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Chris, Andrew, Forrest, and Michelle White

Liberal arts alumni empower internships, political science students

Purdue College of Liberal Arts alumni Chris and Michelle White are giving back to the college that played such a transformative role in their busy, successful lives together. Based in Minnesota, Chris is the Vice President of Manufacturing for Sleep Number Corporation, and Michelle has worked in the financial industry for over twenty years, in compliance roles for several registered investment advisers and broker dealers. She is also active in the Daughters of the American Revolution and recently became a founding member of the reconstituted Women for Purdue giving society.

In 2017, they made their first-ever gift to Purdue in support of a then-new Job-Ready Internship Program Gift Fund. Liberal arts students who receive internship offers can apply for awards that currently provide up to $2,000 per student for lodging, travel, and other expenses as they pursue meaningful internships where they can utilize their communication, problem-solving, and analytical skills in real-world situations. 

Chris and Michelle grew up in working-class families and had to rely on loans, scholarships, and work to pay for tuition and living expenses. “At times, it was a struggle, so we appreciated all the assistance we received,” says Chris. “With the Job-Ready program, we were surprised that some students could not accept internships because they were either unpaid or did not cover housing. We decided to help students have the opportunity to pursue internships that they would have otherwise not been able to accept.”

Thanks to the program, more than 90 Purdue students have been able to accept career-launching internships with organizations and institutions such as the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the United Nations, the Office of U.S. Senator Todd Young, the U.S. House of Representatives, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art-Chicago.

In 2018, the couple also made a five-year pledge commitment to establish the Chris and Michelle White Scholarship in Political Science Endowment, which will be matched 1:1 by the Mary Findling Liberal Arts Scholarship Challenge Match. The scholarship is need-based for out-of-state students enrolled in CLA’s Department of Political Science.

“Thanks to Purdue, I gained the confidence to explore the world and never stop questioning,” says Chris. For Michelle, the liberal arts motto rings true: “Thanks to Purdue, I learned to ‘think broadly and lead boldly.’”

Through their giving, the Whites hope to provide real-world opportunities that prepare Purdue liberal arts students for their own inspired careers and bold leadership.

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Patsy J. Mellott

BS College of Health and Human Sciences, 1969
Fishers, IN

Patsy earned a bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition in business from Purdue in 1969, in addition to an MBA in food marketing from Michigan State University in 1970. She retired from Kraft Foods in 2006 after 36 years in corporate food marketing and marketing communications management.

A community volunteer, Patsy serves on the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana Advisory Board and the Purdue College of Health and Human Sciences Dean’s Leadership Council, in addition to the President’s Council Advisory Board. She is a former member of the Health and Human Sciences Alumni Board. Patsy held several offices from 2006 through 2013, including president and treasurer. She serves her community’s Discover Indianapolis Club in Fishers, holding several leadership roles for over 10 years.

Patsy has received several honors, including the Purdue University Nutrition Science Department Hall of Fame recipient in 2009 and the Purdue University College of Health and Human Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award in 2016. She also received the college’s Gold and Black Award in 2016, an honor reserved for donors who have moved the college forward by committing exceptional financial resources.

In addition to endowing two scholarships, the Patsy J. Mellott Scholarship and Patsy J. Mellott HHS Scholarship, she established the Patsy J. Mellott Teaching Innovation Award in the College of Health and Human Sciences in 2013. In 2015, she endowed the Patsy J. Mellott Women’s Tennis Coach Performance Award. She is a lead donor in the Christine M. Ladisch Faculty Leadership Award and the Purdue Women’s Network Virginia C. Meredith Scholarship for the College of Health and Human Sciences.