"What was a GIANT LEAP in your life?"

For 150 years, Purdue alumni and faculty have left footprints, making the world and our lives better — even reaching the moon. Such pursuits often begin with an act of bravery, a new path taken or a passion ignited. In celebration of the University’s anniversary, we ask "WHAT WAS A GIANT LEAP IN YOUR LIFE?”

Share your own Giant Leap. Write to us at HHSLife360@purdue.edu.



One of the most impactful Giant Leaps I took happened in summer 2004. I had just finished my sophomore year at Purdue University and was embarking on a six-week study abroad experience in Florence, Italy. I was nervous, excited, and somewhat prepared. Little did I know, that experience would launch my interest in global travel, international health research, and intercultural development. Flash forward to today, I am now creating these Giant Leap opportunities for my own Purdue University students as an Assistant Professor and Study Abroad Leader. I hope we (me and my students) continue to take Giant Leaps while leaving footprints behind in Florence, Italy for many years to come.
Andrea DeMaria, Assistant Professor of Public Health

Two Giant Leaps come to mind. The first was when I left Australia to come to Chicago and set up an office for Tourism Queensland, the tourism marketing organization for Queensland Australia. In the years that followed, I traveled across the United States, Canada and South America, and gained great experience in marketing in the United States. The Giant Leap came after I began after I became an academic and moved my focus from tourism marketing to sustainable tourism. That leap gave me new insights into how tourism can be used as a tool for good in an ever more crowded world.
Jonathon Day, Associate Professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management 

In 2004 (without much of a game plan) I left my acute care nursing position and moved to West Lafayette to live with my twin sister while she finished pharmacy school at Purdue. I actually thought nursing wasn’t for me and I enrolled in the College Pharmacy. Luckily at the same time I was working as a R.N. at the Indiana Veteran’s Home and fell in love with gerontology and community nursing. Soon after that I earned my master’s degree in community health nursing. The giant leaps continued…..I then applied for a staff position at the School of Nursing but when they saw I had a master’s degree (in an area where they needed faculty) they encouraged me to apply for a teaching position and I am FOREVER grateful for that opportunity and where it has lead me.
Elizabeth (Libby) Richards, Associate Professor of Nursing

My “Giant Leap” was applying to, then starting a PhD program. I was a first generation college student and I didn’t know anyone with an advanced degree. I had no idea what to expect and quickly found that I was underprepared for the expectations of a PhD program. I was fortunate to be guided through the adjustment by Dr. Ginger Yang, an amazing researcher and mentor at the Ohio State University College of Medicine!
Laura Schwab Reese, Assistant Professor of Health and Kinesiology

My “Giant Leap” was when I (along with soon to be wife) decided to leave a comfortable job to go back to school to pursue a graduate degree. We left jobs in our field of biology/environmental science in a place we loved, Sarasota, Fl, to go to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to pursue a new educational area to us, nuclear engineering. This “Giant Leap” truly changed our lives and brought us to where we are today at Purdue!
Jason Harris, Associate Professor of Health Sciences, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Online Education