Catching up with...Katherine DeSieno

Publication Date
The DeSienos -- from left, Lena, Kay, Colin and Matt - ride to the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis during their summer vacation.

The DeSienos—from left, Lena, Kay, Colin and Matt—ride to the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis during their summer vacation.

Katherine (Kay) DeSieno joined the Office of Admissions in summer 2014 after she moved to upstate New York from New Jersey.

“I could see myself at Union because it had the strong sense of community and commitment to student-faculty relationships for undergraduates that I loved about my previous experiences,” she said. “Union students make the most of the unique opportunities here; they don’t take them for granted.”

As senior associate dean of admissions, DeSieno travels throughout the country for college fairs and recruitment visits to bring the best and brightest to the Union campus.

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In addition, she works closely with the Office of Communications and Marketing to create print, email and other materials. A self-described word nerd, she feels a strong sense of satisfaction when brochures, postcards and the like roll off the presses…and when she catches a misspelled word or misplaced punctuation mark right before going to print.

“I really enjoy helping to shape high-quality pieces that capture the student experience and the essence of a Union education,” she said.

A native of Long Island who grew up in New Hampshire, DeSieno studied English, history and philosophy at the University of Delaware, and then went on to spend seven years in admissions at The College of New Jersey.

“I had just about every admissions job you can have while a college student, from tour guide to office assistant, and that’s how I found my career path,” she said.

DeSieno lives in Delmar with her husband Matt, a chemical engineer and senior manager at Regeneron, and their children, Lena, 7, and Colin, 5. Even with all of the traveling she does for work, she enjoys getting back on the road with her family and exploring different parts of the country.

“Growing up, our go-to vacations were always history-focused, so I still incorporate that into travels with my kids now. I don’t think that I’ve ever read a memoir or watched a documentary that I didn’t like. Learning about people, their part of the world, and the era they grew up in from their own points of view is fascinating.”

FIRST APP YOU LOOK AT IN THE MORNING: Email and calendar. For better or worse, it gets me in the mindset for what the day is going to look like at work and with evening kids’ activities.

GO-TO BREAKFAST: I’m not really a breakfast person because I don’t like eggs or oatmeal, so it’s usually just coffee (hot or iced) with milk and sugar.

LAST GREAT BOOK YOU READ? “Such a Fun Age” by Kiley Reid

BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED: “Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind; the race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.” My fellow millennials will remember this is a line from “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen),” but it has always stuck with me.

FAVORITE PLACE TO VISIT: Sea Isle City, N.J. We go every year, and when we skipped it in 2020 due to COVID, I fully realized that summer doesn’t feel like summer without a trip down the shore.

WHAT ARE YOU WATCHING RIGHT NOW?: I’m rewatching all of “Downton Abbey.” It’s fun to binge a show you originally watched in real-time and see how it changes your impression of the characters or the story.

ONE SKILL YOU WISH YOU HAD: I can think of so many, but I’ll have to say French braiding. I would love to be able to braid my hair or my daughter’s, but can’t seem to get better at it no matter how much I practice.

THREE DINNER PARTY GUESTS (living or deceased): My mother’s father, who I’d love to meet because he died before I was born; Dolly Parton, because there’s so much more to her than meets the eye; and Trevor Noah, for his sharp wit on the variety of topics I’m sure would come up during this dinner party.

FIRST CONCERT: Goo Goo Dolls, Third Eye Blind and Vanessa Carlton at the former Tweeter Center in Mansfield, Mass. in 2002

LITTLE KNOWN FACT ABOUT YOU: Most of my colleagues know that my husband and I have the goal of seeing a game at all 30 Major League Baseball ballparks – we added Kansas City and St. Louis to the list this summer – but not as many people know that I’m also trying to visit the national historic sites of all the U.S. presidents. So far, I’ve been to 19 stadiums and sites for 25 presidents, including Union’s own Chester Arthur (Class of 1848).