September 2018

  Keertana Chirra

Keertana Chirra (bottom row, second from right) and fellow resident assistants enjoy a weekend trip to Iceland.  

Student Profile

Chirra's RA Experience All About the Relationships 

Keertana Chirra’s path to becoming a resident assistant has been influenced by a desire to become involved in her hall community and build relationships. She recalls spending a lot of time talking to RAs and hall staff members, who pushed her to apply for a position. One conversation in particular with a member of the hall staff stands out. 

“She joked with me that RAs get a really nice office, but you have to be in it 24/7,” says Chirra. “To many people that’s scary, but to me it was exciting because I would always get to talk to people and truly get the full experience of being in a residence hall and more.”

Now starting her second year as a resident assistant in Hillenbrand Hall, Chirra says the relationships she’s formed have allowed her to get the full experience of residence hall living she craved. 

“It’s definitely the relationships because that was the primary reason I want to be an RA,” says Chirra.

Chirra’s introduction to Residence Life came as a freshman in Owen Hall, where she served as a senator in Hussar Club and worked as a manager for the hall’s front desk. The taste of involvement increased Chirra’s desire to become more active on campus and with Residence Life in particular. 

“I felt like I needed to get more involved and have a bigger impact,” says Chirra. “I thought that being a resident assistant was the way to go.”

After interviewing, Chirra was initially tabbed to be an alternate RA, meaning that another resident assistant position would have to open up for her to serve full-time in that capacity. Luckily for her, that opening came in Hillenbrand Hall when another resident assistant obtained a residence education assistant position. Chirra learned that she would be a RA in Hillenbrand Hall 10 days before the beginning of RA training in 2017. 

“It was one of the most exciting pieces of news I’ve gotten,” says Chirra.

In her first year in Hillenbrand, Chirra’s residents were primarily juniors and seniors. That environment created a situation that not only allowed Chirra to serve as a mentor for certain aspects of her resident’s lives, but to receive advice from older students on issues they had more experience with. This year, Chirra’s residents are primarily composed of sophomores (70 percent) and first-year students. Regardless of the ages of her residents, Chirra says the culture residents create in Hillenbrand is one of the reasons she enjoys being a RA.

“What sets Hillenbrand apart is the people,” says Chirra. “The activities that happen are truly successful because our residents are looking for them and really want to be there to do something for our community. People come here not only to live, but to make a community after they’re finished being in a freshman hall. They want to continue that open-door kind of experience that they want to be involved in.”  

One of the ways Chirra has engaged her residents is by sharing her love for tennis. Chirra, a native of North Brunswick, N.J., initially became interested in Purdue University through a former high school tennis teammate who attended the University and shared pictures of the tennis courts with her. Chirra has shared that love of tennis on Tennis Tuesdays, when residents join her for both instruction and friendly competition on the court. 

Chirra’s relationships with her residents, past and present, have already led to experiences beyond the University. While working an internship in Cincinnati last summer, Chirra was able to meet a former Hillenbrand resident who lived in the area for dinner regularly. Chirra was also part of a group of nine resident assistants who traveled to Iceland together over a weekend last year, making memories and strengthening the bonds between them. Helping the current group of Hillenbrand residents maintain similar relationships is something Chirra says is important to her. 

“One of my biggest goals that I hope to achieve is to help those connections stay beyond me – that they make lasting connections and truly grow and get to know themselves,” says Chirra. 

In addition to the relationships built, Chirra says she will have many takeaways from her resident assistant experience. She says time management, learning to be by herself more and maintaining flexibility in her schedule when things don’t go as planned are among the skills she says will stick with her after she graduates. It’s the bonds she’s built and plans to continue to maintain, however, that best characterize her experience as a RA.

“I think I will put in the time to stay in touch with everyone after they graduate,” says Chirra. “It’s something I truly treasure from my experience at Purdue.”

Chirra will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Science in Multidisciplinary Engineering, with an emphasis in mechanical and robotics engineering. 

  Hillenbrand 25th Anniversary

Upcoming Event Profile

Celebrate 25th Anniversary of Hillenbrand Hall at Tailgate

University Residences is hosting a tailgate for alumni to celebrate the 25thAnniversary of Hillenbrand Hall Saturday, October 20. 

The event will offer the opportunity to celebrate the Giant Leap that marked the opening of Hillenbrand Hall in 1993. We will also celebrate Terry Courts and Fowler Courts for making the opening of Hillenbrand possible. The event will also include a look into the next Giant Leap the residence hall will be a part of for University Residences. 

University Residences and Purdue Dining & Catering staff, past and present, along with Hillenbrand Hall, Terry and Fowler Courts alumni will be on hand to share memories. Featured special guests and speakers will include:

John Richardson, retired first general manager of Hillenbrand Hall

Sarah Johnson, retired director of Residential Dining

Dr. Jonathan Manz, director of Residential Academic Initiatives

The tailgate with a savory menu will be held on the front lawn of Hillenbrand Hall. The time of the tailgate will be announced once kickoff time for the football game between Purdue and Ohio State scheduled for the same day is announced. 

We invite all alumni of Hillenbrand Hall as well as Terry and Fowler Courts to join us for a day of memories and a look ahead at the future. Attendees are asked to RSVP by Sunday, October 12 at the following link:


  Marc Swanson

Marc Swanson addresses students and staff at an event held in the 1869 Tap Room in Purdue Memorial Union. 

Alumni Profile

Swanson, Omholt Kick Off Fall Executive-in-Residence Program

The Executive-in-Residence program has already gotten off to a strong start this semester, with two programs already in the books.

Marc Swanson, chief financial officer of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., and Dave Omholt, CEO and founder of The Entrepreneur Authority each visited campus for five days as part of the program. Students took advantage of one-on-one sessions to meet with Swanson and Omholt to discuss topics pertinent to their areas of expertise and receive career advice. These one-on-one sessions are a key component of the Executive-in-Residence program.

Swanson also shared his personal and professional story with students and staff at an event in the 1869 Tap Room. Swanson discussed his journey from Purdue University and how his passion for theme parks and animals led to professional experience with Sesame Place, Busch Entertainment Corporation and, eventually, his current role with SeaWorld Entertainment. Additionally, Swanson presented and held a conversation on the importance of open and honest communication in the work place during a separate luncheon in Ford Dining Court. 

Dave Omholt

 Dave Omholt speaks with students at a dinner with Cornerstone Neighborhood Residents. 

Omholt’s stay on campus also included a dinner conversation with residents of the Cornerstone neighborhood in Earhart Dining court. Omholt shared his experience and engaged students in discussion on servant leadership, drawing from his own personal and professional experiences. 

The Executive-in-Residence program exists to provide opportunities for students to make connections with successful Purdue alumni, While executives are serving “in residence,” students engage with them through both formal presentations and informal interactions. Executives live among the students, immersing themselves in the student experience.

Two more Executive-in-Residence sessions are scheduled for the fall semester. Steve Furry, CEO and founder of Catalyst Healthcare Advisors, will be on campus October 17-23 while Drew Mattison, executive leader in business development at Slalom, will visit from November 1-7. For more information on Executive-in-Residence, please visit:

Writer: Matt Vader | Editors: Tammy Loew, Renee Kashawlic, Danielle Fawbush

Editorial Board: Barb Frazee, Tammy Loew, Renee Kashawlic | Inquiries Contact:

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