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Education Volunteer and Advocate: Candace Vaughn
When Candace Vaughn was in sixth grade, a teacher changed her life. “I had been a bad student until then,” she recalls, “but he taught me to love learning. He made it fun.”
Vaughn went on to become valedictorian of her high school class, a chemical engineering major at the University of Colorado at Boulder and, in 2006, an engineer at Deer Park. Her passion for learning has continued, fitting comfortably with her participation in the site’s technical-hire rotation program, designed to expose new engineers to a broad range of work experiences to help them plan their career path. She already has spent 3½ years in Environmental, and in late 2009 she moved into Instrumentation and Process Control, supporting the Sulfur Recovery Unit as a control systems engineer.
“I like my job because every day brings new challenges,” Vaughn explains. “There is always something going on and something new to learn.”
She enjoys the pace of refinery life as well. “Things happen so much faster here than I ever would have imagined,” Vaughn reports. “Especially with the sheer volume and complexity of the work, I’m impressed by how much work people get done and how well they are able to manage their different priorities.”
Vaughn realizes her life might have turned out quite differently without her teacher’s influence. As a result, she is committed to instilling a passion for learning in students in the Deer Park area. She serves as a tutor, helping youngsters with their reading, science and math skills.
“Part of that is about building relationships with the students and letting them know someone else cares,” Vaughn says. “They try much harder when they know someone is interested in their progress.”
The Fun Run Visionary and Organizer
For the last two years, she also has organized the "Strides for Schools" fun run to raise funds for the Deer Park Educational Foundation, which provides grants for students and teachers for supplies not typically covered by the school system. “This year, we had nearly 1,000 participants – almost doubling the number from last year – and we raised over $44,000,” Vaughn reports. “That will really come in handy, since so many schools are cutting their budgets.”
Education isn’t the only focus of Vaughn’s volunteer involvement. As president of SERVE, Shell’s employee/retiree volunteer effort, for the past three years, she also has been active in planning activities for Meals on Wheels, which provides meals for low-income senior citizens. She organized a bowl-a-thon to support Sarah’s House, a shelter for homeless women and children, and she participated in the Day of Pampering for women at The Bridge, which aids survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Supporting education, however, is where Vaughn believes she can have the biggest positive impact on others.
Written by Anne Feltus