All posts by dlgreer

Introducing the PACADA PIN Pushers

By Danielle Gilbert

Images by Kendra Larimer, CGT student

The PACADA PIN Pushers just finished week 19 of their bowling season and are currently placed seventh out of eighteen Purdue teams. The team came about after captains Ashley Maloff and Holly Englert bowled in separate leagues the year prior. They thought it would be a fun way to get advisors together for networking and comradery outside of work.

Along with Ashley and Holly, the roster includes PACADA members Sarah Allard, Mandy Chalk, Emily Del Real, Danielle Gilbert, Melissa Law-Penrose, Brandi Moorman, Cynthia Quillen, and Elizabeth Watts. They are also joined by guests Jeff Englert and Nick Gonzalez, as partners and spouses are also welcome. The PIN Pushers bowl against such teams as Spoiler Makers, The PurDudes, Split Happens, The Bowlermakers, Wish I Cud Bowl, and more. The PIN Pushers’ name is more of an inside joke amongst the advising/student services community, as the pun is lost on most others. The bowlers rotate, some bowling every other week, others once a month. They are having a great season so far. Gotta love that handicap! If you’re interested in being a sub, please contact Holly or Ashley.

Here’s what the PIN Pushers have to say about their experience so far:

Stay tuned for a possible PACADA summer softball league.

Midwest Association of Colleges & Employers 2016 Conference (MWACE)

Experienced by: Mandy Chalk

College is a big change for students; they are leaving home, family, friends, and routine.  At the MWACE 2016 conference, I attended a few sessions aimed at change and how one can handle change that were facilitated by Charmaine Hammond.  In Exploratory Studies, I am used to change.  Students come in and out of our program, students change their mind on what major to pursue, and colleges change their CODO requirements or plans of study.  However, students are typically not used to change.  They are accustomed to their daily routines, block scheduling, and family traditions.  Thus, we must learn and implement ways in which to help them embrace change in a new environment.

In the keynote speech, Hammond told a story of how she and her husband survived a sailing accident and what she learned from the experience.  She discussed how as “knowledge goes up, fear goes down.”  This can certainly be applied to our students.  As we educate them on their major options, their fear of the unknown and their fear of choosing a major will hopefully decrease.  We must be constantly learning about majors, careers, opportunities for research, leadership, scholarships, and anything else that might be helpful to our students.  Even if you are an advisor for one specific major or department, it helps to learn more about other programs and majors.  One can do this by attending PACADA meetings, networking with others, and paying attention to those emails we get from the Advisor listserve.  Yes, it takes time, but it can prove helpful to our students.  When referring students to other advisors, it helps when I personally know the person I’m referring a student to.  It helps when I can say, “I know so and so because we’re on a bowling league together,” or “See my friend so and so during his/her walk in times.”  Students’ fears will go down when you can personally refer them to your advising friends.  We are all in this together, and I hope to see more networking with others across campus in my future.  This also serves as a marketing plug for the PACADA Mentoring Program, which has matched me with two amazing professionals at Purdue!  I highly recommend this program, as it has helped me understand better the inner workings of the university and get to know two people on a more personal level.  Again, by putting into action what we tell our students to do (networking), we show them that their fears can go down whenever they have more knowledge.  We even assign our students in our Academic and Career Planning class to interview an upperclassman and a professional in a career that interests them.  This networking goes a long way in order to help students get more information about majors and careers that interest them.

Another important point is to learn how to disseminate that information through emails.  In Exploratory Studies, we have an Access database of the students we advise.  I can filter the results to only show the students that meet the criteria I select.  I can then send out emails to only those students who could benefit from the information.  Tailored messaging and knowing your students is key.  Plus, it helps educate them so they are less fearful of change.  When they get that information, you can ease their fears and let them know you are a resource of valuable information.

Another piece of advice that Hammond imparted during the conference was, “Your mindset creates your field of vision.  Choose your thoughts wisely.”  She emphasized the importance of having a positive attitude.  “What you focus on expands.”  If you’re constantly thinking negative thoughts, then those thoughts will manifest and ruin your day.  Start each day by framing your day in a positive light and encourage your students to do the same.  When something bad happens to your students, try to ask, “What went well?”  And then transition to asking, “What didn’t go well?  What would you do differently?”  This can help your students see the positive, but also learn from the situation.  Because sometimes, “the problem is how you view the problem.”

The same can be applied to us as advisors.  How do YOU view change?  For example, how do you view this new EAB software system?  Hammond says that most people struggle with the transition, not with the actual change.  Yes, the new software system will take some time getting used to it, but we must embrace change, just as our students must embrace change with changing plans of study, changes with majors, changes in CODO requirements, etc.  We should be setting a good example for them, because let’s face it, life is full of changes!

Hammond gave an example of a pot of boiling water.  If you put in a potato, it becomes soft and mushy and falls apart.  If you put an egg into boiling water, it becomes hard.  If you put a coffee bean in, it changes its form and creates coffee.  So which one are you when it comes to change?  Do you fall apart like a potato?  Do you become hard like an egg?  Or do you adapt to the situation like the coffee bean?  Let’s agree to become coffee bean advisors!

Finally, Hammond stated, “We can’t control our lives, but we can have influence.”  This really resonated with me, and I hope it resonates with you as well.  Even though you are not in control of your life, you are in control of your actions and thoughts.  I hope they are positive and helpful for not only your life, but for the lives of our students!

PACADA Statement of Support for Students

In this time of uncertainty and unrest, the members of the Purdue Academic Advising Association (PACADA) affirm the dignity and value of all students regardless of race, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation or national origin. We care about you and support you.

As advisors, it is our responsibility not only to assist you with course selection and registration, but also to direct you to helpful resources. Therefore, we suggest that students in need of support, in addition to contacting your academic advisor, look to the campus offices below (listed in alphabetical order) as needed.

If you experience acts of hate and bias on campus, we encourage you to report them to Purdue University Police as well as to the Division of Diversity and Inclusion through the REPORT HATE and BIAS link on

Asian American and Asian Resource and Cultural Center

Black Cultural Center

Counseling and Psychological Services

Center for Advocacy, Response, and Education

Disability Resource Center


Islamic Society of Greater Lafayette

Latino Cultural Center

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Center

Native American Educational and Cultural Center

Residential Life



Veronica Rahim in Purdue Today


Veronica Rahim, Purdue United Way Campaign spokesperson, delivers the keynote speech at the Victory Celebration on Wednesday (Nov. 16). (Purdue University photo/Rebecca Wilcox)

Purdue faculty, staff, retirees and students accepted the challenge of meeting the 2016 Purdue United Way goal by raising more than $778,647 for the campaign.

Purdue volunteers and community leaders of the local United Way campaign gathered Wednesday (Nov. 16) at Purdue Memorial Union to celebrate raising $778,647, or 101.11 percent of the $770,134 goal.

Pam Horne, Purdue United Way Campaign chair and vice provost for enrollment management, and Becky Hershey, director of Purdue United Way, made Purdue’s presentation.

They thanked Purdue volunteers for their dedication and highlighted special events held on campus to promote awareness and raise funds for the campaign.

“I appreciate the opportunity to lead the Purdue United Way Campaign through a significant change with ePledge and other initiatives this year,” Horne says. “I’m so proud to work with so many wonderful volunteers and community leaders. Purdue University once again has demonstrated its commitment to our community.”

Though the campaign tally is complete, contributions to the United Way are welcome at any time. Donations may be made by visiting

Molly Gilbert In the Spotlight: Purdue Today


This week, Purdue Today will offer short profiles of Purdue faculty, staff and students who are making a difference by volunteering at a United Way agency or program. Today, Purdue Today is featuring Molly Gilbert, senior academic advisor in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, who volunteers at Right Steps Child Development Centers, which offers early care and education, after-school care, and educational trainings, technical assistance and workshops on child development through The Child Care Resource Network.

How long have you worked at Purdue?

Five years, started in August 2011.

How long have you volunteered with Right Steps Child Development Centers?

I have volunteered for three years, starting in fall 2013.

How did you get involved with Right Steps?

Two former co-workers were members of the board, and the organization had decided to hold a 5K walk/run as its big fundraiser in 2014.  Before coming to Purdue, I was director of a camp for children with cancer, and we organized a 5K fundraiser each year. Knowing my history, my co-workers asked me to sit on the Right Steps Run planning committee. I have been involved ever since and even send our son to one of the centers!

What does your volunteer work with the group entail?

My involvement has grown over the years. I have been active in the planning process for the annual Right Steps Run 5K/10K, now in its fourth year. We meet regularly to plan the race from picking a date all the way to race day in April.  I have also recently joined the board for the organization, where we monitor and establish organizational policies and make decisions for the good of the organization.

Why did you decide to volunteer?

I am a huge believer in education, from birth through higher ed, and unfortunately there are a lot of children who do not receive quality child care and are starting their formal education behind many of their peers. One of the things Right Steps offers is four early care and education centers that operate on a sliding fee scale. This allows access to quality child care and education for families of all income levels. Right Steps believes that all children deserve quality child care and early education, and they work to make it available to the youth in Tippecanoe County. I am excited to be a part of that and to put my heart and soul into something so important. So when asked to help, I didn’t think twice about it.

What would you like to tell someone who is considering volunteering at a United Way agency?

Do it! United Way agencies are all working towards a common goal — to create change that will make our community better.  It’s a pretty amazing feeling to know you are volunteering for an organization that is making such an impact in your local community.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I am in a unique position because not only do I volunteer, but I am also a parent of a Right Steps child. I am in a center every day and get to see the impact the organization is having on our community. Children who may otherwise not be receiving early education are excelling socially and academically (and even getting regular health screenings!).  It is very rewarding to be a part of something like that.

We are always accepting volunteers. If anyone is interested in finding out more, they can contact me at

 How to help

The United Way of Greater Lafayette lists volunteer opportunities online on its Volunteer Center page.

Faculty, staff and retirees also may contribute to the Purdue United Way Campaign by going online and logging into the ePledge system. Donors can choose among several methods — payroll deduction, one-time credit card donation or recurring monthly donations, or by check.

Rita Baker and Nancy Kester Recipients of Special Boilermaker Award

Special Boilermaker AwardCongratulations to Rita Baker and Nancy Kester for winning the 2016 Special Boilermaker Award! The Special Boilermaker Award was established in 1981 to recognize members of the Purdue faculty or staff who have contributed significantly to the quality of life and/or the betterment of the educational experience for a substantial number of Purdue students.

Rita earned her undergraduate and master’s degree from Purdue University, and has been an academic advisor at Purdue since 1985.

“The best part about being an academic advisor at Purdue University is that the position requires talking with and getting to know great people. Can anyone ask for a better job description?”

See a story written about Rita in the Brazil Times, Rita’s hometown newspaper.

Nancy also earned her undergraduate and master’s degree from Purdue University. After serving as Purdue’s Assistant Volleyball coach for seventeen years, she became an advisor for Health and Kinesiology in 1995.

“I love meeting with students one on one, hearing about the exciting things they are doing on campus, in the classroom, and in the community or on study abroad trips, helping them navigate college and resources, and guiding them in developing a plan of study that will help them fulfill their personal and career goals.”

Take a look at historical winners to find more PACADA members.

Also pictured above: Chemistry professor and Special Boilermaker recipient Marcy Towns.

Written by Danielle Gilbert

Sue Aufderheide in the Spotlight: Purdue Today


Susan Aufderheide has guided the Exploratory Studies program at Purdue for more than 16 years. She also has been a professor in Physical Education and Health and Recreations Studies, an academic advisor in the College of Liberal Arts and director of academic support services in Intercollegiate Athletics.

What is Exploratory Studies and what is your role as director?

Exploratory Studies is a program that helps students discover the major that best reflects their interests, skills and abilities. With the guidance of our advisors, students are given the luxury of a non-pressured environment to explore their own interests, skills and abilities while exploring the over 200 majors at Purdue.

Each student is assigned to an experienced academic advisor who is familiar with all Purdue colleges/schools and degree programs. A course schedule is created for each student specifically tailored to their interests, skills and abilities, allowing them to fulfill general requirements, while exploring all that Purdue has to offer. A student can stay in Exploratory Studies for two years, but can declare a major at any time during those four semesters.

As director I am responsible for the strategic direction of the department and the implementation of its programs and services. I provide expertise, mentor staff and advocate across campus for the needs of the exploratory population. I also advise my own subset of exploratory students and teach a mandatory course for our students called Academic and Career Planning.

What is your favorite part of your work?

Working one-on-one with students. As an advising administrator, I believe deeply in serving both as an academic advisor and an instructor of our Academic and Career Planning course. I feel I am a much more effective leader if I experience firsthand the joys and frustrations my staff sees on a daily basis.

Does this program help students save money?

When students come into Exploratory Studies, they begin taking coursework that spans all of the majors they are considering. Once they decide which direction to pursue, they have already taken many of the courses they would need for that major.  They are well on their way to completing their degree in four years. If a student comes in decided and then makes a 180-degree major change, there is a good chance they have not taken the appropriate courses for their new major. This adds time and money to completing their degree.

What would you tell incoming freshmen about the program? 

Exploratory Studies is the place to begin you college career. Nationally 80 percent of all college students change their majors at least once. We give you time to explore the over 200 majors on campus while keeping you on track to graduate within your four-year time frame. While exploring you will have an amazing relationship with an advisor who has knowledge of you, your interests, skills and abilities, and all majors on campus and has time to get to know you and assist you on this wonderful journey.

Eighty-five percent of the students who started in Exploratory Studies never change their major once they leave our program. Students have taken time to explore themselves, their major and career interests. They make those major decisions based on fully vetted information.

What is your most memorable moment from your time at Purdue?

I would have to say being an academic support staff member of the 1999 national championship women’s basketball team is the most memorable. It was great being able to travel with and support the women in their academic endeavors as they made that historic run.

Writer: Megan Huckaby, 765-496-1325,

Erin Schultz and Christine Hofmeyer Win PACADA Advising Awards

The Purdue Academic Advising Association (PACADA) recently honored two academic advisors for their hard work and dedication to their students.

Outstanding Academic Advisor: Erin Schultz, College of Education


Professionalism, confidentiality, trustworthiness and accountability are the foundations for Schultz’s attitude toward all students that are fortunate enough to meet and work with her, said nominator Jane Dimitt, director of the Office of Advising and Recruiting for the College of Education.

Students often express how supportive and informative Schultz is as an advisor.

Schultz started her career as a school counselor at Wea Ridge Middle School. She later realized that she could use her skills to benefit a different set of students.

“As a Boilermaker and previously a school counselor, academic advising at Purdue was a natural fit for me,” she says.

Co-workers lauded her work mentality and commitment in letters of support.

“It is made clear through her actions that Erin sees her advising role as going beyond suggesting courses for a plan of study to include the work of mentoring, listening, supporting and encouraging her students,” says Jill Newton, associate professor of Mathematics Education.

Schultz has been a member of PACADA since her first year on campus and co-chair of the Communications Committee since 2014.

“I love being a difference-maker. I hope that I have made some sort of impact in the lives of my students, and that, as future teachers, they will be paying it forward,” she says.

Outstanding New Professional: Christine Hofmeyer, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Christine Hofmeyer

Hard work, willingness to learn and a strong desire to help students have marked Hofmeyer’s time as an advisor in the Office of Student Services in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, where she took on two roles: academic advisor and graduate program coordinator.

“Christine is very friendly and engaging with her students and they are comfortable talking with her and discussing their concerns,” says John B. Dunning Jr., professor and director of the Office of Student Services.

Hofmeyer has worked as an academic advisor for a little more than a year, but already knows the job was the perfect fit for her.

“I love to learn, so being employed at an educational institution is a natural fit for me. I love being part of the students’ academic, emotional, social and professional development plan as they progress through their college years,” she says. “I met my freshman and transfer students when they visited the university as prospective students, and I have assisted them with various issues during their first year at Purdue and have enjoyed watching their transformations.  I have learned from the ongoing experiences of my sophomore, junior, senior and graduate students.”

Hofmeyer says she became an academic advisor because she wanted to be more directly involved with Purdue students.

“I’m a people person and am driven by opportunities to serve others,” she says.

Writer: Megan Huckaby, 765-496-1325,