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2024 Impact Award Winners

Student Life Honors

The Office of the Vice Provost for Student Life has recognized outstanding alumni and friends as recipients of the 2024 Student Life Impact Awards. Honorees were presented with their awards at the Student Life Honors Awards Banquet.

Student Life Young Alumni Award - Arneetrice “Trice” Rias-ThompsonArneetrice “Trice” Rias-Thompson

Trice Rias-Thompson discovered a love for serving as a DJ as a student at Purdue and has turned that love into a successful career in the entertainment industry. As a freshman, she set up a recording studio in her residence hall room, where she recorded her first album. She bought her own equipment, taught herself how to DJ and began lending her services to various organizations and events on campus. Since graduating, she stayed connected with her alma mater by serving as a virtual DJ during Purdue Reading Days and participating in a virtual panel on student leadership. 

As a student, Rias-Thompson was also an active member of the campus community. She founded the Boiler Music Group and served as president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, as a resident assistant in Windsor Halls and as an intern with Trademarks and Licensing. She was also a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, the Black Student Union and intramural sports. She graduated from Purdue in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Selling and Sales Management.

Upon graduating, Thompson found that she needed to pursue her passion as a DJ. She founded a business that employed and mentored young DJs as they pursued careers in the business. She has since sold the business and moved to California, where she joined Studio 71 LP, a leading global media company for digital creators and brands. 

Rias-Thompson is a two-time Webby Award winner for her work on the Bald and Beautiful Podcast. She currently produces a podcast with former rapper and Pimp My Ride star Xzibit. She serves as the head of creative entrepreneurship for ARThentic Arts, which offers exploration and access to the arts for underrepresented communities. She and her wife, India, co-founded Trindi Media Group, where she co-hosts the weekly show of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks. The company also offers content creation, including commercials, TikToks and voice-overs for audiobooks, and advises those wishing to monetize their businesses.

Student Life Service Award - Barb FrazeeBarb Frazee

Barb Frazee has spent her entire career at Purdue and will retire this spring with more than 40 years of service dedicated to Housing and Food Services, now Student Life. Her dedication to the university dates to her time as a student when she served as a club officer and worked in dining services in Harrison Hall. She rose through the ranks of housing and food services, including stints as a hall director and director of operations, before being named executive director of University Residences in 2006. She was named assistant vice provost for Student Life in 2019 and continues to lead University Residences and Purdue Dining & Culinary.

While leading staff and programs that impact more than 16,000 on-campus residents, Frazee has led change and implemented impactful programs that promote self-discovery and growth for students living in University Residences. Frazee initiated the Women’s Leadership Series to help develop women student leaders. A Men’s Leadership Series was later created. The two programs have expanded and provide opportunities for participants to network and connect with professional mentors, including faculty, staff and alumni, and like-minded peers while exploring the topic of leadership. Frazee also led the creation of the unique Executive in Residence program, which brings successful executives to campus to live for a week, and UR Global, which creates connection opportunities for international students in residence halls.

Frazee has received numerous accolades for her service to the university, including the Violet Haas Award, which recognizes individuals, programs and departments at Purdue that have promoted the advancement of women at the university. She is one of the few non-faculty members to have received the honor. Frazee has also been honored with the Helen B. Schleman Medallion from the Barbara Cook Chapter of Mortar Board and the Special Boilermaker Award from the Purdue Alumni Association (now Purdue for Life Foundation). She is an honorary member of the Order of the Iron Key and Purdue Reamer Club. Beyond Purdue, Frazee is an advisor for Tri Kappa, a women’s philanthropic organization with chapters throughout Indiana, and a member of 100 Plus Women Who Care.

Frazee graduated from Purdue in 1981 with a degree in what is now hospitality and tourism management (HTM). She continues to support HTM by serving on its alumni board.

Student Life Award for Outstanding Leadership - Tony DenhartTony Denhart

Tony Denhart serves as the executive vice president of workforce and talent for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). He graduated from Purdue in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering Technology. While at Purdue, Denhart was a member of Circle Pines Cooperative, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and AET, held several leadership positions within the cooperative community, and participated in intramural sports.

In his role with the IEDC, Denhart has supported workforce and talent initiatives to help fuel the record-breaking $50+-billion committed investment the state has secured over the last two years. Denhart has pioneered new connections and strengthened existing relationships with workforce partners across the state. The partnerships he has helped develop include strengthening Ivy Tech’s connections with Purdue through companies looking to expand or locate to Indiana, Purdue Research Foundation and the College of Engineering.

In his previous 32-year career with GE Energy and GE Corporate, he helped build relationships and collaborations between Purdue and all GE business units to advance recruiting and research collaborations and the overall relationship between Purdue and GE. His relationships across Purdue were instrumental in GE Aerospace bringing their next-generation jet engine assembly facility to Lafayette, Indiana. As part of the GE team, he also helped dedicate the first GE Electric Vehicle Charging Station on campus in December 2010, establish the GE $100,000 scholarship program for Purdue students, establish the multimillion dollar GE-Purdue Partnership in Research and Innovation in Advanced Manufacturing, and much more.

Denhart continues to impact his alma mater as a member of the Student Life Advisory Council and Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council, and was a past member and co-chair of the Purdue Parent and Family Advisory Board. He previously received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Purdue Polytechnic Institute and is a member of the Purdue Professional Practice Hall of Fame. Denhart is personally responsible for hiring more than 100 Purdue cooperative education students and has been engaged with university recruiting and relations for over 30 years. He also serves on the GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarship Program Advisory Board and is a member of the State of Indiana’s Governor’s Workforce Cabinet.

Bob L. and Joyce Beery Miles Student Life Mentor Award - Priscilla "Pris" GerdePriscilla “Pris” Gerde

Pris Gerde has dedicated more than five decades of service to Kappa Kappa Gamma, a women’s fraternity, beginning when she joined the organization as a student in 1969. For more than 50 years, she has led, advised, mentored and molded Purdue Kappas to help make the chapter the gold standard of Purdue sororities. Gerde is a regular speaker at Pi Kappa Phi new member retreats, often staying late into the evening to fulfill these engagements, and has served on dozens of search committees, strategic planning committees and advisory boards. Her service embodies the Panhellenic Spirit at Purdue to showcase high standards, togetherness and service to others.

Gerde served Kappa Kappa Gamma beyond campus in local, regional and national roles including as national president from 2004-06. With a strong desire for input from all members, she initiated a strategic plan survey as well as focus groups to gather input for the next biennium’s goals. 

Gerde has served as advisor-in-residence for Business Career Services in the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business for 12 years. In this role, she provides expertise gained from a 37-year career with Eli Lilly and Company. Her roles with the company ranged from communications and corporate social responsibility to relief sales. Her final 18 years in the industry were spent in human resources.

Locally, Gerde has been actively involved and held leadership in community organizations including the Community Foundation of Greater Lafayette, the Lafayette Symphony Foundation, the Indiana 4-H Foundation, the Haan Museum of Indiana Art, and  Lafayette Rotary.