Meet a USAC Member: Amanda Harding
What department do you work in and what is your job title?
Assistant Director, Vanderbilt Data Science Institute
How long have you been a Vanderbilt employee?
I have been with Vanderbilt for 5 years and 5 months!
What is the best perk you have ever had at a job?
My first job was as an Undergraduate Admissions Recruiter at my alma mater. Now, recruiters tend to enjoy quite a few perks – travel life can be super fun staying in hotels, eating meals out, meeting new people. But the best perk was that during the summer months our office closed on Friday afternoons at 12pm. We worked a bit longer during the rest of the week but starting your weekend a little early was pretty awesome.
What do you enjoy doing to relieve stress?
I go to the gym 5-6 days a week. Over the last three years, I began weight training and it has been a really great addition to my life. Admittedly, there are days that I dread going, but once I have finished my workout – I truly feel like a new and more energized person. It is just about the only time I can really shut my brain off and disconnect from the many thoughts and ideas I have!
Are you more productive at night or in the morning? Do you think it is possible to change and get used to a new schedule?
If I’m being honest, probably neither. If I had to choose, I would say morning. I like to take my time in the evening to relax and unwind. With that being said – it is absolutely possible to change your schedule! There were times where I was waking up at 4:45am to go to the gym before I started my day, but that meant I was also falling asleep on the couch at 8pm that night. J
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I cannot tell you how many times this changed as a kid, and usually it coincided with my neighbor’s goals. For a while I thought I would like to be a teacher – but turns out, I am honestly not really “a kid person”. And furthermore, I have a hard time teaching people how to do things because I am a bit impatient. So… it is probably a good thing I abandoned that dream. Leading up to and into college, I thought I wanted to work in HR. An internship in manufacturing kind of put the lid on that idea as well. As I was graduating, the Admissions job fell into my lap and I had worked on a college campus in various roles since my first day there. So, luckily, I got to combine my interests and strengths and have been working higher education ever since.
If you could visit any country with no budget, where would you visit?
This is tough, there are many places I would like to visit! But given the no budget rule, I would have to go with Australia and New Zealand. Since it is an investment just traveling there, I would want to be sure I stayed for quite some time. Hawaii is probably a close second.
What is your favorite type of music?
Country, and 90s hip-hop/rap. There is a bit of nostalgia there from growing up in the 90s and attending middle school and high school dances. I never used to like country until after college. I worked at our Live Nation concert venue over the summers and got to experience so many different artists, I ended up really loving country music.
What has been your favorite vacation you have ever been on?
Again, this is so tough! I have been fortunate to take a number of vacations, and my family is originally from England – so we visit family and friends quite often. My favorite is probably a toss-up between visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, and the first trip to Excellence Playa Mujeres all-inclusive. We have been back to EPM three times since, so it’s clearly a favorite, and I love warm weather!
What are you most proud of in your life thus far?
I have been lucky enough in this life to experience a lot of good fortune. I graduated college in three years, earned my master’s degree, and am now approaching the end of my doctoral degree. I have done all these things with no debt – and in today’s world, that’s pretty incredible. But I could not have done it without the support of my parents. My dad worked two jobs and my mom put in a ton of overtime to help me get through undergrad debt free. I have been so lucky to further my education at every step without any barriers, I hope that others will get the chance to do that as well, if they desire.