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OMP’s new assistant director a teacher and mentor by nature

The exits along I-65 that release drivers into Tippecanoe County are familiar stopping points for people driving from Chicago to Indianapolis, but for Gary, Indiana native Linnette White, Lafayette was the ultimate stop.

“The journey along I-65 always means a pit stop in Lafayette, but I made the stop once and that was 26 years ago,” White said. “I call it home, and it’s where I raised my family.”

Linette White Linnette White, assistant director for faculty and staff development for the Office of Multicultural Programs. (Photo by Tom Campbell)

White, the new assistant director for faculty and staff development for the Office of Multicultural Programs, joined the College of Agriculture in December after serving as a director of multicultural programs in the College of Pharmacy and as an assistant director in the College of Science’s Diversity Office. White holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational communication as well as African American studies, a master’s in student affairs and higher education and a doctorate from Olivet Nazarene University in education and ethical leadership.

White credits her involvement in the Junior Achievement program during high school for her professional and life paths.

“I connected really well with a teacher who got me involved in JA, which lead me to receive a $500 scholarship for college. That paid for my entire first semester at IU,” she said. “At that time in my life, I didn’t think I would go to college. I just thought I would get a job and work the rest of my life, but someone saw the potential for something more in me.”

After graduation, White moved to take a position at Ivy Tech Community College of Lafayette as a registration assistant. Seeing the need for guidance for admitted students, White said she took the opportunity to build the foundation for academic advising through the completion of the inaugural Graduate Certificate Program in Academic Advising offered through the National Academic Advising Association. Today, the Office of Academic Advising works closely with faculty members and administrators.

“We began offering the dual credits program. I did a lot of driving around the state to various high schools to interact with principals, teachers and students,” White said. “Working with the department dean registering students was a real lightbulb moment for me.”

Her love for engaging with students took her across the river to Purdue’s campus, where she has created several student-to-student mentoring and alumni-to-student mentoring programs throughout several colleges and majors around the university. Teaching and mentoring are instinctive skills White said she was born with.

“When I was growing up, everyone thought I would go on to be a teacher,” White said. “But this sort of thing I found I enjoyed at the college level. My goal is always to help people find their best self and pull them outside of the little boxes they’ve built themselves into.”

Although her new role within the Office of Multicultural Programs focuses on education and development with faculty and staff, White said her door will always be open for students.

“I always encourage students to find a mentor when they get to campus, because that’s something I didn’t have when it came to college,” she said. “I have always wanted to ensure that my door is open to everyone. I really pride myself on listening, because sometimes people just need to be heard.”

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