On the Move at Duke

With jobs keeping them in motion, employees get a unique view of Duke

Traffic on Duke's campus at night.
Life rarely slows down at Duke University and Health System, as seen in this 2019 photo. And some employees experience that constant motion each day. Photo courtesy of University Communications.

Joe Rhodes, a senior mail clerk with Duke University Libraries, begins each day at Perkins Library, helping gather books and mail for different parts of campus.

The task is one of the few times when Joe Rhodes stays still.

His workday is one of constant motion. Driving a 16-foot Chevy box truck, Rhodes delivers books and other library materials to buildings in all corners of Duke University’s campus, giving him a view of Duke and a rhythm of work that few can appreciate.

“My office is my truck,” Rhodes said. “It’s great. You’re out moving around and the day goes by pretty fast.”

Across Duke there are employees who, like Rhodes, spend most of their day on the move. Meet a few who spend their days moving around campus.

Shuttling Between CampusesJose Valencia and his bus.

Driving the C1 bus route between East and West Campus for stretches in the morning and afternoon, Jose Valencia sees Duke at its prettiest.

In the morning, when he guides his bus toward Duke University Chapel, he sees the light of the rising sun splash against the front of the landmark.

Around dusk, that view is dramatically different, as the sun dips behind the chapel, painting the sky in oranges and pinks.

“The sun seems to pay special attention to the chapel,” Valencia said. “I enjoy it. Every trip is different.”

Experiencing these views, as well as the changes of the seasons and the buzz of student life, is one of the perks of having a position where you spend your day driving up and down the spine of campus. And Valencia, who has been a bus driver for Duke Parking and Transportation Services for 12 years appreciates the opportunity to do it.

And as much as he enjoys the scenery, he enjoys the people he meets even more as he said students provide constant energy throughout shifts.

“The students make it fun,” Valencia said. “They are very easy to talk to, they make your job very comfortable.”

Capturing Campus LifeMegan Mendenhall and her camera.

With her camera and bag of gear at her side, Megan Mendenhall carves out large parts of her day for what she calls “purposeful wandering.”

As a photographer for University Communications, Mendenhall and team colleague Jared Lazarus capture images of life at Duke for social media feeds, marketing and various projects. They bounce around campus, often logging 10,000 or more steps in a day, making sure they’re on scene when those moments – both large and small – happen.

“On my campus walkabouts, I’m looking for moments and scenes that capture life at Duke or showcase our beautiful campus in compelling and unique ways,” said Mendenhall, who captures photos and videos. “One of the things I love about Duke is that it’s always growing and changing. I’m constantly discovering a new angle or detail to photograph.”

A Duke photographer since 2006, Mendenhall sees all sides of life at Duke, photographing commencement ceremonies, big basketball games, student move-ins, Krzyzewskiville and quiet moments in Duke University Chapel.

She also pays close attention to the Duke Events Calendar and social media feeds of campus organizations for a full picture of what’s going on each day.

But not all of her shots have to tell a story.

This fall, she saw trees near Davison Hall that were beginning to change color. She took note and, a few days later when the color started to become vivid, she returned.

“I wanted to get some shots of that,” Mendenhall said.

Hospital’s Helping HandsHenry Jacobs and a wheelchair.

On most days, Henry Jacobs’ smart watch can spit out some stunning step count numbers.

Jacobs, a patient transporter at Duke University Hospital, can log anywhere between 15,000 to 25,000 steps as he accompanies patients in wheelchairs or beds, lab samples and equipment between corners of Duke’s medical campus.

“I appreciate having good shoes,” Jacobs said.

Duke University Hospital’s roughly 150 patient transporters cover the hospital around the clock, moving throughout the entire campus, from Duke North to the Duke South Clinics. In 2019, transporters made around 390,000 patient trips and 16,000 trips with materials such as lab samples or equipment.

“A lot of people depend on our team,” said Duke University Hospital Administrative Manager Matthew Franklin, who oversees the Patient Transport Services unit. “On good days, people don’t necessarily notice because they see everything happening as expected.”

A dispatch office in Duke North sends requests to transporters via hospital-provided smartphones. The goal is to respond to each request within 30 minutes. While physical stamina and a good sense of direction are important skills, it’s helpful for transporters to be easy to talk to, to help put patients at ease.

“We usually have good conversations,” Jacobs said. “We’re helping them, but at the same time we’re showing them that they are valued and appreciated.”

Hitting the StoresAngela Bowling in the East Campus Store.

Angela Bowling, Duke University Stores’ assistant general manager for marketing and promotions, spends parts of her days bouncing between a dozen Duke Stores retail locations.

From gift shops of Duke University Hospital, to stores on East and West Campuses, she’s responsible for distributing posters, fliers and free-standing signs announcing promotions, discounts and special events. She also delivers items such as business cards or personalized retirement gifts to department colleagues and, whenever she can, she visits the stores to get a feel for the needs of personnel and customers.

While the movement keeps her busy, it also allows her to experience the pace of life on campus. From the energy around big football weekends or Krzyzewskiville, to the familiar faces she sees at Duke Stores far-flung locations, Bowling treasures the opportunity to get out and see the colors of campus.

“I get to see more than just the people in the Bryan Center Stores,” Bowling said. “I get to see the students as they’re going back and forth to class. I get to see a variety of people.”

Making his StopsJoe Rhodes in his truck.

Each day, Joe Rhodes, senior mail clerk with Duke Libraries, travels a route that includes stops at Lilly Library, Smith Warehouse, the Sanford School of Public Policy, the Library Service Center, the Duke Medical Library and libraries at the Duke Law School, the Department of Music and the Fuqua School of Business.

While his busy day can be challenging, Rhodes said he prefers it to working in one place. The chief reason for this is because, at each of his stops, the outgoing Rhodes has made friends.

To him, his trips around campus not only help Duke’s library materials get where they’re needed, they also help him stay in touch with familiar faces around campus.

“I get to know the people I see every day,” Rhodes said. “I’m looked at as part of most people’s crew. That’s what I really enjoy.”

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