Friday, June 9, 2017

Meet Danielle Render, Recipient of Interdisciplinary Engineering's 2017 Outstanding Service Award

Danielle Render is a very involved member in the Purdue community, and has emerged as a leader in several organizations. She is serving in her third year as an Ambassador for the College of Engineering, which consists of about 30 students who are involved in areas such as student recruitment to Purdue Engineering Alumni relations. She’s also an active participant in the Minority Engineering Program (MEP) where she often takes part in recruitment programs, encouraging minority engineering students to apply for and confirm their enrollment in Purdue University’s College of Engineering. Having been involved in the Mother Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) since she was a freshman, she has since risen to being the 2016-2017 Region IV Chairperson. In January, Danielle was awarded the IDE Outstanding Service Award, which is given each year to a senior who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and service skills. In addition to those accolades, Danielle is serving in the Zeta Theta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. as the Corresponding Secretary and the Sergeant-at-Arms. Her goal since being a freshman was to leave her mark on this campus, and being the 2017 IDE Outstanding Service Award recipient, Danielle's name will forever be marked in the hallway of Armstrong Hall. 

Danielle's current and future plans starts with continuing to serve in NSBE as the 2017-2018 Chair Emeritus of the Region IV Executive Board. She will be working Full-Time with Accenture as a Digital Business Integration Analyst starting in August. Danielle also plans to obtain an MBA in 2-3 years to aid her professional career.  

Danielle wanted to share one piece of advice with the generation that follows her - it doesn't take being "smart" to get through engineering. It takes diligence.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Campus Spotlight: Native American Education & Cultural Center

Last week, the Native American Education & Cultural Center (NAECC) opened its doors to kick off Native American Heritage Month with an open house. It hosted its first ever open house at its new location on November 2nd. The center has moved from its slightly secluding location on the south side of campus, to a more central location at the corner of Fifth and University Streets.

The NAECC was created to develop new generations of educated Native students who can make positive contributions to their native and non-native communities. The NAECC joined campus in 2007, in attempt to provide a voice to the native student population. Felica Ahasteen-Bryant has been the director of the center since June 2009, and has since worked tirelessly to expand the vision of the center. Ahasteen-Bryant has many contacts within the native community in Indiana, and uses them to provide programming, mentorship, and outreach for the NAECC.

The center is mainly responsible for two clubs: AISES and NASA. The American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) was created to provide representation of American Indian and Alaska Natives in science and engineering education and careers. AISES provides educational programs, financials and academic support, professional development, as well as builds partnerships with schools, tribes, corporations, and more. Native American Student Association (NASA) is the Native student voice on campus. NASA provides a forum for students to discuss issues that concern Native people and promotes awareness of Native cultures and issues. Both clubs hold their meetings and activities at the center.

The NAECC provides a “home base” for many students. “Students can be found napping on the couches in the middle of the day, or hanging out after classes,” says Director Felica Ahasteen-Bryant. The facility has a conference room for club meetings or educational programming, a computer lab with a printer and wireless access, student lounge with a TV and Blu-Ray/DVD player, a full kitchen, library, and outdoor patio. The NAECC also serves as a function museum, as the walls are adorned with authentic Native American art from around the country.

The NAECC is open to all students. Anyone is welcome to stop by, schedule a tour, or attend any of their events. The center hosts “Souper Wednesdays,” a traditional meal provided by the center, on the first Wednesday of every month. The center also periodically hosts craft-circles and seminars with guest speakers. Be sure to check out their website ( for more details on upcoming events!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hispanic Heritage Month Feature - Flor Albornoz

Flor Albornoz
Hometown: Lima, Peru
Major: Electrical Engineering
Year: Senior

What does it mean to be a minority studying Engineering at Purdue?
It means to defeat the stereotype that Hispanics can’t achieve higher education and pave the way for younger generations to be role models.
Why did you choose to study engineering here at Purdue?
I chose engineering because it is a challenging major focuses on improving people’s day to day lives through technology. Moreover, the competitive engineering program allows me gain the skills to make a difference in our community.
Do you have advice for a prospective Hispanic student looking at Purdue? What do you wish you would have known?
I wish I would have known that it was O.K. I was not the same as my peers. For a couple of years, I tried to behave like my peers and I even stayed away from Hispanic culture because it wasn’t the norm. Little did I know, what drives me to achieve my major is seeing Hispanic students work hard to achieving goals that in our communities might seem impossible. Being culturally different is an advantage, not disadvantage. Purdue will push the boundaries of your comfort zone whether that is academically or personally. That’s a good thing because it means you are growing as a person and making yourself stronger. Imposter syndrome might be easy to fall into, but know that you deserve to be in this institution as much as your peers. Your success, drive and knowledge is what allowed you to be at Purdue. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
What is something you would have done different during your first year? (If this is your first year, what would you have done differently before coming to Purdue?)
I would have done things at my own pace and seek for help in classes rather than pretend I understood all the material. I remember my peers would get the material very fast and put little to no effort on first year engineering classes while it would take me 10 times the effort they put to get close the same results. I tried very hard to not be seen as the minority student who was a slow learner so I let myself be influenced by that.
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?

It means to be proud of my culture and where I come from.

Friday, October 7, 2016

An Interview with Carina Olaru, Director of Latino Cultural Center

Carina Olaru is an educator first. She started as an associate professor of Modern Languages, teaching Spanish and Portuguese, at a small liberal arts college in Illinois. There, she was the only domestic professor of color. This led to many minority students reaching out to her and sparking her desire to increase diversity awareness on college campuses.  She started many programs at her prior university before starting at the director of Purdue’s Latino Cultural Center this July. She has been director for just about two months and is already making big waves her on campus. She intends to raise the visibility of the center and Latino students on campus. Her goals are to empower student, faculty, and staff and be a resource for the university as well as the West Lafayette and Lafayette communities. She also wants to assist the university in recruiting and retaining minority students.
            Carina Olaru believes all the cultural centers are important. In her opinion, they “represent the underrepresented” and work hard to provide a space for minority students. The cultural centers create a community, so students of minority groups don’t feel like they are the only ones. Olaru believes the cultural centers are integral to helping students graduate on time and to recruit and retain Purdue students. She praises the cultural centers on their level of collaboration. She says the centers aren’t afraid to work with one another, because they all come from the same place, and have the same goals. Carina Olaru is very proud of the cultural centers here on Purdue’s campus.

            For students interested in getting involved with the Latino Cultural Center, Olaru says the center is “what you make of it.” The center is located on north Russel street and is fully equipped with a lounge, conference room, fully-functional kitchen, as well as an ITaP computer lab and a sand volleyball court outside. “Students are more than welcome to just stop by between classes,” says Olaru, “some even nap in our lounge on the couches.” The center is open 9am-9pm Monday – Thursday, and 9am-5pm on Friday. Student organizations are able to reserve their conference room by making a reservation on their website. The center will be offering a variety of events this semester. From Spanish conversation tables, to theatre performances, and Los Dios de Los Muertos processional on October 27th. Each cultural center will have an alter to honor loved ones past, leading to the Latino Cultural Center, who will have their own alter, as well as activities and food, and the alter of the LGBTQ Center. All events hosted by the LCC are free and open to the public. Carina Olaru stresses that “everyone is welcome here,” and that the Latino Cultural Center is to serve as a home for Purdue Students. Check their website for a keep up with events and see what is happening next.