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Minta Burns

Theatre technician - Hall of Music Productions

Minta Burns

What do you do at Purdue?

My friend and first Purdue mentor, Jay Rogler, suggested that I work at Elliott Hall of Music for the PMO Christmas Show in 1997 as a temporary set carpenter. I was drawn to the HLMC staff's tireless work ethic and the spirit of good humor shown to one another during many days of the build for the Christmas Show. This made it easy to seek out mentors in the different areas of production: wardrobe, lighting, staging, sound and video. The full-time staff embraced my interest and began to teach me the ropes.

I went from painting and repairing walls when I first came to scenic painting of sets and drops for our in-house clients like PMO, and I learned all about setting up cameras and running a sports lens at Mackey for basketball games to being a long glass front of house operator for commencement.

Which woman has inspired you most? Why?

I am inspired by my mother, Elizabeth A. Burns. I am inspired by her wit and willingness to help others, and her influence in my life is a wonderful gift. Mom always encouraged me to follow my heart and to seek out my interests.

My mom joined the Army at the age of 22, and she served in places like Germany, Virginia and Alabama. After getting out of the Army, she returned to Bloomington and enrolled at IU, majoring in education. She put herself through school, working at least one job the whole time. After my dad found a job in Lafayette, my mom finished up her degree at Purdue. Mom and Dad lived in a small apartment on Lutz Street, and she says that they had very, little but they had what they needed. Mom had seven children, and the whole time she kept a clean house, fed a small army, and put up with our penchant for rescuing animals of all kinds.

I attribute my love for the arts a gift from my mother. We watched many musicals and listened to them on the cassette player in the car. She took me to plays and movies. As a family we often went to see the Lafayette Symphony Orchestra and the Purdue bands when they would give a concert. She is still vibrant and active at the age of 79. She is an active member in St. Mary's Cathedral, helping set the welcome table on Sundays for visitors and singing in the church's choir. She is a proud grandmother and continues to encourage me to strive for my dreams. Louisa May Alcott said it best: "Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead."

What are your goals and experiences with mentoring or encouraging others?

Students get an honest taste when they work with us because they are learning by doing, allowing us to shape the experience that prepares them to pursue a life of learning. We work with a lot of student groups to help organize their shows, and making them a part of this process makes them use their leadership and networking skills. I have had such excellent mentors, and I am grateful to honor their investment of knowledge and wisdom in me by passing on what I have learned to our students. I am so proud of the students, seeing and how they have been able to grow professionally. It is always nice to see them working for a production company that tours and working in an industry where they have already started paying their dues. I know we played a part in their success in some small way.

I am also in my fourth and final year of representing Housing and Food Services as a part of the Clerical and Service Staff Advisory Committee. I am an emeritus member, which allows me to be a resource to the current membership. I have met many amazing people who work hard to represent and give a voice for fellow employees who want input and positive impact in their work culture at Purdue. I was very much welcomed my first year and given a wise and funny mentor, Randy Luff. He was more than happy to help when I asked for guidance. The next two years I had the pleasure of mentoring and helping new incoming members.