Skip to main content

ASPIRE to Connect 2015


ASPIRE to Connect: Building Professional Relationships
NEW DATE! Tuesday, March 3, 2015
12:30-5:30 pm, Student Life Center

ASPIRE to Connect is a half day workshop aimed at building professional relationships. Gain practical tips and learn techniques to meet new people and cultivate authentic professional connections.

This event has already occurred.

You will learn:

  • Big help for small talk
  • How to ace the interview
  • How media training can be helpful for professionally presenting your goals
  • Ways to connect effectively at professional conferences
  • The power of LinkedIn as a research and connection tool
  • Next level networking
  • Methods for mapping and expanding your contacts list



Session Title




Student Life Center (SLC), Board of Trust Room


“Everyday Networking” with Ashley Brady, PhD, Director of Career Engagement and Strategic Partnerships, BRET Office of Career Development

SLC, Board of Trust Room


Breakout Session 1



Breakout Session 2



Breakout Session 3



Plenary Session, “Next Level Networking” by Lauren Celano

Ballroom ABC


Put It Into Practice: Wine and Cheese Reception

Ballroom ABC

Breakout Sessions

Breakout Sessions offered at ASPIRE to Connect 2015 include the following options. You may attend three. (Agenda will be formatted once demand is known for each session.) 

Acing the Interview
Lauren Celano, CEO, Propel Careers

In this seminar, Lauren Celano will provide advice for how to succeed during an interview, whether phone, Skype, in person one-on-one or panel setting. Learn more on what hiring managers look for when conducting interviews as well as sample interview questions with their (preferred) types of responses.

Media Training for Real Life: Keeping Your Message on Point
Kathy Rivers, Director of Communications, Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

Kathy Rivers preps the best Vanderbilt doctors, nurses, faculty, and staff before they are interviewed by important local and national news sources. Learn how to implement a SOCO (Single Overriding Communications Objective) to achieve your communication goals in networking, interviewing, and other career opportunities.

Big Help for Small Talk
Ruth Schemmer, Assistant Dean, Career Development, Vanderbilt University Graduate School

This workshop is aimed at helping students and postdocs learn how to carry on social conversations and talk with networking contacts and potential employers outside the formal interview setting.

Leveraging LinkedIn
Kim Petrie, Director, BRET Office of Career Development, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Come discover why LinkedIn is the social media tool of choice for over 250 million professionals around the world! In this session, you’ll learn how LinkedIn can help you create a professional online presence, build your professional network, explore career paths, research companies and industries, and find job opportunities.

Exploring and Identifying Your Network
Kate Stuart, Program Manager, BRET Office of Career Development, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Do I have a network? Who is in my network? How do I grow the network that I have? This workshop will provide a personalized look along with a practical opportunity to explore the levels and roles of your network and their resources.

Making the Most of Professional Conferences (2 Panels)

Professional conferences offer excellent opportunities to showcase your work AND develop new connections and relationships that can help you in your research, training, and career search. In this panel discussion, VU faculty will share their approach to preparing for professional conferences and provide advice for making the most of conference activities.

Humanities and Social Science (HSS) Panelists include: 

Celia Applegate, Ph.D.
William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of History
Associate Chair, History Department; Director of Graduate AdmissionsAffiliate Professor of Musicology and Ethnomusicology, Blair School of Music

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Panelists include:
Anita Mahadevan-Jansen, Ph.D.
Orrin H. Ingram Chair in Engineering, Biomedical Engineering; Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering; Professor of Neurological Surgery, Neurological Surgery

Puck Ohi, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology

Chuck Sanders, Ph.D.
Professor of Biochemistry and Associate Editor of Biochemistry; Aileen M Lange and Annie Mary Lyle Chair of Cardiovascular Research

Speaker Bios

The sponsors of ASPIRE to Connect are excited to welcome our speakers for ASPIRE to Connect 2015.

Lauren Celano, co-founder and CEO of Propel Careers, will be the plenary session and a breakout session speaker.

Lauren Celano is the co-founder and CEO of Propel Careers, a life science search and career development firm focused on connecting talented individuals with entrepreneurial life sciences companies. Propel works with current leaders and actively cultivates future leaders through full time placement, internships, mentoring, career coaching, and networking. Propel Careers is engaged across all areas of life sciences, including therapeutics, medical devices, healthcare IT, diagnostics, consulting, venture capital, and investment banking. Prior to Propel Careers, Lauren was a senior account manager for SNBL USA where she worked with emerging biotech companies in Europe, Asia, and the US to help characterize and advance their drug molecules. Prior to SNBL USA, she held business development positions with Aptuit and Quintiles, where she focused on IND enabling studies to advance therapeutics from discovery into the clinic. Earlier in her career, Lauren held positions as a marketing manager and account manager at Absorption Systems, where she was responsible for managing life sciences companies in the northeastern United States. She has a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Gettysburg College and an MBA with a focus in the health sector and entrepreneurship from Boston University. Lauren is on the Board of MassBioEd, the Advisory Board of the Boston University School of Public Health Pharmaceuticals Program, and the Advisory board for Endicott College Boston. She also serves on the programming committee of the Capital Network.

See more at:

Kathy Rivers will be leading the breakout session Media Training for Real Life: Keeping Your Message on Point.

Kathy Rivers is the director of Communications for the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.  She has handled media relations, marketing and internal communications for the School of Nursing, Vanderbilt University Medical Center Nursing Services for the last 10 years. Working with the VUMC Office of News and Communications, she manages comprehensive media training sessions for physicians, executives, nurses and administrators twice each year and gives presentations to master’s and doctoral students at VUSN. Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Rivers worked at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations for 12 years, where she provided crisis communications counsel to national health care, retail and government organizations.  She has worked on communications projects for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Campaign for a Healthy and Responsible Tennessee. Earlier in her career, she worked for The Rowland Company, a Los Angeles-based public service and public affairs firm. Rivers earned her Master’s in the Management of Health Care from Vanderbilt’s Owen School of Business and her B.A. in Marketing from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.


BRET Office of Career Development
The Graduate School
International Student & Scholar Services