Meet a USAC Member: Kate Ripley
What department do you work in and what is your job title?
I’m an Executive Assistant in Information Technology.
How long have you been a Vanderbilt employee?
I’ve been at Vanderbilt a little over four years. I started working in the Office of Investments on St. Patrick’s Day in 2017, and in January I came to my current roll at VUIT.
What has been your career journey to lead you to where you are today?
I started my career in TV production – I’ve worked for small operations, a rural news service, and PBS. That track led me to the stages of the Grand Old Opry and Bridgestone Arena (where I got to watch Carrie Underwood absolutely rock her soundcheck) and allowed me to meet some amazing individuals. I have a lot of fun stories from that time, and some memorable life lessons…including accidently airing a winter storm warning in mid-July. Yet after six years in that line of work I was starting to crave stability, community and structure. The moment I interviewed at Vanderbilt I felt a sense of connection, and I’m so grateful to my coworkers in the Office of Investments for helping me find my dream career. I’ve had a lot of interesting employment adventures, but working Vanderbilt has been my favorite job!
What is the greatest bit of advice a parent or mentor has given you?
‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.’ This is something my parents taught me, and several mentors have underscored since. All the luck in the world won’t help if you’re not prepared for opportunities when they arise. Runner up: ‘there are no shortcuts anywhere worth going.’
What is one important skill every person should have?
This sounds a little simple, but the ability to do an internet search. I took a Journalism elective where the entire class was centered around finding information online, and the skills I learned in that class have stuck with me more than anything else. Most work-related questions can be answered via Google and it’s definitely the key to my elevation from beginner to expert in Excel. If you can efficiently sift critical information from the mountain of available information you are way ahead.
What is the best perk you have ever had at a job?
Summer Flex Hours! Having that option was an absolute joy. The little extra time off on Fridays made all the difference in my summers, and allowed me to take mini trips, run errands and spend more time with friends and family. It really improved my work/life balance!
What do you enjoy doing to relieve stress?
Cleaning. If I find myself in a stressful situation then cleaning is a great way for me to decompress, play some loud music, get some physical tasks done and gain little victories. Some of my favorite stress cleaning/dancing songs: “Keep Moving” – Jungle, “Donna” – Rubblebucket, “Cheyenne” – Jason Derulo, “Better By Myself” – Hey Violet, and the album Rumors – Fleetwood Mac.
If you could visit any country with no budget, where would you visit?
Japan! I would eat way too much delicious food, stay at an Onsen, watch robots fight in an underground club, and visit Ao Island (also known as Cat Island because cats outnumber the amount of people who live there).
What is your favorite type of music?
My favorite band of all time is The Dear Hunter (as my annual Spotify Wrapped can testify). Lately I’ve also been listening to a lot of 70s music, city pop, and indie pop. I had a ‘sophisticated A.I.’ judge my music choices and it found that my tastes were ‘manic-pixie-dream-girl bad.’ I think that’s a fair criticism. I’m also incredibly likely to try to sing “These Boots Were Made for Walking” or “Rich Girl” (Hall and Oates) at a Karaoke night.
What are you most proud of in your life thus far?
I’m most proud of my ability to accept and grow from change. Leaning into change, and trying new things is a difficult learned skill for me…but I think it’s the key to a lot of happiness in my life. My near decade in Nashville has been full of adventure. I’ve learned a lot and had some pretty wild experiences that I would have never dreamed of when I was younger. That was all possible because I tried things outside of my comfort zone. It’s definitely something I will keep doing!
Name two things you consider yourself to be good at?
PowerPoints and quoting things (my brain loves to collect random movie dialogue, book lines, and things my friends say)
What is your favorite outdoor activity?
This is a tough one! I really love spending time at the beach – reading a book in the sun, or riding waves. I think I might be the best version of myself at the beach; I don’t know if anything else makes me feel quite so centered and relaxed. I also love a good rooftop bar, kayaking, camping with friends or just sitting around a bonfire talking and listening to music.
What is something on your bucket list?
Going to Japan is definitely on there! And there are so many more things to do: I want to see a giant redwood in person, attend the Mardi Gras in NOLA, take an overnight train trip, see the northern lights, have a vacation on a yacht, buy and fix up a house, and write a book.
What skill or talent would you most like to learn?
I wish I knew how to create Latte art! One of these days I’ll find all the YouTube videos on the subject and try it out. I like making coffee drinks at home, and it would be fun to know how to make a little heart or tulip.
If you had an extra hour each day, how would you spend it?
I’d like to say I’d do something productive and life-changing (like learning how to create latte art)…but I’d probably want to spend it reading by the pool, or going for a walk in the woods.