Katie May
Thursday, June 8, 2023

When Katie May isn’t busy, she’s searching for new ways to stay busy.  

“Even when I was in college, I always had two to three jobs at a time,” May says. “One semester, I took 21 credit hours and worked three jobs. I was working about 60 hours a week, but I still got straight As. Looking back, that was probably my favorite semester.”

Now a senior academic advisor in the College of Pharmacy, May channels all her energy into helping undergraduate students form new connections and achieve a sense of belonging on Purdue’s campus. Her efforts were recently recognized by the Management and Professional Staff Advisory Committee (MaPSAC), which presented May with its 2023 MaPSAC Excellence Award.

The annual award honors a high-performing, full-time management or professional staff member who acts as a university ambassador by taking initiative, leading by example and providing exemplary customer service. The winner receives a plaque and $1,500.

In addition to advising students and assisting with recruitment for the college’s PharmD program, May steps up to organize various social events and activities, including trivia nights, coloring sessions, Boiler Gold Rush carnivals and her personal favorite – study tables.

When May’s advisees shared that they were feeling overwhelmed with some of their coursework, she sprang into action to organize chemistry study sessions for the fall 2022 semester. Eighty students showed up to the callout, and even though May couldn’t directly help explain course concepts, she watched on as students began forming new friendships and building their own pharmacy community.

Now, two full-time, volunteer tutors are on hand to assist attendees of the semiweekly meetings. The sessions will soon expand to include helping students prepare for exams in courses like anatomy and physiology. For May, playing a small part in shaping students’ experiences on campus is well worth her extra work.

“I just genuinely enjoy helping others. I like seeing the joy on their faces when they make new connections, have something click or feel like they belong. To be able to watch them grow – that’s what drives me. I just want to make sure that everyone feels seen.”

May often seeks out ways to engage and meet with others around campus, like serving as chair of the Purdue Academic Advising Association awards committee and recently joining MaPSAC. On top of these responsibilities, she also teaches EDPS 315 (Interpersonal Communication) and conducts academic enrichment workshops in which she teaches students how to communicate professionally, take notes, study, set goals and network with others.  

A letter supporting May’s nomination describes the hundreds of hours she has devoted to helping pharmacy students – and staff – feel recognized, celebrated and cared for.

“In my decade of working in higher education, I have not seen an individual as willing to go out of their way to help others as Katie does,” the nominator wrote. “She is the candle that is always glowing and ready to share her flame with others.”

May’s light will continue to shine on campus as she works hard to organize student activities for the fall 2023 semester, but for now, she’s simply honored to receive the award – a recognition that makes her feel seen.

“This means a lot to me,” May says. “It makes me feel like the work that I’m doing is seen and appreciated by the people around me, and I plan to continue to help students in any way that I can to build that sense of community and belonging.”