Interests led to very deep and diverse experiences in policy, environmental and sustainability


Name: Hillary Vrba

Hometown: Libertyville, IL

High school: Libertyville High School 

Major & Concentration: Agricultural Economics with a concentration in Applied Economics with minors in Environmental Politics & Policy and Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences

Why did you come to Purdue: I attended "Purdue's for me Day" my senior year of high school and knew immediately after that Purdue was a perfect fit.

Favorite Purdue tradition: Yelling "Boiler Up!" to random strangers sporting Purdue apparel in public (and receiving an enthusiastic boiler up in return).

Top three influences at Purdue:

  1. The friends I've made at Purdue.
  2. The AGEC department advisors.
  3. All of the professors, Purdue faulty, and members of the ag industry that I've met the past 4 years.

Five words to describe Purdue 

  • Distinguished 
  • Spirited 
  • Tradition
  • Innovative 
  • Prideful

Top five highlights of your career:

  1. Interning at the Indiana Statehouse with Purdue Government Relations my junior year, and helping the team receive state funding for the new veterinary teaching hospital.
  2. My team winning the People's Choice Award in the Soybean Innovation Competition #Soyglitter.
  3. Being a Boiler Gold Rush Team Leader.
  4. Attending the Elite 8 game against Virginia in 2019 – still not over it! L
  5. Meeting President Daniels at the Statehouse.

Something you wish you would have done at Purdue: Studied abroad for the semester! 

Places you have been as a Purdue student

  • Indianapolis, IN – Indiana Statehouse, Purdue Government Relations Internship.
  • Chicago, IL – Events with the Purdue Club of North/Northwest Suburbs of Chicago.
  • Louisville, KY and Milwaukee, WI – Purdue March Madness Games.

Have to redo college in a major not in Ag: Environmental and Ecological Engineering or Political Science 

Favorite club/organization: Green Greeks  

Favorite Student-led event/initiative: Ag Week + Hammer Down Hunger 

Favorite Purdue event: Boiler Gold Rush 

Favorite place to study: 1869 Taproom in the Union

Over your career where were you most likely to be found on campus: Hanging out with my Alpha Gam sisters at our sorority house. 

Favorite spot on campus: The skybridge between Krannert and Rawls 

Favorite thing about CoA: How everyone in the college is motivated to succeed and wants to make a difference in the world.

Favorite thing about AGEC: How friendly and accommodating the professors, faculty, and staff are in the department.

Favorite thing about your major: There are so many careers paths I can take with this major. From Ag policy and law, to sustainability or commodities, the possibilities are endless.

Favorite class: AGEC 296 and AGEC 406

Favorite professor: It's hard to pick just one. Dr. DeBoer, Dr. Sesmero, and Dr. Ma. 

Coolest project: My AGEC honors thesis, studying the impact of stress on small business success after Hurricane Katrina. S/O to Dr. Marshall!

Three biggest accomplishments:

  1. Receiving 7 scholarships during my time at Purdue.
  2. Working 40 hours a week for my internship while at the same time being a full-time student.
  3. Consistently receiving semester honors and making the Dean's List throughout my college career.

Things on your resume not listed above: I've had four different internships in the last three years, including working for a congressional campaign, a campaign research firm, Purdue government relations, and the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development.

Three words to describe you:

  • Hardworking
  • Passionate
  • Organized 

What are you passionate for: I'm passionate about the environment and teaching others to be more aware of their personal impact on the environment.

What intrigues you about the Ag industry: How close-knit and family oriented the industry is, and how passionate everyone is about what they do. From top execs at large companies, to the small family farms, everyone has a deep pride for their work and shares a common goal to provide the world with quality food, fuel, feed and fiber.

What motivates you: Seeing all the amazing things my peers are accomplishing motivates me to be more involved.

Favorite quote: "Life has no limitations, except the ones you make" 

Personal Motto: You only get what you give

Where do you want to end up: In the future, I hope to have a career in environmental economics or policy, but overall, I just want end up doing something that I love and that makes me happy.

Advice for underclassman: In order to succeed at Purdue you must apply yourself. Go to class, complete your assignments on time, and ask for help when you need it.

Biggest takeaway from Purdue: Purdue has endless opportunities, but none of them will be handed to you. Run for that position. Talk to that recruiter. Go to that call-out. In order to achieve your goals, you have to work hard and put yourself out there.

Agricultural Economics, 403 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA, (765) 494-4191

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