Staff Assistant Is Award-Winning Illustrator

Yvette Herrera spends free time drawing, illustrating

Yvette Herrera poses with her son, Joseph, in an art studio at her home in Durham. Herrera recently won the 2012 Tomie dePaola Illustrator Award as a promising children's book illustrator. Photo courtesy of Yvette Herrera.

Name: Yvette Herrera

Position: Staff assistant and assistant to the director, Duke Institute for Brain Sciences Constituent Centers

Years at Duke: Four months

What I do at Duke is: I have lots of different responsibilities like managing calendars, setting up meetings, making travel arrangements, and I also provide support for visiting speakers and faculty candidates,conferences, and retreats. I also handle little everyday things like making sure we have office supplies.

If I had $5 million, I would: Buy a house. I'd love to buy a home in Madison, Wisconsin because I loved living there and I met my husband there while we were in college at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. I'd donate some money to the Catholic Church and also pay off student loans for myself, my husband, my siblings, and for our friends who watch our son while we're at work. With these bills out of the way, I would stay home to take care of the kids and the house, and to spend more time in the studio.

My first ever job was: When I was 9, I made an illustration for the Wausau (Wisconsin) Daily Herald newspaper that ran with a story about hunting season.

My dream job is: Illustrating children's books and greeting cards while being a stay at home mom at the same time. It'd be great to be at home with my son, Joseph, while having a flexible work schedule. I've always wanted to be an artist.

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: Anything to do with babies, kids or parenting. I love cooking too - Italian and French foods are my favorites. Both my parents were excellent cooks

The best advice I ever received was: To appreciate the small, ordinary, everyday things. My family taught me that not everything has to be about extraordinary events or special occasions. It's important to appreciate about routine things like having dinner with your family

What I love about Duke is: I love the variety of people I work with. Even though I work with some incredibly brilliant people, they're so accessible and easy to interact with. They don't only look at me as an assistant they work with but as a person

When I'm not at work, I like to: I love being at home and spending time with my husband, Joel, and son, Joseph. I also enjoy drawing, sketching and water coloring when I can. We live in a townhouse in the Trinity Park neighborhood and we made our upper floor into a studio. I usually spend about 10 hours a week drawing and illustrating.

If I could have one superpower, it would be: To control time. If I could stop time, it would help with deadlines at work and also let me spend more time with my son because I feel like he's growing so fast.

Something most people don't know about me is: I recently won the 2012 Tomie dePaola Illustrator Award. It's an annual award given to an illustrator who shows promise. I got to travel to New York City to receive the award at the 13th annual conference of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

An interesting day at work for me was: I didn't realize the Duke Chapel has organ music most days, so I recently went there during a lunch break to sit and listen. I really appreciate having access to something like that.

Who would you like to read about as a Blue Devil of the Week? Nominate a colleague.