GetReConnected

January 2019


    

Devin DeBoth

Devin DeBoth (second from right) and the rest of the RHA Executive Board with advisor Toni Gordon at the Rainbow Call-out, a welcome and resource fair for the LGBTQA+ and ally community at Purdue University. 

Student Profile

DeBoth Imagines Inclusive Future for University Residences

As a University Residences Tour Ambassador, Devin DeBoth is one of the first Purdue students visiting high school students interact with when they arrive at the University Residences Alumni and Guest Center.

DeBoth has a lot to cover about the basics of college – the residence hall experience, Dining & Catering meal plans, roommate selection, the application process and general tips to having a positive experience on campus. Many of her conversations with prospective students revolve around day-to-day life that isn’t otherwise discussed during the typical tour of the University. 

DeBoth has a wealth of experiences to draw from as she interacts with visitors. In addition to serving as a Tour Ambassador, DeBoth is a resident assistant at Hilltop Apartments, a member of Residence Hall Association (RHA) and National Residence Hall Honorary, and serves on the Champion Heights and Dining & Catering advisory boards. She was previously a Tour Guide and has also participated in the Women’s Leadership Series.  

Whether it’s speaking with prospective students or building relationships with her 40 first-year students in Hilltop Apartments, DeBoth is committed to creating inclusive environments that allow individuals to thrive as themselves. One of the ways she is able to do this is by having conversations with her residents. This can be more of a challenge in apartment-style living, which generates fewer opportunities for daily interactions than traditional residence halls.  

“I get to have awesome conversations with my residents about what they are passionate about, who they are and what matters to them,” says DeBoth. “All of these are about them forming their identity and self-actualization.”

Part of University Residences’ celebration of Purdue’s 150th anniversary involves looking ahead and imagining what the next 150 years might look like in student living. Through her involvement in RHA, DeBoth answered a call-out from University Residences for students to provide feedback on what this future might look like. Some leaps into the future have already taken place with the development of learning communities and plans for residence hall construction. 

Evolving changes to the social aspect of campus living is another key component of the future of University Residences, something DeBoth is already a part of in her position as a resident assistant. In the past, resident assistants served primarily in a regulatory role by performing such actions as checking students in or patrolling the hallways at night. While some regulatory work is still part of the resident assistant position, there is now more of an emphasis for RAs to serve as catalysts for building community and inclusiveness. 

“I like the shift that we’re going through in promoting inclusivity and social justice,” says DeBoth, who is majoring in political communication with minors in human rights and environmental policy. “We’re building a true community based on authenticity, where everyone can bring what’s important to them or who they are to the table. I hope that continues.” 

Being involved in thinking about the future of University Residences and interacting with alumni at 150thanniversary events also served as a reminder to DeBoth to appreciate where she is right now.

“When you’re in the thick of it, you don’t realize how amazing Purdue is,” says DeBoth. “I think of how I have a million things to do today or how I’m so tired. When I hear alumni talk about how these were the greatest years of their lives I think ‘you’re right, I do love it.’”

No matter what the future brings, DeBoth sees great things ahead because of the commitment she sees across generations to the Boilermaker spirit. 

“Across all generations, there’s such a love and excitement for Purdue,” says DeBoth. “I think that’s timeless.” 


  Sarah Pitts

Sarah Pitts (left) with student and staff leaders at the Jay Severson Leadership Retreat.  

Student Profile

Pitts Realizes Leadership Potential Through Res Life Connections

Purdue senior Sarah Pitts has always been connected to Res Life at Purdue University in some way. 

As a third generation Boilermaker, Pitts has gold and black in her blood. Her parents, Steve and Donna, met as resident assistants at Fowler Courts during the 1980s. Stories shared from their time as resident assistants helped shape Sarah’s desire to apply for a position after two years on campus. 

“They talked a lot about getting to know students and having this effect of building that community, the experience it gave them, the leadership opportunities it gave them and being able to transfer that to their careers,” says Sarah. “I knew coming into college that I was really interested in becoming a RA. I heard how they benefitted a lot from that role and how it affected them in their current jobs, so I was really interested in the position.”

After two years on campus, Pitts obtained a RA position in Wiley Hall, which she has served in for two years. Being a resident assistant is far from the only leadership role Pitts has held, however. Pitts initially wanted to focus more on academics than community involvement at Purdue, but Harrison Hall’s Cavalier Club provided a foot in the door to Residential Life.  She became a programming coordinator and was later nominated to the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH) as a result of her work with the hall club.

It was in NRHH that doors really began to open for Pitts. After connecting with individuals on University Residences’ student leadership team, she was asked to assist in the planning of the National Association of College and University Residence Halls Conference (NACURH), hosted by Purdue in 2017. Pitts served as the dining and hospitality chair for the event, working to coordinate menus and meals for attendees, staff and volunteers. Time spent working on the conference has stuck out as a key component of Pitts’ Res Life experience.

“The NACURH conference was a transformative experience for my leadership development,” says Pitts. “There was a lot of very smart, skilled and able people on the conference staff and I was able to learn a lot from them. I’m very glad I was tabbed for that because without that experience, I don’t know where I would be.”

Pitts has sought an earned numerous leadership roles on campus. In addition to her aforementioned experiences, she has served as president of Hawkins Council, treasurer and marketing director for NRHH and hospitality and marketing chair for the Jay Severson Leadership Retreat. When not involved in her numerous roles in Res Life, Pitts is a member of the Paint Crew advisory board.  

“Res Life is so good about finding people they see potential in,” says Pitts. “Someone saw potential in me and helped build me and mold me into this leader that I am now. Leadership is something that has given me way more than I’ve given it.”

Pitts says she would advocate for students to be involved in student leadership because of the doors it can open, both in personal relationships and professional development. 

“People start in Res Life clubs and it leads them into other clubs, or helps them find their passion,” says Pitts. “Getting involved at the base level of a hall club helps you find your voice.”

The perspective gained through the unique opportunities provided by student leadership, Pitts says, has made her treat leadership as a habit. 

“I think leadership in Res Life is so different because, unlike other clubs, you live with this club,” says Pitts. “You’re in it every day, so it gives you a different leadership perspective because you’re always ‘on.’ It gives you this need to be a leader in every aspect of your life. I’m drawn to leadership for a reason, so I think I will be in the future in different roles and it will motivate me to be involved in my community.”

In the meantime Pitts continues to lead in her job as a resident assistant, using a shared love of food with her residents during a weekly snack night tradition as a way to build key relationships. An opportunity to prepare a Thanksgiving meal for students staying on campus over break arose, which resulted in students from Brazil bringing their own traditional dishes to share alongside the traditional American foods Pitts prepared.  

Pitts, a biochemistry major with a minor in political science, plans to pursue a master’s degree in food science after graduation.