Staying the Course
Steps to Leaps

March 15, 2022

"By endurance we conquer." Ernest Shackleton

Steps To Leaps Fifth Pillar, Grit

“Grit—Life is full of ups and downs. Learn strategies to tap into your inner fortitude to overcome challenges and become your best Boilermaker with steps to resolve and character.”

(Purdue University, Steps to Leaps Program)

When you think of “grit” what comes to mind?

I think of determination in the face of odds, overwhelming impossible odds. Determination to keep pressing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. The “stick-to-itness” that separates champions from the rest of the pack.  

On March 5, 2022, a nautical crew of 65 on a 35-day expedition called the Endurance22, an endeavor ten years in the making, located Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance, which had shipwrecked and sunk in the Weddell Sea over 100 years earlier on November 21, 1915.

Its discovery recounts again the amazing story of courage and perseverance of explorer Ernest Shackleton and his crew of 27 men who while failing to cross Antarctica lived through 20 months of extreme hardship and were finally rescued on August 30, 1916, two years after they had set sail.

It’s a tale of survival that is all the more thrilling because of what Shackleton and his crew were able to endure and overcome. (Visit https://endurance22.org/history-of-endurance to learn more about both expeditions.)

We do not need to look too far to find an environment for learning resilience--going through a pandemic at Purdue--buttressed by a Plan, the Protect Purdue pledge and a commitment to do this together.

The reason Purdue has been able to keep its doors open is largely because we chose to put the community first. To benefit the whole we had to get used to wearing masks, foregoing large in person gatherings, being willing to put up with inconveniences and accepting different modes of teaching and learning. Protecting Purdue was the goal and going through it together built toughness. We became stronger, together.

At the same time, burnout, fatigue and trials took their toll on many. For the crew of the Endurance, it got worse before it got better. Be sure to read more of their inspiring story of courage in the face of immense challenge.

Thankfully for Purdue, we seem to be rounding the bend and heading into a new phase with the pandemic. Mask wearing in classrooms became optional on March 14.

Weathering life’s storms involves preparation, discipline, community and grit, and the best way to learn grit comes from seeing it modeled, joining forces and pushing through levels of discomfort to get to the other side.

As we all look back on the past two years, what life lessons have you learned? Where have you seen true grit modeled? How have you changed in your choices, attitudes, habits and ambitions? What character changes do you notice in yourself or in others?

Join the Purdue international student community and share your insights with others by emailing friendship@purdue.edu. We'll post them for others on our social media.


Making Connections
Steps to Leaps

FEBRUARY 1, 2022

Which is the largest student organization on the Purdue West Lafayette campus?

A clue: Students who belong to this organization become part of something exponentially larger upon graduation. 

You guessed it! PASE or the Purdue Alumni Student Experience. Currently PASE has over 7,000 members. It’s core mission is to “prepare students for a lifelong connection to Purdue and its alumni.” One cannot underestimate the value and strength of this Steps-to-Leaps fourth pillar.

Steps To Leaps Fourth Pillar, Networks

“Networks—A strong network serves as a resource throughout your life. The tightest networks are created by connections with individuals and require active participation. Learn how to build your network with steps to making connections and bonds.”

(Purdue University, Steps to Leaps Program)


PASE is unique in that it is run by a student board of directors. Currently with a restructure, eight students serve on the PASE board. PASE board president, Ava Vande Corput, avandeco@purdue.edu, a junior in Pre-Pharmacy, came to Purdue not knowing a person on campus, but she did know she wanted to get involved and wanted to learn and try new things. Her advice to freshmen new to Purdue? “Go to callouts and make it your goal to get involved. Say yes to what interests you. As you do, opportunities and new experiences will present themselves and your involvement will continue to grow in areas far beyond your major.”

As a freshman, Ava had the opportunity to serve as a director in PASE in her second semester. Today she is Ava Vande Corput, PASE Presidentorganization president. “Connecting with people and networking is a part of everything we do in PASE and for the board of directors, networking is key to developing programs.”

One event Ava looks forward to each year is the networking dinner with Purdue alumni. Where else but PASE can you meet such a variety of people coming from so many different backgrounds and fields of influence?

In addition to the dinner, PASE hosts a mock career fair and an event called “Old Masters” where alumni are invited back to campus for two days, visiting classrooms and providing mentorship opportunities. Ava in Fall 2021 served as a host to Dr. Michelle Ludwig, one of the nine prestigious Purdue alumni, who visited campus. As a host, she ensured all of Dr. Ludwig's needs were met during her visit, participated in networking events and assisted during classroom presentations. "The Purdue Old Masters Program developed my leadership and communication skills as well as connected me with both past and present boilermakers. I found the whole experience to be invaluable."

Ava recommends not simply valuing networking for what job it might lead to in the future. In the long run, what has been most beneficial for Ava is seeing how her experiences have helped develop her as a person. Plus, networking is just plain fun! 

For students, four years of your life goes by very quickly. As a new student, decide where you wish to invest your time and energy. Don’t miss out on the opportunities your college experience is offering you. Relationships matter, people matter. Make the most of what you’ve been given.

In addition to PASE, the Purdue for Life Foundation offers Purdue Ties, Purdue’s “premier networking and mentoring platform.” Create an account at purdueties.com and start developing your personal network today.  

What other ideas do you have about how students can grow their networks?  Share your own stories. Inspire us to dream bigger!

Join the Purdue international student community and share your insights with others by emailing friendship@purdue.edu. We'll post them for others on our social media.


Leaving a Legacy
Steps to Leaps

DECEMBER 9, 2021

We are winding up another semester at Purdue, and what a semester it has been!

President Mitch Daniels today took a look back on accomplishments every Boilermaker can celebrate this season stunning wins in football, basketball and volleyball, our first ever 10,000 member student class and national recognition of Purdue thriving through a pandemic. And I can't agree with President Daniels more when he said that for all those good things to happen it takes a village. The footprint we hope will remain long after we are gone brings us to the third pillar. 

Steps To Leaps Third Pillar, Impact

“Impact—Every Boilermaker strives to leave their footprint and world-changing examples can be found throughout Purdue's rich history. Learn the importance of creating an impact through your everyday actions with steps to modify, touch and influence.”

(Purdue University, Steps to Leaps Program)


Today I want to talk about volunteerism as a way to make an impact.  Purdue alums, Tom and Heather St. Myer,  met at Purdue during their freshman year in Harrison Hall, graduated, got married and still live in the area. Now 30 years later with seven children--one Purdue alum, one junior, two freshmen and three others still at home--Tom and Heather wanted to "share some of the Boilermaker spirit" and so signed up to host some international Boilermakers through the holiday Host-A-Boiler program coordinated by ISS.

On Thanksgiving Day, they invited ten students into their home to share a holiday dinner with them.

"The food was wonderful, the company was wonderful, but the highlight for me personally were the cultural stories exchanged," Tom said. "My younger kids learned what life in Saudi Arabia was like, what the future of industry and technology in Nigeria looks like. Indonesia, Taiwan, and India were also represented. One of the students helped my youngest son engineer another way to turn his bedroom light on and off with a string from the top bunk."

  International students and the St. Myer family at their home on Thanksgiving Day 2021


"These students were an absolute delight--sharing personal stories, laughing and joking, talking with my kids. Stomachs were filled. Stories were shared. Games were played. Friends were made."

And who can say who was impacted most at this Thanksgiving gathering of Purdue Boilermakers?

How have you been impacted by volunteer programs such as Host-A-Boiler? What part has volunteerism played in your own lives, whether you have been a giver or receiver? What advice do you have for new students arriving in January who are deciding where to invest their time and energy and who don't want to miss out on the opportunities their college experience at this time in their lives is offering them?

Join the Purdue international student community and share your insights with others on the Discord channel #third-pillar-impact.


Completing the Race
Steps to Leaps

APRIL 13, 2021

In a little over a month on May 15 and 16, 2021, over 5,000 graduate and undergraduate students will enter Ross-Ade Stadium or the Elliott Hall of Music with their family and friends to celebrate the culminating event of their academic careers at Purdue, Commencement 2021.  

Each graduate that day could tell the story of how they personally came to pursue their dreams at this university. And this year, each will be able to tell their own story of overcoming challenges to complete their studies during a global pandemic. 

Steps To Leaps Second Pillar, Leadership and Development

“Leadership and Professional Development—Boilermakers have a strong tradition of leadership in their careers and communities. Learn how to tap into your own strengths as you become the next generation of leaders with steps to initiative, guidance and direction.”

(Purdue University, Steps to Leaps Program)


One student to be recognized in May Commencement is Kaustub Parvir Anand, the spring 2021 recipient of the Martin C. Jischke Outstanding International Student Award.

In ISS, we know Kaustub as an international student ambassador, assisting ISS staff over the past two years in our programming and engagement efforts. But Janice Tomaz, senior academic advisor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, says that Kaustub began investing himself in leadership roles from the very first day he stepped on campus in the fall of 2017.  

The list of honors and awards Kaustub has earned are varied and numerous. Alongside his scientific research pursuits in Physics and Astronomy, he was involved in the Global Science Partner learning community, organizing and leading discussions and events among its 160 students. He was also an active member of the Undergraduate Physics Student Council and the Society of Physics Students. Kaustub has dedicated countless hours both inside and outside the classroom, volunteering as an ISS ambassador, a Boiler Gold Rush International team leader, an undergraduate teaching assistant and a student mentor.

Throughout his time at Purdue, Kaustub made it his goal to “give back” as opportunities presented themselves, more recently as a peer success coach (tutor) and a Protect Purdue ambassador. In February 21, 2020, at the start of the pandemic, Kaustub joined the virtual Saturday Morning Astrophysics outreach program through his department, helping middle and high school students explore new realms of science. By year-end, Kaustub and a team of students had developed a YouTube channel recording video experiments that younger learners could do at home. Says Ken Ritchie, Professor and Associate Head, Department of Physics and Astronomy, “Kaustub is a brilliant ambassador for our department and we are grateful that he is donating his time to help spread a fascination in science to the younger generation.”

Kaustub advises students interested in developing leadership skills to first follow their passions. For Kaustub, his early pursuit of math was a stepping-stone to the field he is now pursuing, physics and astronomy. Secondly, he says, don’t underestimate the power of networking in an everyday kind of way. Kaustub found that as he got to know fellow students, professors and others he met in the classroom, and in events and programs he attended and volunteered in, he grew so much as a person. Each experience taught him something. And the personal connections he developed over time opened up further opportunities to give back.

In the process of trying out a number of roles and positions, Kaustub discovered that he loves learning and teaching and he wants to further his education to become a professor. Pursuing research as an undergrad is where he began asking his own questions which in turn became a platform for teaching and leading others, something he finds deeply satisfying.

Join the Purdue International Students community and engage with others on the Discord channel #second-pillar-Leadership-Development. What are your strengths? What leadership opportunities have you discovered that align with your gifts and passions? What connections are you making to guide you on your career path? And finally, what advice do you have for others, especially new students, who are trying to figure it all out?  

Happy Graduation, Class of 2021! Boiler Up, and Hail Purdue!


Maintaining Health and Well Being
Steps to Leaps

FEBRUARY 25, 2021

In 2019, Yvonne Chen, a senior from Kaohsiung, Taiwan, majoring in biomedical engineering, was a member of the student panel who, with the Vice Provost of Student Life, created the Steps to Leaps program. Chen said, “Steps to Leaps provides tools that assist students to walk on the path they choose. It’s not a solution. Steps to Leaps helps the student figure out what they want to do.”   ( Steps to Leaps News, October 4, 2019).

I have a good friend who is building a house. In the winter no less! Sitting safe and snug in my warm condo, the idea of builders digging a hole, laying a foundation and putting up walls when the ground is frozen and snow blankets the earth, just seems like the wrong time of year!  But the fact is, her house, begun at the start of winter, will be move-in-ready by the end of this semester! Yes, it’s true.  And it’s the foundational stuff happening in the dead of winter that is making this possible.  

Steps To Leaps Pillars Starts With The Primary Pillar, Well-Being!

“Well-Being—Staying healthy in body, brain, and spirit is a life-long journey. Learn strategies
to improve your own well-being with steps to security, health and prosperity.”

(Purdue University, Steps to Leaps Program)


As we close out February, you may, like me, be wondering how it is that the year is one sixth over!? Already my semester “to do” list has grown longer by the day with due dates fast approaching.  And I'm sure you could say the same.

As I think about running my own race, what will be my strategy to improve my own well-being and to meet life head on with confidence, no matter what the year may bring?

There is something invigorating about starting a new year with a blank slate. We dream….  We make new year’s resolutions….  With fresh enthusiasm, we create personal goals along these lines: “2021 is the year I’m going to _____________!” (For me, it’s “hit” the gym 3x/week, lose 20 pounds, find work/life balance...)

And the list goes on!

I think it really does start with paying attention to the first pillar, well-being, which, like the foundation of my friend’s new house, is hidden underground but so central to the building’s structure--the walls going up, the roof being laid, each room being designed with form, function, and purpose.  

So how do we begin? What does well-being look like for me?

The first step towards creating a “wellness plan” begins with taking stock.

 “How am I doing?” “How am I really doing?”

What do I need to BE to become more fully ME? Am I ready to listen to my body, identify my feelings and be more mindful of the choices I’m making?

Here are a few strategies I’ve come up with:  

  • Make Time my Friend. Slow down!

  • Adopt a Positive Mental Attitude. "I can do this!"

  • Approach Life as a Whole Person. Body, mind, soul … and spirit!

  • Live in a Posture of Openness.... to new ideas, new ways of being, new attitudes!

  • Step Out of my Comfort Zone.... L eave the warmth and security of home, each and every day! How else will I stretch and grow?

Something new I’m trying this year is creating a personal vision board. As a visual learner, having photos, drawings, word pictures, colors, stories and quotes close by--framing my work station--is a constant reminder for me of my goals, dreams and truisms for this year that will help me get where I want to be.

What about you? What road are you traveling right now? What wellness strategies are you going to adopt in 2021 to move you closer towards your dreams and goals?

Join the Purdue International Students community and engage with others on the Discord channel #first-pillar-well-being. We are on this path together!

Be Well!

Beth Tucker, Intercultural Learning Specialist
Office of International Students and Scholars