Network In Action
Cat litter? Skincare? You never know where your career could go when you meet Chett Boxley (MBA ’06)
by Ashley Atwood (’07)
When Jessica (McKelvie) Lohse (’09) was introduced to Chett Boxley (MBA ’06) in 2009 by Professor Paul Hooker, she was looking to put her freshly earned college degree to use in a poor economy. Her post-Westminster professional journey began when Chett hired her as a research chemist at Ceramatec, Inc., a research and development company where he worked as a principal investigator. By 2012, the project they were working on turned into a small business that manufactured, of all things, cat litter.
“Neither of us owned a cat. We didn’t know anything about cats, and suddenly we’re making litter for a living,” Jessica laughs. The company, PURR-fect Solutions, produced its litter from fly ash—a waste of coal-fired power plants that had traditionally been used in the production of concrete. During the recession, however, few construction companies were building. Cat litter turned out to be a more recession-proof use of the material.
The team ran PURR-fect Solutions until the summer of 2014. By that time, Chett’s and Jessica’s names were on three cat-litter patents, and they had formed a lifelong friendship. Jessica credits Chett with the connections that led to her next job opportunity, back at Ceramatec—and also to her Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification, which she completed in 2015. “It was wonderful working for him,” she says. “He taught me so much.”
Jessica is not alone in her experience. In fact, the more you learn about Chett, the more you realize that he has been a major influencer in the lives of many Westminster students and alums. There are numerous examples, which start in 2010 when Chett taught as an adjunct professor in chemistry for a year. Through this experience, he got to know Professor Robyn Hyde, and together they worked with student interns on several unique science projects. Chett also attends a variety of campus events. At one, he met a student named Jesse Cervantes (’19), who created and now maintains the website for Batch Twenty-One, the skincare line Chett launched in 2018 (and which he manages alongside his work as CEO of GlycoSurf, LLC and as an independent consultant). Along with Professor Mike Keene, Chett has been a resource for project-based MBA students working on their capstone projects. Additionally, he has served on the alumni board since 2013 and is the board chair for 2019–20.
But the area in which Chett has made the greatest impact at the college is mentoring. “At some point in time, the dictionary definition of mentor will have ‘see Chett Boxley’ in it,” says Professor Dick Chapman, who directs the Coaching and Mentoring Center, which manages the Alumni Mentoring Program (AMP). By the end of the 2018–19 academic year, Chett had coached four students through AMP: Daniel Devore (’19), Stephanie Gardiner (’18), Harrison Cutler (’17), and Dorian Rosen (’15).
“I love doing it,” Chett says of volunteering with AMP. In his role as a mentor, Chett advises students on the ins and outs of topics like interviewing and the benefits of graduate school. He also takes time to discuss networking as part of career development. “I’m a huge believer in networking,” he says. “It has always been my belief that you build a network when you don’t need it; then, when you do need it, it’s there. I definitely want them to walk away with the knowledge of the importance and value of building your network.”
Chett understands that networking is a two-way street. He can readily cite examples where connections have benefited him, but he really seems to light up when he talks about helping others in their careers. Though he has a science background—he holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Arizona and a PhD in analytical chemistry from the University of Utah—he assists people in a variety of educational and professional areas. “He is genuinely interested in people and what they do,” says Jessica, who has observed Chett reaching out to colleagues from within his network for assistance with projects or advice on subjects outside of his areas of expertise.
Chett explains that he stays involved with Westminster for one reason: community. “I want to keep doing it because there is a sense of community; there is a sense of value,” he says. He believes that Westminster’s small, unique programs, such as AMP, allow for real impact and that the campus community is active and engaged in truly making things happen. “Sometimes you have crazy ideas, and the Westminster folks are like, ‘Okay, let’s try it,’” he says.
About the Westminster Review
The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.