six heartbeats were detected (the other two sacs were empty). Their doctor in Huntsville, Ala. discussed the risks involved, not only for the babies, but for Courtney. He talked about the likelihood the babies would be delivered early and would face health challenges. It was a lot to take in and it was hard to let go of their fear and anxiety. So they turned to their Faith and found peace with their decision to keep all six babies. From then on, it was all excitement as the family prepared for the plan God had for their lives.

Just three months into her pregnancy, Courtney had to give up her 13-year career as a first-grade teacher. By 26 weeks, she was on complete bedrest. On December 11, 2017, at 30 weeks, a team of 40 medical professionals at the Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children delivered—in this order—Rayne, Blu, Rawlings, Layke, Rivers and Tag. Now, Courtney (with the help of family and friends) prepares 33 meals every day, tackles 15 loads of laundry weekly and juggles schedules—and life—with a television crew following the family’s every move.

“There really are no words to describe our lives,” Courtney said. “We are so thankful to be raising our nine children, but it is definitely exhausting. Our three older boys are always on the go with sports and other activities and then there are six 2-yearolds to care for, not to mention the challenge of taking them anywhere. Eric and I just pray we survive it, but we also know one day, we’ll miss it.”

sitting on couch with Aubie
Waldrop Sextuplets, Auburn Magazine Fall issue
baby reading book to Aubie
How AU Prepares for Success

How AU Prepares for Success

We sat down with Mike McCay, director of The University Career Center at Auburn University and Addye Bucknell-Burnell, associate director, Career Development, to get their insight on landing the perfect job.

Networking

If you live in an area with an Auburn Club or affiliate group, get involved. The Auburn Family loves to mentor, hire and take care of each other, and our clubs and affiliate groups are a great place to meet and network with other alumni and friends. Keep your LinkedIn profile and information updated, and use LinkedIn to search for jobs and alumni in your field and/or industry. Reach out. Connect. Engage. Network. Attend career fairs, both on campus (even if you have already graduated) and/or in your area. Dress professionally, and take copies of your resume (printed on resume-quality paper) to give to prospective employers. Download the Forever AU app to find Auburn alumni where you live or where you go for work or fun.

The Interview

Do your homework

– Know your audience.

– Every person you come in contact with at the company is an interviewer, including the receptionist and the janitor; treat every person as the most important person.

– Research the company and position before you go to the interview.

– Bring up all experiences that would be interesting to this employer.

Do not ask questions that only benefit yourself

– Do not ask about salary.

– Do not ask about vacations or time off.

Think of your interview as a date

– Be sure all of your responses align with the position.

– Show genuine interest in the job.

– Promote yourself — tell your story.

– Do not undersell yourself, your skills and/or your abilities.

Good questions to ask

– What can I do in this job to make your life easier?

– What does a typical day look like?

– What would you like to see this position accomplish in the first 90 days?

Informational Interviewing

Informational interviewing is a time for you to learn more about company, industry or field.

Seek out four to five companies or alumni you would like to sit down with to learn more. It doesn’t matter if the company doesn’t have any current job openings. Information interviews aren’t job interviews; they’re a time to introduce yourself, to get to know the company or industry and to show a genuine interest in the company.

Informational interviews can be beneficial for both the job seeker and the employer. When jobs do open, you’ll have already established a professional relationship.

RESUMES

  • Keep resumes to one page, if possible, two pages, max.
  • Tailor your resume to the position for which you are applying.
  • Highlight only the details that would be important to your audience.
  • Use the Job Search Guide on the career center website: https://aub.ie/JSG
  • Print hard copies on professional resume paper.
  • Choose professional references who you are sure will give you a good recommendation; ask permission to use them as a reference.
  • Do not include references on your resume; references should be on a separate sheet that you present at an interview or upon request.
  • Online portfolios are invaluable electronic resumes.

Handshake

Enter through the Resources section of Handshake and create an account using your Auburn email address to access GoinGlobal and CareerShift. Find job postings and search for contacts, including alumni, in specific companies or industries. career.auburn.edu/handshake

Career fairs

Auburn-sponsored career fairs are open to all alumni

Alumni within five years of graduationcan utilize the University Career Center for additional assistance.
career.auburn.edu

The Age of Reason

The Age of Reason

JAMIE LOWE MET ME IN THE FRONT LOBBY of the Lee County Justice Center. He was dressed in a white dress shirt, black sweater vest and sports coat. He escorted me to his office and handed a business card to me: Lowe’s Mediation.

Lowe is a mediator for the family courts of Lee County. He meets with parents going through divorce to help them navigate the process, as well as work out visitation rights and other complexities of legally separating. There is nothing new about mediators, but what makes Jamie Lowe unique is that he is only 20 years old.

While a student at Opelika High School (OHS), Lowe knew health occupation students did internships with local physicians and at East Alabama Medical Center. But Lowe wasn’t interested in the health field, so he asked if he could get a law-related internship. Once approved, he contacted the family court office, and The Honorable Judge Mike Fellows ’94 agreed to let Lowe work in his office. Initially, Lowe observed court proceedings, sat in on referee meetings and researched a few minor case laws.

Jamie Lowe with the Honorable Judge Mike Fellows

“I started out just doing administrative things and earned my way into more responsibility,” Lowe said. “I did some research and then started helping manage the caseload for child-support cases.”

Lowe began shadowing a local attorney in mediation proceedings and was intrigued by the process.

“I am the child of divorced parents, so I was especially interested in how all that worked and how my life experience might benefit me in that role,” Lowe said. “The more I observed, the more interested I got, and I thought, ‘I could do that.’”

So, Lowe took a class and earned his certification as a mediator. At 18 years old.

I asked Fellows how a 20-year-old kid becomes a mediator in the courts.

“He has no idea he is a 20-year-old kid,” Fellows said. “He doesn’t think the way most 20-year-olds think. He is mature beyond his years. He doesn’t show anger or frustration. There have been times when clients have been rude, but Jamie doesn’t let that get to him. He has a very gentle disposition that is very calming during a stressful time for parents.”

Lowe doesn’t see his young age as a barrier, but more of a motivator. He believes his youth offers a different perspective.

“I’ve had a few ‘reactions,’ but once things get going, I think both sides see that I really do know what I’m doing and appreciate my demeanor,” Lowe said. “I let them vent, say whatever they want to say and once they have gotten all that out of their system, I try to calmly diffuse the anger and help them find some middle ground.”

Parents are separated into different rooms, and Lowe moves from one to the other to hear both sides of the story. He tries to determine what is exaggerated, what is totally untrue and where the actual truth lies.

“Once, there was a husband who went on and on about how he mowed his wife’s grass and took care of her lawn and how she didn’t appreciate his kindness,” Lowe said. “Then, I heard her side and it turns out, what he was doing was mowing down her roses; he left that part out.”

what he was doing was MOWING DOWN HER ROSES; he left that part out.

In addition to mediating five days a week, Lowe is also taking 15 credit hours at Auburn University, teaching an anti-shoplifting class to young offenders and tutoring high school and college students in biology, Spanish, math and calculus. He also attends every Opelika City Council meeting and volunteers in the community.

At Auburn, he is a student in the College of Liberal Arts, double-majoring in political science with plans to attend law school to study family law. He also is majoring in Asian studies because of an incident that happened when he was in high school.

During his junior year at OHS, Lowe was part of a group that tested a new school software program. He took an online class in Mandarin Chinese, but didn’t particularly enjoy it, so he did not continue. But the course remained on his high school transcript.

”Jamie

A year later, on an elevator on his way to an interview for a national scholarship, a man began talking to Lowe in a foreign language, but all Lowe heard was noise. When he sat down, there was the man on the panel of judges, introduced as a nuclear researcher.

“It was then that it occurred to me, he had been speaking to me in Mandarin,” Lowe said. “I was embarrassed that I didn’t recognize it and hadn’t been able to carry on a conversation with him, so I decided to pursue Mandarin until I could speak it fluently.”

It is that attitude of never seeing dead ends, his unwavering determination and the goals he has set for himself that keep Lowe focused – and busy.

“I love the feeling of accomplishment, which far outweighs fatigue,” Lowe said. “I have dreams and I don’t let go of them very easily.”