Extending the Legacy
by Donna Beering ’86 (AT)
I’m proud to receive professional respect each time I mention that Purdue is my university. When I enrolled at Purdue, I knew that I would have an education that I would appreciate for years. Like many students, my exposure to Purdue was limited to a classroom and a dorm for the first two years. However, at the start of my junior year, my eyes began to open to the people who made Purdue so special.
As a member of the Purduettes of PMO, I was given opportunities to interact with staff and alumni from around the world. Some of the alumni names were the same ones I had seen on streets signs and building plaques around campus. I listened to many stories about how Purdue had contributed to their success and ability to impact their industries. Their personal stories of giving made me realize that the tuition I paid was only a partial payment for what I received.
Long before my first campus visit, alumni were giving back to Purdue so that it would not only remain great but be preeminent in many fields of study. I cannot begin to imagine what the campus would be like without the generosity of alumni and friends who donated significant amounts of their wealth and time to Purdue.
As I have become one of those involved and contributing alums, I’ve enjoyed a new connection with my former teachers. I can now see fully the heart and soul faculty put into each of us and how they take personal pride in their graduates’ achievements. It has been my privilege to return to campus, lending my support to the classroom and an ear to students. Young women especially have questions about creating a complete future that includes career, marriage and family.
As a woman with more than 23 years in an airline career, 20-plus years of marriage, two children and community involvement, I am most frequently asked “How did you do it all?” by students in the Women in Technology class. We have many conversations about setting priorities on a reasonable timeline. The most important lesson to impart is that there is no set blueprint. What makes life exciting is that it is dynamic. There is a strong sense of purpose that comes from being present to share my successes and mistakes.
Whether you have season tickets to sporting events, visit campus occasionally, or have not been back since commencement, the legacy of Purdue belongs to all of us. We need to ensure that our legacy remains one of reliability and competence through giving back to the students of today, just as we benefitted from other alumni years ago. I’m so glad that Purdue has stayed a part of my life, and that I’m a part of a family that continues to support Purdue’s future.