Executive Assistant Grows Award-Winning Garden

Pat Marson's garden was one of eight in the Chapel Hill Spring Garden Tour

Pat Marson's garden includes chickens as well as plants. Her garden was one of eight chosen for the 2012 Chapel Hill Spring Garden Tour. Photo courtesy of Pat Marson.

Name: Pat Marson

Position: Executive assistant to Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president of administration

Years at Duke: 11

What I do at Duke: I do whatever it takes to keep things running smoothly for Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president of administration. I've worked for him for three years now, and I love it. Before that, I worked for the president of the Duke Health System, and in Duke Hospital Patient Resource Management, and for Myrna Adams, Duke's first vice president for institutional equity, so I've seen a lot of Duke.

What I love about Duke: The people. I meet new people all the time, from all over the place, and they are all so nice. It is interesting to see so many people from different cultures all working together to make Duke a better place.

When I'm not at work I like to: Garden. This year, our garden was one of the eight gardens chosen for the 2012 Chapel Hill Spring Garden Tour. That had been on my 'bucket list' of things I wanted to do for years. My garden has vegetables, flowers, perennials, annuals, a water garden, a chicken coop, even a toad house. It's a little self-contained urban dream. It takes a lot of work each weekend, but my husband and I love it. My husband says I should get a bumper sticker that says 'my second vehicle is a wheelbarrow.'

To start a conversation with me, someone should ask about: My family. My husband John and I are both Canadian. We moved to North Carolina in 1988, and while our daughters were both born in Canada, they are now dual Canadian/U.S. citizens. Our first grandchild, Fiona Mae Fistner, was born  in August, and I love it.

Something most people don't know about me: My father built a houseboat, and we lived on it on the Rideau River in Ontario, Canada, for three summers when I was young. I still love the water, and my husband and I go kayaking as often as we can. It is so calming. When I paddle, every bit of stress goes out my fingertips into the water.

My first ever paid job: I was a waitress in a little restaurant called The Miss Richmond in Richmond, Ontario. My first tip was 25 cents, and I thought it was grand.

Best advice I ever received: Every night at dinner my father would say to us 'what did you do nice for somebody today?'  I think of that a lot, and I try to be kind to people.

A memorable moment at Duke: The Night of Duke Stars, when I celebrated my 10-year anniversary. Even though there were lots of people there, I didn't feel like just a number. I felt valued, and everyone I talked to that evening seemed so enthusiastic about working at Duke. There was a lot of pride in the room that evening.