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Blue Devil of the Week: A Creative Problem Solver for Tech Support

Desktop support manager DeShane Watson loves hearing ‘thanks, DeShane’ after helping someone in the Medical Center Library

Desktop support manager DeShane Watson keeps the technology in the Medical Center Library up and running. Photo by Jack Frederick
Desktop support manager DeShane Watson keeps the technology in the Medical Center Library up and running. Photo by Jack Frederick

Name: DeShane Watson

Position: Desktop Support Manager for the Duke University Medical Center Library and Archives

Years at Duke: 5

What he does at Duke: DeShane Watson’s job is to maintain, service and manage the technology resources available through the Duke Medical Center Library.

It’s a job that keeps Watson busy riding elevators to visit the three library floors in the Seeley G. Mudd Building to conduct regular maintenance and answer help tickets. He also manages the schedule of computer labs, iPads and other technology imperative to research and clinical and administrative needs of patrons.

“I make sure all the technology in the library works when it’s supposed to,” said Watson, who came to Duke in 2017. “If it breaks, I’m right there for it. I enjoy being here. I’m the kind of person that as soon as there’s a problem, ‘I’ll be right there.’”DeShane Watson is in charge of servicing the computers in the Sealey G. Mudd Building. Photo by Jack Frederick.

With several thousand patrons visiting the library each year to study or access research materials online, Watson solves problems that range from computer log on issues to troubleshooting glitches with conference room projectors and other hardware.

“I enjoy helping people,” Watson said. “I really love computers and helping people. I just get a big kick out of seeing them say, ‘Thanks, DeShane.’”

First ever job: As a 16-year-old, Watson got his first job at the McDonald’s on Hillsborough Road in Durham, now home to an Enterprise Rent-A-Car location. Over a four-year stint there, he held a variety of roles, including cashier, cook and swing manager.

“I learned a lot about customer service and it really kind of stuck in that the customer’s always right philosophy,” he said. “As far as business is concerned, they’re right because they’re the patron. That’s always stuck with me in all my jobs.”

What he loves about Duke: What he loves most about Duke is its commitment to having a diverse workforce and welcoming community for all.

Watson has felt that support on an individual level, but it also comes in the feel of campus, which has more people from the Durham community taking advantage of the resources Duke provides than it did when he was a kid growing up in the city of Durham.

“I love the opportunity for advancement and the new diversity initiatives,” he said. “What I mean by new is it’s not the same Duke I grew up with. Duke is a lot more diverse now that it used to be in the 80s and early 90s. It’s a more welcoming environment.”

When he’s not at work, he likes to: Completing course work online at night and on the weekend, Watson is working to earn his bachelor’s degree in information technology from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, using the tuition assistance program available to Duke employees.DeShane Watson, second from right, with his family on his birthday in 2021. Photo courtesy of Watson.

Watson expects to graduate in the fall of 2023, and plans to stay at Duke to continue his job at the Medical Center Library.

“Duke is a great place to work. I love it here,” he said.

Lesson learned during the pandemic: “Patience,” he said with a smile. Watson has learned to navigate working remotely, spending more time at home than he wanted to.

As he worked from home, Watson anxiously awaited an opportunity to return back to campus while worrying about family members who work in healthcare and were on the front lines of the COVID-19 response, including his wife who is a nurse.

The last two years have been long, but after having his usul work routine disrupted, Watson learned to slow down, finding that extending patience and kindness to others and himself helped him to navigate through an unprecedented pandemic.

“It just makes you be a much more patient person,” he said of COVID-19.

Something most people don’t know about him: In the late 1980s and early 90s, Watson was part of a four-person rap group called Black Brothers In Charge (BBIC for short), a group that included two McDonald’s coworkers and another friend from North Carolina Central University.DeShane Watson, middle, poses for a photo with other members of Black Brothers in Charge in 1986. Photo courtesy of Watson.

Watson knew he was interested in rapping after listening closely to the lyrical abilities of T La Rock, and particular influence from LL Cool J’s 1984 hit “I Need a Beat” as a 15-year-old. Inspired by Public Enemy and other early music from record label Def Jam Recordings, BBIC met together every Saturday morning at a Bojangles in Durham to write songs.

“We made little tapes and stuff like that, but it never amounted to going any further than that,” Watson said. “Once life hit, we needed a paying job.”

Is there a colleague at Duke who has an intriguing job or goes above and beyond to make a difference? Nominate that person for Blue Devil of the Week.