My oldest son is in sixth grade and recently had math homework on congruent triangles; these triangles have equal sides and angles. I asked him, “How can you live congruently? ” Despite the eye roll and the “Mom, I’m not going to be a triangle for Halloween” (what a great idea, by the way), we had a lengthy conversation about how our actions and words must mirror our values. I believe that through our education, work, and life, we must be true to our passions and values.
My liberal arts degree has allowed me to live my own congruent geometry, balancing my family, profession, and community. For me, my Purdue experience is the base of this triangle. I arrived at Purdue in August 1994 as an English education major and Dean’s Freshman Scholar. I loved, and still love, writing, reading, and thinking; liberal arts was a perfect fit and my passion.
Throughout my Purdue collegiate experience, I was involved in and out of the classroom. A Gallup–Purdue University study surveyed six key student experiences, aptly called the “Big Six”: having at least one professor who made them excited about learning, having professors who cared about them, having a mentor, working on a long-term project, having an internship, and being extremely active in extracurricular activities and organizations. According to the study, only 3 percent of all college graduates nationwide experience all six. The College of Liberal Arts afforded me the opportunity to experience all six; these meaningful connections and experiences continue to impact me. My experiences in Tri Delta, Purdue Musical Organizations, Old Masters, and Mortar Board enriched my in-class learning and experiences. I realized I liked college so much that I would just stay forever, and I pursued a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs at Ohio State. I had the opportunity to return to Purdue in 2001 in the Office of the Dean of Students, encouraging students to take an active role in their learning and co-curricular experiences.
The equal sides of family and profession make up the remainder of my triangle. My congruence and engagement with what matters and my passion have stayed with me and have led me to my current career and being present for my family. Since being tapped for Mortar Board in 1997, I have stayed involved and connected as an alumna and a volunteer. As my professional life changed as our family grew, I was able to turn this commitment into a job in 2011. The Mortar Board national office is located in Columbus, Ohio; I work from my home in Tennessee, engaging our alumni and collegiate chapters. An organization that values and celebrates scholarship, leadership, and service is a perfect fit for me and reflects my values. In addition, as part of my personal “Big Six,” I am working for someone who mentored me at Purdue, Jane Hamblin.
My engagement at Purdue in the College of Liberal Arts and across campus is a huge part of who I am professionally and personally. There is congruence between my passion and what I do professionally as well as in my roles as volunteer, advocate, and parent. Liberal arts majors are often asked, “What are you going to do with that? ” And I can confidently answer, “It’s my passion. And it’s congruent.”