Hospitality and Tourism Management
With a smile and a helpful attitude, Maria Campos serves as an administrative resource for the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management's more than 100 graduate students.
Campos has been HTM's graduate program secretary since 2009. Her job ranges from serving as a point of contact for graduate students to helping them register for classes to setting up their meetings, appointments and advising sessions with faculty members. Along the way, she forges friendships with graduate students that sometimes last well into their professional careers.
What are your daily job duties?
A big part of my job involves welcoming all incoming HTM graduate students in the fall, whether they're new graduate students or students returning to continue their studies. Each fall, I put together a program called "Welcome, Welcome Back," which we always hold at the end of the first week of classes for all HTM graduate students. The program involves two hours of socializing and orientation followed by a picnic. We also invite all HTM faculty members to the program so that our graduate students can catch up with them or, if they're new students, so they can spend time them in a non-academic setting.
Beyond that, in general I help grad students in our program with their administrative needs. Since there are so many HTM graduate students — we typically have 95-105 — I serve as a liaison to our graduate program's director, Barbara Almanza. I also help connect them as needed with faculty members, help them register for classes, and generally help them feel connected and supported in the program.
What are some of your other responsibilities?
I work with all of our 17 faculty members, and I directly support about five on a regular basis. I assist them with any needed travel arrangements, help with tracking points and attendance for their classes, and do other administrative things for them. I really enjoy working with our faculty members because they're fascinating people and because they constantly present me with new challenges.
In addition to those duties, I often help our international students submit necessary forms to the Office of International Students and Scholars (ISS). I'm also the administrative liaison for HTM's visiting scholars, who come here from all over the world. I help them set up their offices, direct them to needed resources on campus, and serve as a point of contact for their administrative needs. It can be really fun to work with these scholars because they come from such diverse places — for example, this fall we have a visiting scholar coming from Egypt.
What is it like working directly with HTM's graduate students every day?
It's great fun, because I get to know them as scholars and as individuals. I keep in contact with all of our graduate students via email throughout the semester. We also usually have from five to 10 graduate students working in our office, so I get to know them in that way, too. Even after our students leave the University, I keep in contact with many of them online.
It's very rewarding for me to see what our graduate students accomplish. Many of them go on to have robust academic careers — some of them even contact me when positions open up at their new employers. In that case, they'll often ask for my advice about which current Purdue graduate student might be interested in certain job openings.
What is your professional background?
My family moved to the area from California in 2006. While I was looking for a job here, I actually had offers from five different employers. I was a little apprehensive about coming to Purdue because I had never worked in higher education administration before, but I was ready for the challenge, so in 2007 I came to work for HTM as a secretary. Just two years later, I was promoted to my current position.
I'm so glad I came here — it's been a great experience so far, and I love my co-workers and our students. Every day brings a different challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way.