Small Steps, Giant Impact Award
In 2018, the Purdue Alumni Association was pleased to present our inaugural Small Steps, Giant Impact award to Tyler Trent (AS T’18). Trent united the Purdue community with his humility and passion, showing us what a giant impact the small steps of one individual can have on the world.
This year, we are also awarding a posthumous Small Steps, Giant Impact award to John Knote (HHS’59) for his many contributions to Purdue University. Knote, who passed away earlier in 2019, embodied the spirit of this award. Knote was a lifelong ambassador of the University, serving as both the second Purdue Pete and as a member of the Purdue Alumni board of directors. His stalwart support of Purdue leaves a legacy that will impact generations of Boilermakers to come.
2019 Small Steps, Giant Impact Top Ten Vote Recipients (in no particular order)
Terry Morris (MS S’84)
Terry Morris created nonprofit Vets to Vets United, Inc. to bring North Carolina’s veterans and veterinarians together. Morris, a veterinarian herself, works to pair local veterans with service, therapy, and / or emotional support animals. Partnering with local veterinarians, Vets to Vets also offers free or discounted veterinary service to veterans suffering from loneliness, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, and physical disabilities.
PTSD is a serious condition that has been associated with higher suicide rates among veterans. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, 20 veterans commit suicide each day. When veterans return from war, many of them face emotional and physical health challenges while transitioning back into civilian life. Many discover that having the support of a service dog can be transformative, allowing them to live independently. In some cases, service dogs can be lifesaving. By sourcing from animal shelters, Vets to Vets also helps reduce North Carolina’s euthanasia rate of dogs, which is the highest in the country.
Morris’s vision and passion for the establishment of Vets to Vets stems from her family’s own ties to the US military. Morris is the daughter of a Tuskegee Airman who died during his tour of duty and the sister of a retired Tuskegee Airwoman, both of whom were captains in the US Air Force.
Chuck Diezten (A’83)
Charles (Chuck) Dietzen, a pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist, founded Timmy Global Health in 1997. After working in a number of international settings, Dietzen was inspired to serve more communities by engaging the next generation of healthcare leaders. The organization was named after Dietzen’s brother Timmy, who passed away in his infancy. The organization is a legacy to both Dietzen’s brother and family, as well as a tribute to all the patients around the world that deserve quality healthcare.
In addition to his work in global medicine, Dietzen co-founded iSalus Healthcare, where he served as chief medical officer until January 2019. In December 2018, Dietzen stepped down from his position as medical director of pediatric medical rehabilitation at Riley Hospital in Indianapolis where he worked to heal and bring smiles to hundreds of children for the past seven years.
Lucy B. Young (S’76)
While a student at Purdue University, Lucy Young played basketball and took flying lessons at Reid Airways. She rode her bicycle to the Purdue University Airport between classes to learn to fly in a Cessna 150. Three days after graduation, she obtained her private license.
In 1980, Young became the first woman to qualify for Naval Air Combat Maneuvering (ACM) and subsequently became an ACM instructor. Moving to NAS Kingsville, Texas in 1982, she trained student naval aviators in advanced phases of ACM. Young was the second female Navy pilot to qualify carrier landings (USS Lexington).
Leaving active duty in July 1983, Young accepted a commission in the Naval Reserve and a position in Atlanta, Georgia as the first female FAA Test Pilot, where she performed flight tests on aircraft, avionics, and navigation equipment for FAA certification, including long-range fuel tank certification in a Mooney M20F.
She is a veteran of Desert Shield / Storm, having flown missions to Egypt, Greece, Israel, and Saudi Arabia during that conflict. Today, Young is a retired naval reserve captain and also flies for American Airlines based out of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Richard Grace (MSE’51)
Richard Grace began his long and distinguished career at Purdue in 1954 as assistant professor of metallurgical engineering. He later founded the Division of Interdisciplinary Engineering Studies and served as its head from 1970 to 1982. His pioneering leadership in that field inspired many students to pursue emerging disciplines.
In 1987, Grace became vice president for student services, a role he held until 1995. He then founded the Undergraduate Studies Program and was its director until retiring as professor emeritus of materials engineering and vice president emeritus for student services in 2000.
Upon his retirement, Leah Jamieson, then dean of engineering, said, “Dick Grace is a dedicated and accomplished professor who has made the College of Engineering and Purdue University better, stronger, and more responsive and welcoming to students. He has lived by a philosophy of discovery throughout his career — developing new programs, new ideas, and new ways of doing things to have an impact on those around him. Many of the programs he initiated have evolved with the times and needs of students, but are still in place, making a difference for Purdue.”
Julie Noskowiak Dussliere (LA’94)
Julie Noskowiak Dussliere is a pioneering female leader within the Paralympic sport movement. Recognizable worldwide for both her professional and volunteer roles, she is a mentor, advocate, innovator, and doer.
Among her many accomplishments, Dussliere was the first female head coach for any US international team in the sport of swimming. She led Team USA to the top of the overall medal standings at Paralympic World Swimming Championships in 2006 for the first time in history. Two years later, she led Team USA to the top of the official medal standings in swimming at the Beijing Paralympic Games for the first (and only) time in history.
Dussliere served as the Team USA Chef de Mission for the 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympic Games, 2015 Toronto Parapan American Games, 2016 Rio Summer Paralympic Games, and 2018 PyeongChang Winter Paralympic Games, where she led Team USA to the top of the overall and gold medal standings.
In 2015, the International Swimming Hall of Fame recognized Dussliere for her contributions to the sport. In 2018, she was named president of the Americas Paralympic Committee, becoming the first woman president of a Paralympic regional organization.
Amy Rao (HHS’84)
Amy Rao is the founder and CEO of Integrated Archive Systems in Palo Alto, California.
She is involved in many political activism and humanitarian endeavors. Her greatest passion is human rights, both in the United States and abroad. She is a great organizer and philanthropist, bringing peoples together to champion great causes, including through her work with IsraAID.
Rao is a supremely talented negotiator and collaborator for causes she is passionate about. One of her personal heroes is Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who she met through her work with Human Rights Watch.
Tamara Markey (IE’94)
The Indiana Department of Education named Tamara Markey the 2019 Indiana Teacher of the Year. Markey is an engineering teacher at the McKenzie Center for Innovation and Technology in Lawrence Township, Indiana. “I chose to study industrial engineering in undergrad because it offered me the most flexibility in combining a technical degree with my interest in management,” Markey says. “While desiring an engineering degree, I knew that I wanted a discipline with a people focus. The IE discipline allowed me to take classes in organizational behavior, which later positioned me to explore engineering / business career opportunities.”
Markey said she always desired to be an educator. While at Purdue, she tutored calculus through the Minority Engineering Program and “loved every minute of it.”
Tim Stiker (HHS’81)
Tim Stiker exemplifies the Boilermaker spirit. He has been a firefighter / paramedic for DeKalb, Illinois for the past 22 years. Throughout his career, Stiker has selflessly helped the citizens of his community, as well as mentored other firefighters and paramedics. Stiker has been the executive vice president of DeKalb’s local for more than 16 years and fought for the rights of the entire fire department. Stiker has also been involved in our hazardous materials team, ensuring the safety of the community, as well as members of the team. Stiker continues to mentor new hires as well as motivate senior personnel.
Dave Hester (IE’71)
Dave Hester, a senior vice president with Kyocera International Corporation, is an active member of the San Diego community, particularly with organizations that support the local veteran population. For eight years, Hester has organized and coordinated the annual USO Thanksgiving meal and participated at other holiday events, including the US Marine Corp Toys for Tots.
Since joining Honor Flight San Diego as a volunteer in 2012, Hester has helped support more than a dozen Honor Flights. Hester assists with any requests for veterans with special needs, provides logistics assistance before and during each flight, and escorts veterans on the trip. He also provides IT assistance at special events and volunteers at other Honor Flight events, which have included the Spirit of 45 reunion, the Holes for Heroes Golf Tournament, and the Veterans Day Parade.
Hester is also a proud member of Purdue Alumni Club of San Diego, and has held several officer positions on the board. Ten years ago, he worked closely with other board members to revamp the club to raise funds for the club’s Purdue Scholarship Endowment Fund. That endowment fund allows the club to provide scholarships to local students attending Purdue University. Since its inception, Hester’s efforts have helped raise more than $80,000 for the scholarship endowment fund.
Abby McDonald (ECE’87) and Rashmi Khanna (CE’87, MS CE’89)
In 1983, Abby McDonald (Schwartz) and Rashmi Khanna (Drummond) met while living on the sixth floor of Shreve Hall. Both women were beginning their freshman year in engineering. They had no way of knowing at the time that this chance residence hall assignment would change the face of Purdue’s Greek life and the lives of thousands of female engineering students for years to come.
Managing the time commitment of sorority rush while trying to keep up with her engineering curriculum, however, became a source of frustration for McDonald. One weekend spent commiserating with Khanna about the need for a social sorority that fit into an engineering student’s schedule started the wheels turning. That Monday, McDonald knocked on Khanna’s dorm room and showed her the student organization guidelines she had picked up from the Dean’s office.
Now on a mission, they envisioned a social sorority comprised of women in engineering and engineering technology, supporting one another while living and working together. With the growing number of women entering these areas, the idea seemed feasible. In September 1984, they launched Phi Sigma Rho.
The organization has since grown to more than 40 chapters and 8,000 members. Phi Sigma Rho boasts an engineering retention rate of around 90% compared to the national average of 68%, due in large part to the encouragement the sisterhood cultivates.
The Phi Sigma Rho house in Tower Acres at Purdue stands as a monument to a dream fulfilled. The support, encouragement, and entrepreneurial spirit that lives at Purdue allowed McDonald and Khanna to take this giant leap for women engineering students across the country.
AND THE WINNER OF THE POPULAR VOTE IS …
Rudy Shriram (M’13)
Rudy Shriram is a passionate, driven, and ambitious young personality with an unparalleled love for all things Purdue. Shriram was instrumental in helping establish Purdue Alumni chapters across India and has made a tremendous impact with regards to recruiting, organizing events, and engaging Purdue alums. Hailing from a big business family, he is an emerging young entrepreneur who is intent on making his mark.
Not one to shirk from his responsibility towards the society, Shriram is involved with several charities and is determined to make a lasting impact in the lives of the underprivileged and disadvantaged. Notable in this regard is his work with Dribble Academy and Bansuri Charitable Trust. As vice president of Dribble Academy, Shriram has helped thousands of underprivileged kids living in the National Capital Region learn life skills via basketball. Shriram’s fundraising and marketing skills have helped sustain Dribble Academy’s operations since its inception.
Bansuri Charitable Society is a nonprofit run by his family that transforms lives by imparting education and vocational skills. Based out of his hometown in Kota, Rajasthan, Bansuri has recently started a Shad Centre for Special Children, which exclusively enrolls special needs children from disadvantaged communities. Shriram plays a key role in driving Bansuri’s growth with his strategic inputs and fundraising.