Blue Devil of the Week: Helping Students Find a Way to Duke

Cassidy Mills of Undergraduate Admissions connects high school students from underrepresented groups with opportunities

Cassidy Mills
Cassidy Mills, front left, cherishes opportunities to spend time with students, such as the Black Student Alliance invitational in March. Photo courtesy of Cassidy Mills.

Mills, who earned a master’s degree in higher education from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington has long been passionate about helping students navigate the path to college. She previously worked in the financial aid office at North Carolina State University and with the Carolina College Advising Corps, where she mentored high school students in rural Nash County, North Carolina.

“I love getting to draw a picture of what life on campus is like,” Mills said. “This is a role I very much wanted, it’s what I hoped to do. My Blackness is an identity that’s important to me. I think it was essential to my time navigating the college admissions process and the college-bound process. So this was a population of students I wanted to work with.”

What she values about working here: From Duke’s robust COVID-19 safety policies to the effort Duke puts into helping students from all backgrounds feel comfortable on campus, Mills appreciates the thoughtful way Duke, as an institution, evolves and improves.

Mills joined Duke during the pandemic and said its testing and vaccination programs allowed her to feel safe on campus and showed how much it valued the health of community members. Mills appreciates the spaces and resources Duke devotes to student organizations such as the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture and the Duke Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, something she is proud to relay to prospective students.

“Duke is willing to change and willing to reflect,” Mills said. “It’s not a stagnant university and I love that. I consider it an honor to be part of an institution that is able to take breaths, take steps back, look around and assess where it fits into the local community and the wider world.”

Cassidy Mills has built a following on Instagram with her fun book recommendations. Image courtesy of Cassidy Mills.

Something people may not know about her: Mills loves to read and discuss favorite books both new and old.

Her passion for the printed word has helped her create a fun and popular Instagram presence.

Her account, which has nearly 3,000 followers, is where she shares thoughts and photos about what she’s reading – she’s a huge fan of the young adult fiction genre – and what locally-owned bookshops and libraries she’s enjoying.

Among the books she’s enjoyed so far in 2023 are Lisa Jewell’s suspenseful thriller “The Family Upstairs,” and Akwaeke Emezi’s romance novel, “You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty.”

“I like to share what I’m reading, what books are coming out and even books I didn’t really like,” said Mills, who read around 150 books in 2022. “I’ve got a bookshelf at home devoted to books that I read and loved. And I’ve got another that’s filled with books I haven’t read yet. That one is filled to the brim.”

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.