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Student Success Stories

Selected by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Education and the Student Success Team based on applications, these students exemplify the range of experiences and opportunities provided to undergraduate students in the College of Science. As graduating seniors they share their stories to inspire and motivate others.

Mariana Aguilar, Planetary Science and Chemistry: Reach out to faculty and staff for the chance to gain experience. The most impactful experiences I had resulted from putting myself out there and taking that first step to contact someone I was interested in working with.

Parker Alford, Actuarial Science Honors and Statistics: As a member of the Actuarial Science Club, I met with representatives of companies, learned to network and started talking with companies interested in hiring. It was a great way to get exposed to the industry.

Amelia Binau, Physics and Learning Beyond the Classroom: In my two years as president of the Purdue Astronomy Club (PAC), I saw firsthand the positive impacts of science communication and outreach. My goal as a scientist is to bridge the gap between people and nature and to create communities where individuals of all background can grow in their shared interests.  

Oliver Bonilla, Computer Science and Learning Beyond the Classroom: Embrace the process of learning how to learn. Stay curious and open to learning new languages, tools, and frameworks. Seek feedback, learn from your mistakes, and don't be discouraged by failure. Resilience is key to long-term success.

Sarah Firestone, Data Science and Statistics: Through the corporate partner's cohort of the Data Mine learning community I got to work with 3 companies in different sectors of the industry. I was able to talk and interacted with employees of these companies and it was very meaningful to see the real-life implications of what I've been studying.

Dylan Forbes, Chemistry and Learning Beyond the Classroom: I tutored chemistry and had a student who visited me every week. We would navigate their homework assignments and prepare for upcoming tests. I witnessed their remarkable growth, and their accomplishments made me proud. This reinforced my belief in the transformative power of education and the rewarding nature of being an educator, which is my end goal.

Shruti Goyal, Computer Science Honors and Learning Beyond the Classroom: In four years at Purdue, I've learned a new language, built robots, tinkered with circuits, delved into the philosophical analysis of time, and even fulfilled my lifelong dream of playing quidditch! It's the perfect place to explore, learn, and grow in ways you never imagined.

Ethan Guardado, Biological Sciences, Philosophy and Learning Beyond the Classroom: You earned your acceptance to Purdue, but that does not necessitate self-destruction attempting to be the best student ever. You should try to excel in classes but remember that you also deserve things like attending Purdue games, taking weekend trips, and having calm, worry-free weekday evenings, and if having those things means saying "No" to other opportunities, then say "No!"

Mahesh Gupta, Biological Sciences & Learning Beyond the Classroom: I have grown in ways that I never would have imagined four years ago; I have become more outgoing, capable, and confident. I have received foundational skills at Purdue that I am excited to build upon in my next steps after graduation.

Danielle Harr, Atmospheric Science and Learning Beyond the Classroom: I presented a poster at the American Meteorlogical Society (AMS) National Student Conference and networked with other students, professors, and professionals. I spoke with potential graduate research advisors in person and showcased my research. This was vital scientific presentation experience that I would not have gotten inside a classroom.

Ethan Loev, Computer Science: Being a teaching assistant allowed me to help others learn and grow, while also improving my own skills and knowledge. I enjoyed interacting with students from diverse backgrounds and levels of expertise and seeing them overcome challenges and achieve their goals.

Rianna Parla, Computer Science: I want to apply my studies in machine learning to research in astrophysics. I am particularly interested in creating simulations of galaxies to further the study of dark matter. These models will hopefully be used to observe the behavior of dark matter and how it interacts with galaxies.

Melanie Ruesch, Mathematics and Statistics: My studies at Purdue were far from effortless, but the difficulty of my degree makes the reward so much sweeter. I know that with challenge comes change. At Purdue, I had the chance to prove to myself that I am capable of great things.

Gracie Sanders, Biological Sciences and Learning Beyond the Classroom: There is so much more to this world than just the science they teach you in classrooms. Get outside and find yourself. Even if making friends or joining a club is hard for you, go out alone. Learning independence and how to find joy in solitude will make you a stronger person.

Abi Soliven, Chemistry: I am an ambassador for the honors college and lead tours for new and prospective students/families. I strive to help prospective students discover what they are looking for next. I am proud to give back to the community that shaped me.

Libby Sorenson, Biological Sciences and Learning Beyond the Classroom: When I traveled to Morocco, listening to the lived experiences of people there gave me a greater understanding of their culture and traditions. The complexities of society and customs were made apparent, which helped me to look beyond my assumptions and appreciate how the different factors of society come together.

Aria Sturmer, Statistics and Psychology: Coming to Purdue, I had no clue what I wanted to do. But by involving myself in research early, joining a variety of clubs, and attending office hours before I needed help, I was unknowingly setting myself up for success. You never know where your opportunities can take you, so immerse yourself in the Purdue experience, and you'll reap the benefits later.

Andrew Walke, Biological Sciences & Learning Beyond the Classroom: As a member of the World's Largest Drum Crew, I traveled to Ireland to perform in the Dublin St. Patrick's Day parade. To me, the drum represents everyting great about Purdue University: our spirit of adaptability, resilience, and innovation.



2023 Student Stories

Alyzza Arreola, Interdisciplinary Science: Purdue helped me understand who I wanted to be in the world. An advocator, a communicator, a creative thinker, and a compassionate leader.

Dylan Clarke, Mathematics & Statistics: I conducted research on the distribution of diseases both domestically and abroad. I used the statistical methodology I learned in classes to make a concrete impact on the world.

Lainey Colglazier, Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences & Religious Studies: Be kind to yourself. I changed my major 3 times as I developed my passions, and was still able to take a year-long study abroad and graduate in 8 semesters. Don't come to college with a rigid idea of what you expect to get out of it.  

Eli Coltin, Computer Science, Data Science & Economics: The opportunity to improve my community is why I spent 2 years conducting research on economically depressed neighborhoods in Lafayette. This real-world research showed me that every point in a data set is a person's life story, not just a number on a screen.

Natasha Das, Biochemistry: My work as an RA/REA has bee the most rewarding. I learned so many skills and developed close relationships with my peers and residents. This experience has prepared me to be come an empathetic, patient-first physician.

George Economou, Physics & Astronomy and Mathematics: Don't be intimidated or afraid to advocate for yourself. We're all humans here doing the best we can. Life happens, and if the time comes when you realize you're trying to do too much, there's no shame in cutting back.

Drew Kates, Computer Science & Data Sciencce: Serving in leadership positions at Purdue helped me develop essential skills such as teamwork, communication, and problem-solving and has given me the confidence to pursue additional leadership roles in my career.

Quin Nguyen, Biochemistry: Don't be afraid of doing undergraduate research early on. It offers you many opportunities to get hands-on experiences and to apply your knowledge in class to real-life problems.

Frances O'Leary, Computer Science and Mathematics: Try everything! I really struggle with shyness, but forcing myself to try new things and meet new people has been one of the most rewarding things I've experienced here at Purdue.

Emily Otten, Biological Sciences: At Purdue I had the opportunity to engage in research, study abroad, inform the community through CARE, and find lifelong friends. Through the study abroad program, I realized the importance of cultural competence and non-verbal communication.

Sophia Patel, Biology: As a research assistant in the Interdisciplinary Women's Reproductive Health Collaborative, I was able to help implement campus-wide public health initiatives such as the Pharmacy Vending Machines. I was also able to study abroad in Florence, Italy.

Tommy Pavell, Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences: The most meaningful activity I've done at Purdue is Severe Storms Fieldwork over the summer. It was more than just chasing storms, it was a chance to better grasp classroom concepts in the field, to network and to make lifelong memories.

Lily Peck, Biological Sciences & Classical Studies: Being a team leader for Boiler Gold Rush International changed the trajectory of my time at Purdue and opened up my mind. I had the opportunity to facilitate international students' introduction to campus and college life. This introduced me to some of my best friends and I made lifelong connections with individuals around the world.

Jeremy Rura, Statistics and Spanish: I was selected as one of the first data analytics managers for the Purdue Baseball program. I was tasked with building the culture and framework of the analytics team to help our baseball program be successful, and it brought me one step closer to my dream career.

Mae Shu, Biological Sciences: Serving as a member of the Purdue Science Student Council and president, I have grown as a leader in practicing teamwork, problem-solving, and delegation. I am most proud of the rising leaders coming from this organization and seeing their ideas come to fruition.

Beatrice Williem, Computer Science: Being a lead organizer for the biggest freshman-only hackathon, Hello World, was made possible because I stopped questioning my capabilities and believed in myself. I learned not to underestimate myself, and to take any opportunity that comes my way, apply for it, and surprise myself with what I can achieve.

Katya Yegorova, Computer Science & Linguistics: I am really excited about the impact I can have on the field of natural language processing. The current state of our technology excludes groups of people due to the language they speak. I want to change this disparity and work to create better and more inclusive models in the NLP space.

Grace Zhang, Actuarial Science & Statistics: As an officer in the Purdue Actuarial Club, I served as a student representative for the Department of Statistics in a 5-year external review. I was able to be a voice for student concerns and work with leaders to create solutions.


2022 Student Stories

Jack Arnold, Data Science & Computer Science, Through the Data Min, I worked on an AI team doing graduate-level research in just my second year at Purdue. I came here not knowing how to code, and now I couldn't imagine even a week without it.

Jinan Ayub, Biological Sciences, Involvement in research, leadership roles, global studies courses, and teaching has shaped the scientist I have become and my outlook on the world. As a physician, I hope to advocate for patients and global health equity.

Melissa Cai Shi, Actuarial Science, The idea of uncertainty is something the intrigues me. Being able to quantify it, finding ways to minimize it, and having the power to change it into financial stability amazes me.

Nikhil Jay D'Souza, Data Science, The healthcare and life sciences industries can effectively use data to generate helpful insights to improve patient quality of life. I want to be a part of leading breakthroughs in AI and health.

Brandi A. Daddario, EAPS, While performing research, you sometimes go in the totally wrong direction and have to start over; that experience allows you to learn from your mistake and translate it into success.

Isaiah Jeffery Ertal, Physics and Astronomy, Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Complete your work ahead of time. If you have a question, try to research it yourself. By doing so, you will develop your critical thinking skills.

Valeria Garcia, EAPS, At Purdue, I discovered a passion for Atmospheric Science and a confidence in my ability to succeed in a STEM career. I feel the same giddy excitement to begin graduate school as I did four years ago as a freshman.

Patrick Kelly, Computer Science, As a tutor for students with disabilities, I found that explaining CS concepts to students who access course material in a different way than me has given me an appreciation for the different ways others view the world.

Maria Mouchaham, Chemistry, During RA training, after opening up and becoming vulnerable, I discovered the complexities of each individual and learned to appreciate out differences.

Erin O'Farrell, Biological Sciences, Something important to realize is that it's okay to make changes. During your time here, you will grow into a new version of yourself. It was after volunteering in Peru that I knew I wanted a career in reproductive health.

Justin Postma, Biological Sciences, The skills that I gained through leadership activities outside of class are countless. Earning the LBC Certificate has enabled me to highlight my experiences in applications and interviews.

John Putziger, Chemistry, My study abroad in Colombia showed how leveraging national recourses can help solve global problems and drove me to work in government. I plan to utilize chemistry to tackle issues in sustainability and to promote international collaboration.

Joseph Robinson, EAPS, The Purdue Varsity Glee Club allowed me to spend time doing something I enjoy away from the stresses of academics. I traveled to Texas, Florida and New York, as well as to the UK, where my family saw me perform.

Rebecca Shelley, Biological Sciences, The mentors that I have had in my research experiences have been invaluable; they have pushed me to ask questions, reach beyond my comfort zone, and believe strongly in my abilities as a scientist.

Yash Uppal, Actuarial Science, What I'm most excited about is not just using my knowledge and skills in new and innovative ways, but also sharing my experiences with the community of actuarial students.

Joey Veltri, Mathematics: Working full-time one a problem that enthralled me through the REU I participated in was an unforgettable experience. It was refreshing to collaborate with other students just as passionate about math as I am.


2021 Student Stories

Vaastav Arora, Computer Science, What I like most about the field I'm entering is its dynamic nature, where there's always something new to learn and scope to grow in some shape or form. I see addressing problems related to climate and the environment as my eventual destination  Alexandra Kipnis, Computer Science, Do not try to fit the mold. The typical path that many CS students follow isn't necessarily for everyone. Purdue has so much to offer! By taking advantage of every opportunity, you will learn what you love and prepare for the real world after college

Alison Ricket, Biological Sciences, Find activities that truly make you happy, not just build your resume. I founded The Period Project, a movement to provide menstrual education and free products in academic building restrooms. The experience helped me grow in leadership, service and inclusion  Briar Qualizza, EAPS, My understanding of classroom material was transformed the first time I was able to apply it in the research environment. This new understanding developed my confidence and independence as a planetary scientist and helped me find my passion for geomorphology

Evan Hodes, Mathematics, I encourage every math major to take a wide variety of electives and classes that tie into your interests. Math can easily be applied to so many other fields. All it took for me was one financial mathematics class to realize I wanted to be an actuary  Jacob Brejcha, Chemistry, Embrace your interest. I took classes in chemistry, political science and engineering, and completed research focused on environmental innovations. Research improved my analytical and critical thinking skills, helping prepare me for a career in environmental consulting

Jayla Langford, Mathematics, By participating in the Black Cultural Center ensembles, I found the sense of belonging I was looking for. I hope to leave the exact legacy of inspiration and resilience that many Black Purdue students paved for me  Kaustub Anand, Physics, As part of the Global Science Partners learning community, I gained meaningful leadership skills and expanded my social circle. Culture is like an iceberg there is always more information hidden below the surface

Kevin Lamaster, Data Science, The statistics Learning Community gave me the opportunity to explore mathematical research early in my undergraduate studies and share the experience with 20 like-minded individuals from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines  Kiersten Lofton, Statistics, My study abroad to Spain was my first time outside of the United States which made me eager to immerse myself in the culture. It helped me develop my self-advocacy skills and recognize the importance of self-reflection

Lauren Orr, Biochemistry, Mentorship was a critical part of my development as a scientist. My undergraduate research and industry experiences have allowed me to make connections and learn about different paths which are possible for those interested in research  Lindsey Wilson, Biological Sciences, Undergraduate research was one of my most important experiences. I learned the process of research  and became comfortable conducting experiments on my own. I gained skills in scientific communication and networking which prepared me to become a successful physician-scientist

Madeline Reichert, Actuarial Science, Purdue has taught me the benefits of staying curious and knowledgeable bath within and outside my field of expertise. I am a mentor in the Women in Science Program. It pushed me outside my comfort zone and gave me the confidence to be a successful female leader  Maia Clare, Biological Sciences, I am an ambassador for the multicultural science programs that educate the student body on diversity and inclusion. This has impacted how I consider the world around me, including my research interests into cancer health disparities between different socioeconomic classes

Shameetha Jerome, Computer Science, As a mentor in the Global Science Partners program, I have tried to help members understand themselves by reflecting on their interactions with other people to identify the unconscious biases and stereotypes that they ay have.


2020 Success Stories

Kevin Altman, Chemistry: My internship let me experience first-hand what a STEM career was like in the pharmaceutical industry. Although the science was important, so were my organizational and communication skills.  Hope Cullers, Statistics: Studying abroad in Scotland changed the way I looked at the world. When I came back to Purdue, it honestly felt like I was seeing everything for the first time again.

Colin Harris, Biological Sciences: Studying in Colombia showed me what can be achieved with limited resources, but also showed me the importance of bringing aid to developing countries, something I hope to accomplish being a doctor.  Kai Hoffman, Computer Science: Study to understand, not to get good grades. Memorizing limits you to the problems you've seen, but if you understand a concept, you can solve problems you've never seen before.

Sydney Keenan, Mathematics: Prepare to be challenged. Prepare to struggle. Prepare to work hard. However, you are not alone. Faculty, staff, and other students are here to help you. You are part of the Purdue family.  Chinyere Kemet, Chemistry: Participating in broad scientific activities can lead to new experiences and provide the technical and soft skills needed for future careers.

Samuel Mercier, Mathematics: The flexibility of the math major allows students to explore their interests within their discipline more deeply and to branch out into other disciplines.  Kavya Nagalakunta, Computer Science:

Eryn Sale, Biological Sciences: Be persistent and resilient. Let your challenges and your unique journey guide you forward. Honor where you come from and keep your eyes open to new beginnings.  Andrew Santos, Physics & Astronomy: It can be easier to follow your head over your heart in physics. If you like music, keep playing; if you like soccer, keep playing. Let your interests intersect your intrigue in physics.

Jasmine Stephen, Biological Sciences: As a Boiler Mentor, I loved the opportunity to help mentor incoming fresham and give them the support they need to be successful here at Purdue.  Xinyi Tan, Mathematics: Global Science Partners offered me numerous opportunities for stepping out my comfort zone and making friends with people who are culturally different than me.

Connor Tinker - Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences: Seek those challenges which fall beyond the scope of the classes as these are the ones that will provide you with the most growth.  Evan Wang, Computer Science and Mathematics: My mission as a future scientist in the rapidly developing AI field will be to minimize the negative impact and reap the positive benefits of technological integration.

Darah Waskin, Biological Sciences: The Women in Science Program provided me with both mentorship and leadership to overcome challenges I've faced - and helped me develop professionally and personally as a leader.  Brianna Westerberg, Chemistry: I never thought about how I could use chemistry in industries outside of pharmaceuticals or academic research, but I'm going to work in a commercial lab making wine!


Goldwater Scholars

Goldwater Scholarships are the nation's preeminent scholarship for undergraduates in mathematics, natural sciences or engineering. Three of the four Purdue students receiving this honor are from the College of Science.

Robert Gustafson, Lindsey Wilson and Alexandra Stiffler.

Robert Gustafson is pursuing majors in physics and astronomy, and mathematics. He stood out as a leader among his peers in physics since early in his studies in associate professor of physics and astronomy Raphael Lang's dark matters research group. His independent spirit further shined through in NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory when he was able to propose a new method of using neutrinos to determine the interiors of solar system bodies. "My research experiences have been extremely rewarding," he said. "I have greatly appreciated the opportunities to utilize creative independence within a larger collaboration and arrive at tangible conclusions that push the scientific community forward."

Lindsey Wilson is pursuing a major in genetics. For over two years, she has conducted research on phage folding in the lab of Nicholas Noinaj, an associate professor of biology. Her research and leadership in the area of genetic mutation and disorders continues to impress her professors and colleagues. "Little is known about the impact of many mutations involved in genetic disorders," she said.  "I aspire to fill the gaps in our knowledge by drawing connections between the mutations and the symptoms of the genetic diseases."

Alexandra Stiffler is pursuing a major in ecology, evolution, and environmental sciences. She shines as a scientific researcher and a community leader. Stiffler has conducted research on Fic proteins in the lab of Seema Mattoo, an assistant professor of biology, for more than three years. She is described by her professors and mentors as excelling in collaboration and displaying a high degree of intercultural competency. "Many biologists ask why organisms display a particular type of behavior," she said. "However, I seek to discover the 'how' and am building a background in biochemistry and microbiology to do so."


Fulbright Scholars

Andrew Santos, Maya Black, Will Austin and Eryn Sale.

Andrew Santos is a graduating senior in the College of Science and the Honors College with a major in physics and astronomy. His Fulbright offer is to research neutrinos with the Leprince-Ringuet Laboratory (LLR) at École Polytechnique in France. This is a natural extension of experimental work for Santos, who worked on neutrino oscillations in a summer REU program in astrophysics, and has served as president for both Purdue Impact Theory, a student science communications organization, and for the Purdue Science Student Council.

Maya Black is a graduating senior in the College of Science and the Honors College with majors in genetics and cell, molecular, and developmental biology. She applied to teach English in Spain. She is a leader in scholarly approaches to diversity, as well as an excellent researcher. As a student diversity officer in the Honors College, she led a variety of workshops, film screenings, and panel discussions related to diversity, equality, and social justice. Upon returning to the United States, she intends to enter the medical field.

Will Austin graduated from Purdue in May 2019 from the College of Science and the College of Agriculture with a bachelor's degree in health and disease, and entomology, and is now a graduate student. He has set his sights on Thailand, where he will be teaching English, with a goal to gain an intercultural perspective on tropical diseases. This will enhance his ability to combat neglected tropical disease in the future.

Eryn Sale is a graduating senior in the College of Science with a major in neurobiology and physiology, and a second major in genetics. Her Fulbright offer is to study cell types in the brain through the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience in Norway. On a Fulbright, she will also engage with the public dissemination of the institute's work, via video platforms and blogs, aiming to communicate neuroscience to the general public. This is especially fitting for Sale, as her interests lie at the intersection between biophysics and public policy.

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