GetReConnected

March 2020


Christopher Laymon Christopher Laymon received the 2020 Men's Leadership Series Scholarship Award.

Student Profile

Laymon Embraces Opportunities to Further Develop Leadership

Cary Quad resident assistant Christopher Laymon has always found himself naturally drawn to leadership positions.

“I’ve always enjoyed being able to guide people in a sense and have an influence on the way their experiences are held or received,” says Laymon. “Being able to corral their experience in a positive way and be there for them is something that I’ve always valued.”

Laymon’s leadership experience prior to coming to Purdue included serving as treasurer of Batesville High School’s (Ind.) chapter of the National Honors Society and serving on a committee that represented the interests of his graduating class as the high school was renovated. He is also an Eagle Scout with three palms. Before becoming a resident assistant, he was a student supervisor in Wiley Dining Court as a freshman.

While he wasn’t specifically looking to become a RA when he came to college, Laymon says it seemed like a logical progression based on his experiences and he wanted to give it a try.

“Through the process of applying and interviewing and then getting the job, I’ve found it’s something I’ve really, really liked and grown fond of,” says Laymon.

Thursday trips to get pizza from Pete’s Za, a bowling outing and a trip to go paintballing have been a part of the bonding experiences Laymon has had with his floor. The highlight so far though, was totally unplanned. Following an event, Laymon says he and some of his residents decided on a whim that it was time to decorate the hallway for the holidays. Most of the floor’s residents contributed over the course of the evening as the production came to life. The result was an entire corridor of Christmas lights, murals of holiday scenes made from construction paper and even presents on top of the drinking fountain. Their creation won the holiday decorating contest in Cary.

“I got all of the stuff I thought we might need and it just spiraled out of control,” Laymon says.

Since becoming a resident assistant, Laymon has participated in two key leadership development opportunities – Men’s Leadership Series and Spring Leadership Institute. He says each has had its own impact on his ways of thinking and approach to various situations.

One of the messages that resonated with Laymon from Men’s Leadership Series came from a presentation by Danny Varghese, senior vice president of professional service at Formitize, who presented as part of his Executive-in-Residence visit. Varghese shared the idea that individuals should “empty their cup,” – meaning if one’s cup is completely full, one cannot receive anything in addition to what they already have.

“It felt like that hit a little extra special at the time because of the point I was at in the semester and with some other things that were going on personally,” says Laymon. “Emptying your cup was not something I had really thought about. That actually helps if I can let go and leave whatever I’m dealing with behind so I can try to receive other things and find out what other people are dealing with. It kind of takes the weight off of whatever stress you might be enduring and I think it also makes you way more receptive to people.”

While many of University Residences’ leadership development programs and opportunities take place on campus, Spring Leadership Institute affords students a getaway to network and workshop with their peers as well as alumni and staff leaders. This year’s retreat was held at Turkey Run State Park. In addition to leadership building activities and presentations, participants went hiking and performed community service.

“It was super neat to go somewhere and be with a group of people,” says Laymon. “In being invited or nominated to the institute retreat, it just felt like something extra special and that they were really invested in us, which makes me feel even more inclined to be invested in what they have to offer. It just felt like a super engaging weekend.”

A lesson from the weekend that had an immediate payoff for Laymon came from the message of guest speaker Charlie Duncheon, CEO and co-founder of Celltrio Inc., who spoke as part of his Executive-in-Residence visit. Duncheon shared his thoughts on the benefits of networking, both in a professional and personal sense. Later in the day, Laymon was able to make a connection with a peer after sharing that he is considering using his mechanical engineering degree to pursue a career in the amusement park industry in the future.

“The stars aligned and everything,” says Laymon. “Of course, that was immediately after the conversation with Charlie about networking.”

Alumni participation in the retreat also made a major impression on Laymon. He cites the positive messages shared by Nichol Wuertemberger (BSME, ’16) as being particularly influential. Wuertemberger served as a resident assistant in Cary and Owen halls and held a variety of leadership positions in ResLife during his time as a student, including national communications coordinator and president of the Residence Halls Association. Laymon says that seeing alumni such as Wuertemberger continuing to be active and give back to the programs they participated in has inspired him to want to do the same.

“I thought it was cool seeing the way these people are giving back to the things that I was super passionate about and really enjoyed,” says Laymon. “I would love to do that. I’m interested in coming back and being a part of the leadership institute and helping plan that out because it was so awesome. I just want to be part of that influence for people. I want to be part of that experience and make it the best that I can for them.”

Laymon plans to continue his active role in ResLife as his time at Purdue unfolds. He hopes to land a position as a residence education assistant (REA) but plans to continue as a resident assistant if that doesn’t work out.

“I will not be leaving ResLife as long as I am here, that’s for sure,” he says.

Though there is uncertainty on the immediate horizon due to the effects of COVID-19, Laymon says he is committed to doing the best he can to help residents who will remain on campus.

“I don’t want to just slack off,” he says. “Just because this is happening doesn’t mean I can’t do my best to make the experience something good for people.”


 

Krystie Jezierski shares laughs and fun with members of UR Global.

Alumni Profile

Pride in Purdue, Power of Connection Evident in Jezierski's EiR Visit

An intense pride in Purdue and a willingness foster connections best characterize Krystie Jezierski’s stay as Executive-in-Residence.

Jezierski, the senior human resources manager for Delta In-Flight Services (West Region), displayed that pride and connected with students and staff throughout the course of her visit. Included among the interactions during her visit were meetings with students from campus organizations such as UR Global, participating in Fabulous Friday at the LGBTQ Resource Center, meeting one-on-one with students during Coffee & Consulting and spending time with resident assistants from Earhart and McCutcheon Halls.

Honing in on creating meaningful connections and communicating were two of the strongest messages Jezierski shared with students.

“They really work hand in hand,” says Jezierski. “Learning about people, being open to diversity, being open to different ideas and then being kind to one another really helps facilitate those connections. The ability to maintain that and grow those connections even stronger and to be able to communicate in a way that’s true and honest with empathy and sincerity were some of the key messages that we discussed throughout the week.”

As an undergraduate, Jezierski served as a resident assistant in Owen Hall for two years. She later served as staff resident for Earhart and McCutcheon Halls while completing a Master of Science in Human Resource Management. Those experiences helped Jezierski directly relate and share expertise with current students who hold similar roles, all while keeping in mind the future impact those experiences can have in a career.

“In each one of these roles, I had the opportunity to adapt my communication, critical thinking and relationship building skill-sets that I now have to use every single day,” says Jezierski. “We all have to be able to effectively communicate with people who are very different from ourselves and also be able to do that in a way that shows empathy all in order to grow these connections.”

“Having experience working in the residence halls, in any capacity, gives you the opportunity to engage with students that come from many diverse backgrounds and that have diverse experiences, skill-sets and interests. With this type of environment, you have to rely on your communication and conflict resolution skills,” continues Jezierski. “There are situations where you have to think on your feet. You have to be comfortable with that and really hone in on your critical thinking, leadership and decision-making abilities. This is the perfect opportunity to develop these skill sets as they will be a crucial asset throughout a future after Purdue, both in your personal and professional life.”

In thinking back on her days as a student, Jezierski says there was always a sense of purpose and pride in everything Purdue has to offer. She says she is heartened to see a similar spirit in today’s students.

“This is what Purdue is about,” she says. “These are the types of people that are Purdue. They are all in. They are go-getters. They are kind and sincere and all-around good people, but they’re smart, too. And all of that combined is a force to be reckoned with.”

To Jezierski, that connection across generations embodies the spirit of Purdue.

“It’s the same for us all, no matter what generation we belong to or when we attended Purdue,” Jezierski says. “We’re all coming through to learn, whether we know it at the time or not, those essential skills of building connections, communication and leadership. I think that’s one of the neatest parts. We all have that in common throughout every generation, every major and every demographic. These skills are foundational and during your time at Purdue you work to refine them, and that’s the common piece.”

Krystie Jezierski Campus Tour

Photo courtesy Krystie Jezierski.

Whether it was filming videos jumping with students at various locations around campus during a campus tour, sharing selfies with groups of students on social media or demonstrating care in sharing her expertise with students, Jezierski’s passion for Purdue was evident throughout the week.

“Everything that I am today, I attribute to the decision to attend Purdue and what Purdue has helped me with,” says Jezierski. “It’s not only the skills that I had the chance to develop but it was also the connections I made there. Those connections are the folks that helped pull me through the hard times who now are celebrating the good ones with me.”

Jezierski is one of nine executives who visited as part of the EiR program during the 2019-20 school year. The program brings successful alumni back to live on campus for a week, during which they interact with students through formal and informal interactions. The hallmark of the program is one-on-one interactions between executives and students.

To learn more about Executive-in-Residence, please visit https://www.housing.purdue.edu/AboutUs/EiR/index.html.


 

Cary Quad

Staff Profile

University Residences Adapts Through Online Opportunities

With the suspension of campus and admissions visits through at least May 2 due to concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19, University Residences faces challenges in showcasing campus housing to prospective students and answering the questions of admitted students on their campus housing options. University Residences is rising to the challenge and adapting to bring an online experience to these students.

University Residences is already participating in Daily Virtual Visit for Admitted Students events, created by the Office of Admissions. These live events, held using an online conferencing program, give students and families the opportunity to learn about their next steps through audio and video interaction, receive information about new opportunities and ask questions. University Residences staff have been participating in these popular online events and have been fielding questions from admitted students.

University Residences and Dining & Culinary are also partnering to produce virtual visits specific to housing and dining. These presentations will show admitted students their next steps, with staff members available online to answer questions afterwards.

Other efforts in the works include virtual tours of residence halls and a Tik-Tok social media account to connect with prospective and admitted students.

Research shows that the top two factors prospective students weigh when making their college choices are their physical visit to campus and their feelings of a connection with that campus. Since creating a connection through a physical visit isn’t possible for the time being, University Residences is focusing on creating feelings of connection virtually.

Randi Purvis, manager of guest relations for the Alumni and Guest Center, is spearheading University Residences’ efforts in this area as well as serving as a spokesperson and liaison for recruiting and admitted student events.

“Feeling a visceral connection with the campus is what we’re trying to highlight with all of these efforts,” says Purvis. “We can’t focus on the campus visit right now, but we can focus on that connection.”

No matter what challenges arise, University Residences will continue to seek new ways to connect with students make them feel welcome in their future campus home.

Writer: Matt Vader | Editors: Elizabeth Hartley, Tammy Loew, Danielle Fawbush

Editorial Board: Barb Frazee, Tammy Loew, Elizabeth Hartley | Inquiries Contact: studentlifemarketing@purdue.edu