GetReConnected

December 2017


Bill and Barbara Rakosnik

Alumni Profile

Couple Reflects on Life Lessons from Campus Experience

Bill Rakosnik remembers the day he first saw his future wife, Barbara, on Purdue’s campus in September of 1966. 

“I saw her walking with a guy I knew and so I asked him later, ‘who was that you were with?’” he recalled. “It turns out she was his lab partner. I got her phone number and we had our first date October 8. I took her to the Saturday night Victory Variety show in the Hall of Music”

Victory Variety shows were popular events on campus in their heyday, bringing big-name performers to the Elliot Hall of Music. Barbara recalled performances by household names such as Bob Hope, Louis Armstrong and Steve Lawrence.

That date was the first of many as their relationship blossomed over the course of the next three-plus years. Bill and Barbara spent many afternoons and evenings attending various events on campus, including concerts, ballet and opera in Elliot Hall of Music, movies and chamber music concerts in Fowler Hall, plays in Loeb Playhouse and football and basketball games. The couple were also in attendance for Neil Armstrong’s speech in Mackey Arena, held weeks after Armstrong’s return from becoming the first man to walk on the moon. Between all the opportunities and events, Bill and Barbara still found time to while away walking around campus and meeting to walk to church on Sundays.

Both Bill and Barbara dedicated themselves to schoolwork and involvement in the campus community. Each served as a resident assistant, then known as hall counselors. Barbara, a year younger than Bill, studied home economics and helped build Homecoming floats in Meredith Hall. She had a particular interest in architecture and took a number of classes related to interior design and landscaping.

“I remember having a class with a Professor Smith,” Barbara said. “He had a saying that nobody got 100 percent on his exam. He had to go back and grade mine a few times to try to find something wrong with it, but I was happy to get my 99 percent.”

Meanwhile, Bill studied mechanical engineering, spent time working as an engineer in the campus radio station, then located in Owen Hall, and was an active member of the Purdue Reamer Club. As a member of the Reamers, Bill created “Give the Ball to LeRoy” pins in honor of LeRoy Keyes, a star on the Boilermaker football team who was later named the school’s “All-Time Greatest Player” in 1987. The pins caught the eye of Keyes, who struck up a cordial relationship with Bill and Barbara as a result.

Bill completed his mechanical engineering degree and with Barbara still needing to complete her final year of school, returned to Purdue and earned a Master’s degree in industrial administration from the Krannert School of Business.

Barbara graduated in June 1970, with Bill following in August. Upon graduation, the couple were married in Purdue’s University Lutheran Church in 1970.

The couple then moved to Endicott, N.Y., where Bill worked for IBM. He started as a systems analyst and spent 30 years in a variety of management roles. He was a part of the company’s earliest recycling efforts, which involved stripping precious metals from old equipment for resale.

Barbara, meanwhile, worked as a draftsman for a local architect before working to raise her and Bill’s two sons. She later enjoyed what she calls her “second career” as an award-winning embroidery designer. The opportunity began when she submitted samples of her needlework to the Embroiderer’s Guild of America. She later taught for national, regional and international seminars, including a memorable trip to New Zealand.

Bill recalls that lessons learned at Purdue carried him through his career and adult life.

“After being an RA, it’s really interesting how those lessons carry on later in life,” Bill said. “You don’t think about it at the time, but the kinds of things you do – working with all kinds of people, problem solving and more – all of those skills are really important and they do apply.”

Despite not being able to routinely return to Purdue until recently, Bill and Barbara remained active in the Alumni Association. It was their experience living and working in the residences however, that led to the couple taking a more active role with University Residences as retirees.

“I remember when we were at the dedication of the Honors College, we heard about goals to ‘academicize’ the residence halls and make them not just a place to live, but a place to study,” said Bill. “We support that and we’re very pleased to be in a position where we can be involved.”

The couple sponsors a RAISE Fund scholarship, used to offer free tuition on behalf of nearly 300 resident assistants annually. Bill and Barbara were able to return last spring to see the scholarship awarded to a resident assistant from Third Street Suites.

Bill and Barbara currently reside in Watkinsville, Ga. They have two sons and three grandchildren.

Writer: Matt Vader


Michaela Kapraun

Student Spotlight

Student Realizes RA Goal and More

For Michaela Kapraun, it all started with a desire to become a resident assistant.

“Before I knew what college I wanted to go to, I knew I wanted to be an RA,” said Kapraun, a senior from Lake Zurich, Ill. “My sister was one, so I’d heard about being an RA from her. I was also the captain of my track team in high school and all of the girls were younger than me, so I was like the team Mom. My teammates would tell me I should be an RA.”

Kapraun attained her goal of becoming an RA as a junior and has served in that role in Wiley Hall each of the last two years. Her success was jumpstarted by early leadership roles. Kapraun served on the executive board in Meredith Hall as a freshman and was later elected President of the hall, a role she filled for one semester before pursuing a Disney internship and studying abroad in the Netherlands.

Kapraun’s leadership roles haven’t been limited to her own residence halls. She has participated in and helped plan the Jay Severson Student Leadership retreat each of her four years at Purdue. She has also volunteered with regional and national residence association conferences as a member of National Residence Hall Honorary.

“A lot of it I started doing to become an RA, but I fell in love with it and just continued to do more,” said Kapraun. “The most rewarding and the most life-changing things I have done in college are from University Residences, which is why I did so much.”

One of the most challenging roles Kapraun played was as volunteer coordinator for the National Association of College and University Residence Halls (NACURH) conference at Purdue in 2017. Kapraun was responsible for the scheduling and oversight of 100 volunteers, who combined to complete more than 1,500 hours of service over the course of the four-day conference.

The multitude of roles Kapraun has filled have allowed her opportunities she says she wouldn’t have gotten simply through her academic program.

“In Hall clubs and University Residences, you actually get to do things,” said Kapraun. “I was able to get leadership positions as a freshman and as a sophomore. With a lot of other stuff, you have to wait until you’re a junior or senior to get on the executive board.”

Her experiences at Purdue are something Kapraun is constantly referring to, whether it be socially or in the pursuit of her desired career. 

“Being an RA and being President were the two hardest things I did in college,” said Kapraun. “I think I learned more from those than I did in the classroom. I can use the experience of being an RA with anything.” 

Kapraun’s experiences at Purdue have shifted her desire from the hospitality field into human resources. She already has a job lined up in human resources with a hotel company, but continues to pursue graduate school options in the meantime. 

Writer: Matt Vader


Laura Cabamalan

Employee Profile

University Residences Employee Guides Student Tour Success

Laura Cabamalan knows that the sheer number of prospective students visiting campus can be staggering.

Consider Purdue University’s fall 2017 freshman class of 7,567 students. When these individuals toured campus as prospective students, there was a lot of information to take in — everything from admissions procedures and financial aid, to a campus tour and hearing about housing options. It’s a lot of information to take in for these prospective students, so the messages have to be precise and personable.

That’s where Cabamalan’s team of  more than 50 student tour guides, ambassadors and coordinators in the University Residences Alumni and Guest Center come in to play. Cabamalan’s students present to three groups in each of the four campus tours per day, as well as speak with large groups on program days.  

“We are very specific on only having a certain amount of time,” said Cabamalan. “I think it’s about seven minutes to give a talk. The students are the ones who do all the tours. Being a student themselves, they can relate and give their own, personal experiences.”

Cabamalan’s staff are among the first people prospective students get to interact with when they come to campus. Her goal is to develop each student employee to reach their full potential by empowering their decision-making abilities. Oftentimes, that approach involves using students to problem-solve any issues that may arise.

“I always ask them to come to me with an example of a solution to something that is going on, and then we talk about it and see the different outcomes that could happen with it,” Cabamalan said. “I facilitate a discussion with them and let them really decide and figure out what would be best for the tour guides. I give my input as their mentor and play devil’s advocate.”

A native of Norwich, England, Cabamalan came to the United States in 2005 on an F1 visa to attend school and live with her parents, who had immigrated to Seattle, Wash. Cabamalan attended community college for two years before completing her degree at University of Washington. She just completed her first semester in her role as engagement specialist in the University Residences Alumni and Guest Center, where she began working in July.

Cabamalan is looking forward to a busy spring semester, one which she anticipates will see a major increase in drop-in visits as well as regularly-scheduled campus tours and 16 program days. In addition to her work in the Guest Center, Cabamalan also serves on the committees for University Residences’ men’s and women’s leadership series.

Cabamalan says the energy of working with students is what drives her enthusiasm and success in her position.

“I love working with the students,” said Cabamalan. “They are so refreshing and they make me laugh so much. I love seeing them really enjoy what they do. They’re so great at giving tours and interacting with families.”

Writer: Matt Vader