Dr. Mary Betterton ’81, Caitlin Jones ’17, and Mehgan McCrickard ’03 discussed their careers and offered advice to current students during Randolph’s Women in Science Panel on Friday.
McCrickard, chief operations officer for the Johnson Health Center, originally planned to be a counselor—until she was tasked with managing a grant project, and a new passion was born.
“It took me in a completely different direction,” she said. “You might not end up where you think you’re going to, and that’s OK.”
Jones, a senior climate and energy resilience analyst who works with the United States Department of the Air Force, said she never saw herself working for the government.
“Life just kind of happened and took me places,” she said. “That’s where the opportunities arose, and now it’s really rewarding. The Air Force is the largest energy user and greenhouse gas contributor in the world, so the shred of difference I can make there ripples further than I could otherwise. And I wouldn’t have had that opportunity if I wasn’t willing to do something that was outside my realm of comfort.”
“Your career will take you places that you don’t anticipate,” she added, “and you just might find that you enjoy that.”
Betterton talked about the value of holding different jobs—including waitressing in the dining hall and working in the library while at the College—before embarking on her career as a veterinarian.
“I can multitask with the best of them,” said Betterton, who also worked in the chemistry lab at Danville Memorial Regional Hospital for a year after graduation. “Every job you have will in some way enhance your ability to perform your career.”
Dr. Mary Betterton (’81), Veterinarian, Brosville Animal Clinic, Danville, VA
Betterton was born in Danville, Virginia in 1959, the daughter of a United Methodist minister. She attended eight schools in 12 years and graduated from Chatham High School in 1977. Dr. Betterton then continued her education at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry while also working in the library, waitressing in the dining hall, and enjoying many hours classifying plants in the herbarium with professor Dorothy Bliss.
After graduation she spent a year working in the chemistry lab at the Danville Memorial Hospital before applying and being accepted into the third class of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. In 1982 she married Frankie Betterton and together they raised three children in the Danville/Martinsville area.
Responding to the tremendous need for rural veterinary practices, in 1996 Dr. Betterton and her family built Brosville Animal Clinic.
Currently she volunteers at both the Martinsville and Danville Area Humane Societies. She serves as treasurer and on the staff at Camp Selah, a ministry dedicated to getting children back into nature. She also works with the local children’s clothes closet, leads a woman’s grief program, and has been active as an Emergency Medical Technician with the Brosville Volunteer Fire Department. Due to the intense demand for veterinarians, Dr. Betterton has been called out of retirement to serve as a relief veterinarian throughout the state.
Caitlin Jones ’17
Jones is a senior climate and energy resilience analyst with Concurrent Technologies Corporation serving federal and international clients on climate, energy, and water resilience policy. In service to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the United States Department of the Air Force, she leads a team focused on climate resilience and advises on energy and water resilience and resources management.
Her days are spent in meetings with Senior Leaders of the Air Force, devising strategy and policy to implement executive orders and congressional mandates, meet mission energy and water requirements amidst a changing geopolitical landscape, and improve resilience of military installations to climate hazards. In service to the Australian Department of Defence, Jones serves as the technical lead and program manager for the development of a program to conduct energy testing and assessments across Australian military installations.
Prior to her present role, she served as a senior environmental consultant to the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense as a water security subject matter expert and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency on community resilience matters.
Jones found her passion for resilience through the intersection of her bachelor’s degrees at Randolph in environmental and global studies and conducted honors research on whether climate change would tip water scarcity towards conflict vice cooperation. To strengthen her expertise in resilience and security, Caitlin received a master’s from The George Washington University in International Security Policy, where her capstone identified environmental risks to security objectives for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Alliance.
As a remote employee, Caitlin works from her home in Apex, North Carolina, but travels frequently to the Pentagon and U.S. Air Force bases around the nation.
Mehgan McCrickard ’03
McCrickard, who holds a B.A. in psychology from the College, currently serves as the Chief Operations Officer for Johnson Health Center in Madison Heights, Virginia. As COO, she oversees patient access areas of the health center, health center infrastructure and IT, as well as the clinical Dental and Behavioral Health Departments.
She is the primary grant writer for Johnson Health Center and is responsible for health center growth and development, having opened six new clinical service delivery sites and two mobile clinics since 2014.
Prior to working in her current role, McCrickard served as Community Outreach Coordinator and has worked as a Behavioral Health Clinician at JHC as well as in a residential detoxification and crisis stabilization unit. She is passionate about improving access to care for vulnerable populations and has been working in this capacity for nearly 20 years.
She is a graduate of Leadership Lynchburg’s inaugural LL2.0 class and previously served on the Leadership Lynchburg Advisory Council, including one year as chairperson. Additionally, she is an enthusiastic supporter of youth sports and enjoys serving the community by volunteering as a coach for Amherst County Parks and Recreation.Tags: 2023 science festival, biology, environmental studies, psychology