April 2020


Harold Best

Harold Best, a service staff member from Wiley Hall. 

Employee Profile

Service Staff Continue to Rise to the Occasion

Service staff are an important part of the fabric of University Residences. These individuals are more than the work they perform within the residence halls. They are a smiling face or a greeting to a student every morning, someone a student can lean on for assistance, a consistent presence for someone who may be homesick and more.  

Below are some stories and quotes that show the ways in which service staff have continued to bond with students, band together and support each other over the last month.  

Patty Sommers and Jackie Prather

Jackie Prather and Patty Sommers, service workers in Wiley Hall. 

Wiley Hall  

Custodial staff members Patty Sommers, Jackie Prather and Harold Best assisted a student who had lost her passport. The student thought they had mistakenly put it in the hallway recycle container. 

Even though the trash and recycling had been removed for the day, Sommers, Prather and Best worked together to ensure the student recovered her passport. Sommers first went outside with the student to try to recover the recycling bag. She enlisted help from Best and Prather, who were able to move and remove bags and help the student search for her passport. The search was successful and the student was able to recover her passport.  

Cary Quad 

“The Staff has held together as a team and I have seen such positive support for each other and for our residents during this difficult time,” says Brian Siler, assistant director of facilities. “With Cary Quad being one of the few halls that has new residents due to some students not being able to get home, our service staff have played an integral role in helping our new residents feel welcomed and and adjust to their new home.” 

Shreve Hall 

Esperanza Covarrubias is one service worker who constantly embraces her work students. Covarrubias connects frequently with many Spanish-speaking international residents in Shreve, helping to create a sense of community with students who speak Spanish as their first language or speak Spanish at home. She has also invested her own time in coming back to campus to attend a cooking class with some residents of Shreve Hall. Covarrubias has also made a student feel welcome in her catholic church.   

Misty Badders has often been referred to as a “mom at home and a mom at work.” Badders, whose daughter is diabetic, bonded with a student who saw she had a diabetes tattoo.

Meredith Hall 

Rob Lane, who works in operations and maintenance, has gone out of his way to be available for students. Lane gives out his personal phone number to Meredith residents and made sure to show up to help when they were ready to move out.  

Student employees have reciprocated the actions of full-time service to help out as well. Abhishek Mehta, an employee in Windsor Dining Court, decided to help out with the early move-out brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Mehta teamed with Carolyn Summers, a weekend employee in Meredith, to haul out trash, do laundry, disinfest touch points and help out in any way possible. Additional help from Dining helped hall staff stay on top of cleaning while still being able to help students as they moved out.  

Little things add up every day to increase positivity. A service worker pulling over in the rain to help a student who was struggling to pick up and carry their belongings, anonymous flowers sent to employees to keep their spirit up, baked goods being shared and theme songs being sung all add up to continue to have a positive impact on students. 


Members of The Society, Honors College and Residences Club members from The Society, the hall club of Honors College and Residences. The Society is one of the hall clubs that has donated funds to COVID-19 relief for students. 

Student Profile

Hall Clubs Step Up to Support Students Financially

The cessation of in-person classes and university events due to the COVID-19 pandemic left student leaders and members of many hall clubs wondering how to continue to support students. If the numerous events and programs administered by hall clubs could no longer continue in person, how could clubs continue to make a positive impact for students?

In a showing of true Boilermaker spirit, several hall clubs have voted to donate leftover funds from their budget to the Critical Need Fund, administered by the Office of the Dean of Students, in support of students who may be experiencing financial emergencies or insecurity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of the fund is to prevent emergencies from inhibiting the progress of a student towards their degree.

Hall clubs have already pledged more than $18,500 to the fund, with clubs represented four residence halls and University Residences Boiler Apartments offering contributions. The Society, the hall club of Honors College and Residences, is one of the hall clubs to make the collective decision to donate leftover funds to support their students.

“My club members thought that it was important for us to help fellow students who have a need because they felt that it was the right thing to do with the funds that we were not going to be able to use anyway,” says Michelle Bao, president of The Society.

“I thought it was important to donate because we should be supporting anyone we can,” continues Bao. “This is a situation where they have a need that we have the resources to address and help. Although we do not know personally who the money will be going to, it is very possible that a friend or acquaintance will be receiving it. I think that it is a good way to show students and families who may be struggling financially during this time that they are being supported and recognized.”

Adds Raul Castro, a member of The Society, "Many people have lost their income while dues and payments for them are still going on. These people don't have a way to support themselves for long and the longer this situation persists means that it will only become more difficult for them. Any donation surely will support their situation."

All hall clubs representing the Cornerstone neighborhood, a group of residence halls made up of Honors College and Residences, Third Street Suites, Windsor Halls and several University Residences Boiler Apartments units, are part of the group offering financial support. Jen McPherson, assistant director of Residential Life, works directly with the student leaders in the neighborhood.

“The steps taken by our student clubs to generously support the ODOS Critical Need Fund is inspiring but not surprising,” says McPherson. “When Cornerstone was first established in 2017, club leaders expanded the neighborhood mission to include advocating for the needs of residents because they knew even the smallest barrier in as student’s life could derail one’s educational progress. I think the arrival of COVID-19 and its impact on our Purdue community has only heightened the resolve of Cornerstone club leaders to support their fellow students and to ensure student success during this unprecedented time.”

Hall clubs continue to meet virtually and find ways to move forward in their pursuit of ways to create a positive impact on students. Additional clubs are in the process of voting to approve additional donations to the fund. Stay tuned for a final tally on donation totals in a future edition.



   Sarah Stuart and Fellow RAs

Sarah Stuart (second from left) with fellow resident assistants in 2012. 

Alumni Profile

Stuart Reflects on University Residences Experience

Sarah (Rife) Stuart says she feels as if Purdue is like a second home. That feeling started with a great introduction to life on campus.

“Living on campus meant instant community,” says Stuart. “Being a part of Boiler Gold Rush definitely helped because everyone in your group is in your residence hall. That helped build that community that way and helping know people that you’re living with.”

Being a part of the residence hall community factored heavily into Stuart’s experience over the course of her time at Purdue. As a sophomore, she became involved in Owen Hall’s Hussar Club as vice president. During that time, she also participated in the inaugural Women’s Leadership Series. She went on to serve on the planning committee the following two years, helping grow what has become an annual leadership experience for women who live in University Residences, and was a member of National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH).

Becoming a resident assistant wasn’t something Stuart says she specifically planned on, but found to her liking. She served as a resident assistant in Hawkins Hall during her junior year.

“I think I really just liked meeting people from all over the world, making those bonds and getting to learn about different cultures and lifestyles I wouldn’t have been able to learn about before becoming a RA,” says Stuart.

Stuart’s says her time as a resident assistant and in Owen Hall provided some of her favorite memories from her time at Purdue. She recalls putting together a pancake breakfast for Owen residents in a spur-of-the-moment idea inspired by a rare snow day, one of many pancake meals that were part of her time in Owen. Another cherished memory was teaching students to make paper cranes in the lobby of Hawkins Hall.

Sarah Stuart Teacher Photo

The fun times also included learning skills that have transferred to Stuart’s career. She currently teaches seventh grade science for Noblesville Schools (Indiana). While teaching middle schoolers presents its own unique challenges, Stuart says she is able to draw on her Purdue experiences.

“Building relationships is a huge part of middle school,” says Stuart. “I think the relationships I built at Purdue and those interactions I had with getting to know people really has helped me with teaching middle school and building a community in my classroom.”

Stuart’s final leadership position at Purdue was serving as a staff resident for McCutcheon Hall. It was there that she met her now husband, Braxton, who was the second part of the staff resident team in the hall.

“Our hall director did a really great job of picking the both of us,” she says with a laugh.

Stuart graduated from Purdue with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from the College of Education in 2013. She has been able to return to the university as a participant in a recent Women’s Leadership Series.

“A lot of the ladies I talked to who live in UR were really involved in residence halls like working at a front desk, being a RA or working at a dining court,” says Stuart. “They’re all very positive and just really wanting to meet new people and better themselves as a female in how we can advocate for each other.”

Stuart offers the following words for current and future Boilermakers:

“If you have the chance to live on campus, you shouldn’t hesitate. When else in your life will you get to hear the Boilermaker Special driving around campus on game day, eat amazing food without having to clean the dishes and be on the best campus ever 24/7? Purdue UR is my home away from home. Ever grateful, ever true!”

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

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

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