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Honoring Tomorrow’s Leaders

Spring 2011 | By THiNK Staff. Photo by $photocredit.value.

The College of Liberal Arts honors three talented and driven young alumni each year as recipients of the Emerging Voice Award. This award was created to recognize recent graduates who are achieving their career goals, serving their communities, and representing the college’s mission by shaping today’s world while imagining a better one.

leaderStephen Maynard Caliendo

MA 1995; PhD 1998, Political Science
Professor of Political Science
North Central College

Now a professor of political science at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, Stephen Caliendo attributes much of his success to his Purdue education. “Overall, my time at Purdue prepared me to be a scholar and teacher,” he says. “The positive mentors I had have helped me to be an advisor to my own students.” Stemming from a special interest in human rights, Caliendo is also co-director of The Project on Race in Political Communication (RaceProject.org), which seeks to provide information to the public about the way race and politics interact with language. He has published dozens of papers and recently coauthored with Charlton McIlwain Race Appeal: How Candidates Invoke Race in U.S. Political Campaigns and The Routledge Companion to Race and Ethnicity.  His book, Inequality in America: Race, Poverty and Fulfilling Democracy’s Promise, will be published next year.


leaderKenya Davis-Hayes

PhD 2005, American Studies
Asst. Professor of American History
California Baptist University

For Kenya Davis-Hayes, a liberal arts education gave her the intelligence as well as the practical skills necessary to succeed as an educator and researcher. “A liberal arts education allows for personal depth,” she says. “While other disciplines can double as vocational training, a liberal arts education provides the tools to thrive in a variety of venues through critical and cultural literacy.” Currently she is an assistant professor of American history and the resident U.S. historian at California Baptist University. Outside of the classroom, Davis-Hayes serves on the California Council for the Humanities, appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2007. Last summer she traveled to Shanghai to analyze the cultural messages at the 2010 World Expo.


leaderGerritt VanderMeer

BA 1996, German; BS 1996,
Engineering; BA 1997, Theatre
Professional Actor

Although Gerritt VanderMeer began his Purdue education in engineering, he explored other interests through courses in the College of Liberal Arts. “I did not anticipate that one of those courses would change my life’s direction, but that is what happened,” he says. VanderMeer fell in love with acting and immersed himself in Purdue Musical Organizations and Purdue Theatre. Now pursuing a career as a professional actor, he has appeared as Harold Hill in a national tour of The Music Man and worked opposite Whoopi Goldberg on the Web series Stream. Inspired by faculty at Purdue, VanderMeer helps aspiring actors by teaching university-level classes. He also returned to Purdue in 2008 as the interim director of the Glee Club and led the group on its first concert tour to South Africa.


For a complete list of past recipients, and for information about nominating a Liberal Arts alumnus/ alumna for the EVA, please visit www.cla.purdue.edu/alumni/awards/emergingvoice.

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