Traveling The Country For Duke

Susan Semonite Waters covers eight states to recruit top Duke students

Susan Semonite Waters kayaks with her son, Connor, on Badin Lake. Photo courtesy of Susan Semonite Waters.
Susan Semonite Waters kayaks with her son, Connor, on Badin Lake. Photo courtesy of Susan Semonite Waters.

Name: Susan Semonite Waters

Position: Assistant director of admissions, Office of Undergraduate Admissions

Years at Duke: 5

What I do at Duke is: I'm one of Duke's admissions officers, and I'm responsible for the recruitment of students from Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Indiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Utah. There are 17 of us, and we have the country and world divided into sections. I also plan Blue Devil Days, which are event days for admitted students, and I'm the liaison between Admissions and the ROTC departments.

If I had $5 million, I would: I'd give a good portion of it to our local public schools because I think they're doing some great things with limited funds, but there's a lot more that could be done to support them. My son is in first grade at E.M. Yoder Elementary in Mebane, and I've seen things the teachers are doing and would like to do but funding just isn't there. There's not an art program, there's limited music programs, and a need for additional science equipment.

My first ever job was: Picking peas at a farm in Vermont. I was paid 12 cents a pound. I'd usually make about $10 a day. I was 15 years old and doing the work during the summer.

My dream job is: To be a large animal veterinarian. I worked for a veterinarian during high school and college and found dairy livestock and the dairy process interesting. I'd like to work with cattle and goats.

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: The college admissions process. I love it. I like it on the big picture of building a class for the university, but I also like talking about it individually with students because they need to find the school that is the right fit for them.

The best advice I ever received was: Don't sweat the small stuff and look at the bigger picture. It was the basis of an article my dad shared with me when I was in high school. He had taken it from the Wall Street Journal to share with me.

What I love about Duke is: The size and diversity. When I started at Duke, it seemed like it was an enormous place, but once you learn about it, it really is a tight community. It may seem daunting at first, but it isn't.

When I'm not at work, I like to: Flatwater kayak. It's relaxing but also good exercise. I also like to garden because making my home look better while enjoying the outdoors. I'm not a master gardener, but do enjoy the satisfaction it brings.

If I could have one superpower, it would be: To stop time so I could get things done and not feel like I'm always looking at the clock.

Something most people don't know about me: I don't like clowns. They're scary. I have no idea where it came from, but I just think I've never liked clowns.

A Movie I like is: The Sound of Music. You can watch it over and over again. I never get tired of it. I've probably watched it at least 30 times.