Having top-level campus leaders is nothing new to Pi Kappa Phi, so when one chapter member stepped up to lead a high-profile organization, it wasn’t a surprise.
Justus Schumann, a senior from Carmel majoring in construction engineering and management, did such as co-director of Purdue’s Old Masters for 2019.
Old Masters is a Purdue tradition dating back to 1950 that brings distinguished professionals who have “made significant contributions to his or her own field,” according to the Old Masters website. It’s not required for an old master to be a Purdue graduate although many of them are, but each “possesses the same desire to share philosophies and experiences with Purdue students.”
Schumann, who was co-director with along with Merritt Wright of Delta Gamma, said he took on the responsibility to serve the university community.
“I wanted to lead the Old Masters program because of the impact that mentorship can make on Purdue students,” he said. “I have had incredible mentors throughout my time at Purdue and I wanted to provide that opportunity to Old Masters Hosts.”
After spending months in preparation for the three-day on-campus hosting of the 2019 Old Masters, Schumann reflected on the impact of his work in a Facebook posting.
“Impact. A noun. To have a strong effect on something (or forcefully make contact with it, however you view it),” he wrote. “Impact is 11 students working for an entire year toward one goal. 3 days, 9 Old Masters, 45 hosts, 109 different scheduled events, 27 student organizations, 3,500 people reached at Purdue. All to re-define the ceiling students put on their potential and teach them how to chase their goals.
“In simplest form, I thank a cartoonist, a secret service agent, a pilot, a scientist, a nurse, a cruise line leader, a venture capitalist, a CEO and a humanitarian for taking a leap of faith by trusting two 21-year-old Purdue students to engage the student body. The impact they left on all of us is immeasurable.”
During his years with the chapter, Schumann held elected positions that helped prepare him for his term with Old Masters.
“By gaining leadership experience at Pi Kappa Phi as treasurer and warden, I felt comfortable to lead an 80-person organization and provide more than 3,500 student engagements with this year’s Old Masters,” he said.
In his co-director position, Schumann had to help recruit and train student volunteers as well as assist with selection and hosting the industry and government leaders.
“Being co-director meant that the program became the No. 1 priority in my life,” he said. “I worked more than 60 hours each week supporting all the individuals working on the program and preparing the alumni to return to campus.
“At the closing ceremonies, I spoke with Dale Pupillo, former assistant director of the US Secret Service, and he said that out of all the high-end events he attended with vice presidents, presidents, popes, kings and queens, the Old Masters Program was the most impressive event he had ever been to,” Schumann said.
Three of the hosts for the speakers were his Pi Kapp brothers – Tyler Baumgartner, Nathan Longo and Harrison Van Pelt.
“My biggest takeaway from the experience was the collection of tips I received from Old Masters themselves,” Baumgartner said. “As an example, my Old Master, Dr. Leslie Holland-Bartels, talked extensively about how important communication is within the realm of science – especially in her career dealing with a lot of environmental policy. It was equally important for her to conduct good science and also be able to tailor her findings to meet that experience level and incentives to each of her audiences.”
Holland-Bartels is the former regional director of the US Geological Survey in Anchorage, Alaska. She worked with the Department of the Interior’s research programs including wildlife, mineral and water resources along with volcano hazard observation.
Baumgartner, a senior in computer engineering from Carmel, Indiana, said it’s important for fraternity members to be involved in organizations such as Old Masters for two reasons: By participating in high profile groups, it builds the chapter’s reputation. And it assists in the personal and professional growth of the individuals.
Longo, an electrical engineering senior from a Columbus, Ohio suburb, said networking is another benefit.
“I’ve been fortunate to meet so many people and learn so many skills through Pi Kappa Phi,” he said. “But being involved outside the chapter has augmented these experiences very well and has shaped me into a more well-rounded individual.”
Longo, who is the 2019 Interfraternity Council president as well, said his program mentor helped his career vision.
“As a person with high aspirations, I want to avoid looking too far ahead,” he said. “My Old Master, as well as others, really showed me that success is built on how well you succeed in your current roles and how well you can portray your work to others.”
The three Pi Kapp seniors who participated in Old Masters already have jobs after their May 2020 graduation.
• Schumann will be a project engineer with ExxonMobil in Beaumont, Texas. “I will manage multiple multi-million-dollar capital construction projects,” he said. “Many of those projects are targeting at reducing emissions and improving efficiencies.”
• Baumgartner will be a cloud and AI software engineer for the commerce and ecosystems team for Microsoft in Redmond, Washington.
• Longo will be an engineer for ExxonMobil based in Houston, Texas. “I will join ‘Engineers in Operations’ rotational program as part of the Upstream company,” he said.