Five Questions with Caitlyn Hill
Cait Hill is a true Renaissance woman.
Name: Caitlyn (Cait) Hill
Position: Systems analyst, Instructional and Information Systems
Years at UNC Gillings: Just over nine
What I do at the Gillings School (and why I love it): I keep the server side of our IT infrastructure up and running, I manage the user authentication process, I get involved in Windows support when there’s something really difficult to suss out and I help design some of our security policies.
I’ve been doing system administration for more than 20 years. I like this field because it’s a great combination of being able to fix problems for unique individuals and solve larger, system-wide puzzles. When machines break, you take them apart and reassemble them so they work again… I love tackling challenges like that, so getting paid to do it – and doing it in the service of a greater good like public health – is fantastic.
An especially interesting day at work: was the day I started rescuing butterflies. When the weather is decent, I often wander outside to the stone amphitheater near Rosenau Hall. During butterfly season, I happened to peek over a cement wall outside the building next door, and was surprised to see a grate covered with dead butterflies. Being an artistic type, I had an idea for how I could use the wings in a project. When I came back to collect them, there were more butterflies that were still alive. I realized the grate covered an air intake tunnel and insects were being caught and sucked down by the wind it generated. Now, I check regularly for butterflies (and dragonflies, bees and wasps) and rescue any that I find.
Something people might not know about me is: I’m pretty good with devil sticks – those are the sticks in my photo, with tassels on the end, which were invented in China. They’re also called flower sticks or lotus sticks. I’ve been using them since college, when they were really popular for two or three years. After the fad went away, I kept playing with them. At first, I borrowed my roommate’s set just to pass the time; then a doctor actually prescribed them as physical therapy for the repetitive stress syndrome I developed while working at IBM. I was bad at doing the exercises but enjoyed playing with the sticks, and I used to go practice in the IBM parking lot for an hour every day. Now, I dance with them at music festivals.
If I had $5 million, I would: travel, absolutely. But! I wouldn’t go places for short trips; I’d want to go somewhere new and settle in to live there for a bit. When I worked with GlaxoSmithKline, I was sent to live in Montreal for a while and it was amazing. My favorite part wasn’t seeing all the tourist attractions, but just learning about the best coffee shop or finding shortcuts and discovering new parts of the city. So, if I won the lottery, I’d start with at least a month in Paris, London, somewhere.
To start a conversation with me, ask me about: Oh, that’s such a hard question. I’m interested in almost everything on the planet! OK, my current obsession is linguistics. I love learning how language affects our thoughts and culture. My favorite random trivia is that the word “cliché” is onomatopoeia – it comes from the sound a stereotype plate makes when being struck in an old printing press. I’ve also got a closet full of art supplies. I tend to take up hobbies very intensely for a while and then move on, so my closet is full of tools for everything from acrylic painting to paper making to knitting, wood working and clay sculpting.