Bagchi Wins Summer ABCD Award

Oyeli Bagchi

Bagchi had never left India before coming to Purdue in August 2021 to pursue a professional master’s degree in biomedical engineering, but she found a home away from home at the university thanks in part to her experiences with Dining & Culinary.

Prior to arriving on campus, Bagchi received information from her master’s program coordinator on employment opportunities with Dining & Culinary. She secured a position to ensure a steady income during the year she expected to be at the university. Upon arriving, she found a welcoming atmosphere in Windsor Dining Court.

“The staff doesn’t make you feel like you’re an outsider or from a different country,” Bagchi says. “They’re equally inquisitive as we are about the culture. I did not feel like I was coming to a new place. Every time I went there, they had happy faces and were so humble and kind all the time. It just felt like home.”

Maddie Tarter, dining court supervisor in Windsor, made an impression on Bagchi due to her personal attention and leadership. One of the challenges Bagchi faced was having to balance her work and class schedules with the bus schedule to ensure she could get where she needed to on time. She says that sometimes, after late shifts, Tarter would go out of her way to give her a ride home. This type of attention made a big impression on Bagchi and how she would like to lead a work team in the future. 

“Being a good manager, understanding students and their schedules is something she did and I would love to take that into my future career,” Bagchi says. “I would love to be able to give them that kind of attitude. When I have a team, I should know what each of them likes, what each of them is good at and their skill sets so they can shine better.”

At the recommendation of Tarter, Bagchi quickly applied for and was promoted to student cook. After excelling in that role, she completed the comprehensive training required to become a supervisor-in-training and earned a supervisor position. While Bagchi had four years of professional experience before enrolling at Purdue, she says she took valuable lessons away from her time as a supervisor, particularly in delegating tasks and building an atmosphere that values politeness.

“I used to assign all of the work to myself and I was not very good at actually telling people that they can also help out,” Bagchi says. “I think I became a lot better when I was a supervisor-in-training and that was something I looked forward to.”

This past summer, Bagchi was assigned to the staff at Earhart Dining Court. Eric Coates, residential dining supervisor at Earhart, says he was impressed with how quickly Bagchi adapted to the new environment and took charge of assigning student associates to various stations and tasks.

“Oyeli took on this responsibility of her own volition, without any prompting,” Coates says. “This task is not as easy as it sounds and requires a strong working knowledge of both the students’ abilities and the station they are assigned to work.

“We started this summer with a much smaller number of student employees than usual,” Coates continues. “This did not faze Oyeli, who made it her mission to get all the daily tasks completed, even if that meant doing them herself. She has the innate ability to remain calm under pressure and stay levelheaded. This has been a huge help with keeping staff morale high.”

Bagchi attributes her ability to understand the strengths of her coworkers to camaraderie built during staff meals prior to work shifts, supervisor meetings and conversations with her coworkers. 

“I think these and my experiences helped because I was once one of the student associates along with the students I was working with,” Bagchi says. “We would have our meals together and anytime there was a break session, we might end up talking and getting to know each other. I remembered those things when I became a student supervisor-in-training and, while assigning students to their stations, I would remember that maybe someone is a vegetarian and they don’t want to handle meat, or maybe someone has allergies. Going around, talking to people and then developing those habits while giving out assignments to the students helped me a lot.”

Bagchi was awarded the summer Above and Beyond the Call of Duty (ABCD) award due to her efforts in Earhart. The award recognizes students whose actions make a difference at the university and contribute to excellence within Student Life. She will receive a $300 award in conjunction with the recognition. 

Bagchi completed her Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering and graduated from Purdue in early August.

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

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

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