September 2020

    Dakota Robinson


Student Profile

Robinson Set to Lead Residence Hall Association

Dakota Robinson, president of the Residence Hall Association (RHA), says he had always been involved in government-style clubs focused on service growing up. In becoming involved in RHA, Robinson says he found a club that fit his interests.

“I’m a person who loves organized meetings and who wants to feel like he’s doing something,” says Robinson, a senior from Terre Haute. “I’ve seen clubs where there’s a lot of talking, but RHA isn’t like that. In RHA, there’s a lot of talking and then we make the hard decisions and work on executing the decisions.”

Robinson joined RHA as a freshman after hearing about the organization from his roommate, who was very involved in leadership activities within the residence halls, and attending several meetings. He became progressively more involved with the organization, serving as vice president during the 2019-20 school year before assuming his role as president this fall. Robinson says that progressing up the leadership chain will provide valuable experience as he works to lead the organization this year.

“My end goal with jumping to the vice president position was to run for president,” says Robinson. “I wanted to get experience. I don’t feel like I could have done the club justice if I wouldn’t have had the experience that I received this past year.”

Robinson cites Jen Bannon, associate director of Residential Life, and Jake Hughes, residential student leadership coordinator, as having played a significant role in mentoring him during his time with RHA. He has additionally taken advantage of opportunities to travel to regional and national conferences, such as the National Association of College and University Residence Halls (NACURH) conference. During that time, he says he has developed as a leader by becoming more confidence in public speaking roles and through his ability to work in groups. 

“It’s really brought me out of a shell,” says Robinson. “I was that shy kid in high school and, even coming here, I think I talked to like five or six people outside of my professors during my first year here. How I’ve really developed as a leader is just by being more verbal and building a lot of soft skills.”

Over the past several years, RHA has partnered with numerous campus organizations to support and execute various events and initiatives. One of the most visible projects involved partnering with Purdue Student Government to distribute green bandanas as part of the inaugural Mental Health Awareness Week, held in February 2020. The green bandana project was an initiative to show solidarity and bring awareness to mental health resources available on campus. RHA has also supported Purdue University Dance Marathon and worked with University Residences organizations such as UR Global and UR Multicultural Connections in addition to hall clubs.

Robinson’s goals for the upcoming year include continuing to develop relationships and partner with residence hall and campus organizations, as well as perform advocacy work for students who have experienced racial and sexual discrimination. He also hopes RHA will be able to produce a virtual version of Res Halls’ Got Talent, a popular annual talent showcase that typically fills Loeb Playhouse.

“I feel RHA could really do great in keeping people together and providing a sense of community,” says Robinson. “I would like to see my crew keep that up and also come up with more events to help create that community, and then create some guidelines for events for when we are able to transition back to in-person events after COVID.” 

Robinson is on track to graduate in May 2021 with a degree in aerospace engineering technology from Purdue Polytechnic. In the meantime, Robinson will be hard at work with the friends he’s made in RHA. 

“RHA has been a community of friends and family,” says Robinson. “I’ve seen people get so heated during an argument and then, afterwards, we’re all still friends. I think a lot of people don’t realize that about RHA. They think we’re all politics, but we’re still students. We still get along and we’re still all welcome to new ideas, advocacy and events for hall clubs.”

Readers can stay up to date on RHA activities by following the organization on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.


Drew Mattison 

Alumni Profile

Mattison Engages Students Through Mentorship

One of the first emotions Drew Mattison can remember feeling as a residence hall counselor in Cary Quad was panic.

“I remember the first or one of the first nights in Cary Quad, lying in bed not knowing how I was going to do everything,” says Mattison. “I was in marching band, I was a residence hall counselor and I was taking 18 hours of classes. I remember having that panic moment.”

As a member of the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band and Jazz Band, Mattison had a lot on his plate with rehearsals and performances even before adding residence hall counselor duties to his plate. The decision to become a residence hall counselor, Mattison says, came down to a desire to help others. 

“I really enjoy the idea of mentoring and being able to help people along, so it was really important just to help freshmen figure it out,” says Mattison. “There were a few older guys in the hall too and I wanted to make sure that their experience on campus was good. Everybody needs a nice place to live and be who they are.” 

Practicing mentorship has translated to Mattison’s experience as a Purdue alumnus. Mattison is now a partner and vice president of Tremendousness, a creative agency, and a participant in University Residences’ Executive-in-Residence program. The EiR program brings successful Purdue alumni back to campus where they live in-residence for a week while engaging with students through both formal programming and informal interactions. Each visiting executive helps plan their visits according to their areas of expertise and even their own hobbies and interests. 

Mattison has emphasized his passion for music as a way to impress upon students the importance of a well-rounded and balanced life to their success. He says being able to speak in terms their audience can understand and interpret appropriately is a skill that can be built beyond the classroom by pursuing interests like music.

“A lot of that skill comes from putting yourself out in different places and doing different things which, for me, was music,” says Mattison. “I think it’s as important to understand who you are and how you communicate and connect as it is to learn the craft and specifics of the degree to which you’re attending.”

Mattison says he fields some of the typical questions about interviews, internship experiences and other tactical questions one would expect from college students who are beginning to think about their future careers. When answering these questions, Mattison says he tries to ask questions to break down why a student might be considering a particular path before he responds.

“Asking a bunch of ‘why’ questions to get to the fundamentals of what they’re trying to accomplish and the desired outcomes may be the same, but hopefully it will give them a different perspective on what it is they’re trying to do and why they want to do it,” says Mattison. “If you can answer the ‘why’s,’ that usually helps with the navigation.”

One of the events Mattison has participated in as an Executive-in-Residence was the EiR 5th Anniversary panel, held during Homecoming week 2019. The event brought more than 430 years of combined professional experience in front of students, faculty and staff on the Fowler Hall stage. One of the key themes Mattison and the executives on the panel emphasized was being resilient through change, missteps and finding one’s way.

“A lot of the conversation that was heard on that panel was in retrospect and I would actually argue that you don’t really recognize that resilience in yourself until you’re in the middle of it,” says Mattison. “One of the best ways to learn is to look around and watch how other people react and see how it makes you feel. If I were in that situation, what would I do? Do I think I can do it that well? In the absence of your own situations that you have to react to and deal with, you have to learn from others. It’s kind of like learning to tie a shoe. You have to watch somebody first, then you have to practice it. If you don’t have a chance to practice, you have to do a lot of watching.”

“A lot of the conversations I’ve had with the students around resilience have always been asking, ‘When have you had to face challenges before and what did you do?” continues Mattison. “What can you learn from that particular moment that you could apply here? Are there other situations where you could apply what you’ve learned?’ Me being resilient is different than what you being resilient would look like. It has to be your version of it.”

Mattison graduated from Purdue in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science in Design Engineering. Since graduating, he has worked with leaders in multiple industries such as UPS, Nike, Whirlpool, Coca-Cola, Target and more to design, build and activate strategy, innovation, practices and transformation initiatives. In reflecting on his career journey and thinking about how students can best navigate a challenging time, Mattison says he would still encourage students to create connections and try new activities.

“I think one of the things I really got out of the residence halls was some pretty strong friendships,” says Mattison. “And you just have to let them happen. I think a lot of people like to find their little groups and never expand outside of that.”

“At a safe distance, go meet new people,” continues Mattison. “Put yourself out there a little bit and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable in order to have potentially some pretty interesting experiences or learn from others.”


     Meredith South

Campus Profile

University Residences Debuts New Residence Halls

Move-in and the beginning of the fall semester marked the grand opening of Griffin Hall North and Meredith Hall South, two new residence halls. 

Located just north of the Black Cultural Center along Russell Street, Griffin North is a six-story residence that houses 570 beds. Student rooms are a mix of semi-suites and suites, along with rooms for resident assistants. Griffin North also features a community kitchen, laundry facilities, a multi-purpose room, retail dining and lounges and study spaces on each floor that have been set up to ensure social distancing in accordance with the Protect Purdue plan.

Get an early fall tour of Griffin Hall North in the video below.

Meredith South, located just south of the original Meredith Hall, plays an important role in serving as the campus home for women pursuing studies in STEM fields including the Women in Engineering, Women in Technology, Women in Science and Women in Agriculture learning communities. Residents are arranged in "pod"-style housing, with a mix of triple, double and single-occupancy rooms arranged around a centralized bathroom and lounge area. The hall also features space for learning community events as well as a Panera Bread and Qdoba located on the ground floor. 

Take a look at Meredith South in the video below.


Writer: Matt Vader | Editors: Tammy Loew, Renee Kashawlic, Danielle Fawbush

Editorial Board: Barb Frazee, Tammy Loew, Renee Kashawlic | Inquiries Contact:

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