You're an Auburn native that's traveled the world. What makes Auburn special?
What makes Auburn special, wow, well to me it's just the place we all, no matter where we are, no matter how long we have been gone, we can always call home. I have lived in Turkey, Romania, Germany, and visited other countries and if you are wearing your Auburn gear you will almost always run into an Auburn person and a big “War Eagle” will ensue. It's just a little bit of home that is unique to Auburn people, and it makes you feel special.
Tell us about what excites you most for Auburn's future.
The part Auburn can play in job creation. Just in the last two years we have seen expansions in Lee, Russell, and Tallapoosa Counties and a big part of those job locations and expansions by existing industry is Auburn. Through our Research and Development we offer first class service to companies from all over the world and that makes them want to locate in or near Auburn to make use of the assets Auburn has to offer. Auburn is an AUsome job creation tool for any lawmaker or business developer. Specifically I am excited about our Cyber Security program, the research being done on Feral Hogs, the MRI research, Poultry Technology, our award winning Interior Decorating program, and the expansion of the Business Incubator. Job creation is what I ran on, job creation is what I am doing, and Auburn is a big part of that success.
Who were your role models growing up?
Well my dad, Charles Whatley. I have always wanted to be like him. Dad was in the FFA; I was a state officer in the FFA. Dad is a businessman; I run and have operated several businesses. Dad was in the Army; I joined the National Guard at age seventeen. Dad was in the Alabama House of Representatives; I am in the Senate. Dad did triathlons, so I do them now. My father and mother are kind people that always put and still put my and my siblings interests first. If we thought it was cool, then Dad thought it was the thing to do as well. When you have a father like mine it gives you a tremendous safety net to go out and take chances, because you know someone is there to make sure you don't fall all the way to the bottom in case things don't work out. I would not be doing this today if it were not for what I have learned from my father.
What advice would you give an Auburn student looking to enter the workforce?
Use Auburn as tool. Auburn has an awesome reputation and the Auburn family can open so many doors for you. In addition, do what makes you happy and be kind to people. Someone is helping you now and you know it so be sure to remember that and twenty years from now when you have the opportunity to help make sure you are the one helping the future Auburn men and women succeed.
What experience(s) do you cherish the most from your time at Auburn University?
Well I am still at Auburn, I still consider myself as part of the Auburn experience even though I graduated nineteen years ago, as I would suspect most Auburn people do. But from my time as a student, the best thing I got out of it was my friends Marc Bankston, Frank Cestero, and Rick Knuth. We are closer today then we were during our time in school. I am so lucky to be blessed with such great friends and they came out of Auburn. War Eagle!
Last Updated: Jan. 29, 2013