HOW DID YOU GET HERE? Like most things in my life, my professional journey was circuitous. I started attending Purdue right out of high school, and in my first two years I had several majors: pre-vet, biology, and electrical engineering. Because none of those studies excited me, I decided to work full time to become an in-state resident, and go to school part-time to figure out what I really wanted to do academically. I started working as a receptionist at the PMU Union Club Hotel, and later transferred to the PMU business office, and then to the business office in Chemical Engineering, all the while taking a variety of classes. When I took my first programming class, I discovered my passion. I was admitted to what is now the Polytechnic Institute and began pursuing a technical degree part-time. After earning a B.S. in Computer Information Technology, I was hired by Purdue as a programmer. Over time, I rose to the level of IT Manager. In all the various positions I’ve held, I found two things I loved to do: mentor students and work with data. My CCO position offers both of these responsibilities, and I couldn’t be happier.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT WORKING AT THE CCO? I most like having the opportunity to help students achieve their professional goals. One of my job responsibilities is supervising the student team that develops computer applications and provides tech support for the CCO. This allows me to have direct impact on their futures by providing them with challenging projects, and supporting their academic pursuits. My team and I together provide the CCO technology which facilitates the endeavors of all Purdue students, faculty, and employers associated with the CCO.
WHAT IS THE MOST UNUSUAL JOB YOU EVER HAD? Barnacle scrubber. When I was a child growing up in Massachusetts, my parents had a 42-foot boat. Each fall, it had to be winched out of the ocean and stored on a “cradle” for the winter. Although the wooden hull was painted with copper paint, supposedly poisonous to barnacles, many of these volcano-looking creatures still clung tenaciously. Since the space between the hull and the ground was cramped, it was easier for a small person to get under the boat and scrub – using a large bristle brush and a bucket of wet sand. My skills soon got noticed, and I was hired by the owners of eight to ten other boats. On weekends during a couple of months each fall, I would spend hours squatting in the mud, scrubbing the hulls of boats until my fingers were raw.
FAVORITE THINGS: Cats, travel, food, reading, and gardening – in no particular order.
QUOTE YOU LIVE BY: The number one quote I live by every minute of every day is the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I always try to be conscious of my behavior in relation to how I would feel if someone acted that same way toward me. Another quote that guides my life is from the Mary Poppins movie: “Enough is as good as a feast.” It keeps me grounded in the idea that I don’t need more than I can use, which, in turn, focuses my attention on helping those less fortunate. The third quote I follow is "Pay it forward." I try to perform random acts of kindness as often as possible for people I don't know, and will never see again - without judgement regarding their income level or neediness. I've bought countless breakfasts and lunches for strangers, secretly paid for a young couple's dinner in a fancy Indianapolis restaurant, and sent a large box of scrapbooking supplies to a female British police officer whom I met while vacationing. It is a heartwarming activity that brings me a lot of joy.
ADVICE FOR STUDENTS: Take time to discover your strengths and what you love to do, and find a way to work those into your job. Ideally, you should find a job you look forward to going to every day. Conversely, think long and hard about pursuing a career doing something you detest; no amount of money is adequate compensation for a life lived in misery. You may not realize it now, but life is short – enjoy every minute of it as fully as possible.