Meet our staff - The University of Tulsa

Meet our staff

christy caves

Christy Caves

Executive Director

Melissa Radford

Melissa J. Radford

Associate Director

Tery DeShong

Tery DeShong

Assistant Director, Employer Services

kelli collins

Kelli Collins

Assistant Director, Career Readiness and Experiential Learning

Marla Cole

Marla Cole

Career Coach, Health Sciences

brook smart

Brooke Smart

Career Coach - Arts and Sciences

Tom Trimble

Tom Trimble

Career Coach - Business

chris wong

Christopher Wong

Career Coach - Engineering and Natural Sciences

aaron smith

Aaron Smith

Employer Development Coordinator

Siduri Purnell

Siduri Purnell

Events & Media Coordinator

Rebecca McKee

Rebecca McKee

Employer Services Coordinator

Christy Caves

Executive Director

Ms. Caves joined The University of Tulsa’s CaneCareers as Executive Director in July 2019.  Prior to that, she served as Associate Dean and Director of Professional Development at The University of Tulsa College of Law since August 2015.

In college, Ms. Caves was a scholar athlete at The University of Tulsa, graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2002.  Ms. Caves returned to the University of Tulsa and received her Juris Doctor from the College of Law in 2005. Following law school, Ms. Caves worked in Tulsa as a litigation associate for Atkinson Haskins where she served as the firm’s Law Clerk and Licensed Legal Intern Coordinator.  Additionally, she managed her own law firm, Swift & Watkins, PLLC, where she provided clients with representation in a variety of litigation matters.

In 2010, Ms. Caves joined the staff at The University of Tulsa College of Law as Associate Director and Public Service Coordinator in the Professional Development Office, assisting with all career and professional development programs for TU Law students and alumni, as well as coordinating with potential employers.  In 2013, she became the inaugural Assistant Dean and Director of Experiential Learning where she coordinated the externship program, providing law students the opportunity to gain academic credit while working under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney or judge.  In 2015, Ms. Caves returned to the Professional Development Office as Associate Dean and Director and served in this role until commencing her current role as Executive Director of CaneCareers at The University of Tulsa.  Additionally, Ms. Caves is a volunteer attorney for Tulsa Lawyers for Children and is admitted to practice law in Oklahoma.

Melissa J. Radford

Associate Director

Ms. Radford joined The University of Tulsa’s CaneCareers as the Associate Director in August 2019.  Prior to that, she served as the Assistant Director of Strategic Engagement within the office of Alumni Engagement at The University of Tulsa.

In college, Ms. Radford attended the University of San Diego, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Business Administration.  Ms. Radford received her Master of Arts in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from The University of Tulsa. Following graduate school, Ms. Radford worked in Tulsa at American Electric Power (AEP) as an Organizational Development Consultant. She later joined The Williams Companies as a Management Consultant.

In 2017 Ms. Radford joined the staff at The University of Tulsa as Recruiting Coordinator in the Career Services office, assisting with all career and professional development programs for TU College of Engineering and Natural Sciences, Kendall College of Arts and Sciences, and Oxley College of Health Sciences students and alumni, as well as coordinating with potential employers.  In early 2018, she implemented a new career services database and platform, Handshake, that is the largest career community for students and recent graduates. In late 2018, Ms. Radford was recruited by TU’s Office of Alumni Engagement to lead and implement TU’s university-wide mentoring platform and program, utulsa connect.  In 2019, Ms. Radford returned to the newly reorganized career services office as the inaugural Associate Director of CaneCareers.

Tery DeShong

Assistant Director, Employer Services

Tery DeShong joined The University of Tulsa’s CaneCareers as an Assistant Director in April 2022. Ms. DeShong has a long history with TU, having obtained both her Bachelor of Science degree and Law degree from The University of Tulsa.

Ms. DeShong has had an eclectic and varied professional career, primarily focused on public service. Prior to attending law school, she worked as an interpreter/tutor for the deaf, as a technical director and box office manager for Theater Tulsa, and as a substitute teacher for the Tulsa Public School System. After obtaining her legal degree, she worked with the Oklahoma Disability Law Center and was a Managing Attorney and Regional Administrator for the State of Oklahoma Child Support Enforcement Division where she supervised sixteen child support offices in Eastern Oklahoma. She also served as a Special Education Hearing Officer for the State of Oklahoma. Her last legal position was as the General Counsel for the Tulsa City-County Health Department.

Since 2016, Ms. DeShong has been involved in higher education, both as a professor and in administration. She taught in the business schools for both Texas A&M University and the University of North Texas prior to relocating back home to Tulsa. Most recently, she served as the Department Head for the Career Life Development program at Community Care College.

In her non-working life, Tery sits on several local nonprofit boards, enjoys playing guitar and singing (she previously performed competitively with three different choruses through Sweet Adeline’s International), reading, playing cards and games, and is a movie buff.

A frequent speaker at statewide, regional, and national conferences, Ms. DeShong has an extensive portfolio of workshops and presentations across a wide variety of areas and loves public speaking. Ms. DeShong is excited to join the team in the Center for Career Development and Professional Engagement at the University of Tulsa.

Kelli Collins

Assistant Director, Career Readiness and Experiential Learning

Kelli comes to CaneCareers from Broken Arrow Public Schools where she was a biology and physical education instructor for 11 years.  From 2016-2019 she was also the varsity tennis coach for Broken Arrow.  In addition to her teaching and coaching responsibilities, Kelli was the head tennis professional at Forest Ridge Golf and Country Club in Broken Arrow from 2015-2018.  In 2012, Kelli was named the Liberty Elementary site teacher of the year and a finalist for the Broken Arrow district.  Additionally, Kelli was inducted into the Northeastern State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013 where she played tennis from 1993-1996.  Mrs. Collins graduated from NSU with a degree in education.  In her role as Experiential Learning Coordinator, Kelli will help students find and/or create learning experiences outside of their classroom through job shadowing, volunteering, micro internships, internships, externships and a variety of other avenues.

Marla Cole

Career Coach, Health Sciences

Marla Cole joined The University of Tulsa’s CaneCareers as a Career Coach for Oxley College
of Health Sciences in June 2022. She loves connecting with people and helping them determine the direction of their future. She graduated from OSU with a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences.

Her affinity for career counseling began during her sixteen years at Jenks Public Schools, where she helped students navigate college applications and career choices. She is excited about bringing her love for students to The University of Tulsa.

Outside of work, Marla enjoys trips to the beach, playing tennis, reading, and spending time with her family and her two dogs.

Brooke Smart

Career Coach - Arts and Sciences

Ms. Smart joined The University of Tulsa’s CaneCareers as a Career Coach for the students in the Henry Kendall College of Arts and Sciences in September of 2019. Prior to that, she served as a high school math teacher and assistant softball coach at Charles Page High School in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

In college, Ms. Smart was a student athlete at TU, where she played softball while earning a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education with a minor in Mathematics. Following her graduation from TU, she was given the opportunity to play softball in Germany, where she was tasked with planning and executing practices, coordinating lineups and helping with game time decisions. That following year, Ms. Smart was offered a position as the Assistant Softball Coach for The University of Tulsa program. In her coaching and playing tenure at TU, Ms. Smart helped lead the Golden Hurricane to nine regular season and conference championships. During that time, she earned a Master of Science in Math and Science Education.

In 2014, Ms. Smart put her higher education experience to use and went into the classroom at Charles Page High School. She taught a variety of mathematics classes including: Geometry, Algebra 2, Algebra 3, Pre-AP Trigonometry and AP Statistics, all while maintaining a key role as an Assistant Coach with the softball program at Sand Springs. The softball program earned the opportunity to host a home regional in all six of the seasons that Ms. Smart was coaching, as well as, five out of the six years qualifying for the state tournament. Outside of work, Ms. Smart is a volunteer with Lab Rescue OK, a non-profit dog rescue based out of Oklahoma. She also volunteers with its sister organization, TagOK, a non-profit that is aimed at providing free and low-cost pet ID tags with the goal of getting ahead of the overcrowded shelter population.

Tom Trimble

Career Coach - Business

Tom Trimble joined The University of Tulsa’s CaneCareers as a Career Coach for the Collins College of Business students in November 2021.

Mr. Trimble earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from The University of Tulsa. He also holds a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in Information Systems Management. Additionally, Mr. Trimble has two Lean Six Sigma certifications and successfully completed the program to be a certified Master Gardener through Oklahoma State University.

Mr. Trimble has held highly challenging roles in both the public and private sectors. He retired from Tulsa County government after approximately 23 years of service where he served primarily as the Chief Information Officer. Recognized during this period as a digital technology leader, he was invited by the Chinese government to be the keynote speaker at the Global Economic Summit in Harbin, China, in 2011 and has spoken at the Pentagon to defend funding for cyber-security initiatives at the local government level.  Under his leadership, Tulsa County ranked from 2004-2014 among the top ten most technologically efficient counties in the U.S. among more than 3,000 counties nationwide. Further, their efforts were recognized nationally by the Sunshine Review Board with an A+ rating for transparency in government from 2009-2014.

In the private sector, Mr. Trimble’s roles have included Chief Technology Officer for a medical company, Managing Director of a consulting firm, and ICQA Manager for Amazon where he was responsible for leveraging technology to insure superior inventory control and quality assurance of all products sold at the TUL2 fulfillment center.

Mr. Trimble’s current passion is to be a resource for students to realize their full potential both throughout their careers and life. Empowering students to achieve their goals through supportive systems is his metric of success. Mr. Trimble considers his life experiences to be a resource of resilience toward his professional and personal mission to encourage similar success for future graduates at The University of Tulsa.

Outside of work, Mr. Trimble enjoys soccer, gardening, music, and playing competitive trivia with friends.  He sat on the Board of Directors of Volunteers of America from 2004-2016 and has been a lifelong volunteer for Junior Achievement with their Business Curriculum Education Program. Mr. Trimble has also been recognized for performing stand-up comedy for almost ten years over a four-state area during which time he was voted runner-up as Tulsa’s Funniest Comedian in 2018.

Christopher Wong

Career Coach - Engineering and Natural Sciences

Chris Wong joined The University of Tulsa’s CaneCareers as a Career Coach for the students in the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences in September 2019.

Mr. Wong earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemical and Petroleum Refining Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado.  He entered the petroleum refining industry as a Process Development and Field Services Engineer for Universal Oil Products and completed start-up and optimization engineering for eleven refineries in the United States and Europe.

In 1995, Chris and his family settled in Claremore, OK, and Chris managed capital projects for Allied Signal’s Catalyst Production Facility, where he had the opportunity to join and lead engineering teams that built new process lines in Shanghai, China; Florange, France; San Luis Potosi, Mexico; and Port Elizabeth, South Africa.  Next, he engineered modular process units for John Zink Company’s Fuel Vapor Control Division.  Mr. Wong also took an assignment as Senior Process Engineer for Orica USA, and their production of advanced explosives and detonation technologies for the mining industry.

In 2006, Mr. Wong earned the level of Black Belt in Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma, a rigorous statistics-and-design-tools training regimen for professionals in the manufacturing industry.  This honor allowed Chris to work as Continuous Improvement Engineer for steel and plastics manufacturing, as well as the production of ultra-high purity acids for the microelectronics industries. It was during this time that Chris found his calling to be a team motivator, mentor and technical coach.

Mr. Wong has taken to the country lifestyle on his small acreage in Claremore, where he and his family enjoy gardening, homebrewing, herbology for homeopathic remedies, equestrian activities, soapmaking, and other sustainable initiatives.

Aaron Smith

Employer Development Coordinator

Mr. Smith joined The University of Tulsa’s CaneCareers as the Employer Development Coordinator in January 2021.

Mr. Smith graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2017 earning a Bachelor’s in Business Administration, majoring in Sports Management. Following his graduation from Oklahoma State, he decided to continue his academic career at The University of Oklahoma receiving his Master’s in Adult and Higher Education in 2019.

While at The University of Oklahoma, he worked as a graduate assistant in the Athletics Fundraising and Development department, The Sooner Club. As the Employer Development Coordinator, Mr. Smith will identify and recruit local, regional, and national employers to hire TU students and alumni.

Outside of work, he lives in Tulsa, OK. He enjoys spending time with his friends and family, exercising, trying new foods, traveling, music, and cheering on The Oklahoma City Thunder.

Siduri Purnell

Events & Media Coordinator

Siduri Purnell joined The University of Tulsa’s CaneCareers as the Events and Media Coordinator in August 2021.

Ms. Purnell is a Chicago native, new to the Tulsa area.  She earned her Bachelor of Science in Public Relations with a minor in Fashion from Ball State University in 2017. She’s also currently working on her Master’s in Human Resource Management from Capella University.

Before relocating to Tulsa, Ms. Purnell worked as the Director of Marketing for an events company, Poppin Events Company, located in Chicago.  As Marketing Director, Ms. Purnell created, planned and executed events, created marketing material, and managed social media.

Outside of work, Ms. Purnell lives in Broken Arrow, OK.  She enjoys traveling, attending concerts, shopping, and spending time with loved ones.

Rebecca McKee

Employer Services Coordinator

Ms. McKee joined CaneCareers as the Department Assistant in August of 2021.

 

Ms. McKee graduated with a bachelor’s in English and creative writing and a certificate in entrepreneurial management from the University of Iowa in 2019. During that time, she served as a business tutor for student athletes and as an editor for the student-run Iowa Chapbook Prize competition. Following graduation, she traveled across the country twice, gathering a variety of skills and experiences while serving as everything from human resources at a specialty paperboard manufacturer to the manager of a flea market.

 

While serving as a tutor, Ms. McKee realized her love of higher education, and she became passionate about helping students navigate the college sphere, discover their passions, and move onto successful careers. She is thrilled to serve both the CaneCareers and Academic Advising departments at TU.

 

In her free time, Ms. McKee enjoys reading, writing, and working with her hands. She is the author of seven publications and has received two awards for her writing. Her most recent publication can be found in apt. When she isn’t struggling for inspiration, she can be found herding three-legged cats with her husband at their home in Owasso.