Blue Devil of the Week: Rocker Blends Creativity and Web Design
Name: Sissi Schulmeister-Antona
Title: Web Administrator for Social Science Research Institute
Years at Duke: 5
Meet Sissi's Nominator
Courtney Orning, the director of communications for the Social Science Research Institute, nominated Schulmeister-Antona for Blue Devil of the Week. In her nomination, she said Schulmeister-Antona is “an amazing coworker who does it all for our clients: marketing materials, videos, web, print – really goes above and beyond.”
What she does: The Austrian-born Schulmeister-Antona came to the U.S. in 1991 and ended up staying after landing a spot as the bass player in the New York-based punk band Alice Donut. After spending the better part of the 1990s touring and recording, the band members settled down and Schulmeister-Antona focused her curiosity on web design.
After taking classes and carving out a freelance career, Schulmeister-Antona, who relocated to Durham with her husband, landed a position with Duke’s Social Science Research Institute.
As web administrator, her job is to build and maintain web pages for institute’s many projects and research areas.
In doing so, she aims to balance the needs of her clients, Duke’s style guidelines and her personal style that features bold graphics and big text. She also tries to weave in new features such as the background video on the page for Duke’s Master in Interdisciplinary Data Science.
“I always try to do new things and stay on the cutting edge of the development side and design side,” Schulmeister-Antona said about what she enjoys about web design. “It’s problem solving, but it’s also creative.”
What I love about Duke: “I like that there’s a lot of diversity and that Duke has so many aspects to it,” Schulmeister-Antona said. “It’s not just a university or a hospital.”
Schulmeister-Antona’s two children are involved with the Duke String School and said she and her family also enjoy catching music and theatre performances as well as the occasional women’s basketball game.
“There are a lot of things you can do when you’re not working that are a part of Duke,” Schulmeister-Antona said.
Before her career at Duke, Sissi Schulmeister-Antona played bass in the rock band Alice Donut.
A memorable day at work: When Schulmeister-Antona arrived at Duke, her office was in Erwin Mill. Three years later, her team was moved to its current home in a sleek, glassed-in portion of Gross Hall.
Schulmeister-Antona fondly remembers the day she got an early look her future office. “We went on a hardhat tour,” Schulmeister-Antona said. “That was really fun. They would say ‘This is going to be your office, this is going to be the kitchen, this is going to be a meeting room.’ That was fun.”
Meaningful object in her workspace: Schulmeister-Antona does plenty of work in the content management system known as Drupal. Her workspace features several souvenirs she picked up during her trips to DrupalCon, the annual convention for Drupal pros.
“We’re a Drupal shop,” Schulmeister-Antona said. “It’s part of the community.”
First ever job: “When I was 12 I started playing bass. My brother was playing drums. We were in a cover band of neighborhood kids.
Schulmeister-Antona said one of the first songs the band figured out how to play, and thus one that got played often at its shows, was Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.”
“That’s the one we just played over and over,” she said.
Best advice: “I think every cloud has a silver lining,” Schulmeister-Antona said. “Stuff can go wrong, but I try to see the positive in things.”
Something that most people don’t know about her: In recent years, Schulmeister-Antona has picked up crocheting. Friends, family and colleagues have been known to receive scarves, hats and gloves.
While she learned how to do it in school, the habit blossomed two years ago when her son asked her to make a Teddy Bear in the Japanese knitting style Amigurumi. She gave it a shot and, after some initial hiccups, got hooked.
“I couldn’t figure out the pattern, so I went on YouTube,” Schulmeister-Antona said. “After that, it was so much fun. It was like solving puzzles but it also relaxes me.”
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