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Putting the 'Om' in Communicator

Duke senior public relations specialist Bernadette Gillis practices yoga every week

Bernadette Gillis, senior public relations specialist with Duke Medicine Development and Alumni Affairs, loves yoga.


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Name: Bernadette Gillis Position: Senior Public Relations Specialist, Duke Medicine Development and Alumni Affairs Years at Duke: Nine What I do at Duke:  I write stories for the School of Medicine, School of Nursing alumni publications, and I help with a lot of materials for our special events group and donor relations; and that means I help with creating brochures and invitations, and I also do some graphic design, which I enjoy and a lot of other random communications stuff. If I had $5 million, I would: Give a lot of it away, I think.  I’d give a big chunk to my mother and maybe some charities, and I would travel. My first ever job: I was a cashier at Harris Teeter, but I only did it for one summer after I graduated high school. My dream job: It’s a kind of a toss up between freelance writing about, I don’t know just whatever, just things I am interested in, and I also have a fantasy of somehow working for Jeopardy. I want to write the questions.If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: Yoga. I like to do yoga. I’ve been doing it for a long time. Just this year, I’ve been trying to make an effort to do more during the week on my own and not just going to yoga class; and that’s been going well. And also you could ask me about hair – natural hair. I like to read blogs and follow people on Instagram and social media. The best advice I ever received: There has to be something that my mother told me (laughs). Probably something of the effect – I’m paraphrasing basically – that people aren’t always going to treat you fairly, and that’s just a reality in life, but that doesn’t mean anything about my abilities or me. And the advice is just to deal with it and not let it get you down. What I love about Duke: That there’s so much going on here at Duke, and there’s always something new to learn, even though I’ve been in the same department since I’ve been here; but it’s such a variety. Working for an academic medical center, there’s always a chance of learning something new, and there’s always different things going on. I think it’s a really good place to work. Something most people don’t know about me: I was in band all through middle school up through college. I don’t think a lot of people know that. I played saxophone and in high school, so I did marching band in high school, played saxophone, and was a drum major for two years, and then I went to college, I was on the color guard at UNC. An interesting/memorable day at work for me: We had an alumnus who I wrote a couple of stories about, and he loved the stories. Alumni weekend was approaching, and I knew he was coming. One afternoon, he calls me and says he’s on his way to my office because he wanted to see me and had something for me. He and his wife were driving down from Virginia, and he was just using the address in my email signature and using Google maps. He just showed up at the office and brought me two Jefferson Cups (monogramed pewter bowls symbolizing achievement; Gillis graduated from the Master of Liberal Arts program at Duke). He was just really grateful for the story I had written about him, and he had brought me this unexpected gift, and I thought it was very sweet.