Students find their fit in Purdue HHS through major change, transfer journeys

Written By: Rebecca Hoffa,

Purdue students pose for a photo in the stands at a football game

While some students find their perfect fit in Purdue University’s College of Health and Human Sciences (HHS) right away, there are many avenues that lead students to the college, whether they transfer from another university or change their major at Purdue.

Maggy Leitch, an academic advisor in the White Lodging-J.W. Marriott, Jr. School of Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM), noted she often finds students drawn to HTM for the human-focused elements, where the college really shines. She often advises students who are considering changing their major to explore their options.

“When students are changing their major, it can be a really uncertain time for them,” Leitch said. “Typically what I say to students is ‘Let’s just try a class or a couple classes so we keep you on track for both things you’re interested in,’ and that can be a really good way for a student to say ‘This one.’”

Discovering a culture that cares

Karlie Saunders headshot

Karlie SaundersPhoto provided

Karlie Saunders, a senior majoring in human services, began her college career at Indiana Wesleyan University. Although she had friends there and enjoyed her classes, Saunders found herself desiring a larger university that would take her outside of her comfort zone and offer more diverse experiences. She ultimately found that in Purdue’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS), finding comfort in the intimate class settings, which helped her feel welcome in the major.

“Professors and students really try to cultivate a culture that cares about people,” Saunders said. “I’ve really appreciated getting to be involved in that type of environment.”

Initially transferring into the School of Nursing, Saunders discovered human services after hearing about the experiences her best friend had in the major, which led her to realize she wanted to pursue a major focused on helping people outside of the medical field.

“I always knew I had a heart for advocacy and helping others, which would be fulfilled in a nursing career, but we did a project where we were exploring global health crises, and one of them was human trafficking,” Saunders said. “I realized that was something I was passionate about helping to stop, so I decided I wanted to change my major to human services — still advocating for people but just taking a different route.”

Finding the right major

AJ Falk headshot

AJ FalkPhoto provided

For AJ Falk, a senior studying hospitality and tourism management, the major change process didn’t take him too far from his roots, as he began his journey in HTM as a selling and sales management major. Finding himself questioning his future during his sophomore year, Falk sought advice from his professors and academic advisors, who helped him link his interests in the customer experience with a career that focused more on using those skills.

“I was really losing passion in what I was learning,” Falk said. “I was like, ‘Is this what I want to do?’ I loved the selling and sales curriculum, but I didn’t exactly love the job positions it seemed like it was setting me up for.”

Falk found that being able to open up to his professors and academic advisors helped him to discover his passion for hospitality and tourism management and really highlighted the human element of the college.

“In the beginning, I was questioning whether HHS or Krannert was the right place, but now, my sister is in Krannert, and I’m in HHS, and I love HHS because I hear some of the experiences she has had,” Falk said. “I would have been a different person and had different confidence in my abilities if I was in a different school.”

Ultimately, Falk said he found his fit in HTM through his hands-on learning experiences to see the real-world applications.

“It’s cool seeing the learning match up like that, and I think that’s when I knew I was in the right place, when the things I was seeing in real life in my job settings were matching up with the things I was hearing in the classroom,” Falk said. “This is where I need to be.”