He may be a student still in search of how he will use the degree he has loved earning, but there's no doubt the business world already believes there's something special about Duke Walter.
Walter, a senior communication major with an emphasis in theatre, is a well-known face in the Southeast Kansas theatre circle. After growing up in the strong arts community of Iola, Kan., Walter began working part-time on his degree in 1997 and has been involved in PSU's theatre scene ever since. Most recently, he starred in the PSU production of "Woman in Mind."
Set to graduate next semester, Walter has acquired valuable experience at PSU not only in theatre, but also in music and television production. Now, as manager of the Red Oak Steakhouse at Downstream Casino in Quapaw, Okla., he can add business management experience to his list of skills, too.
"We're constantly innovating," Walter said of Red Oak, which is billed as premier steakhouse between Kansas City and Dallas. "Our standards of excellence are higher than anywhere else. It's obvious to me what customers expect out of my people, and it's something we deliver."
With prime-cut, wet and dry aged steaks, Walter said the premium menu of meats and wines is backed up by experienced chefs and flavor profiles unlike any other restaurant in the region, making it a unique dining experience - and for him, a very special job.
Between his experiences in entertainment and in business, what this father of two knows is that his degree in communication can take him anywhere - from the stage to the management office; from the one receiving direction to the one giving it.
"I've learned I can do anything with my degree that I put my mind to," he said. "The things I've learned - collaboration, interpersonal communication - those are things that every business and every employer are looking for. I don't think people realize what a gem the communication department is at PSU. Here, you get working experience from your first semester."
(In photo: Duke Walter as the character Andy in PSU's most recent production, "Woman in Mind.")