PNW Hammond dorms offer more than just a place to sleep.

Most PNW students feel connected to the community because they grew up a few miles from campus.  But that feeling of belonging is harder for students who grew up outside of Northwest Indiana. 

Instead, many are connecting through relationships they are building in the Hammond dorms.

About 12% of PNW students live in the dorms, 681 individuals. Nearly 48% come from Indiana, about 36% are from other states and 16% are international students. 

For them, the dorms offer more than a place to sleep. They provide connections. 

“[Campus social life] is as important as my academics,” said Priscilla Ndukaife, sophomore Engineering major from Nigeria, who first lived on campus, but now has an off-campus apartment. “When you go to social events, you connect with people in an unofficial setting, you can freely communicate with them … I came to Purdue because it was my guardian’s preferred choice so I was pretty much new to everything.”

Ritika Poudel, a freshman Civil Engineering major from Nepal, also started living in the dorms last fall and already feels connected.

“I think involvement is necessary for everyone,” she said. “You cannot always focus on your studies. [Campus housing] encourages community … so that students get connected to each other on campus. They plan events and activities that bring the community together.” 

The connections do not just happen.  Resident assistants make them happen. 

Resident assistants are trained to coordinate activities in residence halls and monitor the emotional and physical health of students.

“The RAs (resident assistants) are in charge of making the experience outside of the classroom just as intentional as inside the classroom,” said Korey West, director for Housing & Residential Education. “I am a firm believer that students who feel connected to the university continue through to graduation more successfully.

 While we are small, we do our best to support our students where they are, hear their experience and push them to experience life at a different level,” she said. 

Terrell Sucre, senior Political Science major from Trinidad-Tobago, has lived in the dorms for three years and is now an RA. 

“I do feel very connected,” he said. “As an international student, the campus community has been the foundation from which many of my relationships in the United States have formed. The openness I have experienced has made my time in the United States so much more enjoyable and helped limit homesickness.

“I may be a bit biased since I work for Housing as a resident assistant but … while I was just an ordinary resident, the housing staff really does put in the work to build community,” he said. “Community building is at the core of housing’s goals.”