I am Mission Success: Courtney Edenfield
Courtney Edenfield contributes to the mission as a technician in Analytical Chemistry Mission Operations at Y-12.
Take 5 minutes and learn about Courtney Edenfield, an Analytical Chemistry technician at Y-12. All views and opinions are the employee’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.
One might say Courtney Edenfield was needled into her career path as a teen.
“I was going to go into medicine, but I have a huge fear of needles,” Edenfield said. “I remember going to a doctor’s appointment with my mom. She was having fluid drawn from her knee, and I passed out — so I had to go into something else.”
Edenfield injected herself into chemistry instead. After graduating in 2020 from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary programs with a concentration in neuroscience, she joined Analytical Chemistry Mission Operations as a technician in the radiochemistry lab at Y-12. Edenfield manages the sample flow and performs a wide spectrum of analysis, which supports a number of Y-12 programs.
“I really like it,” she said. “It can be really challenging working with all the different chemicals. You have to be super accurate.”
In the job, “I get samples and prepare them using several different procedures,” Edenfield said. “They’re analyzed on specialized instrumentation. We examine uranium and look for transuranic activity, which is basically the presence of isotopes that have a higher atomic number than uranium.” This includes elements such as neptunium, plutonium, and americium.
Working at Y-12 and supporting its mission runs in Edenfield’s family. Her father, Tommy Keylon, has been with the company 44 years. He is a tube assembler and makes filaments that are used on the instruments in the isotopic lab, just a few doors down from his daughter’s lab.
“I get to walk up and down the same hallways that he has been walking since before I was born,” Edenfield said. Her grandfather, Gordon Sutton, also worked at Y-12 during his career, which was mostly spent at K-25 in the barrier manufacturing plant as a production control manager.
When Edenfield isn’t in the lab, she analyzes fashionable looks in the Pop of Color Closet, her 4-year-old online consignment clothing store she started while attending UT.
“I love fashion and all the fun girly things,” she said. “The store has a lot of bright clothes, like Lilly Pulitzer pieces. I have many out-of-state customers from places like South Carolina and Florida. It’s really busy from January to August. This time of the year, people are preparing their spring and summer wardrobes.”
Although the store consumes much of Edenfield’s spare time, she enjoys it and has designs to expand.
“It’s turned out to be a pretty cool side business,” she said. “I would love to make it a full-on boutique, still online, but with a larger presence.”
As an employee, how do you want to be remembered?
I hope people would remember me as someone who was very approachable, someone they could talk to or ask a question. Even if I sometimes didn’t know the answer, I would help them find it.
What is your favorite aspect about your work environment? How does that aspect make you know the mission is being met?
It would have to be the teamwork culture. We have a great team and work really well together. This allows us to be successful. We all have our responsibilities, and we hold each other accountable. We get the job done and help the customers meet the mission.
What advice would you give someone who is new to Pantex or Y-12?
Take in all of the experiences that you are given and capitalize on any opportunity that comes your way. Be ready to work hard and be open to try new things, and you will go far.
What’s your top bucket list item and why?
My husband and I have always wanted to go to Europe on a 2- or 3-week trip. France, Italy, and Greece are on the top of the list of the places we want to visit. This would be amazing, since I have never been out of the country.