Wake Harper’s interests range from cricket to a spectacular 15-hour opera.
Name: Wake Harper
Position: Student services assistant, Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering
Time at UNC Gillings: More than four years
What I do at the Gillings School: I work with students throughout their time here. I administer the admissions process, help them register for classes, support them with everyday concerns and problems, and navigate them through all the University’s paperwork so they can graduate.
I’m originally from: New Zealand. I was raised in Auckland. Both my parents are American citizens, though. I grew up in the suburbs, so it wasn’t all rolling hills and hobbit holes. I came to UNC to study in 2008. After earning a master’s degree in library science, I worked at the School of Information and Library Science for a while before transferring here to Gillings. I do miss my family, the beautiful country and the less heated political environment.
Something most people don’t know about me: is that I studied Russian as an undergraduate and, four years ago, took a trip to visit Russia, Finland and Estonia. I could still make out most of the Cyrillic script on the Russian signs, but speaking was more of a challenge.
I also play cricket, which I talked about a bit in an article on the School’s Culture of Health initiative. I played it growing up and was never all that good at it, but it’s been fun to reconnect with the sport through my league, which is based in Morrisville.
Classical music is another lifelong passion of mine. Last year, I went to Washington, D.C., to see Wagner’s Ring Cycle. It’s a series of four operas that are all linked by the same story. (Together, they last for more than 15 hours!) The Ring Cycle is very rarely performed as whole because it requires a massive orchestra and makes huge demands of the singers, so it’s an event whenever it happens anywhere around the world. I remember there was a man sitting in my row who had traveled from Japan to see it live.
My very first job: was covering a paper delivery route. I was 14 and had to wake up at 5:30 a.m. every morning! After that, I worked in a chain bookstore and a university library. That happened by mere coincidence, but I do love reading. I grew up surrounded by books. What am I reading right now? It’s called “The Three-Body Problem” – it’s part of a Chinese science fiction series.
The thing I’m looking forward to most in the next year: is visiting China. My fiancée is Chinese. After we get married in the States, we plan to travel to her hometown and have a huge celebration with her family and friends.