January 2020


Michelle Bao

Michelle Bao (center, behind mascot) at last year's Spread The Love event, hosted by The Society.  

Student Profile

Bao Finds First Leadership Opportunity in Honors 

“Try to get involved.”

These are familiar words for first-year students as they step on Purdue’s campus. But what do they really mean?

As an incoming freshman, Michelle Bao says she wasn’t sure herself, but Honors College and Residences provided her with an opportunity to find out. Honors features numerous clubs and opportunities available to students living within the two buildings. It was at the residence’s involvement fair, held at the beginning of the school year to highlight options available for students, that Bao began to realize how she could get involved.  

“I was going around the involvement fair, but the people at the hall club were just extremely friendly and stuck out to me and I really liked the group,” says Bao. “I went to their first meeting and I just kept going. Then my involvement grew from there.”

Bao began attending meetings regularly, providing input and helping to plan events. Eventually, she began volunteering for events and then working for longer hours at those events. During the spring, she was elected as the public relations chair of the hall club, known as The Society. Her duties as public relations chair primarily revolved around promoting upcoming club events.

Bao became interested in applying for executive board, but wasn’t sure which role would be the best fit. After some nudging from her hall club advisor and other club members, she ran for president and earned the title for the 2019-20 school year.

The step into the role of president was significant for Bao, who says it was her first leadership opportunity. So far, she says she has found it to be a fulfilling experience.

“I do a lot, but I think it’s very rewarding too,” says Bao. “In club meetings when everyone is listening and giving input, I always try hard to include everyone and give everyone a job so they feel like they’re included. I think coming in, I was really doubting my abilities, but now I don’t nearly as much. I really enjoy it!”

Events are one of the ways The Society interacts with residents in Honors. One of the most successful events from fall semester was a gingerbread making competition, which featured a large number of entries from throughout Honors. Other events organized by the Society that Bao has been a part of have included a Super Smash Brothers and Mario Kart Tournament, a Lunar New Year party and a cookies and painting event.

“All of the events are fun because the goal of the club is to build community throughout the residence hall, so all of the events are socially focused,” says Bao. “We try to bring people together from different majors who are living in the residence hall. I really like that aspect of it.”

One of the interesting aspects of Honors that the club leverages to connect with its residents is through the “house” system. In Honors, each floor is essentially a group that can collaboratively earn points for their house by participating in events hosted in the two halls and attending career fairs, callouts and more. Participation in these events is submitted through a mobile app. Each house can then earn rewards based on how many points have been accumulated throughout the year. Rewards include ice cream and pizza parties. The top points scorer at the end of each semester earns a house scarf.

A welcoming culture is one of the aspects of living in Honors Bao says she is trying to continue to foster. It was that culture that Bao says made her feel like she was welcome to get involved in the first place.

“I remember feeling like the option to get involved was always there,” says Bao. “It felt like I was doing something that had a purpose instead of just attending meetings and then going home and doing homework. It felt like I was contributing and I really enjoyed that.”

One of the changes Bao and her executive board have made is to separate the club into committees. Each committee is headed by an executive board member. Bao says this offers more opportunities within the club for leadership and gets more members involved through hands-on participation in club processes and activities.

Bao, currently a sophomore, says she is considering staying involved in leadership within Honors in some capacity as she pursues a degree in animal sciences with a concentration in pre-veterinary medicine. Her goal is to get into veterinary school and eventually pursue a specialization in the treatment of reptiles, amphibians and rodents.

In the immediate future, Bao says she is excited about Spread the Love, an annual event hosted in Honors that focuses on love of self and love of community. Campus and community organizations offer different activities that focus on self-love and care, as well as demonstrating that care within a community. Popular aspects of past events have included a visit from Pet-A-Puppy, making stress balls, and the creation of a worry wall where attendees could write their own worries and respond to those of others.

The campus community is invited to attend Spread the Love, which will be held March 8 from 1-5 p.m. in Honors Colleges and Residences. The event will feature a performance by The Crazy Monkeys, Purdue’s premiere student improv comedy group. Everyone in the Purdue community is welcome to attend.

   Randi Purvis - Beth Bostwick

Randi Purvis (left) with Beth Bostwick, founding member of the International Council of Purdue Women, during Bostwick's stay as Executive-in-Residence.  

Staff Profile

Purvis Works to Engage, Welcome Purdue Community to University Residences

In many ways, the services provided by the University Residences Alumni and Guest Center serve as the face of University Residences. Located in Cary Quad, The Alumni and Guest Center welcomes prospective and admitted students, parents, alumni, retirees and other guests to campus for room tours and more. 

Randi Purvis, manager of guest relations for the Alumni and Guest Center, is one of the individuals who ensures that the wide range of visitors feel at home with University Residences – whether they’re getting their first impression or coming to campus with a lifetime of pride in being a Boilermaker.

“I have the unique position of seeing the students as they’re interested in Purdue, from that very first spark of where they could see themselves at Purdue, to the connection our alumni and retirees have and will always have with Purdue,” says Purvis.

The power of that connection is evident to Purvis in the interactions she has with visitors, no matter what stage of their Purdue journey they happen to be in.

“The sense of identity, culture and tradition just permeates everything that happens on campus. It’s so exciting and energizing,” says Purvis. “The groups of people I get to interact with – incoming students and prospective students, parents, alumni, retirees – the reason that they come around is because that energy is still present.”

Part of Purvis’ work includes representing University Residences on the Purdue Recruitment Council, which is made up of administrators from across campus, including the Office of Admissions, International Students and Scholars, the Office of the Registrar and more. Purvis’ work as the liaison for campus housing ensures that all areas of the University are informed and up-to-date on the latest housing options, procedures and more. She additionally heads up the recruiting force for housing, which deploys a travel team that partners with Office of Admissions representatives who travel across the country to present for prospective and admitted students and their parents. Purvis is also involved with coordinating the housing component of major visit days for prospective and admitted students, such as Purdue’s for Me and Fall Preview Days.

Purvis has served Purdue since joining University Residences as a Residential Life manager in Tarkington Hall in January 2012. She also served in a similar position in Hawkins Hall and worked as an office manager and project coordinator in the University Residences administrative offices before taking on her current role.

In addition to all the work she does behind the scenes to ensure a positive visit with University Residences, Purvis also serves on the Executive-in-Residence committee. One of University Residences’ fastest-building programs, EiR provides opportunities for students to make connections with successful Purdue alumni in settings outside of the classroom. The hallmark of the program is the one-on-one time mentorship students receive from executives in various settings, ranging from residence halls to dining courts and basketball courts.  

One of the most interesting parts of the interactions provided by EiR, Purvis says, is the way students and executives can see a bit of themselves in each other.

“For both the alumni and the students, they kind of get to see that they’re almost mirrors for each other,” says Purvis. “The students are able to look at the alumni and say ‘I can be that. I can do that.’ And the alumni can look at the students and say ‘I was that.’”

Serving on the committee and helping produce these interactions is a valuable component of Purvis’ work. 

“It re-energizes me and solidifies that I’m in the right place,” says Purvis. “I’m helping provide a platform for these stories to be shared and connections to be made. I like to take a step back when the executives are here and just see those connections start to take place. There’s just a sense of pride and I feel even more part of the Purdue community after seeing that kind of growth happen.”

One of the additional projects the Alumni and Guest Center is involved with is creating a centralized database for the name plates of all alumni who graduated from University Residences. The end goal is to be able to find the name plate of any alum and take them over to see their room when they visit. 

“People come back just to see their name plate or show their kids where they lived,” says Purvis. “I’ve had students who have a goal to graduate from the room that one of their parents lived in. How cool is that?”

Whether someone is seeking a future room, experiencing the joys of having a home on campus or returning to Purdue for a visit, there’s a good chance Purvis has helped make their experience a reality. Alumni readers are encouraged to stop by the Alumni and Guest Center, located in Cary Quad, to reconnect with their campus home. 



 Purdue Day of Giving

Upcoming Event

"Meet The Challenge" on Purdue Day of Giving

University Residences invites you to "Meet the Challenge" on Purdue Day of Giving, scheduled for Wednesday, April 29. 

Purdue Day of Giving is a 24-hour university effort to promote Purdue pride and give back in ways that help build a better, stronger, more affordable Purdue. You can help by supporting the programs that contributed to your University Residences expeirence. Donations can be directed towards leadership programs, such as Men's and Women's Leadership Series and Jay Severson Retreat; residence halls and hall clubs; RAISE awards, which provide financial assistance for resident assistants; or any other areas a donor may be interested in supporting. Day of Giving is a chance for you to make a lasting impact on future generations of Boilermakers through their continued participation in University Residences programs. 

Day of Giving isn't just a fundraising opportunity – it's also a chance for you to show your Purdue pride by participating in social media challenges. You can help support University Residences on April 29 by sharing photos of your pets or children in Purdue gear, sharing a creative Purdue selfie and more. All that's required is a public social media account and the inclusion of the hashtags #PurdueDayofGiving and #PurdueUR with your post. These challenges can help University Residences win bonus funds and give you bragging rights for having the most spirited Purdue post. 

Stay tuned for more information on social media challenges and opportunities to "Meet the Challenge" by ensuring a great University Residences experience for future Boilermakers. 

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

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

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