Position: Operations Coordinator with the office of Global Administrative and Travel Support
Time at Duke: Nine months
What he does at Duke:
Knowles is part of the Office of Global Administrative and Travel Support, which oversees the university's International Travel Registry and administers the Provost's Travel Policy and Restricted Regions List. The office also plays an integral role in identifying travelers in an affected region following a crisis or emergency. On any given day, Knowles might research government-issued travel alerts, process visa applications or make calls locating Duke community members after an international disaster. For example, during terrorist attacks in London over the summer, Knowles was called into action in Durham, where he logged on to Duke’s Travel Registry to see if any Duke community members were on business in London at the time.
“Whether it’s a stomach flu or a terrorist attack, we’re there to make sure employees are taken care of no matter where they are in the world,” Knowles said.
What he loves about Duke:
“I love how everyone’s on the same page and working together. Out of all the jobs I’ve had, this has been the most collaborative.” Knowles said. Knowles often works with department administrators throughout Duke. “From my first day at Duke I have encountered only positive assistance, from Development to Divinity to DCRI, and everywhere across Duke,” Knowles said.
Knowles earned a law degree from the Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Wash., and spent several years working at a Washington state law firm specializing in immigration law. The background equips him for his current role, which often includes handling a maze of protocols for visa and passport applications. Also, while attending Wake Forest University as an undergrad, he spent a year studying in Japan and six months in Damascus, Syria, studying Arabic—with the idea that some proficiency in the language could lead to interesting career opportunities. “I think that someone who has a global mindset must have an open mind,” Knowles said.
A memorable day at work:
Knowles spent a recent visa photo session keeping the children of a Duke couple from cracking grins. The parents needed the photos for a trip to China, and China requires a neutral facial expression in its visa application photos. “The problem was everyone was too happy,” Knowles joked.
First ever job:
Knowles was a busboy at the Charleston Crab House. “Cleaning up after shrimp and grits isn’t nearly as fun as eating it,” he said. Clearing up after low-country cuisine is just one bit of iconic Southern detail in Knowles’ childhood, spent on the pastel-colored peninsula of the colonial South Carolina city. Knowles appreciates that Southerners take pride in being polite.
Best advice ever received:
From his grandfather: “If you keep your face shaved and your nails clean, everything else will take care of itself.”
Something people may not know about him:
“Most people don’t know that I am a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada. My father’s half of the family live in Vancouver, and we pledged there about 10 years ago to honor the Queen, though the pledge was in French so I can’t be sure exactly what I promised to do,” Knowles said. Knowles, now 33, spent time in his 20s living in the western Canadian city, where he worked in retail management.
Nominate a colleague to be the next Blue Devil of the Week.