Auburn Spotlight, Beverley Childress

“I hope to continue working here as long as I believe I am helping our students to reach their goals.”
Beverley Childress
Director of Pre-Health Professions Programs

Spotlight Interview

Auburn University’s Director of Pre-Health Professions Programs Beverley Childress recently received the 2017 Women of Distinction Administrative and Professional Staff Leadership Award, given by the Auburn University Women’s Center in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

The award honors outstanding female leaders in the Auburn community and recognizes Childress for her accomplishments, leadership and the ways in which she serves as a role model for her colleagues and students.

“I am honored by the award because I was nominated by my colleagues in the Student Services Office of the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM), and former students who wrote letters of support for my nomination,” said Childress. “Whenever those who work with you regularly respect what you do, it is humbling and encouraging.”

As the director of Pre-Health Professions Programs, Childress mentors, guides and implements tools for COSAM and other Auburn University students who have a desire for a career in healthcare.  She serves as the advisor for the Auburn University chapter of Alpha Epsilon Delta, a national honor society for students preparing for careers in the health professions. Childress coordinates the Premedical Preceptorship, which offers students an opportunity to shadow local physicians and physician assistants. Perhaps the most time-consuming aspect of her role as pre-health director is coordinating the Pre-Professional Advisory Committee, or PPAC.

Chaired by Childress, PPAC typically places students into dental, medical and optometry schools at rates which are 30 percent above the national averages.  Childress notes that part of that success is based on Auburn’s ability to recruit highly qualified students, which is possible because of the financial support of alumni and other donors.

Her tireless efforts with PPAC are what ensure that Auburn University pre-health students have the tools and information they need to put their best feet forward when applying to medical, dental and optometry schools. The committee helps students with the application process, and it consists of faculty leadership from across the university, but primarily from the Department of Biological Sciences.

“Beverley’s work ethic is unparalleled,” said Krysta Diehl, COSAM’s pre-health counseling specialist. “She writes a summary evaluation letter for every applicant to medical, dental and optometry school using PPAC, typically 160 per year. She also supervises and checks each application. Although tedious and time-consuming work, every application must be correct and complete for the applicant to remain competitive.”

During the course of her career at Auburn, Childress has recognized a need to offer additional support for students who may have less academic preparation as they embark on their undergraduate careers. First-generation students and rural or underrepresented students may not have the rigorous science courses in high school that lead to immediate success in college.

“Beverley worked with Auburn’s Department of Biological Sciences to create a pre-professional master’s program,” said Diehl. “This program allows students to spend a year in graduate courses and get advice about non-academic activities that will enhance their professional school applications, while earning a graduate degree. Beverley is committed to making professional school attainable for all students.”

Childress’s career at Auburn University began in 1996 when she joined COSAM’s Office of Student Services as an academic advisor. She was named director of COSAM’s Pre-Health Professions Programs in 2000, and since her tenure began she has received numerous honors and awards.

“I have been blessed by my time at Auburn,” said Childress. “The deans and associate deans with whom I have worked understand the connection between student success and effective advising so they provide the resources needed to assist students.  Many advisors in our office have won national advising awards so I am surrounded by competent colleagues who genuinely care about our students and their well-being.”

“I hope to continue working here as long as I believe I am helping our students to reach their goals.”