HAMMOND | After bouncing around from major to major at a downstate university for two-and-a-half years without a career objective, and then stepping away from her college education for more than a year, Jessica Oxford arrived at Purdue University Calumet in the fall of 2010 with a plan.
She needed every bit of her new-found drive and determination, because “none of my credits transferred” from her previous school, she said.
“I had wasted more than two years with no direction, and I didn’t want to waste any more,” the 26-year-old Indianapolis native turned Crown Point resident added. “I was determined to make up for lost time. When I came to Purdue Calumet, I decided to earn a hospitality, tourism and management bachelor’s degree, and I wanted to do it in three years.”
Along the way, Oxford took advantage of White Lodging Services Future Leaders and National Restaurant Association scholarships. She also worked a full-time job — in her field of study — as a server, bartender and restaurant manager. Since her graduation, she has remained employed at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond.
While attending her previous university, Oxford learned about PUC’s hospitality and tourism management program from local friends.
“Purdue is a good name; it’s recognized in many distant areas,” she said. “My friends in Utah – both Purdue Calumet graduates – said the name ‘Purdue’ is good as gold.”
Oxford’s individuality and tenacity impressed her PUC academic advisor, Chynisse Browder.
“As an Indy resident, Jessica bypassed two Purdue campuses to come to northwest Indiana to study HTM at Purdue Calumet,” Browder said. “She has worked and remained a persistent full-time student.
"Jobs she has held have been hospitality-related, enabling her to gain practical industry experience and the opportunity to apply her HTM education to those jobs.”
While continuing to work, Oxford is considering graduate school next spring.
“I don’t know where I’ll be in five years, but it will definitely be in the hospitality industry,” she said. “There will be many exciting opportunities for me, and as I gain experience, I feel confident that I’m putting my degree to work.”