Virginia Johnson to lead orientation efforts at Purdue in Indianapolis

Updated: Feb. 22, 2023

pictured: headshot of virginia johnson, arms crossed

Virginia (Cabrera) Johnson has been named the senior assistant director of Orientation Programs in Indianapolis effective Monday, March 4. In this role, Johnson will lead efforts for Boiler Gold Rush (BGR) in Indianapolis, ensuring Boilermakers in Indy feel part of the Purdue family.

“Our mission remains the same for BGR in Indianapolis,” shares Johnson. “We will introduce and connect new students to Purdue University while embracing all the Indianapolis campus has to offer these new Boilermakers.”

Hired in 2016 as a program assistant, Johnson became the lead coordinator of Boiler Gold Rush International and eventually headed all Boiler Gold Rush programming in West Lafayette. The percentage of new students attending BGR has increased each year under Johnson’s leadership, with 2023 reaching its highest level of participation since 2014.

Pictured: virginia johnson stands at a podium with open arms during bgr 2023

Pictured: Virginia Johnson stands at a podium during the opening ceremony of Boiler Gold Rush International 2023

Some of Johnson’s many notable accomplishments so far include incorporating the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) into student leader training, being a co-recipient of the 2022 Purdue Focus Award and receiving the 2021 NODA Innovative Orientation Program Award for her creation of the Boiler Gold Rush Sensory Guide. Johnson has also left an unquantifiable impact on campus partners, student leaders, new students and their family members — particularly students of color and Spanish-speaking students and their families.

“I am excited to continue the intentional, thoughtful, good work we have achieved in West Lafayette,” shares Johnson. “We will continue to support students of various diverse backgrounds as they navigate a new environment in an exciting time in Purdue’s history.”

In addition to her work with the Orientation team, Johnson is pursuing a doctoral degree in the Purdue College of Education’s curriculum studies program, has collaborated with numerous offices around campus (most notably CILMAR and the Latino Cultural Center), served as the International Student Network Co-Chair for NODA from 2019-2021, presented at a variety of higher education conferences, contributed to the Big Ten network of orientation professionals, and served in a variety of leadership roles for the NODA Region VII Conferences.

“I am thankful to Virginia for accepting this new role,” says Dan Carpenter, assistant vice provost for student success innovations. “Her talent and experience will ensure that new students in Indianapolis have the best experience possible. Her commitment to fostering belonging and inclusion means these students will become true Boilermakers.”

With more than seven years of service to Orientation Programs and Student Success Programs in West Lafayette, Johnson brings exceptional knowledge and experience to the university’s efforts for new students in Indianapolis.

Registration for BGR and BGRi in West Lafayette and Indianapolis opened March 1. For more information, please visit the BGR website or email

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Emily Jones

Communication Manager for Student Success Programs,

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