Meet A Deac

It’s Meet A Deac Monday! But two quick items before we get started: 1) we will be testing our emergency alert systems tomorrow and Wednesday, and 2) we had a big athletic weekend, with multiple sports (women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s golf, and of course our #10 ranked football team) having great performances this weekend. You can see all the action at godeacs.com.

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to someone that you might not have had the chance to meet, but she has definitely played a role in helping you understand the experiences of campus: my colleague in Communications and External Relations, Kim McGrath.

Wake Forest Advancement staff member Kim McGrath, Thursday, December 5, 2019

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Kim, thanks for doing this. I know we work together, but for the benefit of the Daily Deacdom who doesn’t know you, I want to go through the normal process. To get us started, will you please tell me your job title and how long you’ve been at Wake? My title is Director, News and Communications, and I have been at Wake for 17 years.

And tell me a little about your educational background. I went to Loyola University Maryland and have a BA in English.

How would you describe your career trajectory at Wake? I joined Wake Forest as an administrative assistant in what was then the University Editor’s Office. I always wanted to write, and at that time we had a print newspaper called Window on Wake Forest. We had a Meet A Deac type feature at that time, too! I wrote my first piece about Kobak Taylor, a locksmith at Wake Forest who has been here 30+ years. I was just a wee writer then! Kobak and I have a special connection since he was my first assignment. I’m reminded of my early days at Wake whenever I see Kobak around campus.

And so it began – my career sharing stories about our amazing University and the faculty, staff and students who make Wake Forest so special.

Since the start of my tenure at Wake, the University Editor’s Office was renamed Creative Services, where I wrote for the Wake Forest Magazine. Now I serve with Communications and External Relations in the news area – still telling stories about Wake Forest and also helping manage public relations with media, overseeing the @WakeForestNews Twitter account, and assisting with many other communications needs.

Because you and I work so closely together, I know how much COVID changed your day to day work. Talk a little about that. It might seem that the stories would not have been as exciting during the pandemic, with everyone sitting at a computer using Zoom. But what emerged were new teaching ideas, creative ways to perform dances and plays remotely, and opportunities for students to “travel” virtually for career treks or for an art-buying trip. So many new ideas came out of the challenges our community faced. During the pandemic – a time of isolation and grief for what we had lost – it was clear we could also find ways to adapt with positivity and hope.

What do you like best about working at Wake? The best thing about working at Wake? I’m surrounded by people who love learning! I’m able to share stories about our research, programs and people who are contributing advances in their academic fields and changing the landscape of higher education. How very grateful I am to walk around this beautiful campus and be a part of this community.

What were you most looking forward to about this academic year and more normal(ish) times? I’m thrilled to be able to see faculty, staff and students in person and look forward to all the in-person activities, performances and speakers.

If you were offering advice to a student, what would you say? Enjoy your time here. It will go fast 🙂

What about advice to Wake parents and families? Wake Forest is committed to supporting students and families. If you have a question or concern, there is always someone ready to help.

Ready for the bonus questions? Here goes!

Book: the Splendid and the VileBook you’re reading now: I recently finished a WWII historical fiction binge with Erik Larson’s The Splendid and the Vile and In the Garden of the Beasts. I also read Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now. To lighten up a bit, I’ve just finished Decorating a Room of One’s Own : Conversations on Interior Design with Miss Havisham, Jane Eyre, Victor Frankenstein, Elizabeth Bennet, Ishmael, and Other Literary Notables, by Wake Forest English professor Susan Harlan, and I’ve got a book in the on-deck circle: Chaucer’s People: Everyday Lives in Medieval England. (So another best thing about working at Wake is the ZSR Library!)

TV, movies, Netflix, etc.: I love the film Jo Jo Rabbit. It was the spark that ignited my interest in World War II. I’m Movie Poster: Jo Jo Rabbitwatching The Crown on Netflix now. I’m always a little behind!

Website you frequent: I love cooking, so America’s Test Kitchen, Cook’s Country and King Arthur Flour are some of my favorite websites – and King Arthur Flour must be inspiring my interest in Medieval England! I so enjoy finding connections between seemingly different things!

trader joe's dark chocolate peanut butter cupsGuilty pleasures: Dark chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s, pizza, making people laugh!

Introvert or extrovert: Both

Something most people don’t know about you: We have a little garden behind our patio that makes me so happy. When our teams would meet remotely during COVID, I set up my chair in the kitchen facing outdoors so I could keep a watch on the birds visiting our feeder. I get a huge kick out of seeing them splash around in the birdbath. (Please note I was still mostly paying attention to the Zoom call).

Any parting thoughts you want to share? Life can be very challenging and everybody has something going on that is difficult. I try, though I don’t always succeed, to honor people where they are on a given day because I don’t know what struggles they are facing.

That’s a beautiful thought to close on, Kim. Thanks for sharing your story with us, and for all you do for our students and sharing the news of everything great that goes on at Wake!

[Editor’s note – you can read past Meet A Deacs here].

— by Betsy Chapman, Ph.D. (’92, MA ’94)

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