Science learning communities are growing, award-winning

04-13-2016

HungerHike

Computer Science learning community first-year students at the 2015 Hunger Hike in Lafayette.


Learning communities are unique ways for first year students to establish themselves and thrive.

All across Purdue’s campus, these communities group students of similar academic tracks to study, eat and socialize together. Some communities have the students living on the same floor of their dorms.

Led by enthusiastic, energetic and creative advisors, two College of Science learning communities earned recent awards.

The Computer Science and Computer Science-Bridge learning communities received a Student Support Award for introducing students to helpful resources on campus and providing opportunities for direct interaction for support.

Advisors Desiree Marmon, Scott Nelson, Kevin Jones, Faith Giordano, Vicki Gilbert and Elizabeth Watts teamed up with Computer Science associate professor Buster Dunsmore to give 120 CS first-year students a strong start to their Purdue careers. This fast start cultivated a strong year and a quick bond to Purdue, their program and to each other.

“It’s students really taking a sense of pride in their group, their community,” Nelson said. “They come together as a group and show what we can do.”

Nelson and Marmon were eager to give their students an impactful first semester. Nelson organized a team for the annual Hunger Hike, a benefit for Lafayette Urban Ministry. The young men and women donned matching maroon T-shirts, bright yellow headbands and temporary College of Science tattoos before stepping for charity.

“Hunger Hike in the fall was a lot of fun,” recalled Kate Lorenzen, a CS freshman. “I enjoyed getting to see different clubs, sports, and majors getting together and walking to end hunger. We also took the opportunity to shout out our Computer Science pride to the rest of the students as we walked.

The students helped the hike raise $101,282 to help fight hunger.

The advisors also organized an outing to the CS-heavy Dawn or Doom conference as well as a group visit to Nuclear Engineering’s Purdue University Reactor No. 1, located in the basement of the Electrical Engineering Building. During the spring semester, Nelson and Marmon let their students leave the nest but they kept tabs on the freshmen. The advisors were excited to see many of them still study and eat at the dining halls together.

Nelson said they expect to increase their learning communities to 144 first-year students for the fall.

The Discoveries in Biology Learning Committee took home an Exceptional Event Planner Award. Academic advisors Lora Goonewardene, Jamie Linville, Marsha Rhees and Karen Wiggins nurtured four sections of Biological Sciences students, grouping them in emphasis of major – “human biology,” “flora and fauna,” and two general biology groups.

Wiggins’ said a highlight for her group was volunteering at Lafayette’s Columbian Park Boo at the Zoo event and then later getting a “behind the scenes” tour of the zoo, which included meeting many of the animals up close.

Linville organized a trip to the cadaver lab in Lyles Porter Hall, which is utilized by the Indiana University School of Medicine. That event was balanced by a simple, yet popular, game night of Apples to Apples.

“We’ve tried very hard to have a nice mix of all those types of activities,” Wiggins said. “We’re wanting to plan events particularly relevant to the students to explore the community as well as do social things and academic things and career things. It really is validating to win this award.”

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