Cindy Reilly has had adventures on five continents… so far!
Name: Cindy Reilly
Position: Student services manager, Public Health Leadership Program
Time at the Gillings School: Almost three years (I was at UNC’s School of Medicine for five years before coming here.)
What I do at UNC Gillings (and why I love it): I work with Master of Public Health (MPH) students from the very beginning, during recruitment and admission, all the way through graduation. I help them decide if the Gillings School is a good fit, guide them through class enrollment, provide answers and resources for them while they’re here, and clear them for graduation.
What I like most about my work is that I get to engage with students throughout their time in our School. I really enjoy seeing the students’ excitement as they begin their MPH and helping them navigate their time in graduate school. Watching our students walk at commencement is always a treat.
My first full-time job after college: was working for the J. Walter Thompson Advertising Agency in Chicago’s John Hancock Building. I worked in the broadcast media department, which bought radio and television ads for clients such as Kraft, Lever Bros., 7-Up, etc. It was an exciting company to work for. I realized why Chicago is called the Windy City the first time I discovered ropes along the sidewalk leading from the street to the building entrance. Those tall buildings cause a tunnel effect so strong that, on super windy days, people actually have to grab onto the ropes for stability. (I only made the mistake of wearing a wrap-around skirt once while working there!)
I lived in the Chicago suburbs and took a commuter train, followed by a city bus, to get to work. One day, I decided to add some excitement to my journey. Instead of catching the city bus after getting off the train, I took a ferry that carries commuters down the Chicago River. It was an amazing feeling to be on a boat before even starting the day’s work!
When I’m not at work: I like to travel. My son Tarik joined a pharmaceutical company in Switzerland after finishing his postdoc there, and it’s a wonderful country to visit. My daughter, Alia, travels a lot for her work as well. (She earned her bachelor’s degree from the Gillings School’s environmental sciences and engineering department!) Now, she has a doctoral degree and does field research, and sometimes she invites me to use her frequent flyer miles and join her on an adventure. We’ve been backpacking in Patagonia, scuba diving in Australia and rappelling in New Zealand. Last time I went to Switzerland, both my kids were there to celebrate my birthday — they surprised me with a paragliding trip across the Swiss Alps!
Something I dream of doing: is visiting the two continents I haven’t seen yet: Africa and Antarctica. Alia sometimes works out of McMurdo Station in Antarctica and she jokes about hiring me as a field assistant, so maybe I’ll make it there sooner rather than later!
If I could wake up tomorrow having mastered one new ability: I’d be an accomplished pianist. My mother was a piano teacher, and I’m one of those classic stories of a child who resisted practicing and regrets it as an adult. It would be an amazing gift if I could play by ear and be able to sit down at a piano with a repertoire of songs at my fingertips.
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