May 17, 2018

APSAC Excellence Award winner lifts students with skill, knowledge, care

APSAC Excellence Award, Parker, Render, Ruhl Darshini Render (center) receives the 2018 APSAC Excellence Award from Loran Carleton Parker, APSAC chair, and Chris Ruhl, interim vice president for human resources. The presentation was part of APSAC's annual luncheon May 9 in Purdue Memorial Union's West Faculty Lounge. (Purdue University photo/Rebecca Wilcox) Download image

Darshini Render, whose skills in mentoring, teaching and planning have strengthened many students' drive for success at Purdue, accepted the APSAC Excellence Award on May 9 during APSAC's annual luncheon.

Render, who is assistant director of student success in the College of Engineering, has exhibited exceptional awareness of what a student needs and how to help the student acquire that insight or skill, her supporters say. The award, bestowed by the Administrative and Professional Staff Advisory Committee, seeks to honor initiative, example, service and performance as well as activity as University ambassador.

Her nomination came from Michael T. Harris, the college's former associate dean for undergraduate education and engagement (2006-17) and the Robert B. and Virginia V. Covalt Professor of Chemical Engineering and professor of environmental and ecological engineering.

In accepting the award, Render said, "In my work, I get to go on many journeys with our students. Sometimes I am the flight attendant, and sometimes I am the co-pilot."

All of those writing on behalf of her nomination lauded her creation in 2016 of the International Student Peer Coaching program and then growing it to involve several hundred students in steps that showed them how and where they could open doors to their desired careers. One student praised her ability to transition between group focus and individual focus, noting that every peer coach in her program who was seeking a co-op or internship attained that goal.

Harris wrote that she demonstrates the qualities of leadership in ISPC and in teaching roles -- courses to develop professional skills and cultural awareness and her certification to lead Intercultural Development Inventory workshops. He added that she developed her high level of skill while providing excellent service in two other University offices before he met her at an advisory board meeting for the Center for Career Opportunities and thought Engineering could benefit from having someone like that.

A recent graduate called Render "a continuous champion for student development," recalling how she equipped peer coaches to understand resume building, career fair preparation and cross-cultural communication -- all in the context of professional standards and values, again at both the group and individual levels.

One student summed up her experiences with Render in this way: "Darshini, to me, is more than just someone with a title. She truly is a leader, mentor and role model. Being a part of a field that has always been dominated by males and still continues to be, Darshini has been able to stand out and serve as a model for other young aspiring women in engineering."

The winner of the APSAC Excellence Award receives a plaque and $1,500. The announcement of the nomination period is made each year in February.

Writer: Dan Howell, 765-494-2028,

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