April 6, 2023

Steps to Leaps Recognizes annual award winners

The Steps to Leaps steering committee recognized winners of the Steps to Leaps awards at the Steps to Leaps Summit, held March 22 at Beck Agricultural Center. Purdue President Mung Chiang and Provost Patrick Wolfe were on hand to recognize award winners.

pt-stl-emmanuel-800x450 Emmanuel Oluwarotimi Download image

Emmanuel Oluwarotimi, a graduate student in the Purdue Interdisciplinary Life Science Program, was awarded the Steps to Leaps Student of the Year Award. The honor is bestowed to a student who has shown a passion for growth within the Steps to Leaps pillar areas and/or contributes toward the education of peers within the Steps to Leaps pillars areas.

Oluwarotimi was recognized for his grit, persistence and resourcefulness, as well as the inspiration he has provided to other students. After earning one of 30 Opportunity Fund program awards to study in the United States, Oluwarotimi mentored, reviewed application materials and provided support to students subsequently applying for the award and admission into graduate school. He is a founding member of the Jaris Computational Biology Center in Jos, Nigeria, has presented at virtual workshops and will present his work at a professional gathering in St. Loui this May. His impact in academic settings has afforded him co-authorship on six articles. Oluwarotimi’s nominators also praised his ability to build relationships with passion and without bias while committing to helping others be productive. 

pt-stl-perrault-800x450 Evan Perrault Download image

The Steps to Leaps in Faculty Research Award was presented to Evan Perrault, associate professor for communication. The award is given to a researcher or team whose published work exemplifies efforts to expand the understanding of one or more of the Steps to Leaps pillars. 

Perrault collaborated with Purdue Recreation & Wellness to create the “Napkin Campaign,” the result of a grant from the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction from 2017-21. A series of eight messages were printed on more than 8 million napkins used in Purdue dining courts to promote mindfulness. Assessment of the program revealed that 97 percent of students who dined in person were aware of the napkin messaging. Further results indicated significant changes in beliefs and perceptions, such as an increased level of self-efficacy for keeping a phone out of sight while speaking with someone. The research from the project has been published in the Journal of American College Health.

pt-stl-lakshmy-800x450 Lakshmy Mohandas Download image

The Award for Academic Integration of Steps to Leaps was bestowed to Lakshmy Mohandas, associate instructional developer for teaching success. The award recognizes an educator who has woven Steps to Leaps into their pedagogy.

Mohandas worked on a National Science Foundation grant to expand the accessibility of learning through blended synchronous instruction of face-to-face and remote students. Through her teaching efforts, Mohandas seeks to improve STEM education for undergraduate students by examining how a problem-centered course focus can be delivered in an effective way using a combination of in-person and online approaches. She was described by her nominator as “an effective, skilled educator committed to student support and student-centered pedagogy. The deep empathy and genuine concern for the well-being of the students in one-on-one, group or class settings creates a safe and supportive environment for students to be their best selves.”

pt-stl-PUSH-800x450 The Steps to Leaps Student Support Award was presented to the Purdue University Student Health Service (PUSH) Physical Therapy Department. Download image

The Steps to Leaps Student Support Award was presented to the Purdue University Student Health Service (PUSH) Physical Therapy Department The award is given to an individual or unit that consistently leveraged the language of Steps to Leaps in their conversations and communication with students.

The PUSH Physical Therapy Department was lauded for their daily engagement with patients, students and staff to ensure their well-being by creating rehabilitation plans, performing evaluations, offering treatments and helping write patient notes. The department also plays a crucial role in obtaining clinical observation hours for Boilermakers with an interest in becoming a physical therapist. One nominator wrote, “the lessons we have all learned will impact our well-being, professional development, networking and our persistence in the field.” A second nominator noted that “the department has created a scale of excellence that spills over into all the areas of dealing with patients, students and staff members.” The department is led by Dr. Jeff Stein, director of physical therapy.

Steps to Leaps is a collaborative, campus-wide effort focused on enhancing and promoting holistic well-being. Steps to Leaps focuses on the key pillar areas of well-being, leadership, impact, building networks and grit/persistence. Steps to Leaps was created by students for students and today engages many segments of campus to help students flourish and become their best selves.

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