Skip to main content

Together, we can Protect Purdue.

See our FAQs

Student Trustee Reflects on Leadership Journey

Kevin Boes posing with Amy Hess

Defining a good leader can be a challenge. There is the transactional aspect of leadership: developing a plan and sticking to it. There is also the transformational aspect of leadership: inspiring those around a leader to buy into the cause and empowering those around the leader.

At Purdue, there are many opportunities to excel and grow as a leader, growing in all aspects to make an impact. The organizations here on campus not only improve the student experience but also have the potential to strike powerful change towards Greater Lafayette, Indiana and even the world.

Kevin Boes, a graduate student and experienced student organization leader at Purdue, speaks to his involvement in student organization leadership.

“From the start, I just felt like it was what you were supposed to do,” Boes says. “I had an intuition that I’m here to get a degree, but while I’m here I have such an amazing opportunity to develop a skillset that I want. For me that was leadership.” Boes was involved in a wide variety of organizations as leadership, and it cultivated a period of growth both as a student and as a person.

Boes served as the president of the Interfraternity Council, the Chi Chapter of Kappa Sigma Fraternity, treasurer of Purdue’s Barbara Cook Chapter of Mortar Board, Old Masters host, and educational ambassador for the Center for Advocacy, Response & Education. Another accomplishment that contributed includes his membership in the Vice Provost for Student Life, Student Advisory Board. These experiences provided Boes with chances to learn to better fit his roles, and prepared him for future roles that he has taken on in graduate school.

Kevin Boes with a group of Kappa Sigma Fraternity at a Grand Conclave event.

“My first leadership opportunity taught me the most.” Boes reflects on his positions in leadership. “It was with Greek life on campus. In order to be a leader in an organization you must first take responsibility for your own life before taking responsibility over others. It taught me integrity and responsibility.”

In fostering an exciting and productive college experience for those in his fraternity, he had to consider many important elements.

Boes gives thought to his development, “A lot of my learning lessons were established through my fraternity because it’s a group of guys living together, it’s chaotic in nature and it’s your job to put together something structured and make sure their college experience is as exciting as it ought to be.”

Expanding on these lessons, he considers the challenges he had to face.

“There are a lot of mental debates on whether or not you’re willing to do that, which comes to responsibility and reflecting on what integrity means to me and how to live by the principles that I preach,” Boes observes.

From his initial positions in the fraternity, he grew significantly into the large shoes needed to fill such demanding roles. Each position and responsibility came with new lessons to learn and expanded his repertoire as an individual charged with carrying Purdue’s image through different facets of campus life. To facilitate his growth and rise into his positions, he had a series of questions he would ask himself. “How do I get more in tune with the pulse of campus? Who are some student leaders that really stand out that I want to meet with and hear about their experience? How can I make an impact and hear their story?” Reflection is a necessary part of the growing pains in becoming a better, more rounded individual and Boes feels the need to recognize this.

Kevin Boes with friends at a football game.“I was a very result-driven leader early on,” Boes remarks. “I’m an engineer, I like to see metrics. I like setting goals and persistently pursuing the next thing. You can’t hold your team accountable without a goal, but it can distract from the people aspect of things.”

His current focus revolves around the team elements of his organizations.

“Now, instead of walking into a meeting and focusing on how we accomplish a task and thinking about our goals, I ask everyone how they are doing,” Boes says. “I ask them how I can make them feel happy and challenged in their role. I don’t want to ever have a case where someone thinks that I don’t care about their well-being. I want to be a genuine leader.”

One of Boes’ big inspirations here on campus is President Mung Chiang, and this is where he draws his attempts at being a genuine and caring leader from.

“As Mung Chiang always says, ‘It’s the who over the what.’” Boes carries the quote close to his heart.

“You need to support your team to accomplish your mission. Living is giving, that’s what it’s all about. If you had to put life into a tiny box, it’s all about the love you have for other people. It’s what ties us together. Supporting yourself and others is the first line of my mission statement on how to be great for other people.”

Though Boes has continued his future away from many of the organizations he was a part of during his undergraduate years, he is still highly involved on campus. During his graduate studies, he has become a student trustee for Purdue appointed by the governor, is involved in research, and is balancing these responsibilities with a rigorous course load. When asked why he is so involved on campus, Boes had no hesitation in answering. “Purdue is my home, and has the values I align with. The hard-working, get-the-job-done attitude of the Boilermakers is what I stay true to. I think that’s why the community has connected with me.”

Serving as a student trustee, Boes speaks to the necessity of his role. “They are looking for a value alignment with the university and the ability to think strategically about Purdue.” The process of applying to be a trustee was long and grueling, with a six-page application to fill out and six long months of waiting and interviewing for consideration.

Boes affirms his dedication as a trustee, “It’s necessary for you to be committed to that journey. I had to put it at the forefront of what I was doing to understand that it was a good fit for me. I hope people involved with Purdue can trust that I’ll advance our mission and help Indiana, the nation, and the world be a better place.”

Boes hopes to continue inspiring others to follow in his footsteps and get connected with their community and the school that we all call home. It is up to the students of Purdue to achieve that next giant leap, and we do that by dedicating our hearts and spirits to uplifting our community, getting involved and growing in our organizations and studies at Purdue.